Booklet Binding 101

Which type of booklet binding is the most affordable? The quickest? The most durable? Here’s everything you need to know about different binding methods.

Most Common Types of Booklet Binding

Booklet Binding types

Binding types

Let’s start with saddle stitching, one of the most popular and affordable binding methods. Although it’s called “stitching,” it’s actually created with wire staples. It’s called saddle stitching because the collated sheets are draped over a saddle-like piece of machinery during the stapling process.
Booklet Binding

saddle stitch

Next is wire-o (wire bound) binding, another very popular method of binding. It is durable, due mostly to its ability to lay flat when open. Wire-o binding is created by punching holes through the collated sheets and using formed wire to connect the pages. It has a very professional look, due to the metal wire, and thus is often used in formal presentations or meetings. The wire can come in a variety of colors and lengths, depending on the look you want. Below is a video of the process:
Booklet Binding

Click to see video!

Booklet Binding

wire-o binding

A similar method to wire-o binding is spiral binding. Plastic or wire coils are looped through holes along the paper edges, it can come in a variety of sizes and colors, and it lies flat while open. It is more durable than wire-o binding, but not as professional-looking. The coil is more flexible and easy to maintain its shape, so it is good for documents that need to be mailed. It is used often in cookbooks, manuals and booklets that need to be referred to often.
Booklet Binding

spiral (coil) binding

Next is perfect binding, another common method of binding. Most paperback novels you see at the bookstore are perfect bound, along with corporate reports, manuals and catalogs due to its professional appearance. It is created by gluing the pages and cover together at the spine. Before the collated pages are glued, the spinal edge of the sheets are roughed up with blades or abrasives. This increases the bonding area for the glue, and thus the efficacy of the bind. This method is popular because it’s relatively economical to produce, it displays and stacks well, and it allows for printing on the spine — which helps others easily locate it in a stack of books. The downside is it requires around 50 pages or more, it doesn’t lay flat, it’s permanent (can’t remove pages) and it’s not as sturdy as other options.
Booklet Binding

Perfect binding

Less Common Types of Booklet Binding

Now we get into the less common types of binding.. We’ll start with sewn bound. There are two types: center sewn and side sewn. Center is down the middle, while side — you guessed it — is on the side. This type of binding is very unique, pretty and delicate. The ends of the thread are normally cut and tied close to the edges. Some customers prefer the thread to remain long, and one client even wanted the ends untied for a more bohemian look. The disadvantage is it takes longer than other methods of binding, and is thus more expensive.
Booklet Binding

Side sewn binding

Booklet Binding

Center sewn binding

Comb (or plastic) binding, although very similar to spiral and wire-o binding, is rarely used in our shop. It’s not very durable because its teeth tend to break off, and it looks the least professional (in our opinion). On the other hand, it’s very cheap, simple and can open flat. It can come in multiple colors and sizes.
Booklet Binding

comb (plastic) binding

Screw binding is just what it sounds like: documents are held together with a screw. It can be plastic, aluminum or heavy-duty steel. This allows for a variety of colors. Screw binding has a lot of benefits: it’s durable, it has a large binding capacity and it’s easy to stack and store due to the flat nature of the screw post head. Unfortunately, it’s more expensive than other binding methods, and documents will not be able to lay flat. Screw posts are a great choice for photo albums, architectural blueprints, engineering drawings, scripts and especially swatch books.
Booklet Binding

Screw binding

Booklet Binding

swatch book

Tape binding: Essentially perfect binding with a piece of tape on the spine. It’s affordable, stacks flat and looks nice. It will not open flat. People use it instead of perfect binding often for the look.
Booklet Binding

Tape binding

Side stitch: Similar to saddle stitch, but the wire is stapled into the front cover instead of along the spine. The drawbacks of side stitching as opposed to saddle stitch is that the pages don’t open flat, and there is margin loss along the binding edge of the pages. Advancements in perfect binding have decreased the appeal of side-stitching.

The following three binding methods are not offered at amp, but we will go over them briefly.

Loop stitch: A type of saddle stitching in which the staples are formed into wire loops, essentially creating a three-ring binder. Unlike a three-ring binder, loop stitching eliminates the three holes in the booklet and increases the binding margin of the text.

Hardcover (Case binding): Exactly what it sounds like. It is the hardcover books you see at the bookstore. There are several different types, but usually the inside pages are sewn together in sections and then glued to a cover. It’s fairly expensive.

Plastic Grip: A very inexpensive and simple method of binding. A 3-sided plastic spine is attached to the collated pages.

Unique Types of Booklet Binding

Finally, there are unique ways of binding that deviate from the norm. Here are two examples: Carabiner binding: One of our clients wanted to send their customers a custom-branded carabiner. Attached to the carabiner are pages of information about the carabiner and how it is special. They had a great idea to bind the pages with the carabiner instead of the usual saddle stitch or wire-o binding.
Booklet Binding

carabiner booklet binding

Hidden wire-o binding: Although hidden wire-o isn’t as unique as carabiner binding, it is not used too often. People utilize this method because it combines the advantages of wire-o binding and perfect binding: the booklet lies flat, and the spine can be printed upon.
Booklet Binding

Hidden wire-o binding

So now that you’re a binding expert, are you ready to make a kick-ass booklet? Happy binding!

— Sincerely, your awesome friends at amp