What is Perfect Bound Printing?

Fri, Oct 5, 2018 @ 08:22 AM Ginny Crispin 2

what is perfect bound printing?

Perfect binding refers to a popular binding method that features a flat spine. The pages are stacked together, and the cover of the booklet is placed over and around it, attached by the application of a strong yet flexible glue along the binding edge. The other three sides of the book are trimmed down to produce a clean, smooth and “perfect” square look. 

perfect bound printing diagram


holiday open spread perfect bound magazine

Is Perfect Binding Right for Your Project?

Perfect binding isn’t limited to authors who are printing books of 500+ pages! The minimum page requirement is 28 pages and plenty of businesses and organizations use this method on a variety of printing projects because of its highly professional appearance and relatively low cost, in both short runs and larger order quantities. It is commonly used for a variety of publications, such as manuals, reports, catalogs, magazines, photo books and more.

stack of perfect bound magazinesWe know that perfect bound books are a no-brainer when it comes to high page counts. With any booklet that contains more than 92 pages, perfect binding is definitely superior and highly recommended. However, it can be slightly more expensive than other binding options.

The primary benefits of perfect bound books are that they look professional and offer great visual appeal. Also, there is the option of placing content on the spine, such as an author, book title or any type of design. This is something that neither saddle-stitch binding or spiral and wire-o binding offer. Perfect binding definitely produces a high quality and professional look that can’t be matched.


What Options are There for Perfect Bound Book Printing?

Your perfect bound book can be printed in a variety of sizes and customized exactly to your needs in order to create a truly unique and visually stunning booklet.

Size – we offer many different sizes that your booklet can be printed to. You will save costs by choosing standard sizes, such as 5.5” x 8.5” or 8.5” x 11”. Other sizes include 4.25” x 11”, 6” x 6”, 9” x 9” and custom sizing. Whatever your vision is for your booklet, an online printing company will bring it to life!

Paper – you can choose between matte, gloss or uncoated papers in a variety of thickness and weights. Cover paper options can be used for the outside front / back pages of a booklet and are more substantial and sturdier than regular text papers. They have a similar feel to cardstock, thin cardboard or a file folder. For the interior pages of a booklet, text paper options will provide a flexibility and thinness that is similar to high quality printer paper or the interior pages of a magazine. For a breakdown of all our paper options and their different uses, click here!

Finishing Touches – We recommend treating your booklet cover with UV High Gloss Coating, a shiny gloss coating applied over printed cover weight paper to make photos and colors pop. It will provide your final product with durability, a professional look and quality finish. UV High Gloss also protects the outside of your booklet or magazine from scratching and scuffing.


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Designing a Perfect Bound Book

If you have decided that your printing project is going to be perfect bound, there are a few design tips to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t Lose Yourself in the Gutter – Unlike a saddle-stitched booklet whose open pages lay flat, perfect bound books are glued at the spine and cannot lay completely open without breaking. During the binding process, an area of each page will disappear into the spine, also known as the gutter. Depending on how many pages are in the booklet, the gutter can take up between 1/4” – 3/8” of each page. It’s good practice to leave at least a quarter inch of safety margin space on the sides of each page. Be careful to keep note of which pages will be on the left or right side of your perfect bound book so you can place your safety margins on the correct side. Keep all text and any images that need to remain visible inside the safety margin.

good and bad examples of gutter safety margin placement


  1. Be Careful with Two-Page Spreads – If you decide that you want one image to be featured across two pages, keep in mind that the alignment of the photo where the pages meet together might not perfectly match up. When an image covers two pages, the gutter area will still obscure at least a quarter inch off of each side. It might seem like a small amount of space to worry about, but it can drastically affect the photo’s appearance. It helps to choose photos that won't be so obvious that there's a gap missing (example: a person's face might be a lot more noticeable than a photo with less detail).

good and bad examples of two-page spreads


  1. Don’t Forget the Spine – A unique feature of perfect bound books is the ability to design the spine. You can keep it a solid color, add text or have one continuous image covering the front cover across to the back cover. The most important part is to set up your file correctly because the width of the spine needs to be exactly the width of the book, which depends on how many pages the booklet has. For books with a solid color or one single image, this isn’t too hard to plan for. But if it’s a different color or an image, things can get tricky and calculating the width of your spine can be difficult. It’s best to be in contact with an online printer early in the design process to avoid any mistakes and disappointment in the final product.

good and bad examples of spine alignment


PrintingCenterUSA is happy to answer any questions you have about perfect book binding or any of our full color digital printing services. Call us at 1-800-995-1555  or send us an e-mail.


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Ginny Crispin

Ginny Crispin

Ginny Crispin works in graphic design at PrintingCenterUSA. She writes about different products and their uses, design resources and tips, marketing ideas and more. She has bachelor’s degrees in English Literature and Communications from Emory & Henry College and an associate degree in Graphic Design from Great Falls College MSU. She is an outdoor enthusiast and loves exploring the hiking trails of Montana.