WIRE STITCHING (also known as ‘Saddle Stitching’)
What is Wire Stitching?
This method is most commonly seen in the binding of lightweight magazines. The printed sheets are stacked with the cover at the top, the centre spread at the bottom, then folded in half and bound together on the spine using two staples.
How many pages can I have?
Wire stitching is only recommended for booklets with upto 40 pages.
If you have more pages than 40 pages then the thickness when folded in half will cause your booklet to ‘bounce’ open when laid flat rather than stay closed. Wire stitching more than 40 pages causes stress on the staples and they could rip or fall out when the booklet is read.
Do my covers need laminating?
On thicker papers of 170gsm+ the fibres can break up and crumble when they are folded (as shown here on the right).
If you have a white background on your cover this isn’t a problem but if you have full ink coverage then it is likely the ink will crack.The example here illustrates this perfectly – the black background has cracked on the fold and the booklet is left with a really obvious scuff mark down the spine. #unprofessional.
Laminating prevents cracking
We recommend matt or gloss laminating the outside of covers printed onto 170gsm or thicker.
Lamination gives the sheet more protection and prevents the ink from cracking. Our example here on the left has full black coverage on a 250gsm silk cover but because it is matt laminated the ink hasn’t cracked unlike the image above. The end result is a crisp, smooth fold and the booklets look great!
Some of my content was trimmed off!
When folded, the pages near the middle of a booklet start further away from the spine. The image to the right illustrates this – you can see the centre pages are positioned 5mm away from the spine side of the booklet. The result of this is that these pages could be cut as much as 5mm shorter when the exposed edge of the booklets is trimmed. This is sometimes referred to as ‘creep’. Any page numbers, patterns or objects intended to be in the same position on every page won’t be and will get nearer the edge as you flick through the booklet. For this reason it is a good idea to keep any page numbers and important information at least 5mm+ from the page edges.
Can I have a 21 page booklet?
Nope, wire stitched booklets need a multiple of four pages.
When you fold a sheet of paper in half to staple you end up with four pages. Therefore you artwork must have 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36 or 40 pages for it to work as a booklet. We can’t produce a 21, 25, 29, 33 page booklet because you will end up with one loose page which cant be stapled in.
Wire Stitching Checklist
- Your total number of pages must be a multiple of 4 (8,12,16,20,24,28 etc)
- Always laminate covers onto 170gsm+ to prevent cracking when folded
- The thicker the booklet, the more it will bounce open rather than sit flat
- 170gsm is the maximum thickness for text pages or the staples can pull out
- Pages towards the centre of your zine will be trimmed shorter so it is best to keep important information well away from the pages edges
What is perfect binding?
Perfect Binding gives your publication a more book-like appearance. In this process all the pages are trimmed to size and stacked in a block. They are aligned at the left hand spine edge, roughened up and a strong glue is applied. The separate cover is creased, wrapped around the text block and then bound on to give a square finish.
How many pages can I have?
We recommend perfect binding if you have 40 pages or more. It is great for projects that have a thickness of more than 3mm. If you have less than 40 pages then sometimes increasing the weight of your text pages will make the spine thick enough for perfect binding. However, we don’t recommend choosing thicker than 170gsm for text pages because the pages become too rigid to turn and read. Drop us an email and we’ll be happy to advise.
Your book will have a 4 page cover. (referred to as 4pp)
“I dont understand, why do I have a 4 page cover?!” On your quote from us it will say ‘4pp Cover’. This is because your cover comprises 4 pages: a front cover and a back cover aswell as an inside front and back cover. All of these are printed onto your chosen cover stock making it a 4 page cover. (In print language, the ‘pp’ is plural for ‘page’… ‘1p’ is one page, ‘2pp’ is two pages. There you go, everyday’s a school day!)
To make your cover easier to open a ‘hinge’ is creased onto the front and back cover (see left). This is normally around 8mm.
To give it extra strength the hinge is then glued to the first and last text pages of your book. In turn, this means around 8mm of these two pages is completely covered and obscured by the hinge. Therefore when preparing the artwork it is best to keep any important content, graphics and page numbers at least 10-12mm away from the spine side space to avoid it being hidden.
Should I laminate my cover?
Your cover goes through a few processes before it ends up on the book. It is subjected to scoring and folding which can weaken the paper fibres. If you have a large area of flat colour it could (and usually does) crack and scratch. You can see the effect of this on the black ink here and honestly, it looks a mess!
Lamination vastly reduces the risk of cracking on thicker paper stocks.
How big will my spine be?
This is dependant on the number of pages you have – more pages means a bigger spine is needed to wrap around them.
Do I have enough pages for a spine?
If you have less than 40 pages then we’ll usually advise you to go for wire stithcing or increase the amount of content to get you up to the required 40 pages for perfect binding. If the spine is less than 3mm we would advise you to go for wire stitching because there won’t be enough surface area to glue.
Can I put text on my spine?
Just add your text horizontally through the centre of your cover artwork file. For a video guide on preparing cover artwork and for downloadable templates click here.
Please note: our presses have a 1mm tolerance and paper is after all a natural material which can shrink and expand during printing. The image to the left shows what can happen if you have a small spine with text – it can slide round to the cover so it is best to keep text smaller and away from the spine edge.
I have images that go across a spread will some of the image be lost in the middle?
Unfortunately yes, but there is a way round this (read on…).
The ‘spine gutter’ is the section of a page immediately next to the spine which becomes obscured during binding. This happens when the pages are glued quite tight and become hard to press completely. You tend to lose 3-4mm in the spine side of each page. The line on the ‘filthy’ example here should run smoothly across the centre spread but 3mm is lost on the left AND the right hand pages in the gutter and the line actually appears jagged.
How to solve the spine gutter issue
The good news is that you can overcompensate for the spine gutter by sliding the left hand page’s image 3mm left and the right hand page’s image 3mm to the right.
This isn’t an exact science but will give the illusion that the image matches up in the middle.
What about text that crosses a spread?
It is NEVER a good idea to put text across a spread because if some of it is lost in the spine gutter the words or sentences will be incomplete and will no longer make sense to the reader.
Moving any important text at least 6mm away from the spine will make it readable without people having to force the pages flat.
How close to the page edge can I go?
Paper is made from natural fibres which can change shape when printed then move and slide when trimmed. We advise leaving a ‘Quiet Zone’ of 3mm around the edge of each page so if the paper moves slightly none of your content is trimmed off. The bleed will also help with this but it’s never good practise having important information too close to the page edge because if it’s partially trimmed off it will lose the desired effect.
Keep page numbers at least 5mm from all the edges – you want people to find them not have them trimmed off!
Perfect Binding Summary
- Download cover templates and watch a video guide here
- You need an even number of pages – a sheet has a front AND a back
- Laminating the cover will prevent cracking if you have solid ink coverage
- Allow 10mm clearance for the cover hinge on 1st and last text pages
- You will lose around 3mm in the spine gutter on each page
- The thicker the inside pages the harder they are to turn and read so limit inside pages to 170gsm otherwise they can pull out from the binding