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Types of Binding - Back to Basics

Caroline Leonard

There are many different types of binding methods out there that designers and students use for dissertations, portfolios, pitch documents and books.

Firstly I'll run through the most common types of binding:

Saddle-stitching - It's probably the easiest (have you the tools) and the most economical binding method. Pages are folded, creased and stapled together (not by an ordinary stapler - a stapler with long jaws, designed specifically for saddle stitching). We often see this type of binding used for lookbooks, booklets, and magazines that have a smaller page count. 

Saddle Stitched Booklet Printing

Saddle Stitched Booklet Printing

Perfect Binding - a form of binding most often used in the types of books you find yourself reading on the train or at home, otherwise known as paperback or softcover books. Perfect bound books can also be useful for manuals, catalogues, and annuals. Pages are folded into sections (termed signatures in the industry) and glued with a heavier printed wrap-around cover into the spine using a strong adhesive. It's not the strongest form of binding and your book won't open flat; you'll know a book has been poorly perfect bound when your pages start falling out.

Perhaps you've heard the term PUR perfect bound? Here the binding is much the same, but a stronger adhesive is used, and is what we would recommend if perfect binding is the style you're going for. Generally, a hardback covered book would only be PUR perfect bound, as the glue used to form your paperback or softcover books won't adhere to the hard case spine very well.

Perfect Binding

Perfect Binding

Perfect Binding

Perfect Binding

Section Sewn - Your most secure binding method. Here pages are folded together into sections (signatures). Each section is then sewn into the following section along the spine. The spine is then glued together for extra support and the cover then attached. A Section Sewn book, regardless of pagecount will be able to lay flat.

Section Sewn Book

Section Sewn Book

Section Sewing

Section Sewing

Wire Binding/ Spiral Binding - Most of you would have bound a document throughout school or university using one of these methods. In a nutshell, holes are punched through the pages of your document near the bound edge, and held together using either wire or plastic coils. If you're after a something a little fancier, a a document can be wire bound inside a hard cover, cloth or printed case.

Wiro Bound Document

Wiro Bound Document

Wiro binding with a Hard Cover that is blind debossed. Click to enlarge.

Cased-in Wiro Binding - If you would like to hide the wire from the outside there is a solution known as a Cased-in Wiro. This technique, however, is more involved than your traditional wiro bound document, but the final result looks lovely as you can see.

The inside of a Cased-in Wiro 
Click to enlarge

A printed cover for a Cased-in Wiro bound book

Moving on now to some more bespoke hand-made book binding options.. I'll try to keep it brief:

Pamphlet Binding uses a single section (signature) and is sewn with a running stitch down the spine; often an alternative to stapling (saddle stitch) but in my opinion leaves you with a much more elegant finish. 

Pamphlet Stitched Book -Click to enlarge book

Coptic Binding – A non-adhesive form of binding that stems from bookbinding methods employed by ancient Egyptians! Signatures are sewn through their folds, and attached to one another and again sewn through two loose covered boards with a chain like stitch across the spine. 

Coptic Bound book where the cover has been sewn on.

Coptic Bound book where the cover has been sewn on.

Coptic Bound book where the cover is mounted onto the end papers

Coptic Bound book where the cover is mounted onto the end papers

Japanese Binding – This is useful for binding single sheets of paper. You can have either a soft back or hard back cover which attaches to the text block with decorative stitching along the spine. Another option  using this decorative sewing technique is to only expose the stitching on the inside of the book. This is achieved by turning in the edge of the cover boards to create a hinge; the book is then sewn from the inside. It is recommended to use Japanese style binding for large or landscape format books as the binding requires a large margin. 

Exposed Stitch

Exposed Stitch

Screw-post Binding - There a few ways you can use screws to bind your work and it's a popular choice for portfolios as it leaves you with the ability to add or remove pages. 

Option 1 – Screws are used to hold the pages together between two covering boards.

Screw Post Binding

 

Option 2 - Pages are screwed into a hard case with a square spine which unfolds to reveal the screw posts inside. The pages are screwed onto the back board of the case.

Front Cover  - Click to enlarge

Back Cover - Click to enlarge

Inside - Click to enlarge

Option 3 - The binding screws are not visible on the front, or back cover. Achieved, by turning in the edge of the cover boards to create a hinge allowing the covering boards to sit over the screws. A spine piece of material is added and the screws are only visible when the book is opened.

Exhausted yet? And, I haven't even finished; there are truly many unique ways you can bind your book.

Student Bookbinding provide standard types of binding with a fast turnaround. If you have the time and are looking for a more bespoke option we recommend the following binders that may be able to help you out.

Wyvern Bindery - www.wyvernbindery.com/

Shepherd Bookbinders - www.bookbinding.co.uk/

Best of luck with your presentations!