Trim Size, Bleed, and Page Specifications

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Congratulations on completing your manuscript! Now that the writing is finished, it’s time to convert that simple Word file into a properly formatted book file that can be printed by KDP.

Paperbacks come in many sizes so the first step in printing your manuscript is to select the Trim Size.

Trim Size

The term ‘trim size’ refers to the finished size of your book – i.e. after the pages have been glued inside the cover and trimmed off neatly.

There are many trim sizes available, but the most popular sizes for novels are shown in the following table:

6 x 915.24 x 22.86
5.5 x 8.513.97 x 21.59
5.25 x 813.34 x 20.32
5 x 812.7 x 20.32

As the most popular trim sizes are quite a bit smaller than a normal A4 page in Word, the trim size you choose will inevitably change the total page count of your book. This will have consequences in terms of layout.

For example, you may find the odd chapter heading at the bottom of a page, or the last sentence of a chapter at the top of an otherwise empty page. As a result, some re-formatting will be required.

Furthermore, as the spine of the cover depends upon the number of pages in the book, trim size indirectly affects the width of the spine as well.

You can see a complete table of trim sizes available in KDP – in both inches and cm – at the web address below:


But if selecting the trim size is the first critical step in printing your book, ‘bleed’ can be the second.

To illustrate the concept of ‘bleed’, consider the two pages below:

Note: the dotted green line represents the trim line.

The image on the left extends past the trim line into the ‘bleed’. When the page is trimmed, the image will have a crisp, clean edge with no white showing.

By contrast, the image on the right does not extend into the ‘bleed’ and will have a thin white edge after it is trimmed:

Although most novels do not contain photographs, some do include maps and illustrations, and for them, bleed may be an issue.

If those images sit within the normal margins of the page, the book will not need bleed, but if they extend to the very edge of the page, the book will need bleed.

This point is illustrated by the two pages below: 

So keep ‘bleed’ in mind when you select the trim size of your book.

Another factor to consider is the length of your book.

A short book printed in a large trim size may end up looking too thin. A long book printed in a small trim size may end up looking too ‘fat’. More importantly, the spine may not be wide enough to allow for the printing of the title.

Note: KDP requires a minimum of 100 pages to print the title on the spine.

And finally, there’s the question of genre. Books are tactile objects and readers get used to a certain size in their favourite reading material.

Note: books that are either too big or too small for their genre may not be as ‘visible’ to a reader intent on buying a book.

Table of trim sizes – with and without bleed

The following is a table of trim sizes available with KDP:  

The column on the left is for standard trim sizes. The column on the right shows the total trim size required when bleed is included.

For simplicity, the screenshots and illustrations in the remainder of this guide will assume that the document does not require ‘bleed’.

Page Specifications – how to convert A4 to trim size pages

Once you have chosen your trim size, you will have to convert the A4  pages of your Word manuscript to the correct, book-sized pages.

Note: make a copy of your original Word manuscript and work on the copy. If something goes wrong, you can revert to the original. If all goes well, you can easily rename the copy and make it the new original.

To make the conversion process easier, KDP provides interior templates for all trim sizes. These templates come in two flavours, Basic and Sample.

Templates – Basic vs Sample

The basic templates provide page setup information such as page size, margin sizes, header and footer sizes etc. The sample templates contain the same setup information but also include formatting and sample text to show you how the interior layout should look.

The following screenshot shows the Chapter Heading, Header and Page number formatting of a sample template [circled in orange]:

Having the formatting pre-set can save time and effort, but this convenience comes with inherent problems:

  1. Each chapter of the manuscript must be cut-and-paste into the relevant sample chapter of the template,
  2. Text that is cut-and-paste into the template can bring the original formatting with it, overwriting the formatting in the template,
  3. There are only 10 sample chapters in the template,
  4. You have to create the Table of Contents manually,
  5. All the formatting in the template relies on section breaks.

Creating a Table of Contents by hand is tedious but doable. Everything else, however, is dependent on section breaks so even a simple mistake can quickly escalate to formatting hell. For example, if you accidentally delete a section break while cutting and pasting chapters from your manuscript, the headers will stop working properly.

In the example below, a missing section break has resulted in the header appearing on the same page as the Chapter Heading:

Section break related problems can be fixed, but only if you already know how to work with section breaks. This creates a catch-22 situation as writers often use sample templates because they do not know how to do the formatting themselves. Yet if they don’t have the skills to do the formatting, how can they fix problems arising from the formatting?

For this reason, How to Print Your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing will show you how to format your own manuscript from scratch, using only the Page Setup information found in the templates.

How to find the KDP templates

To find the right template for your trim size, open your internet browser and type the following web address into the address bar:

On the KDP home page, click the Help button located near the top right of the screen [you do not need to sign in first]:

With the Help Topics page displayed, select the following 4 options from the navigation pane on the left:

  1. Prepare Your Book
  2. Format Your Manuscript
  3. Submitting Your Paperback to KDP
  4. Paperback Manuscript Templates

You should now see a video at the top of the page. This video provides a brief overview of the process.

Below the video are five, numbered steps which all open out into more detailed information.

Click ‘Step 1 – Choose a template’: 

You should now see two template options – Blank and Sample:

As discussed at the start of this section, the Blank template will contain only the Page Setup information you’ll need to change your existing Word file to a book file. Making the necessary changes to your Word file may entail a little more work in the short term, but it will save you a great deal of frustration in the long term.

Click the option for Blank templates.

KDP will now display a list of links, one for each trim size:


Click the link for your chosen trim size.

The template will be a Word file, and KDP will prompt you to download it to your computer.

Note: you should always have your anti-virus software updated and on before you download anything from the internet.

Click OK to save the template file to your computer:

Once the template file has been saved, open Word, find the file and open it.

The template file will be in Protected View and look something like this:

The bright yellow warning message reads:  

‘PROTECTED VIEW Be careful – files from the Internet can contain viruses. Unless you need to edit, it’s safer to stay in Protected View.’

Next to the warning message is a button labelled ‘Enable Editing’.

As the page setup information is on the Ribbon, and the Ribbon is locked in protected view, you will have to get out of protected view.

First, ensure that your anti-virus software is on and up-to-date.

Next, click the Enable Editing button.

Once editing is enabled, the Ribbon will be unlocked and you will see the tabs that are normal for your version of Word.

Finding the Page Setup information

The Page Setup information is found in the Page Setup dialog box of Word. This dialog box is the same across all versions of Word covered by this guide, but it is not always found in the same place, so its location will be shown for each version of Word from 2016 to 2003.

…in Word 2016

Select the Layout tab as shown. Next, click the PageSetup symbol:

…in Word 2013

Select the Page Layout tab as shown. Next, click the Page Setup symbol:

…in Word 2010

Select the Page Layout tab as shown. Next, click the Page Setup symbol: 

…in Word 2007

Select the Page Layout tab as shown. Next, click the Page Setup symbol: 

…in Word 2003

Select the File tab and click Page Setup as shown:

Using the Page Setup information of the template file

The Page Setup information in the template file is found in the Page Setup dialog box. This dialog box contains three tabs – Margins, Paper and Layout – and the following examples illustrate the types of information you will need from each one.

Paper Tab

Note: the settings shown below are for trim size 5.5” x  8.5” only. 

Margins Tab

Note: the settings shown below are for trim size 5.5” x  8.5” only.

Note: ensure that ‘Mirror margins’ is selected from the ‘Pages’ drop down list.

Layout Tab

Note: the settings shown below are for trim size 5.5” x  8.5” only.

Once you have found the Page Setup specifications for your trim size, open your manuscript file and type or copy this information into the Page Setup dialog box of your manuscript file.

When you finish the page setup specifications, click the OK button to save and exist from the dialog box.

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

2 responses to “Trim Size, Bleed, and Page Specifications

  • ecellenb

    Hi Meeks! I tried to send the following to email but it was bounced back. I am at

    I have followed you for a while and comment occasionally. You are wonderful to post so much valuable information along with the struggles you have encountered and I appreciate the sharing.

    I’m putting together a blog post for Writers In The Storm about using visuals to help create scenes and thought about all the world building you do for your writing.

    Would you mind sharing what you do to help create scenes for some of your work? I use old photos for historical fiction as that helps quite a bit. I haven’t the slightest idea where you go, although YouTube videos on new technology seem to be beneficial.

    If you have a bit of time this week or the next, can you clue me in? I’d include your blog information. WITS is mainly read by other writers.



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