The Various Binding Methods for Book Productions

There are several ways of binding books. However, there are two major types of binding, namely the mechanical or loose-leaf binding method and the conventional or permanent binding method. Graphic artists who would want to specialize in book publishing must know these traditional methods of book production.

1. Mechanical or loose-leaf binding method

In this binding method, loose sheets of papers together with the covers are held together by the use of plastic grip spine, plastic comb, post or ring binder etc. Holes are punched at the spine of the collated sheets together with the covers and the plastic or metallic rings are inserted through the created holes to hold the sheets and covers together. The binding processes in this category allow sheets to be removed or added without affecting the remaining sheets. Another characteristic of this binding type is that it opens flat. Examples of binding techniques under this type include Spiral wire, Ring, Comb, Post etc. The process is the same in all the techniques mentioned under it. However, the type of coil that is inserted at the spine edge points out the differences. The general process has been explained below:

Tools and materials: loose sheets of paper, hardboard (covers), trimming knife, bodkin, hammer, universal pliers.


1. Collate or arrange the loose sheets and covers together.

2. Trim all the four edges of the collated sheets for them to have equal width and height.

3. Punch or create holes of even spacing at the spine edge of the collated sheets.

4. Insert the spiral wire, plastic ring, comb or post binder through the holes and clip it at the back.

5. The book is ready for use.

2. Conventional or Permanent binding method

In this binding method, the loose sheets and the covers are held together by the use of adhesives, staples or thread. Unlike the mechanical type of binding, sheets cannot be removed or added after the binding has been done. Removal of a sheet after the binding would affect the remaining sheets. Examples of binding techniques under this category include Saddle or Single-section stitching, Side stitching, perfect binding and the edition or multi-section binding.

i. Saddle or Single-section stitching

This binding technique employs stitching to hold the loose sheets together with the cover which are folded into folios. The stitching is done in the middle section of the book after holes have been created. It is the simplest and inexpensive technique of binding. It is used for the production of exercise books, catalogues, bulletins, booklets, pamphlets, jotters etc. It ensures easy reading since the sheets open flat but the disadvantage is that when one sheet is torn, it affects the remaining sheets. Saddle or single-section binding requires the use of a number of stitches. For instance, a two stitch saddle stitching involves the holding of the collated sheets and cover using two stitches. Other types include three stitch saddle stitching, four stitch saddle stitching etc.

Tools and materials: Papers folded into folios, bone folder, trimming knife, metal ruler, thread, bodkin, needle, pencil, paper board (cover).


1. Fold the loose sheets into folios and insert it into each other to form a section.

2. The section is placed or inserted into the paperboard to be used as cover.

3. At the middle part of the section, create a number of equally spaced marks where the holes will be created. (It must be noted that three holes are marked and created for a two stitch, four holes for three stitch, five holes for four stitches etc.)

4. Pierce or create holes through the marked points with the help of a bodkin.

5. For a two stitch saddle stitching, insert the threaded needle in the middle hole from the inside of the section. Pull it outside and then through the first hole from the inside. Pass the threaded needle then at the third hole and bring it back to the middle hole where the stitching was started. Pull the two ends together and tie them together tightly to secure the ends.

6. The fore edge, head, and tail of the sewn book are marked and trimmed with a trimming knife.

7. The saddle-stitched book is ready for use.

ii. Side stitching

This binding technique involves the use of single sheets of papers and two paper covers. It is called a side stitching because the stitching or holding of the sheets of paper is done at the side of the book. An advantage of this binding technique is that when one sheet is torn, it does not affect the remaining pages. However, its disadvantage is that a side-stitched book does not open flat.

Tools and materials: Single sheets, bodkin, pencil, needle, paper clips, stapler, paper boards (covers), trimming knife.


1. Collate the single sheets of paper together with the covers.

2. Hold the collated sheets in position at the head and tail with paper clips.

3. Create a parallel line to the spine one centimeter away from the spine.

4. `Create equally spaced holes with a bodkin at the side.

5. Use a threaded needle to stitch the side of the book to hold the leaves together. Staple pins can also be used to hold the sheets at the side of the book.

6. The fore-edge, head, and tail of the book is trimmed nicely with a trimming knife.

7. The side stitched book is ready for use.

It should be noted that sometimes, a strip of brown paper and glue are used to cover the sewn areas or staple pins at the side of the book.

iii. Perfect binding

This method does not employ stitching. It uses adhesive or glue to hold the sheets and covers together. When one sheet is torn, it does not affect the remaining sheets. They are used for producing writing pads, memo pads, sketch pads, telephone directory etc.

Tools and materials: Sheets of paper, adhesive, strawboards (covers), brush.


1. Collate the sheets of paper and jog to align them together.

2. Apply the adhesive or glue to the spine together with the backing board.

3. Glue the front cover to the backing board and allow it to dry.

4. Trim the fore-edge, head, and tail with a trimming knife or guillotine.

5. The perfect bound book is ready for use.

iv. Edition/Case-bound or multi-section binding

This binding method employs both sewing and gluing techniques. Owing to this, it is the binding technique that ensures the most durability and protection of books. Though it opens flat, when one sheet is torn it affects the remaining sheets. It is used for the production of notebooks, dictionaries, diaries, albums, project reports, thesis etc.

1. Body- This is the main sheets that contain the contents of the book.

2. Gummed tape- This is a strong reinforcement tape that is glued at the edges of the endpapers to hold them together with the body of the book.

3. Headband- It is a colourful band of thread placed at the top and sometimes the bottom of the backbone of a book as a form of decoration and as a reference aid in books.

4. Lining- This is a heavy paper or synthetic leather material glued to the backbone to give it a smooth and even surface.

5. Backing paper- This is a stiff but flexible paper strip placed between two binder’s boards. It gives the book cloth stability.

6. Case- This refers to the covers of a hardbound book.

7. Binder’s board- This is a thick, grey, rigid paperboard used to make the case.

8. Book cloth- This is a material made from either natural or man-made fibres used to cover the binder’s boards that form the case.

9. Backbone- This is the spine or the back of a bound book.

10. Super- This is a gauze-like fabric glued to the backbone and the case of a book. It provides a firm link between them.

11. End sheets- These are the blank sheets of paper placed at first and last sections of the book thus, before the first sheet and after the last page of the body of the book.

a. Producing a multi-section bound book

Tools and materials: Paper, strawboard, needle, thread, metal ruler, trimming knife, cutting plate, bone folder, brush, glue, press boards, hammer, binding cloth, binding tape.


1. Collate the required number of sections or signatures for the book. It must be noted that eight folios constitute one section or signature.

2. Create six to eight marks at the spine of the book depending on the height of the book. Use the bodkin to pierce holes at the marked areas.

3. The threaded needle is used to sewn the various sections together beginning from the first section to the last section. At equally spaced sections, the binding tape is inserted and the sewing is done over it.

4. Two folios of the same size as that of the book are pasted at the spines at the first and last sections of the book to serve as end papers.

5. Round the spine of the book with a backing hammer into a convex shape.

6. Glue the spine and paste the muslin over the glued area.

7. Place the book under a weight to dry thoroughly.

8. Mark the fore-edge, tail and head of the book and trim.

b. Production of the case

1. Cut two backing boards which are a bit larger in size than the size of the book.

2. Measure and cut the spine with a relatively lighter paper when compared to the backing boards for the covers.

3. Cut a piece of binding cloth larger and longer than the spine of the case.

4. Apply an adhesive and paste the two backing boards with the spine at the middle of the binding cloth at the middle of the case.

5. The excess binding cloth is turned over and pasted in the inner parts of the backing boards.

6. Apply an adhesive at the middle section of the case as well as the backbone of the book.

7. Fix the book into the prepared case. This process is termed as Casing-in.

8. Place a weight on the book and allow it to dry. The case-bound book is ready for use.

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