Rule Of Thumb: If your publication has up to 40 pages then we recommend staple binding it (also called wire stitching or saddle stitching). If it has 32 pages or more then you can go for perfect binding (also called PUR Binding). Both options are possible for your zine, art book, photobook, catalogue or brochure. Each has its own advantages but the number of pages is usually the biggest factor in deciding which binding method will be appropriate for your project.
A third option, for the larger budget, is case binding. This creates a high-end, hardback book and works for 28 inside pages or more. Ideal for impressive children's books, coffe table style books and notebooks.
Wire Stitching (Saddle Stitching)
What is Wire Stitching?
Your publication will be folded in half then bound on the spine with two staples. You will have seen this method most commonly in the binding of lightweight magazines. The printed sheets are stacked with the cover at the top, the centre spread at the bottom, then folded in half and bound together using two staples. We need the pages sent as single pages rather than spreads please. Just untick ‘spreads’ when you export to PDF and that should sort it!
• Sheets are folded then stapled. • This works for up to 40 pages. You push this to 72 pages but the booklets will bounce and not sit flat. • MUST be a multiple of 4 pages. • Great for double page spreads because the whole image can be seen. • Supply us just one artwork pdf.
How many pages can I have?
Wire stitching is only recommended for booklets with upto 40 pages.
If you have more pages than 40 pages then the thickness when folded in half will cause your booklet to ‘bounce’ open when laid flat rather than stay closed. It just wont sit flat because the inside pages are constantly pushing the cover up and out. Additionally more than 40 pages causes stress on the staples and they could rip or fall out when the booklet is read.
TIP: The more the pages, the lighter then cover and inside page paper weight you should choose. A 300gsm cover and 130gsm inside pages will work perfectly for 8-24 pages, then next up maybe consider reducing the cover to 200 or 250gsm. For 36 pages+ 100gsm might work better for the inside pages. However, to confuse the issue slightly, if you are absolutely in love with the idea of wire stitching then we can add a square spine to the stapled booklet which will make for a much neater bind (visually more similar to perfect bound) and the pages will open nice and smoothly with less bounce.
Do my covers need laminating?
On thicker papers of 170gsm+ the fibres can break up and crumble when they are folded (as shown here on the right). If you have a white background on your cover this isn’t a problem but if you have full ink coverage then it is likely the ink will crack.
The example here illustrates this perfectly – the black background has cracked on the fold and the booklet is left with a really obvious scuff mark down the spine. #unprofessional.
Laminating prevents cracking
We ALWAYS recommend matt or gloss laminating the outside of covers printed onto 170gsm or thicker. (Matt lamination for silk or uncoated card, gloss lamination when the covers are printed onto gloss card).
Lamination gives the sheet more protection and prevents the ink from cracking. Our example here on the left has full black coverage on a 250gsm silk cover but because it is matt laminated the ink hasn’t cracked unlike the image above. The end result is a crisp, smooth fold and the booklets look great!
Some of my content was trimmed off!
When folded, the pages near the middle of a booklet start further away from the spine. The image to the right illustrates this – you can see the centre pages are positioned 5mm away from the spine side of the booklet. The result of this is that these pages could be cut as much as 5mm shorter when the exposed edge of the booklets is trimmed. This is sometimes referred to as ‘creep’. Any page numbers, patterns or objects intended to be in the same position on every page won’t be and will get nearer the edge as you flick through the booklet. For this reason it is a good idea to keep any page numbers and important information at least 5mm+ from the page edges.
Can I have a 21 page booklet?
Nope, wire stitched booklets need a multiple of four pages.
When you fold a sheet of paper in half to staple you end up with four pages. Therefore you artwork must have 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36 or 40 pages for it to work as a booklet. We can’t produce a 21, 25, 29, 33 page booklet because you will end up with one loose page which cant be stapled in.
Wire Stitching Checklist
Stick to 40 pages or under
Your total number of pages must be a multiple of 4 (8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28 etc)
Always laminate covers onto 170gsm+ to prevent cracking when folded
The thicker the booklet, the more it will bounce open rather than sit flat
170gsm is the maximum thickness for text pages or the staples can pull out
Pages towards the centre of your zine will be trimmed shorter so it is best to keep important information well away from the pages edges
What is perfect binding?
Perfect Binding gives your publication a more book-like appearance. In this process all the pages are trimmed to size and stacked in a block.
They are aligned at the left hand spine edge, roughened up and a strong glue is applied. The separate cover is creased, wrapped around the text block and then bound on to give a square finish
How many pages can I have?
We recommend perfect binding if you have 40 pages or more (We can perfect bind from 32 pages or more with a skinny 3mm spine). It is great for projects that have a thickness of more than 3mm. If you have less than 40 pages then sometimes increasing the weight of your text pages will make the spine thick enough for perfect binding.
However, we don’t recommend choosing thicker than 170gsm for text pages because the pages become too rigid to turn and read. Drop us an email and we’ll be happy to advise.
Your book will have a 4 page cover. (referred to as 4pp)
“I dont understand, why do I have a 4 page cover?!”
On your quote from us it will say ‘4pp Cover’. This is because your cover comprises 4 pages: a front cover and a back cover aswell as an inside front and back cover. All of these are printed onto your chosen cover stock making it a 4 page cover. (In print language, the ‘pp’ is plural for ‘page’… ‘1p’ is one page, ‘2pp’ is two pages. There you go, everyday’s a school day!)
To make your cover easier to open a ‘hinge’ is creased onto the front and back cover (see left). This is normally around 8mm.
To give it extra strength the hinge is then glued to the first and last text pages of your book. In turn, this means around 8mm of these two pages is completely covered and obscured by the hinge. Therefore when preparing the artwork it is best to keep any important content, graphics and page numbers at least 10-12mm away from the spine side space to avoid it being hidden.
Should I laminate my cover?
Your cover goes through a few processes and machines before it ends up on the book. It is subjected to scoring and folding which can weaken the paper fibres. If you have a large area of flat colour it could (and usually does) crack and scratch. You can see the effect of this on the black ink here and honestly, it looks a mess!
Lamination vastly reduces the risk of cracking on thicker paper stocks. It only adds an extra couple of pounds to the cost but without it people’s enjoyment of your publication might be ruined before they’ve even opened the cover.
I have images that go across a spread will some of the image be lost in the middle?
Unfortunately yes, but there is a way round this (read on…).
The ‘spine gutter’ is the section of a book’s page immediately next to the spine which does becomes obscured during binding. This happens because the pages are glued quite tight and it is not possible to press them completely flat. Grab any perfect bound book off the shelf and you’ll see the area we are referring to. It tends to be hard to see 3-4mm nearest to the spine side of each page. The line on the ‘filthy’ example here should run smoothly across the centre spread but 3mm is lost on the left AND the right hand pages in the gutter and the line actually appears jagged. Keep reading, a solution is coming….
How to solve the spine gutter issue
The good news is that you can overcompensate for the spine gutter by sliding the troublesome image away from the centre.
Drop your image in to the Indesign artwork across the double page spread in the position you’d like it to be. Then duplicate the image on top of itself.
Step and Repeat in Indesign is the safest way to do this (press Alt + Ctrl + U) because they will end up in EXACTLY the same position. Then use the black arrow to drag the right hand side of the image to the middle of the page.
Select the second duplicate image and again using the black arrow tool drag the LEFT HAND side of the image to the middle of the page.
You now have one image but split into two equals parts. Select the left hand side and move it left by 3mm then select the right hand side and move it right by 3mm. Easy!
This isn’t an exact science but will give the illusion that the image matches up in the middle of the finished books. PRO TIP! (Your creative director probably wont know this one ????)
What about text that crosses a spread?
It is NEVER a good idea to put text across a double page spread because if some of it is lost in the spine gutter the words or sentences will be incomplete and will no longer make sense to the reader.
Keep any important text at least 6mm away from the spine to make things easier for the reader.
How close to the page edge can I go?
Paper is made from natural fibres which can change shape when printed then move and slide when trimmed. We advise leaving a ‘Quiet Zone’ of 3mm around the edge of each page so if the paper moves slightly none of your content is trimmed off. The bleed will also help with this but it’s never good practise having important information too close to the page edge because if it’s partially trimmed off it will lose the desired effect.
Keep page numbers at least 5mm from all the edges – you want people to find them not have them trimmed off!
Well, we have compiled a video step-by-step guide to show you the process involved and to help you gain an understanding of what decisions you can make to improve the appearance of your next book. It showcases how the case itself is made and the options for cover materials including printing a cover from your bespoke artwork, choosing a paper from the GF Smith Colorplan range or using one of the Winter&Company book cover materials. We discuss the technical considerations of the covers, endpapers and binding.
LET'S GET STARTED
What is case binding?
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