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Perfect Binding

Perfect binding is the process required for binding publications when the combined paper thickness is too thick to be stapled in a saddle-stitched form. Smaller publications can be also perfect bound if desired for a more finished effect.

Signatures are formed in the same way as saddle-stitched forms, except they are stacked instead of wrapped around each other. The spines of the stacks of signatures are then "saw cut" improve glue adhesion and compressed in a clamp and hot-glued at the spine. A cover is wrapped around the finished book and the entire piece is trimmed on three sides.

Design Considerations

Design and layout considerations for perfect binding are much the same as for
saddle stitching. Creep is usually less an issue because all the signatures are the same and seldom exceed 32 pages.


As in saddle stitching, the total number of pages must be divisible by four, but there is also a possibility that more or less pages could be more economical depending on how the job gets printed. For example, a 6" X 9" book will be printed in 32- page signatures. You have a project that is 338 pages. The smallest signature that can be printed is four pages. That gives us:

  1. ten 32-page signatures, printed on full sheets (pages 1-320)
  2. one 16-page signature, printed on a full sheet as a work and turn (two impressions per sheet; pages 321-336)
  3. one 4-page signature printed on a 9" X 12" sheet on a smaller press (pages 337-340)
This last section could be eliminated or utilized more efficiently. First of all, it has two blank pages, basically wasted space. Second of all, it is printed on another press and the signature is thinner and of a different character than all the other signatures. Although a short sig can be inserted and printed without any real problem, it would be more economical to either edit the book to delete two pages or add two pages to fill out the two blanks.

Keep Folios

The folio is the page number. Page one of a book usually is NOT the first printed page. In most books and perfect bound publications, there are three basic sections:
  1. Front Matter (FM): Title page, editors page, copyright page, table of contents, dedications, etc. The introduction is often part of the FM. Basically any copy before page one is FM.
  2. Text or Guts: This is the actual book or subject that starts with page one. Regardless of where page numbers lie on the page throughout the book, the standard positioning for page numbers on each chapter opener is the bottom of the page to prevent distraction from the chapter opening head.
  3. Back Matter (BM): This is the appendix, bibliographies, index, or any other supplementary data. Usually the BM maintains page numbering of the text but is often numbered on its own (A-1 for appendix, etc.)

The cover layout of a perfect bound publication consists of three parts: The front and back covers and the spine. The width of the spine will vary depending on not only the number of pages of the publication but also the paper used. When setting up a spine for any perfect bound publication, call us and specify the paper and number of pages and we can give you a thickness to design the spine to.


Because perfect bound publications are glued at the fold, a little of the "gutter" gets lost in binding. Crossovers of any critical nature are therefore not recommended, however they can be implemented. Lay them out as with saddle stitched designs in reader's spreads and notify us that there will be perfect bound crossovers. We will have to give special consideration to crossover pages in prepress, stripping, and bindery to make sure they print correctly.


Copyright © 2002 Corporate Printers All rights reserved.

Corporate Printers
83 Iber Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K2S 1E7
Telephone: (613) 591-2335 Fax: (613) 591-1817

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