The binding method you choose for your print project can tell much about how your finished product looks and feels. The right choice can make it more functional and durable, too.
Straight and cross-grain bindings offer the least amount of durability. They line up with one thread along the fold, meaning a single thread takes the most wear and tear over time.
1. Spiral Binding
There are several types of binding materials depending on the function and budget you have for your project. One of these is spiral binding. Spiral binding, also called a coil or plastic spiral, is a punch-and-bind method of document binding that uses a durable plastic or metal coil inserted and twisted through small holes punched along the spine edge of your book’s pages and cover.
The resulting coil joins the pages and covers together in an organized way, allowing your book to lie flat on a surface like a desk or a table without needing a manual hold. You can choose from a wide range of coil sizes to perfectly match your book’s thickness, ensuring your finished project is aesthetically appealing and practical.
This type of binding is ideal for booklets and journals. Still, it can be used for many other projects, including presentations, seminar materials, workbooks, study guides, calendars, cookbooks, directories, and coloring books.
Another advantage of spiral binding is that it’s perfect for documents that require index tabs. Because the dividers can be printed in various colors or coded numerically, they can help your readers quickly find the page they need without searching through the entire document. Spiral binding is also the preferred choice for several types of manuals, including field training, employee handbooks, lookbooks, and technical directions.
2. Comb Binding
As its name suggests, comb binding uses plastic combs to seal books and booklets together. These combs feature a series of curved tines in rectangular holes. When the tines are spread apart and closed, they resemble a hair comb’s teeth. These teeth hold the book’s pages in place, producing a professional and stylish look.
While combs don’t hold as many sheets of paper as other binding styles, they are extremely versatile and inexpensive. This makes comb binding an excellent choice for nonfiction books and manuals. They’re also perfect for creative projects, such as novels and portfolios.
As a bonus, combs can easily be opened and closed to add or remove pages. Unlike other binding types, this allows for easy document updates and changes. Additionally, the spines can be screen printed for a more personalized and professional appearance.
3. Wire-O Binding
The twin loop wire binding method is a clean, upscale style of binding that works well in professional settings. Popular applications include (but are not limited to) financial and business reports, presentations, notebooks, journals, marketing materials, proposals, wall and desk calendars, and art pads. Documents bound with twin loop wire can lay flat when open, allowing them to stay upright for easy following during presentations.
Similar to spiral binding, with this style of binding, a metal wire is inserted through holes punched along the edges of your sheets and then crimped closed. This creates a durable spine that allows your pages to be flipped 360 degrees without damaging the spine or pages. It also allows your documents to lie flat when open, making them ideal for wall calendars and handouts you want to use daily.
This binding style is flexible enough to accommodate many page counts and sizes. Just be sure to leave 0.25″ of margin on the non-spine edge of your sheet when designing for this method to ensure that your pages are properly aligned. You can also add special cover sheets made of laminated paper, plastic film, or PVC to give your finished book a layer of protection and visual appeal.
4. Tape Binding
For an inexpensive, quick, and accessible form of binding, tape is a great option. It can be used in books or other printed material. The downside is that the pages do not lie flat, which is usually an unavoidable consequence of using this binding method.
A variety of colors is available for this type of binding, which can add a nice touch to your printed project. It is popular for business cards, postcards, and other marketing materials. It can also be used on brochures, flyers, and manuals for larger projects.
5. Glue-O Binding
Glue-O binding is similar to spiral or wire binding. However, it uses a stronger glue that holds the pages in place and allows them to lay flat when open. It’s ideal for large, thicker booklets and perfect for textbooks, training manuals, and other professional documents.
The page count for this binding style can vary, but it can typically accommodate up to 250 pages. It has a more sophisticated appearance than spiral or comb binding, and it’s especially well-suited for manuals and other technical guides that need to be consulted often.
Some people use chest tape, which is made of a thin strip of fabric with adhesive on both sides. This helps keep the book open and prevents it from falling backwards. It is a safe alternative to duct tape, but ensuring that the fabric is acid-free and suitable for this purpose is essential, as it restricts movement and limits oxygen intake.
Binding methods play a pivotal role in determining the aesthetic appeal, functionality, and durability of a print project. The choice between straight and cross-grain bindings, which offer limited durability, and other more durable options depends on the project’s specific needs. Spiral binding is versatile and allows for easy page access, ideal for manuals, journals, and presentations.