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Catalog and Manual Printing: Saddle Stitched or Perfect Bound?

Saddle Stitching (left) vs Perfect Binding (right)

Catalogs, manuals and most other multi-page documents used in business are generally produced with one of two popular binding methods: Saddle Stitching or Perfect Binding.

Saddle Stitched books are constructed from folded sheets that are held together by wire staples placed through the crease of the book's spine. Though simple, the result is a very professional looking document.

Perfect Bound books are created by gluing the pages and cover together at the spine with a strong, flexible thermal glue. The other three sides of the book are then trimmed as needed to give them clean "perfect" edges.

The Page Count helps determine the Binding Method

Saddle Stitching is well-suited for thin books with a relatively low page count. In my experience, the general rule for a saddle-stitched book is 64 pages or less to achieve a nice flat book. However, the page count can sometimes be as high as 100 depending on the production method, the paper thickness and the resulting bulk of the assembled book.

Conversely, the Perfect Binding method is better suited for thick books with a high page count. Perfect bound books can easily have hundreds of pages and be several inches thick (like a Yellow Pages phone book).

A Few Other Characteristics to Compare

1) Both the Saddle Stitch and Perfect Bound methods are very affordable, though Saddle Stitching is generally the more economical of the two.

2) Perfect Binding creates a flat spine which can be printed upon. The spine of a Saddle-Stitched book cannot be printed upon.

3) In most cases, Saddle-Stitched books are quicker to produce than Perfect Bound books.

4) Because a Saddle-Stitched book can lie almost flat when opened, it works well for artwork that spans two adjacent pages (crossover images).

5) Perfect Bound books provide an impression of "keep me" permanence, whereas Saddle Stitching is generally used for books with a more limited lifespan. This is especially true for Saddle-Stitched books created as "self cover" books (self cover means the cover is the same weight of paper as the interior pages).

If you have catalogs, manuals or other types of books to print, Formax can help you determine the best binding method for your particular application. For over 30 years, we've been printing books for all types of businesses …so let us help with your next book project!

Take care! Keith

About the Author

Keith Beaty is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing, plus mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Keith is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221. Keith and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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