Binding your publication

Not a difficult topic, but it will make your life easier if you think about it in advance. If you haven’t done it yourself before, here are a few things to bear in mind.

Your choices of binding are going to depend on how many pages you have, what your budget is, the longevity of your publication and any special considerations.


Folded leafletWell okay, this is kind of obvious, but it is cheap and the printers can do all the folding mechanically. I’ve published four-page and six-page A4 publications in this manner, and a smaller folded leaflet could stretch to eight or ten pages.

Saddle stitching

Saddle stitchingFor small-to-medium sized books such as reports, this is the option you’re most likely to use. Saddle stitching is essentially a fancier version of stapling. This is also pretty cheap and quick to do – how many pages you’ll be able to bind will depend on the weight of paper and is really a question to ask the printer. I’ve personally published 20,000 word reports over 48 pages using this method. Covers can also be done fairly simply – there isn’t much of an issue with spines and the front and back covers can go on the first and last pages of your QuarkXPress document.

One issue I have had with saddle-stitched books is creep – printers will typically trim books after folding them and the outside pages typically don’t extend as far as the inside ones. This was really only a problem because there was a graphic element on the outside edges of all the book pages and it led to slight variations in width. Again, this is a question for your printer.

Perfect binding

Perfect binding

This is basically adhesive binding with a spine, common on paperback books for example. You’ll need to use this for thicker books that can’t be saddle stitched. In my experience this does add to a printer’s turnaround time, so you’ll have to factor that into your schedule. In addition, you or your designer will have to put together a cover with enough width to form the spine. The width of the spine is again a question to ask your printer.

Other options

Wiro bindingThis is the point in the discussion when representatives from printers get their briefcases out and effect a wry smile. Comb or wire binding is an alternative to perfect binding and allows a pubication to be laid out flat. It’s not particularly expensive, but I’ve found it takes printers quite a while to do. I’ve also seen hybrid varieties of this that allow you to incorporate a spine.

Casebound bookHardback binding is pretty expensive and unlikely to come up often (bearing in mind that if you’re reading this website, you’re probably producing publications on the cheap). The cheapest variant of it is casebound binding, where the first page of the book block is glued to the inside of the hardback cover (a bit like those comic book annuals you may remember from childhood). However, you’re going to have to do a fairly hefty print-run to make this cost-effective.

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