What Are The Binding Options in Commercial Printing?

What Are The Binding Options in Commercial Printing?

Often when we talk with customers, we find that they often ask the question, “what type of binding is best for my booklet”. So today we’re going to outline the types of booklet binding that is available for any printed piece. We’ll also talk about which type of printed piece each type of binding is suited for.

Saddle Stitched Binding

In the commercial printing industry Saddle Stitching refers to a type of binding where printed “spreads” are stapled in the spine and then folded. A example would be the common magazines (Time magazine, People magazine, etc.) that you would find at the supermarket check out isle. A machine known as a booklet maker gathers all the sheets in sequential order, then places two staples in the middle of the document, folds it and then trims the edges of the booklet for a clean look.

Saddle StitchingTo produce an 8.5”x11” booklet the printer would print 11”x17” “spreads” which contain a total of 4 pages on them (2 on the front side and 2 on the backside). For this reason, saddle stitched booklets must always have a total number of pages that is divisible by 4. To bind a saddle stitched book the booklet maker machines gathers all the spreads and then they are then stapled, folded in half and trimmed to end up with the 8.5”x11” finished booklet.

There is a limit to the number of pages that can be Saddle Stitched in a booklet and it partly depends on the thickness of the paper used for the job. The second determining factor is the thickness of the staple wire being used and how far that wire can penetrate through the layers of paper. Typically, though most commercial printers have booklet makers that can handle up to about 17-20 “spreads” which is the equivalent of a 68-80 page booklet.
If the cover of a saddle stitched booklet uses the same paper stock as the inner pages it’s called a self-cover. If the cover is a different paper stock (typically slightly heavier) it’s called “plus cover” saddle stitch book.

Perfect Binding

Perfect binding consists of a wraparound cover typically made from a heavier paper stock that is glued at the spine with the interior block of pages of the book. The name “Perfect” binding comes from the clean cut of the pages.  The entire book, including the cover and interior pages are trimmed to the same size and therefore “line up perfectly”.  The finished book is much more aesthetically pleasing that say, a saddle stitched book which doesn’t always lay perfectly flat.  In addition, a perfect bound book has a squared spine that can contain the title of the booklet making it easy to find on a bookshelf.

Book binding typesWith perfect bound books the cover is usually printed on a thicker paper stock and often is either laminated or UV coated to protect the cover from scratches or scuffing. In the binding process, the interior sections are roughed up with a grinding wheel on the edge that meets the cover to make them absorb the hot glue. The other three sides are then face trimmed with a hydraulic cutter. This type of binding is similar to what you would see with a paperback book. The only limitation on the number of pages you can have in a perfect bound book is the size of the perfect binding machine but in almost all cases a perfect bound book can hold a much larger number of pages than a saddle stitched book.


Wire-O binding (sometimes called double wire or twin loop) is a popular type of binding that involves the use of a “C” shaped wire spine that is squeezed into a round shape using a wire closing device. Wiro  binding create professional-quality books Wiro Binding Option from Influence Graphics Printingthat allows the bound books to have smooth crossover, that lay flat and where the book contents can flip a full 360°.  The Wire-O wires are available in a wide variety of colors. This binding is great for annual reports, calendars, PowerPoint decks, look books and reports.

Wiro bound books are made of individual sheets, that are punched with a row of round or square holes on the binding edge. Once punched, a front and back cover is added. The wire is then placed through the holes. Finally, the wire is inserted into a “closer” machine which is basically a vise that crimps the wire closed and into its round shape.

Spiral Binding

Spiral binding can be the most economical form of binding. It is commonly used for booklets where it is necessary or desirable to be able to open the booklet back on itself without breaking the spine. It is also great for thick booklets as the Spiral Binding at Influence Graphics Printing NYCbinding can’t split open from the weight of the book. Spiral binding is made by punching holes along the entire length of the spine of the page and covers then winding a plastic coil through the holes to provide a fully flexible hinge at the spine. Shaped like a long corkscrew, the coil is inserted and threaded through small holes punched along the spinal edge of the book’s cover and pages.  Spiral coils come in a wide variety of colors and sizes to accommodate books of various thicknesses.  While spiral binding is not really intended to be reopened to allow the contents of the book to be changed, it can be done.  The maximum thickness of a book that spiral binding can accommodate is approximately 2 inches.  Typically customers request a heavier stock front and back cover along with an acetate protective sheet on top of the cover.

GBC Binding

GBC binding option at Influence Graphics Printer NYCComb binding uses a curled plastic “comb” that is fed through the punched slits to hold the sheets together. Comb binding allows a book to be assembled, disassembled and reassembled without damage to the book. It’s great for making last minute changes to your booklets. Comb supplies are typically available in a wide range of colors and diameters.  GBC or Comb binding has fallen out of favor in recent years but it tends to look cheap compared to the other binding options.

If you are unsure what type of binding is best for your project, talk to one of our customer service representatives who can advise you on which type of binding makes the most sense for your printed booklets.

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