Bleed and Print Marks

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Bleed, printing marks, and color bars are currently only found natively in development versions of Scribus. In the meantime, this script provides a workaround for these features in the 1.3.3.x versions. This script gives you choices to independently allow for bleed, crop marks, registration marks, and also adds some information about the PDF outside the margins in the bleed area. It will take a multi-page Scribus document and create individual PDF files for each page. First let's explain a bit about the terminology.



Bleed as a printing term refers to situations where you want some element of your final document to go completely to the edge of the paper. For example, this might be a photograph or a shape filled with color. The easiest way to ensure this is to print on a sheet of paper larger than your final desired size, after laying out your work, so that your image or shape extends beyond that future edge, then trim down or crop the paper after printing. Standard bleed amounts (the amount your object should extend beyond the final edge of the page) are 1/8 inch (9 pts) in the US and UK, 3 to 5 mm in Continental Europe, but you should always check with your printer.

Your printing company may indicate it is unnecessary, but in many cases adding crop marks to the page to indicate precisely where you wish the paper to be cut can be useful.

Registration Marks

There are various meanings of this term in business and industrial processes, but in our printing context, registration marks are printed in the parts of the paper that will be cropped, and allow for alignment of the paper when a multicolor process is used – the paper will sequentially pass through the equipment for each color printed, and obviously one desires good alignment of these on the page. They are also used to align the print on opposite sides of a sheet of paper. It is important that these marks be printed using a color which will appear in each color separation. Here is one registration mark, along with an optional message the script will add.


Color Bars

Color Bars are used by your printer to help with quality control of the colors being used in the document, representing various colors, sometimes with varying dot densities to ensure a uniform and desired end result of a multicolor print process. Again, for obvious reasons, these are in some part of the page that will be cropped.

As we see to the right in this partial example from our script, these have associated labels to indicate C, M, Y, and K values.

In preparation for using this script, make your document in Scribus with the final dimensions you wish it to have, in other words the size after cropping. The script works by creating new, temporary document pages, which are slightly larger than your original, while maintaining the size and relative positions of your original layout. Thus, the script does not modify your original document. Crop marks will be placed to mark your original dimensions. As we will see below, precisely where to place objects to get the result you desire will depend on various dialog entries.

When you run the script, with Script > Scribus Scripts > BleedandPrintMarks from the menu, you are presented with a series of dialogs. If you do not have a document open, the script will end with a message to that effect.


Properly running the script with a document first shows a dialog in which you can choose either the default English or German for dialog messages. Type "German" or "DE", if you wish, but actually anything other than the default chooses German. If you want to add another language, the script is structured so that you can easily add other language phrases – these are not built-in. Ask on the Scribus mailing list if you need help. The "posix" in the title bar is a message indicating this was run on Linux – Windows would show "nt".


Next, you can choose a color for your registration and other marks. The default is a registration color – fully saturated in CMYK. You may choose your own if you are not using a four-color process, but importantly, make sure you have created the color and the name is correct.

Now choose the directory where you wish your final PDFs to be saved:

Image:Dir dialog.png

After this, you may edit the file prefix for your PDF files. The default names for your files will be "scribus_print_00001.pdf", "scribus_print_00002.pdf", and so on.


The next dialog will choose the units for your final document and the calculations for various parameters. The default is millimeters – you do not have to choose the units of your original document.


The following dialog will show a different default value depending on the units chosen. The default distance is equal to 20 points, but here we see this amounts to 7mm. This is the amount to be cropped from the edges of the final paper size.


The page layout type will change the behavior of our script. For this script we may choose either a double page layout or single pages – see Opening, Creating, Saving..., under New Document DialogENDNOTE for more about this. In the script dialog below we can choose "dr" for Double-sided, first page a right page, "dl" for Double-sided, first page left, and "s" for all single pages. Let's look at an artificial example to show what happens when we run our script.



Above are pages 2 and 3 of an A4 document in Scribus where the images have been placed at the outer edges and inner margins of the original paper size. Note that it is up to the person using Scribus to place objects for the appropriate amount of bleed, the script does not do this for you. Here, the far left and far right images each extend 9 pts beyond the edge of the original page.


Here is the output as seen in Adobe Reader – these were individual PDFs from which a montage was created. These final pages are now 14mm larger than A4 in both height and width, and are marked to be trimmed to A4 size. We anticipate that the left and right images will have about 9 pts trimmed from their outer edges.


Now you have choices for adding these various components individually. Again, ask your printer if these are necessary, useful, or perhaps a hindrance.

Finally, you have the opportunity to add a little message at the bottom of each page, and of course you want to proudly proclaim your use of Scribus, even though you can insert whatever message you prefer:


When you click this last OK, the script transforms pages one by one, making single-page PDFs.


  • In Windows, a problem can occur if you run the script while you simultaneously have Adobe Reader running, and have opened a file of the same name that the script wishes to create – the script will fail in this case. This is presumably related to the way Adobe Reader functions in Windows, and does not occur with Linux.
  • It is important to use the "dr", "dl", and "s" options correctly for the layout, since results can be quite unexpected otherwise.
  • The Scribus document that you begin with will be closed in Scribus, hopefully replaced by one called "tmp.sla", although this one will also not automatically be saved. Therefore, be sure that you have saved your original document before running the script, since there will be no warning or option to save once the script starts.
  • There are quite a number of dialogs, and no way to go back or halt the script in the middle. Once you begin, if you should change your mind about an entry you will need to finish the script, then start from the beginning again.
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