Common Binding Options

There are several things that have a hand in deciding how a certain printed project will be bound. The page count can easily become a deciding factor as too many pages actually will force you to look past the more economical saddle stitch option. The function of the piece, as well as the overall print budget, tends to drive most decisions on how the final piece will be put together.

So what are your options?

Saddle Stitch ($)

Signatures get nested together with this binding option. The pages are folded and inserted into a folded cover, then stapled through the fold along the spine. This style is suitable for self-cover booklets where the cover uses the same paper as the inside text page, as well as for books with a different paper weight for the covers.

Although the maximum number of pages allowed depends greatly on the weight of the paper, you can typically bound 80-96 pages with saddle stitch. If your stock is too thick, your final piece will experience “blow-out” in the corners of the spine.

Common uses include small self-cover booklets, brochure booklets and magazines.

Loop Stitch Binding ($)

Loop stitching has the same principles of the saddle stitched booklet; however, instead of having a staple flush with the spine of the book, you will see a loop formed with the wire to allow for insertion into a 3-ring binder.

Maximum page counts range between 80 and 90 pages depending on the thickness of paper stock used to create the booklet.

Comb Binding ($)

Comb binding is an economical way to bind those pieces too large for saddle stitching, or books that simply need to lay flat when opened. The book is punched with small rectangular holes, typically along the left side, and the plastic comb piece is fed through the holes to secure the book together.

Combs range in size from 3/16″ to 2″ and, depending on the paper weight, can handle a project from 16 pages to 250 pages. If you are just using regular bond paper, the maximum page count increases to about 425 sheets of paper (850 total pages).

Common uses for comb binding are technical manuals, reports and classroom presentations or workbooks.

Spiral Bound – Plastic or Wire ($$)

In spiral binding, the book is punched with a series of small holes, typically along the left-hand side. A wire or plastic coil is then screwed into those holes from one end of the book to the other. Coils range in size from 1/4″ to 2″ in diameter.

The spiral bind allows for the printed piece to double over or lay flat when opened. Typically, the size of a piece utilizing the spiral bind is 16 to 276 pages.

Common uses for spiral binding include calendars, notebooks, technical manuals and professional presentations.

Wire-O Binding ($$)

In wire-o binding, the pages are typically punched with small holes along the left side. It utilizes a double-loop wire to hold the pages together, much like the plastic comb binding mentioned before. There is also the option to conceal the wire-o with a wrap-around cover.

Typically, page counts range from 16 pages to 276 pages.

Common uses for Wire-O binding are notebooks, cookbooks and reports.

Perfect Bound Binding ($$)


Perfect binding is the most common style binding method for commercially produced paperback books. With this method, book blocks (or signatures) are stacked together and goes through a grinding process before being bound. Glue is then applied to the left edges of the pages, and the cover is glued to the page block.

Page counts typically range between 50 pages and 250 pages for perfect binding.

Common uses for perfect binding are magazines, paperback books and catalogs.

Lay-Flat Binding ($$$)

Layflat binding is an alternative to perfect binding that involves starting with single-sided printed pages that are folded in half with the print inside. One blank page is then glued to the blank side of the next spread in the pagination. You repeat this process until you have formed a block.

With pages being glued together, the double thickness creates a premium feel to your creative projects, and they are able to lay completely flat across the center fold enabling images to run across both halves of the spread with a very minor fold line down the middle.

Page counts typically range between 50 pages and 250 pages for perfect binding.

Common uses for lay-flat binding include photobooks, cookbooks, journals and manuals.

Case Bound ($$$$)

Case binding is achieved with multiple methods, (including gluing and sewing). With sewing, the pages of the book are collated, and then sewn together with thread. The cover is typically adhered to thick board and then glued to the sewn book block and end sheets.

Page counts start around 80 pages and typically max out at 400 pages.

Common uses include hard-cover books, novels, textbooks and reference books.

Screw Post Binding ($$$$)

In post (or screw) binding, the covers are typically printed and mounted to board, much like the case bound books. The covers and inside pages are then drilled and large barrel studs are placed through the holes and secured to hold the book together.

The advantage of using post-bound books is the ability to disassemble and add/remove pages as needed.

Common uses for post binding are photo albums, presentations and portfolios.

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