Binding options

You did it, after many hours/days/weeks you have finished putting together a multipage document ready to be sent off to the printers, but they have come back with an important question, “how would you like these to be bound?” Fret not my friend, for this article is here to help you answer the burning question “what binding method is best for me?”

In general, the binding method is decided by a number of factors; the books physical size, its function, and the cost/budget. In this way, binding is driven more by practical considerations for the final product. This does not mean that binding cannot serve an aesthetic purpose as well, far from it! Binding can be what (literally) brings the whole design together into one compact and sleek package.

First, let’s define some important book binding terms


This is a collection of sheets that have been collated together which when folded to create a single section (or entirety) of a book. Folded signatures are then gathered together and bound to create larger books.


Creep is the tendency for pages close to the centre of a signature to extend out further from the spine than the outer pages. The more pages in a single signature, the more likely that creep will occur.


Scoring is creating a straight indent in the paper to facilitate a more accurate fold. Scoring also helps to prevent cracking in the paper.


The final size of a printed item after cutting. This also includes the final size of a signature after the excess paper has been cut from the side opposite the spine.

With that out the way, lets look at what binding options we offer at Q Print Group!

Saddle Stitch Binding

saddle stitch binding

This is the most frequent binding method we use at Q Print Group. Saddle stitching is where printed sheets are folded in half and secured along the spine, usually with metal staples. This creates a single signature of pages that can have a thicker paper stock used for a self-cover, or go without. Saddle stitching is a very cost effective and quick way to bind pages together, making it a popular choice with our customers.

Frequent uses for saddle stitching

  • Magazines
  • Soft cover booklets
  • Annual reports
  • Brochures
  • Programs
  • Manuals
  • Catalogues
  • Newsletters
  • comics

Key Characteristics of Saddle Stitching

  • Very economical
  • Booklet opens flat
  • Can go up to 128 pages
  • Higher page counts can cause creep
  • Can be self-covered
  • Less durable (especially with no cover)
  • Can be used with short and long print runs
  • Fast production time
  • No printable spine (is only staples)

Perfect Binding

Perfect binding

Our next most popular option for binding is perfect bound books (or soft cover books).  Pages are cut to the same size and glued together along the spine. This is then all encapsulated by a cover, giving the finished booklet a very professional feel. Unlike saddle stitching, perfect binding allows for a printable spine which can display title and branding information. The main limitation to perfect binding is that there needs to be enough pages to make a 4mm spine, typically 40 leaves (80 pages) at 100gsm.

Frequent uses for Perfect Binding

  • Workbooks
  • Graphic novels
  • Scientific journals
  • high-end magazines
  • catalogues
  • soft cover children’s books
  • autobiographies
  • collections

Key Characteristics for Perfect Binding

  • Due to glued spine, perfect bound books do not lay flat when open
  • Flat edge for spine allows room for printing
  • More economical than case bound (hard back) books, but less durable
  • Neater/more refined appearance than saddle stitched or mechanically bound books
  • Easy to stack
  • Perfectly trimmed edges
  • Will damage over time if page count is high
  • Has a minimum spine width of 4mm

Wire-O/Spiral Binding

Wire binding

Wire-O and Spiral binding is great for fast production runs of booklets for generally a lower cost. This method is where holes a drilled or punched down one side of the pages and binded together with a wire through the holes or a spiral that is threaded through them. This binding method does not include a printed spine and usually has a cover added to the booklet to protect the pages. This ‘punch and bind’ method of booklet binding is fairly inexpensive and allows the booklet to open back on itself, making it ideal to write on without bending the spine.

Frequent uses for Wire-O/Spiral binding

  • Presentations
  • Thesis
  • Reports
  • Manuals
  • Recipe books
  • Student exercise books
  • Diaries
  • Planners

Key Characteristics for Wire-O/Spiral Binding

  • Books can be placed flat on surfaces
  • Spines are fairly durable and suitable for frequent use
  • Can work for most book sizes
  • Cheaper than other binding methods for short runs
  • Very practical
  • Able to update or remove sheets
  • Can open the book back on itself
  • Multiple cover options at all price points (eg, clear plastic, cardboard etc)

Canadian Binding

Canadian binding is a sub section of Wire-o/Spiral binding where a cover as added to wrap around the spine and the pages, giving the booklet a printable spine. This is popular for clients who want to keep the practicality and flexibility of wire-o/spiral bound books but also want to have a more professional appearance.

canadian binding new

Comb Binding

Comb binding works essentially the same way as wire-o/spiral binding but instead of a wire or a plastic spiral, it uses a plastic comb spine where the teeth thread through the punched holes. While a cheaper alternative to wire-o/spiral binding, comb binding is less durable and the booklets cannot be fully opening back onto themselves.

comb binding

Hardback Binding (Case binding)

Hardcover binding

Hardcover binding is the most durable of the binding methods and also the most expensive. Due to its cost, most of the booklets that we print here at Q Print Group tend to use one of the other binding methods. In saying that, most major high-end books will be hardcover books due to its long shelf life and professional/luxury finish. Hardcovers are typically a thick cardboard that is wrapped in a cloth, leather, vinyl, or durable paper stock and glued down with adhesive to form the cover. A number of signatures are then fastened together and glued to the spine.

Frequent uses for Hardcover Binding

  • Novels
  • Photobooks
  • Encyclopedias
  • Special edition books
  • Any printed item that is geard towards a higher sale price

Key Characteristics for Hardcover Binding

  • Generally, the most durable binding method
  • Expensive
  • Much longer production time than other binding methods
  • More finishing options for extra design features

How to choose the right binding method

If you are still unsure of which binding method to use after reading the above, below are some simplified tables to help give you a quick idea which binding method will be more suitable.

(Please do note that sometimes there will be exceptions to these tables)


(General, may differ slightly between short- and long-term runs)

Method Cheap Mid-range Expensive
Saddle Stitch $    
Perfect Binding   $$  
Wire-O/Spiral $    
Canadian   $$  
Comb binding $    
Hard cover binding     $$$

Page count

 Method Minimum Maximum
Saddle Stitch 8 128
Perfect Binding 80* 300+*
Wire-O/Spiral 4 300+**
Canadian 4 300+**
Comb binding 4 300+**
Hard cover binding 50 300+

*Larger page counts can wear the spine down/damage it faster over time

**Page maximum dependant on size of wiro/spiral/comb being used


Method Short Run Long Run Turnaround Time
Saddle Stitch Y Y Fast
Perfect Binding Y Y Medium
Wire-O/Spiral Y Y Fast
Canadian Y Y Medium
Comb binding Y Y Fast
Hard cover binding   Y Slow


Method Short-term Long-term Heavy use (eg writing)
Saddle Stitch Y   Y
Perfect Binding Y Y  
Wire-O/Spiral Y Y Y
Canadian Y Y Y
Comb binding Y   Y
Hard cover binding   Y  

If you have any further questions about which binding method is right for you, contact our friendly team today!

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