Bindery Defined

Part of our series where we seek to uncover unfamiliar terms in the world of print.

Once a job has been printed on one of the presses, there are a variety of bindery services that can be performed.

These include:

  • Drilling holes similar to a 3-hole punch.
  • Perforating sections so they can be torn off easily.
  • Scoring signatures to produce a better fold.
  • Folding signatures into numerical order.
  • Cutting so the signatures can open.
  • Collating signatures (if you have more than one) so they are in order to be bound.
  • Binding them with stitches or glue.
  • Trimming the edges so they are smooth and even.
  • Packaging the bound books so they are ready for shipping.

There are a number of things that go into making these services happen, so let’s take a minute or two to break things down and define terms you are sure to encounter.

Bindery Terms to Know

Perfect Binder

Perfect Binder with 28 pocket in-line gathering.

  • Casebound: A book is considered casebound if it has a hard cover.
  • Cracking: When book or catalog is opened, the adhesive keeping the spine together weakens, producing a “cracked” effect.
  • Cut Flush: Trimming a cover so that it is exactly the same size as the signatures or pages underneath.
  • Cutting: Using guillotine-like blades to cut large quantities of paper at one time.
  • Drilling: Using a round, hollow drill to punch holes into a sheet of paper.
  • Endsheets: Also known as end papers, these are stronger sheets of paper put in the front and at the back of a book to ensure that it can withstand weight when the book is glued.
  • Flat Back: Reinforcing the spine of a book so that it remains flat and stiff. Also referred to as square back.
  • Folding: Creasing a sheet along its edges. Depending on the desired number of panels, many folds can be made.
  • Folio: The page number of a book.
  • Gatefold: Commonly used for magazine advertising, this consists of parallel folds on a sheet of paper that fold inward to create panels.
  • Grinding: Roughing the edges of collated signatures so glue adheres better.
  • Gutter: The inside margin or blank space found in the center of a book, that indicates where it has been bound.
  • Head/Foot Bounds: A strip of material that is stitched along the very top and bottom of a casebound book where the pages show that have been adhered to the cover. This results in two things: making the top and bottom of the book more aesthetically pleasing, and adding strength to the binding by adding extra reinforcement.
  • In-Line:Web presses can perform some bindery services in-line, meaning that they can make initial cuts and folds right in the machine without having to walk them over to the bindery department for it.
  • Layouts: Show how many signatures there are, what order to put them in, and where to cut/score/perforate.
  • Loopstitch: Same process as regular stitching, but with different stitch heads. Ideal for putting into a 3-hole binder.
  • Notch Binding: Making notch marks along the spine of a book, allowing adhesive to penetrate deeper into the spine of the book and produce a better, stronger bind.
  • Packaging: Shrinkwrapping bundles and placing them in cartons to be shipped.
  • Passes: How many times a project is run through machines.
  • Perfect Binding: Signatures are stacked on top of each other, and the edge to be bound is ground down. Glue is applied to the text pages, and the cover is slipped over them and pressure is applied to adhere it to the text. The thickness of the signatures in a perfect bind is generally more than 1/8″.
  • Perforating: Making a series of dotted holes along a piece of paper to make it easier to tear a section off.
  • Plus Cover: When a book cover is printed on stock that is heavier than text pages, the additional weight is known as the plus cover.
  • Printed Laminated Cover: Applying a clear film to a cover, to protect and finish the cover of the book.
  • Saddlestitch: A technique that stitches a book together, applies the staples (“stitches”) that keep a book together.
  • Scoring: Pressing into a sheet and leaving marks (similar to perforated marks) to ensure easier folds and minimum cracking. The marks act as a soft crease that allows the piece to fold more smoothly.
  • Self Cover: Unlike plus cover, self cover occurs when the book cover is printed on stock that has the same weight as that of the text pages.
  • Signature: A press sheet that lays out the order the pages should be printed in so they will appear in numerical order when cut, folded, and bound.
  • Smyth Sewing: Collating signatures and weaving thread through them to stitch them together as if with a sewing machine.
  • Soft Fold: When a project is stitched, and then folded in half.
  • Spiral Binding: A technique that, instead of using staples, involves punching a series of tiny holes along the side that is to be bound, and inserting wire in a spiral form through them.
  • Stitch Binding: Signatures are slipped inside one another, and wire is stitched along the edge to make a stapled effect. The thickness of signatures in a stitch bind is generally less than 1/8″.
  • Trimming: Cutting the job to its final size and getting rid of excess around the edges.
  • Turned Edge: To complete a hard cover book, material is wrapped (turned) and then fastened onto the board or other material that is being used as the book’s hard cover.
  • Wire-O Binding: A variation of spiral binding that uses two pieces of wire at a time.

Top Takeaways on Bindery

  • Bindery is where drilling, perforating, scoring, folding, cutting, collating, binding, trimming, and packaging all happen.
  • Binding techniques depend on the thickness of signatures.
  • The difference between plus cover and self cover is whether or not the text and cover pages have the same weight.

What has been your experience with bindery? Are there any other terms you’ve come across that you’d like to share with us, or ask for clarification on? Comment below!

Download our free eGuide: Printing Defined: The Comprehensive Guide to Unfamiliar Terms in the World of Print

About Allison Jensen

Allison Jensen is the Marketing Coordinator for Compu-Mail and Dual Print & Mail. Allison is a millennial who loves all things direct mail. She is a graduate of the marketing program at Niagara University ('15) with a sales and marketing background in the construction and manufacturing world. Allison also has agency experience and is passionate about blogging and social media.
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