Monday, 18 November 2013

Finishing Processes - Folding and Binding


As I now know that I am going to produce a high-end book to be sold in gift shops I thought it was an appropriate time to look into binding methods, this is also an important part of the print process that I want to learn more about. 

Last year and in my foundation year I have worked with plastic spiral, wire spiral, saddle stitch, Japanese and perfect binding with a hard cover. However aside from the perfect binding these are all very simple methods of binding pages together. 

The process of binding involves gathering pages and securely holding them together to allow them to function as a publication of some kind. There are many different types available and these have different advantages and disadvantages involving factors such as cost and durability. The aesthetic of the binding method you choose should also be considered as some are more subtle and some may work better with specific design themes. 

Saddle Stitch

8 - 80 pages

One of the most common and economical binding methods. This is done by punching wire through the document's outside spine, then bending the wire flat on the inside centre fold to grip all the pages. It may provide a similar look, but is not the same as stapling. This can also be done with a needle and binding thread. The example I found below uses thread and when I used this method last year I used thread also. 

You can see it is a fairly subtle binding method not distracting from any design or text. 

Above is the colouring book I made as part of my COP practical last year, you can see I used thread to saddle stitch the book together. it had around 30 pages so it was an appropriate binding method as I wanted to avoid stapling. 

Loop Stitch

8 - 80 pages

This method is comparable to saddle stitching, but with a different finished effect. Loops are created with wire along the external spine in order to insert and secure the document into a 3-ring binder. This is a great option for information instalments that can be added to larger collection.

When looking for examples of this I found a booklet containing details, practical tips and direction on corporate governance in corporate relations.

 The loop stitch binding of the booklet was chosen to allows staff to file the booklet in their document folders for clean and hassle-free storing.

Stab Stitched or Side Stitched

2 - 300 pages

Stab or side stitching uses wire that is 'stabbed' into the front cover, through the inside pages and back cover of the document, instead of along the spine. This is often covered to hide the wire.

When researching into this method some more I found that it is also called Japanese binding and is the same as the method I used in part of my PPP information pack. 

When I carried out this binding method I found the book didn't open very well, especially in the middle. However, I found this example of Japanese binding and this opens much better and I can see a fold has been added where the stitch stops. If I ever use this method again this is something I will remember. 

This example is an infographic diary and the stitch works well with the design used. Coloured thread can be utilised to incorporate the binding into the design theme. 

Sewn Bound

8 - 24 pages

This is similar to saddle stitching, but uses thread instead of wire. Thread is stitched along the entire spine. As more pages are added it begins to closely resemble case binding, but without the hardcover.

Looking for examples helped me understand what exactly this method of binding was. 

You can see the stitch goes all the way up the spine whereas when saddle stitching binding doesn't need to do this. This example is part of a branding project and you can see the exposed stitch works with the natural aesthetic carried throughout. This is a  great example of how binding methods can enhance design decisions. 

Perfect Bound

50 - 250 pages

Sections of folded pages (often called signatures) have their spines trimmed off and roughed up to improve bonding with glue. All sections are collated and glued to its wrap-around cover. The cover is always scored on the back and front to assist ease of opening and exert less stress on the spine.

I found an example of a perfectly bound magazine. This method is appropriate for items such as magazines as it can hold together large numbers of pages in a clean and easy to open way.

You can see the glue applied down the spine of this magazine with the cover attached to this. Creases have been added to assist opening of the magazine. This method of binding is neat and covers and glue work, unlike a lot of the other methods looked at so far which are more exposed such as with the stitching. 

Tape Bound

50 - 250 pages

This method involves an adhesive tape being wrapped around the spine to hold the covers and inside pages in place. Pages typically need to be stitched together before applying the tape to reinforce and provide added strength.

I struggled to find an example of this method of binding which suggests it is not as popular as many others. I did discover that this is often referred to as thermal binding as the modern, automated method of this process involves heat. 

Screw Bound

16 - 400 pages

In screw, stud or post binding, holes are initially drilled through the complete document before a barrel post is inserted through the holes and a cap screw is then added to the post to hold everything together. This is frequently used for swatch books.

I hadn't seen this binding method before so it was interesting to look at examples.  

This is a campaign presentation book for a new Smart Car model and so you can see why this would be an appropriate method of binding giving a mechanical aesthetic. There is a fold next to the spine also to assist opening and reading of the book. 

Hardcover or Case Bound

60 - 400 pages

This is a standard binding method used for hardcover books. There are several different types to choose from but this typically involves the inside pages being sewn together in sections. These are then glued to end papers which are glued to the covers and spine.

Anatomy of Hard Cover Book

This diagram shows the elements that make up this method of binding, you can see it is one of the more complex methods of binding but gives a professional and durable finish. 

I created a perfect hardback bound note book when in my foundation year but unfortunately I do not have any images of this. However, as this is a popular method there are many examples online. 

This is an example of a perfect bound, hard-back cover book but with the addition of a dust jacket for added protection. 

Plastic Grip

2 - 250 pages

This method is simple and fairly easy and uses a moulded 3-sided plastic spine. By prying apart the 2 vertical strips the entire document is guided through one end of the plastic grip until it covers the full length of the spine.

I struggled to find an example of this as it is more a method of binding documents rather than designed publications, but you can see how it would work below. 

Comb bound or Plastic Bound

2 - 250 pages

This is an economical method suitable for manuals and books that need to lay flat when open. Using rectangular holes punched through the document, the plastic comb's rings are threaded through holes. Page edges at spine are covered by plastic comb.

I used this method last year for the lunch book I made for Speaking From Experience as I wanted the book to lay flat. 

On reflection I feel a wire-o bind would have been more aesthetically pleasing as the plastic comb has fairly thick rings.

Spiral Bound or Coil Bound

16 - 275 pages

This binding method utilizes a smooth round coil to hold pages together. This allows a book to lie flat when open or pages can be turned all the way around to the back if desired. Wire is threaded through punched holes and then ends are crimped to prevent the wire slipping off. Spirals or coils are available in a variety of colours to suit your design.

This method is idea for such as recipe books that you want to lay flat. 

As the wires come in many colours you can select one that works with your design, as the example above does. 

Wire-O Bound or Wire Bound

16 - 275 pages

This is very similar to spiral binding but has double coils to hold together pages. This method utilizes a smooth round coil to hold pages together and it allows a book to lie flat when open or pages can be turned all the way around to the back if desired. Wire is threaded through punched holes and then Ends are crimped to prevent wire slipping off. Spirals or coils are available in variety of colours.

I used this method last year when I produced a diary as part of my PPP pack. I chose this method as I wanted the diary to lay flat when open.

Another good use for this method is swatch books, as again the fact that this method allows pages to lay flat is useful. 

Belly Band

A belly band is a printed band that wraps around a publication, whether this be a bound book or loose pages, it is typically used with magazines. 

This example is part of some wedding stationary and wraps around the invitation. They are often used when packaging other items together as well as a method of binding/holding together pages. 

Elastic Band

This is an informal method of binding which involves an elastic band holding the pages together and this nestles in the centre fold. 

You can see an example of this below.

Although this is a cheap method of binding as you can see from this example it can be used effectively and work with certain designs. The design of this book is fairly hand rendered and informal and therefore this binding method is highly appropriate. 

Open Bind

When a book is bound without a cover leaving an exposed spine this is referred to as an open bind. 

There are many different variations of this but it is commonly used for art books as you can see with the example below. 


This features a 'z' shaped cover which is used to join two separate blocks and these typically will have been perfect bound. This binding method separates different content and so can be very useful. If you have a larger number of pages a more robust cover is needed to support the weight of the pages. 

You can see how this method can separate chapters/sections clearly. 

The Production Manual (book)


There are many folding techniques that can be utilised to turn a printed sheet into a more compact form or signature.

The Production Manual shows a wide variety of folding methods. 

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