10 Frequently-Asked Questions about the Spiral Binding Method

The Spiral Coil Binding method uses a spring-like coil to join the book’s cover and pages as a unit, but allows them to turn freely. Books bound with this method can lie flat for hands-free reading, making it a good choice for instruction and repair manuals, cookbooks, handbooks, guides, and other reference materials.

1) Is Spiral Binding the same as Coil Binding?

Yes. Spiral Binding and Coil Binding are interchangeable terms for the same book binding method.

2) How is a Spiral Bound book constructed?

The spiral binding method joins the pages and cover of a book using a coil that is made of very durable plastic. Shaped like a long spring, the coil is inserted and twisted through small holes punched along the spinal edge of the book’s cover and pages.

The number of holes punched per inch is known as the pitch and usually varies between 3 and 5, with 4 holes per inch (4:1) being the most widely used pitch. After a coil of appropriate pitch is fed through all the holes in the cover and pages, the coil is crimped at both ends to keep it in place.

Spiral coils come in a variety of diameters to accommodate books of varying thicknesses. The more pages the book has, the larger the coil diameter must be for proper function and aesthetics.

In most cases, the cover of a spiral bound book is created from a different paper stock than the interior pages. Depending on the project, the cover is often heavier, glossier, and/or a different texture than the interior pages.

Some spiral bound book projects call for a sheet of clear acetate to be bound into the front of the book and a black vinyl backer to be bound into the back of the book. These protective covers are a relatively common request for certain book projects, particularly manuals, as it adds durability and a finished look to the document.

3) What is the minimum number of pages that can be Spiral Bound?

Two sheets of paper can be bound together with the spiral binding method. Since each sheet counts as two pages, the minimum number of pages that can be spiral bound is four.

4) What is the maximum number of pages that can be Spiral Bound?

The maximum number of pages is dependent upon the capacity of the largest coil available to bind the book and the thickness of the paper being used for the pages. The largest binding coil that is readily available measures 2” in diameter. This can accommodate a maximum page block thickness of around 1.75”.

50# Offset and 80# Gloss Text are commonly used for the pages of books, so let’s use these two paper types to help us figure the maximum number of pages. Both of these papers measure approximately .0038” in thickness. Thus, a 1.75” page block would contain around 460 sheets (1.75” divided by .0038”). Since each sheet counts as two pages, this would equate to 920 pages.

Even though 920 pages is technically the maximum for a 2” diameter coil, a book with this many pages will be quite bulky and possibly too cumbersome to handle. So, if you plan to print books that have a very high page count, it is best to discuss the most practical binding solution with your printer as early as possible.

5) Can a Spiral Bound book have printing on its spine?

No. The spine of a spiral bound book consists of the coil only. There is no practical way to print on the coil.

6) What color choices are available for the Spiral Binding coils?

Plastic binding coils are available in over 40 colors. That said, black is still the most widely used color by far. White and blue are also popular. Most book printers stock the basic colors and then order specialty colors on a project-by-project basis.

7) Can Spiral Binding be used for books with small or large dimensions?

Spiral binding works well with a variety of book dimensions, including pocket-sized books and most oversized books. Spiral binding also works well with any book orientation…Portrait, Landscape, or Square. Most spiral bound books have the coil installed along the side, but some books have the binding coil installed along the top of the book.

8) Can the pages be easily replaced in a Spiral Bound book?

Yes and no. Pages can be added or removed by untwisting the coil and then reinstalling it after the revised pages are in place. This is relatively easy to do on a book or two, but if you have to make changes to hundreds or thousands of books, it would become a formidable task. A ringed binder would be a better choice for any bound document that requires periodic page updates.

9) What types of books are Spiral Bound?

Because a spiral bound book can open a full 360 degrees, it will lie completely flat and does not need to be continually held open in order to read it. Any type of book can be coil bound, but the hands-free feature is what makes spiral bound books particularly useful for reference materials. These include instruction and maintenance manuals, cookbooks, directories, books of sheet music, atlases and travel guides, price and part lists, and calendars.

10) What are the main benefits of the Spiral Binding method?

  • Spiral bound books open 360 degrees (cover to cover) which allows them to fold flat and lie flat for easier reference.
  • The pages turn easily and stay put. When opened, the pages of a spiral bound book rotate around the coil with very little resistance.
  • Spiral binding is a readily available binding option, so the turn-around time is generally quite fast.
  • Can be used for very short production runs…for example, 150 books.
  • The coils come in a variety of diameters to accommodate books of varying thicknesses.
  • This method allows for books to be made in a wide range of sizes – small like a pocket guide or large like a travel atlas.
  • Plastic coils resist distortion and are available in assorted colors to complement the book’s cover.
  • This binding method is excellent for wall calendars and planners because it allows them to hang completely flat against the wall.
  • This binding style works extremely well with index tabs.

If you have any questions about Spiral Binding, or have any other book binding or printing questions, give Formax a call at 866-367-6221.  Or, if you already know your specs and would like a quote, click here to access our easy quote request form. We specialize in book printing and look forward to assisting 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 full-color printing, all types of softcover books, laminated printing, plus fulfillment and 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 314-434-5500 or 866-367-6221. Keith and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services for over 30 years.

Does an Outstanding Job

Formax Printing does an outstanding job printing anything and everything we send them. But the biggest reason I go to them time and again is the customer service. Our...

- Cynthia P, Primary & Secondary Education

We Consider Formax a Partner

We consider Formax a partner in every sense of the word. The staff is a pleasure to work with, and their attention to detail is greatly appreciated! Whether a large order...

- Becky R, Charitable Organization

They Exceed My Expectations

Formax knows everything about printing so I don’t have to. I have been working with them since 2000. As the Marketing Coordinator of a small company, I wear many...

- Cheryl M, Industrial Heating Equipment

More Testimonials
Know your Specs?
Use our Quote Form
Ready to Print?
Upload your Artwork
Have a Question?
Check out our FAQ
30+ Years In Business Centrally Located in the United States 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

Contact Formax Printing

Contact us with questions or to discuss your print project. If you are ready for a quote, please click here to access our easy Quote Request Form.​

866-367-6221