If you’re getting professional documents printed (such as a business plan, a financial report, or even a design portfolio), you’ll need to consider the paper and ink you use, the layout of your pages, and perhaps most importantly—the type of binding you use to bring it all together. There are many types of binding to choose from, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to be familiar with them before you make a final decision.
Types of Print Binding
These are some of the most important types of print binding to consider:
- Perfect binding. Perfect bound printing is a middle-of-the-road choice regarding expense, ideal for page counts between 50 and 250 pages. In this binding type, printers will take sections of folded pages, trim the sides, collate them, then glue them to a wraparound cover. The cover is then secured on the front and back to make sure it can open and close without too much stress on the spine. It’s often used for things like paperback books and big catalogs.
- Case binding. Case binding is also known as hardcover binding, and it’s less common because it’s much more expensive. There are several sub-types of binding here to choose from, but typically, groups of pages are sewn together, then glued to an end piece, which is then glued to the spine. It makes a powerful impression and is less subject to wear and tear, but again, is more expensive.
- Saddle-stitch. Saddle-stitching is one of the most popular types of binding, in part because it’s practical yet inexpensive. It’s usually done by punching a small wire or staple through the outside of the document’s spine, then pressing that binding agent flat on the inside. This provides a more professional image than traditional stapling, but is just as cost-efficient. Saddle-stitching is best for documents between 8 and 80 pages—and more than that, and the binding isn’t as reliable.
- Side stitch. Side stitching is a similar process, just as inexpensive, but not as commonly used because it doesn’t always look as professional. In this method, staples or wires are pressed through the front cover and pressed flat on the back of the document.
- Spiral binding. Spiral binding, sometimes called coil binding, takes advantage of a thick spiraling wire that weaves through drilled holes along the left side of your collated pages. It allows the document to lie flat when it’s open, and makes a powerful impression, but it can be more expensive than other options. It works for documents between 16 and 275 pages, and is perfect for documents you’re covering in a meeting.
- Wire-o binding. Wire-o binding is very similar to spiral binding, even down to the recommended page counts and costs, but the major difference is the shape of the loops of wire. This relies on formed wires in a signature shape.
- Section sewn. Sewn binding is similar to saddle-stitching, but is usually much more expensive. It uses a thread, sewn into the spine (as the name suggests) in place of staples. As the page count increases, it can begin to look like case binding (but without the hardcover).
There are also several other binding types you can choose from, but these tend to be less common—either because they’re more expensive, less practical, or harder to find. For example, screw binding is essentially a different version of side stitching, capable of supporting more pages, and you could hole punch your pages to include them in a binder.
Why Does Binding Matter?
Why is binding so important in the first place?
Three main factors:
- Image. Having a professionally bound document can help you make a better first impression, especially if you’re presenting something important like a business plan or a year-end financial report.
- Security. You also need to ensure you’re choosing a binding method that will keep all your pages in place efficiently. The more pages you have, the more secure your binding needs to be, which is usually correlated with a higher cost.
- Practicality. Finally, you’ll need to choose a binding type that’s practical for the documents you’ve chosen (and the conditions in which they’ll be read). For example, some binding types make it easier to open a document and lay it flat than others.
No type of binding is inherently superior to the others. Everything depends on what you’re trying to present, who you’re presenting to, the number and type of pages you have, and how your finished work is going to be used. If you can, get your hands on examples of each binding type, so you can get a realistic sense of how they look and feel.