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Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Binding

Binding Methods


Binding is the process of gathering folded signatures using one of several methods. In saddle-stitch binding, signatures are gathered to form a common spine and then stitched with staples. Perfect binding involves gathering groups of signatures, grinding the bound edge, and gluing the signatures at the spine into a one-piece paper cover.

The final process in printing involves scoring, folding, collating and gathering, sewing (stitching), end papering (for books), trimming and casing.

These processes can convert a single printed flat sheet into their final form, for example to brochures, folders, booklets, etc.

Folding (Signatures)

The first stage of the finishing is folding. This makes sure that all printed sheets are in their correct sequence. The format of the folding is worked out at the planning stage of the book project. The different types of folding are designed to reduce paper wastage of the original sheet to a sequential page signature before trimming.

The signatures are made up of a number of pages. The size of the original printed sheet and the end requirement depends on whether it will be a four-page, six-page, eight-page, twelve-page, sixteen or thirty-two page signatures. 

Folding machines work at great accuracy and high speed. They are equipped with a number of attachments such as scoring, trimming, slitting, perforating and gluing.


This is a preliminary step to folding, whereby a sheet of cover or heavy stock is creased to avoid stock cracking or creasing during the folding process. The method of scoring involves locking a scoring rule in a forme, on a platen or cylinder press. Heavier stock requires a thicker scoring rule.


Whether done manually or by machine, collating is a process of gathering the printed signatures into their correct sequence. It may be an Invoice book containing duplicate customer copy and book-keeping copy.

Saddle Stitching

The final thickness or size of the publication depends on whether the printed signatures are saddle-stitched or side stitched.

Saddle stitching is the preferred method for booklets, which are less than ninety-six pages. For example magazines or catalogues. The advantages allow the booklet to lie flat, where pages can be easily turned over and the entire page is visible for easy reading.

The other method is side stitching, whereby the thickness of paper or the number of pages is too great for saddle stitching. They cannot be easily opened flat. It is a cheaper method of binding and is readily used as university readers guides or for binding student assignments, manuals etc. 

When signatures are collated and folded for saddle-stitch binding, the inner pages may project outward slightly. The printed area moves slightly with respect to other pages. The more pages there are in a book the farther out the pages closest to the centre of the book move with respect to the other pages.

This phenomenon is known as “creep” or “shingling”. If creep is not compensated for during imposition, graphics and text in a multiple-page publication will appear to move away from the “gutter” – where pages meet at the binding – in the first half of the book and toward the gutter in the second half of the book.

Perfect Binding

This is a common method for telephone directories, magazines and paperback books. But also good for cheap publications, as gloss paper cannot be used as the binding falls apart when the glue is set and becomes stiff.

This process binds pages with a flexible adhesive compared to traditional sewing or stitching.

Most magazines are perfect bound with it a neat, square spine.

The signatures are collated and their backs are ground off to leave a rough surface to apply the adhesive. The cover is glued in place over the spine.

This type of binding is only good for uncoated matt stock, whereas coated papers need special attention of strong spinal adhesion. 

A disadvantage of this type of binding occurs when the folded ends of the signatures are cut off during the binding process before it is glued. So therefore, this weakens the structure of the pages, as they all become single sheets.

Perfect binding is a loosely used term for using adhesive binding, the opposite to sewing or stitching.

Burst Binding

This method differs from perfect binding as the spines of the signatures must be notched during the folding process. The machine uses special burst binding attachments.

The glue penetrates the notches during the binding process, without the spine being cut into single leaves. 

Burst binding is suitable for 4, 8, 12, 16 or 32 page signatures, which are sewn together, and then joined with other signatures. This makes it easy for books to be made with any number of pages.
The imposition for burst binding differs to perfect binding, as the signatures do not require the spine to be trimmed to individual pages.

The advantage over perfect binding is that it is a far stronger method with the pages remaining in their signatures, and also this binding will last far longer than any other method of binding. Illustrations can be printed over a double page spread with a stitch or staple without necessarily repositioning.

Other forms of binding

Spiral binding, an easy method of compiling pages together.



Printmate, AAPM Australia, Melbourne, 1989. Print Publishing Guide, Adobe, 1995.

Demonstrate your understanding of binding by making a comment for each of the binding methods shown above. Which do you think works best and why?

·        Signature: A sheet of printed pages which when folded become a part of a book or publication.

·        Perfect binding is a type of binding that glues the edge of sheets to a cover like a telephone book, Microsoft software manual, or Country Living Magazine.

·        Saddle stitch: Binding a booklet or magazine with staples in the seam where it folds.

·        Creep varies depending on the thickness of the paper and the number of pages. If there is no creep allowance, when pages are trimmed the outer margins become narrower toward the centre of the booklet and there is the possibility that text or images may be cut off.

·        Gather: Signatures assembled next to each other in the proper sequence for binding, as compared to nested. Also called stacked.

·        Trimming: is the process of cutting a document down to its finished size.

·        Burst Binding: To bind by forcing glue into notches along the spines of gathered signatures before affixing a paper cover. Also called burst bind, notch bind and slotted bind.

I would say that Burst binding would work the best as it will last for longer than any other method of binding.
During the folding process the spines of the signatures must be notched.
Illustrations can be printed over a double page spread with a stitch or staple without necessarily repositioning.


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