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If the stated yield on a bond fund is for example 5.5 % is this the true yield or is this the yield before management expenses and any other fees?

Take a look at the FAQ part on bond funds (I think the first part of the stuff on bond funds) for a lot on fund yields.

What you are looking at is probably the "SEC Yield," which does include expense ratio and any other shared fund fees (it wouldn't include something like the $10 index fund fee Vanguard charges for balances under $10,000, or other low balance fees).

However, the SEC yield is a projection based on the coupon payments of current bond holdings projected forward, with the assumption maturing bonds will be replaced by equivalent bonds at the current prevailing yields. What we saw with short term bond funds, when interest rates were steadily rising, was that the SEC yield was well ahead of funds' "distribution yields" (actual dividends paid each month projected forward). During falling interest rates, the SEC yield would be ahead in the other direction (actual distributions would be higher than SEC yield). This affect is much less pronounced with longer term funds, because the replacement cycle for bonds is slower.

But the bottom line is, don't expect your current month's dividends to equal the listed yield divided by 12 (more precisely days in month divided by 365). How close the next 12 months dividends will be compared to current yield will depend on whether interest rates stay more of less steady.
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