Printing and Binding Options

To help you make an informed decision among the numerous bindery options, here are descriptions of several ways you can attach loose sheets of paper to form a book. Bindery methods vary according to cost, durability, and appearance. We’ll start with the simplest and easiest methods.

Corner stitched/stapled books are essentially loose sheets of paper stapled together. However corner-stitched books do not lie flat. This technique is very inexpensive.


Side stitched books are essentially loose sheets of paper stapled together. A paper cover can be wrapped around the entire stack and glued to form a printable spine. Also, side-stitched books do not lie flat.


Paper are nested (set one into the other) and then stitched through the fold with thin wire. These books can lie flat. However, saddle-stitching only works for shorter books of up to 80 pages or so. (Time and People magazine are an example). These books also have no spine on which to print a title.

Plastic Comb Binding

Also called GBC binding, this method is good for technical manuals that have a lot of pages and must lie flat. The stack of pages comprising the book is punched with a series of slots along the binding edge through which a plastic comb is inserted. This comb, which curls into a cylinder along the length of the book can provide a screen-printable spine. It can also accommodate numerous pages, plus pages can be added or removed as needed.

It is not a durable, lasting binding choice since over time the plastic dries and breaks.

Tape or Post Binding
These are often used for presentations such as office or school work. In the first case, the covers and book pages are taped together using heat over the binding edge. The tape is available in many colors and widths to accommodate various page choices. In post binding, screws are used in much the same way as side stitching (but the books can be disassembled and pages can be added or removed). Neither binding method allows the book to lay flat

Wire Loop Binding

Commonly referred as Wire-O, is a series of parallel wire loops passing through the punched holes in a form similar to GBC binding. This method doesn’t provide a printable spine or allows for pages to be added or removed. Wire-O comes in many colors, widths and is durable for lasting volumes. This binding method does allow the product to lie flat.

Plastic Coil Binding

This is spiral binding using a very flexible plastic coil. However, since wire can be crushed, coil binding is a resilient alternative. Also, plastic coil bindings come in multiple colors and widths. This binding method allows books to lay flat. Wire-O and Coil have mostly replaced GBC for durability and long life.


This is exactly what the name implies: the binders we used in school. The vinyl covers can be printed using silk screen technique or paper inserts can be printed and then inserted behind the clear covering of some ring-binders spine and front & back covers. They tend to be bulky so effective in adding or subtracting pages.

Note: Mechanical bindings (GBC, Wire-O, plastic coil, tape, post, and ring) are more expensive per unit than perfect binding or saddle-stitching, and unlike most offset printing operations, their unit cost does not decrease with increased volume. They also require ample margins since they take up extra room at the binding edge. Because of their cost, mechanical bindings are usually best suited to short runs.

Perfect Binding

Perfect-bound books are made up of stacked pages. These are gathered into a book and the edges at the spine are ground off or notched. The increased surface area for the glue holding all allows for more permanent adhesion. The covers and are then trimmed flush. (Think of paper-back novels)

Case Binding

Also called edition binding, this method results in what is commonly called a hardcover book. It is the most expensive option yet also the most durable. Stacked pages are gathered and sewn together for strength. This book block is trimmed on three sides and then glued into a spine, front cover, and back cover (a single unit) made of binder’s board covered with paper or cloth. The first and last sheets (end-sheets) are then pasted to the board. To reduce the cost of this binding method, you can set perfect-bound book blocks into cases rather than first sewing the signatures together and then gluing them into the covers. This method often uses a full color wrap called a dust jacket.

At Pop Color we offer all these binding choices and would be happy to meet and discuss your needs.

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