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Choosing the Best Binding Options for your Publications

December 14, 2020

The type of binding you’ll choose for your next publication depends on a number of factors. Among these is the page count, the document’s purpose, how and where it will be used, and how will it need to function. With good design, vibrant color and good paper choices, all of the following binding methods can make you proud!

Common Types of Binding in the Commercial Print Industry 

Saddle Stitching


Saddle stitching is the most popular and also the most cost-effective method of binding. You can have a self-cover booklet where all pages are on the same paper. You can also choose to have a “plus cover” booklet where the outer four pages are on a different stock, typically heavier, which enhances the feel of the document. 

The saddle stitching process starts with folding pages into signatures. The signatures are then picked up one at a time from their assigned pockets, mechanically opened and dropped onto an inverted V-shaped continuous cycling conveyor called a saddle. 

The first signature dropped on the saddle is the innermost (center) and then the conveyor movement allows the next signature to drop on top of the first and so on. The cover (outer 4 pages) is the last to be dropped and aligned before stapling through the spine (folded centerline). The booklet then proceeds to the three-knife trimmer where the three live edges are trimmed for a neat, finished appearance. 


  • Least expensive binding method
  • Ideal for small or large production quantities
  • Pages stay open when the document is laid flat
  • Ideal for documents with lower page counts, such as booklets, brochures, calendars, pocket guides and programs
  • Easily accommodates crossover artwork that spreads across two facing pages with images bleeding to the gutter being visible
  • Adds no bulk making it ideal for documents that are being mailed

At Premier Print Group, we use a Müller Martini Saddle Stitcher. This totally automated stitcher has eight pockets, cover feeder, multiple stitcher heads and a 3-knife trimmer, all in line. It also features signature recognition cameras, assuring all signatures are fed and in the proper order.


Perfect Binding


Paperback books found on book store shelves are perfect examples of this binding method. This is ideal for publications with higher page counts than are suitable for saddle stitching. Perfect binding holds the collated pages together by gluing the spine of its wrap-around cover with a flexible adhesive. 

Once signatures are gathered, one on top of the next, jogged and clamped, the folded edge on the binding side is ground off creating a somewhat rough surface that the adhesive easily adheres to. With adhesive applied to the edges of all pages, the cover is then aligned and clamped on before trimming occurs on the three live edges. 


  • Less expensive than case binding (hardcover)
  • Lighter than hardcover binding
  • Can be used cost-effectively on short print runs
  • Creates a flat spine that can be printed on
  • Higher perceived value than saddle stitching
  • Ideal for documents that contain hundreds of pages
  • Easy to stack

Spiral & Wire-O Binding






Spiral and Wire-O binding can be excellent choices for presentation documents, handbooks, calendars, journals, training manuals and cookbooks.

Spiral and Wire-O binding involves punching evenly spaced holes along the edge of the document and then weaving a material through the holes to hold the covers and pages together. This material is typically a plastic coil for spiral binding or metal double loops for Wire-O. Spiral binding is the less expensive option, while Wire-O binding has a more polished look and a higher perceived value than spiral binding.


  • Pages lay flat when open
  • Pages can be folded back on themselves 360 degrees with no harm to the binding
  • Documents can accommodate covers and inside papers of varying thicknesses
  • Accommodates a wide range of page counts (low, high or in between)
  • Ideal for documents that feature index tabs
  • Plastic coil and Wire-O materials are available in a variety of colors

Case Binding

Case bound books

Case binding is the granddaddy of all the binding methods. Picture a hardcover book and you are seeing an example of this. They can look elegant on a coffee table. They can endure rugged use as experienced with text books. Case bound books seemingly last forever with many that are centuries old on library shelves.

Case binding involves sewing the pages of the book in page order, then attaching a hard cover made of thick, rigid paperboard. Many of these books have an added dust jacket.


  • Highest perceived value of all the binding options
  • Superior strength and durability
  • Easy to stack

Things to Consider When Deciding Which Binding Method Is Best for Your Document

Customers come to Premier Print Group with a wide variety of challenges and goals. Choosing the best binding option to suit their purposes is one of them. Here are some things we recommend that they consider when making their choice.


From least expensive to most expensive, you have saddle stitched, perfect bound, spiral bound and case bound. If keeping your costs down is a top consideration, go with saddle stitching if page count allows.

Number of Pages

It is best to check with your printer regarding ideal page counts for various binding methods. For example, if the text stock is thin like 60# gloss, you can saddle stitch up to 96 pages plus cover. Heavier stock will reduce the number of pages. Other methods impose fewer restrictions based on thickness.

Type of Document

If your document is a booklet, brochure, small catalog or other type of document that has a limited shelf life, go with the economy of saddle stitching. On the other hand, if your document is a book that will be around for a while, go with any of the rest of our options.


Will your readers need to lay your publication open on a flat surface? For instance, if it is an instruction manual such as a how-to guide or cookbook, you should probably avoid perfect or case binding. Opt instead for saddle stitching, coil or Wire-O binding so that pages remain open and flat.


Will your document feature two-page spreads where images will crossover from one page to the next? Then you’ll want to go with saddle stitching, perfect binding or case binding. The best binding method for displaying two-page spreads is saddle stitching, since the gutter is clearly visible when pages are laying flat.

Preparing for a Binding Project with a Commercial Printer 

At Premier Print Group, we leave nothing to chance when it comes to printing and finishing your documents. And this includes helping you prepare your document with the final binding in mind. Here are things we recommend you consider.

Watch Your Gutters

The gutter is the area of your document that leads into the binding. When you open the document, the gutter is the vertical space in the middle, between the two pages. When you are designing your document, watch your gutters. What you bleed into the gutter and remain visible depends on the kind of binding you are using.

  • Saddle stitching: Everything that’s printed across the gutter is visible.
  • Spiral and Wire-O binding: The binding breaks across the gutter, separating the two facing pages. Keep type and images ½” away from the binding edge which will be punched.
  • Perfect binding and case binding: Images and text that are printed too close to the gutter may get lost.

What this all means is that if you are going to use saddle stitching, you can place images and text as close to the gutter as you like. But if you are going to use spiral, Wire-O, perfect or case binding, keep your gutters clear of text and images.

If you are designing a document that will be saddle stitched, your page count must be in in multiples of four. Exception: It is possible to have fold-out pages (like a 6-page centerspread), but be sure to check with your printer for the exact dimensions of these pages. The need for multiples of four pages does not apply for plastic coil, Wire-O, perfect binding or case binding.


The type of binding you choose for your publication depends on your budget, your audience, how the document will be used, how you want readers to perceive your brand, and plenty more. Once you weigh your options, you are ready to choose the binding method that satisfies all of your requirements.

Premier Print Group is dedicated to providing superior products and service. Our experts are always glad to assess your projects and determine the best printing and bindery methods to ensure the highest quality and your total satisfaction. Contact us and let’s start a conversation.

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