This entry is part 2 of 10 in the series Design Techniques & Terminology

There are so many techniques designers use to bind paper together in pamphlet/brochure/book form, which can be pretty confusing at times! That’s why in this article, CuCo’s talented design experts have summarised some common terms for these various binding methods for you. Although there isn’t a standardised title for each of them as different printers refer to them by different names, here’s the terms we use:

Saddle stitched

The saddle stitched method is probably the most common and  cost-effective method. Here, the loose sheets of printed pages are draped together over a saddle-like holder and a wire is fed into position, cut to a short length, bent into shape, and then the legs of the staple are driven through the pages and bent into shape.


In this technique, the loose sheets are gathered in much smaller groups — such as 16–page groups, known as signatures — then multiple signatures are stacked together, trimmed, and glued at the spine. Finally, a cover is added to enclose the pages, which are held in place by glue along the spine. The PUR method is similar to Perfect, however, it uses a far more flexible glue – making this technique far more useful when binding books that need to be left open, such as text books or reference books.


Case binding is commonly used for the binding of hardcover books. It involves wrapping a turned edge hard cover around either sewn, adhesive bound or mechanically bound gathered signatures. Signatures are bound together with binder’s string and attached with strong glue to a rigid board cover. Additionally, end covers are also glued to the inside front and back covers; these are then affixed to the hard cover.

ota Ota

OTA offers an elegant binding solution with numerous advantages over conventional soft cover binding: through mimicking the construction of a case bound book and benefitting from real strength advantages as well as excellent lay-flat and no spine degradation, this method ensures enhanced durability and strength. OTA binding is commonly used on text books, training manuals, software guides, recipe books and other reference books.

Thread/sewing through the fold

Similar to Perfect binding, but more durable, as a thread is also used to sew the signatures together. In Perfect binding the glue hardens by alternating cold and hot weather, which can cause it to become brittle.


In this technique, the signatures of the book start off as loose pages which are then clamped together. Small vertical holes are punched through the far left-hand edge of each signature, and then the signatures are sewn together with lock-stitches to form the text block. Oversewing is an extremely strong method of binding and can be used on books up to five inches thick. However, the technique also has some drawbacks, as the margins of oversewn books are reduced and the pages will not lie flat when opened.


In spiral binding, a spiral of wire or plastic is threaded through round holes punched in the job; this allows a piece to lie flat when open. However, as there’s no way of imprinting a spine, you must create a wide inner margin as you design the piece to ensure that the printed area of the page will clear the punch holes.


In this binding technique, hinged rings are used to hold the sheets together through drilled holes. Usually you would have one placed in the top left corner or two placed along the spine.


Metal or plastic screws are used to hold the document together which are placed through drilled holes. This technique is frequently used for swatch books.


In this highly popular option, rectangular holes are punched in the pages, then the teeth of the plastic/metal comb are pushed through the holes. Because the combs are coil-like and curly, the teeth curve back under a spine-like collar that forms a solid spine for the bound book. Comb binding has one disadvantage – it’s a challenge to put a title or other copy on the spine. If you need a spine, you turn to a Canadian bind…

Half Canadian

There are two types of Canadian binds, the first one being a  so-called half Canadian bind. This method has the wire partially concealed behind a square spine. The cover is normally a 4pp cover, with the spine printed on – which mimics perfect binding, but has the advantage of the book being able to be opened completely flat without damaging the spine. The wire is exposed through the rear cover only, leaving the front cover clear to display the printed image.

Full Canadian

Unlike Half Canadian binding, the Full Canadian method has the wire fully concealed by using a 6pp or 8pp cover. The cover leaf is folded back on itself to be bound into the wire, resulting in a book with a square spine and uninterrupted covers.

Are you looking for an experienced, talented and knowledgable design agency for your next project? Our experts are here to help! Get in touch today.

Series Navigation<< Folding techniquesFinishing techniques >>