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Caught in a Bind. Which Binding Option is Best?

Updated: Jan 16

Is binding simply the means of holding your document together, or is it an integral part of the creative? Whatever the answer, it’s important to understand all the options available. There are probably more than you realise.

Because binding often impacts the design and pagination, we suggest making a decision early, and in collaboration with your creative team. Here are the key elements that will impact your binding choice.

  • Budget

  • Product Life Span

  • Readability

  • Functionality

  • Storage

  • Appearance


These are only a few of the options available. Our team of experts are always ready to help, so give us a call with any questions.

Saddle Stitching – The means of securing folded and nested pages with staples (stitches) down the middle of the fold (spine). Stitching is a common and cost effective means for binding thinner books, calendars, magazines and catalogues. The maximum number of pages is determined by the thickness of the document. Pages must also be in multiples of 4.

Consider the elements of your project that will in turn, affect the type of binding you choose.

Perfect Binding – Less common today due to poorer durability, perfect binding is an adhesive method used for digitally printed books, as it does not require folded sections. Single pages are collated into a text block, and ground down by 2mm on the binding edge. This allows the glue to better secure the cover and text. This finish gives you a square spine and a more ‘prestigious’ look to the publication.

PUR Binding – Again, similar in concept to perfect binding, however employing the use of a more durable polyurethane glue. Single pages or folded sections are ground down by 2mm to glue the cover to the text block. PUR binding glue takes approx. 24  hours to cure and is excellent for publications requiring a longer shelf life. PUR binding is the more common method used today for digitally printed books.

Lock Binding – Another square spine adhesive binding method, pages are printed and folded into sections with the spine of each section perforated. This allows glue to push through into the sections and secure them to the inner cover of the book. Lock binding is suitable for a spine width over 4 mm.

Section Sewing – As with burst binding pages are printed and folded as sections. Sections are not only glued, but sewn together with either a drawn on soft cover, or case bound cover.

Double Loop Wire Binding (Wiro) – A continuous wire loop that runs through punched holes in the pages to secure together. Text and images must be offset from the binding margin to ensure they are not compromised.

Side Sewing– Side sewing has become popular recently, often used with more contemporary projects. As it suggests, side sewing is a thread based binding method which can be applied in two positions – in from binding edge (as seen in the image below), or direct down the spine, replacing staples in a saddle stitched format.

Half Canadian – Half Canadian is a wiro bound method, but with the wire mostly concealed by the cover. This option combines the benefits of wire binding, as well as a printed spine. Full Canadian binding is similar, but with the wire exposed on both the front and back covers.

These are by no means all of the binding methods available today, just the ones we see a little more regularly. If you have any questions concerning your method of binding, give us a call. We’re always happy to help.

Our next article will feature tips on designing for different binding methods, including creep, gutters, split images and binding margins.

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