A Guide to Creative Binding Types


In this increasingly digital age, where much of our information arrives electronically, either pinging on our mobile screens or downloading onto our computers, there’s something extra special about receiving a carefully printed and expertly finished piece of literature. Especially if a little creativity has been applied to the final design to trigger that all-important wow factor.

Of course there’s no denying the cost, speed and analysis benefits of electronic delivery, but most brands still find that a multi-channel approach to marketing typically leverages the best results. There will always be suitable occasion’s where quality printed items are an absolute necessity to best convey your brands message clearly and with memorable impact.

Using a special print finish is just one way to elevate your printed materials and create a positive, lasting impression. Whether it’s the shine of a spot UV, the fine distinction of embossing, the prestige of foiling or the luxurious feel of a soft-touch laminate – using one or more finish from the broad variety on offer will certainly make the end result that extra bit special.

Another technique that can transform your printed work is binding. Binding simply refers to the way in which your finished document is held together and it’s a technique that dates back thousands of years with dozens of different methods available, including some uber-cool new techniques.

In this guide we’re walking you through some of the different binding types you can consider for your next printed project, take a look. Plus, to make more use of our isometric binding illustrations, we’ve created a handy visual guide to bookbinding for you to download and keep.

A Guide to Creative Binding Types

Which Binding Type is Best?

With such a huge variety of binding types on offer, it can be tricky deciding on the best finish for your project and when it comes to selecting the right type you typically need to consider a number of factors. How will the document be used? How many pages will it contain and what is your printing budget? Whilst many online binding guides stipulate a recommend page amount per binding type, in our years of experience this very much depends on the specification of the print project and specifically the thickness of the chosen paper stock.

Here’s a rundown with a bit more information about those binding options.

Wire Binding

Typically wire binding is used for publications where there’s a need to open the item back on itself or lay it flat without breaking the spine. To add extra durability a hard cover can be used for durability. The wire combs come in a huge variety of colours, diameters and sizes and a huge range of cover options can also be applied.

Perfect/PUR Binding

Perfect binding is typically used for softcover and paperback books and also works well for corporate reports, industry catalogues and magazines. Leaves are glued together rather than sewn and it offers a professional look and finish which stacks well. PUR binding differs slightly in that it uses a different, stronger type of adhesive in the binding process. PUR glue is particularly flexible and durable and it’s nigh on impossible to tear out a page from a PUR-bound book which can make it an attractive option

Case Binding

Case binding is the traditional way to produce a hardback book, as it’s strong and durable. Cased-in books typically last a lifetime and there are wider varieties of coverings available such as laminated paper, PVC coated paper, book cloth, leather cloth or real leather.

Sewn Binding

Continuing with traditional, section sewing provides a very secure method of fixing pages together. Once the pages are folded together, each section is sewn into the following section then glued along the binding edge to give extra strength and durability. With the ability for the book to lay flat, this method is usually considered to be one of the best.

Tape Binding

Normally used for single use publications, tape binding involves an adhesive tape being wrapped around the spine to hold the covers and inside pages in place. Typically pages need to be stitched together before affixing the tape to reinforce the materials and provide added strength.

Screw Binding

Screw post binding is an attractive alternative to your standard binding types and there are a variety of finishes on offer. Holes are drilled through the complete document and then a barrel post is inserted and a cap screw added to hold everything together. It’s ideal for binding together sample books, architectural and engineering drawings, menus, photo albums, swatch books, leather goods, and other materials.

Saddle Stitched

Is a popular method of securing a printed document and is perfect for booklet, notebooks, catalogues, magazines and smaller brochures and manuals as it’s quick and cost-effective. The process involves inserting staples into the spine of a book to bind the pages together. The staples pass through the folded crease from the outside and are clinched between the central pages. Interestingly the process uses no thread, the staples are formed from a wire coil and in some cases, smaller machines use preformed staples.

Loop Stitched

Produced in exactly the same way as saddle-stitched books, loop stitching involves forming the outermost part of the stitch, or staple, with a loop that allows the brochure to be clipped into a lever arch file or ring binder.

Japanese Binding

Or stab binding typically works best on soft covered books or books that can be folded near the binding edge. It offers a contemporary and individual feel and no glues are used in the binding process. Instead 3 or 4 holes are punched into the project and are hand stitched around the edge of the printed pages to collate the documents. There are a number of creative stitched finishes available.

Singer Sewn Binding

Is perfect to give a traditional finish to a printed document. A singular line of sewing holds the collated pages together so the finished book is both stylish and secure.
You can choose to make the thread a design feature and pages can be sewn with either matching or contrasting colours for a truly unique finish.

Side Stitching

Or sometimes referred to as stab stitching, this binding doesn’t use thread either. Pages are collated and stapled down one edge, which effectively becomes the spine. It’s strong but does prevent pages from fully opening so a good option if a perforation is needed, meaning the pages can be easily torn off. In our time this method has most commonly been used for carbonless pads.

Spiral/Coil Binding

Pages are held together with a smooth plastic coated coil which is fed through the spine of the document, it allows the book to lie flat when open or for pages to be turned all the way around to the back if desired. Spirals or coils are available in variety of colours.

Wire Binding

Typically wire binding is used for publications where there’s a need to open the item back on itself or lay it flat without breaking the spine. To add extra durability a hard cover can be used for durability. The wire combs come in a huge variety of colours, diameters and sizes and a huge range of cover options can also be applied.

Perfect/PUR Binding

Perfect binding is typically used for softcover and paperback books and also works well for corporate reports, industry catalogues and magazines. Leaves are glued together rather than sewn and it offers a professional look and finish which stacks well. PUR binding differs slightly in that it uses a different type of adhesive in the binding process. PUR glue is particularly flexible and durable and it’s nigh on impossible to tear out a page from a PUR-bound book which can make it an attractive option

Case Binding

Case binding is the traditional way to produce a hardback book, as it’s strong and durable. Cased-in books typically last a lifetime and there are wider varieties of coverings available such as laminated paper, PVC coated paper, book cloth, leather cloth or real leather.

Sewn Binding

Continuing with traditional, section sewing provides a very secure method of fixing pages together. Once the pages are folded together, each section is sewn into the following section then glued along the binding edge to give extra strength and durability. With the ability for the book to lay flat, this method is usually considered to be one of the best.

Tape Binding

Normally used for single use publications, tape binding involves an adhesive tape being wrapped around the spine to hold the covers and inside pages in place. Typically pages need to be stitched together before affixing the tape to reinforce the materials and provide added strength.

Screw Binding

Screw post binding is an attractive alternative to your standard binding types and there are a variety of finishes on offer. Holes are drilled through the complete document and then a barrel post is inserted and a cap screw added to hold everything together. It’s ideal for binding together sample books, architectural and engineering drawings, menus, photo albums, swatch books, leather goods, and other materials.

Saddle Stitched

Is a popular method of securing a printed document and is perfect for booklet, notebooks, catalogues, magazines and smaller brochures and manuals as it’s quick and cost effective. The process involves inserting staples into the spine of a book to bind the pages together. The staples pass through the folded crease from the outside and are clinched between the central pages. Interestingly the process uses no thread.

Loop Stitched

Produced in exactly the same way as saddle-stitched books, loop stitching involves forming the outermost part of the stitch, or staple, with a loop that allows the brochure to be clipped into a lever arch file or ring binder.

Japanese Binding

Or stab binding typically works best on soft covered books or books that can be folded near the binding edge. It offers a contemporary and individual feel and no glues are used in the binding process. Instead 3 or 4 holes are punched into the project and are hand stitched around the edge of the printed pages to collate the documents. There are a number of creative stitched finishes available.

Singer Sewn Bindling

Is perfect to give a traditional finish to a printed document. A singular line of sewing holds the collated pages together so the finished book is both stylish and secure.
You can choose to make the thread a design feature and pages can be sewn with either matching or contrasting colours for a truly unique finish.

Side Stitching

This binding doesn’t use thread either. Pages are collated and stapled down one edge, which effectively becomes the spine. It’s strong but does prevent pages from fully opening so a good option if a perforation is needed, meaning the pages can be easily torn off.

Spiral/Coil Binding

Pages are held together with a smooth plastic coated coil which is fed through the spine of the document, it allows the book to lie flat when open or for pages to be turned all the way around to the back if desired. Spirals or coils are available in variety of colours.

At Douglas we’ve got 40 years of experience and 4 family generations of knowledge behind us and regularly advise clients on the best finish for their print job. To find out more about the range of binding options we offer or to discuss your own creative project, get in touch with the Douglas team here.

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