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Zine Binding Options

There are two binding options for your zine - wire stitching and perfect binding.


Which one you go for is primarily dictated by the number of pages, but also thickness of stock and personal aesthetic preference.

Which type of binding should I go for?


The Rule Of Thumb is:

• Wire Stitching: Bound together with two staples on the spine. For upto 40 pages.

• Perfect Binding. A glued, square spine -
for 40 pages+. (Scroll down page for tips)

Wire Stitching
(also known as 'Saddle Stitching')

This is the best method for binding lightweight magazines and the stapling is reminscent of old school Zines that people used to make themselves on the library photocopier. The printed sheets are sorted with the cover at the top of the stack, centre spread at the bottom, then folded in half and bound together using two staples on the spine.














This process is recommended for zines UP TO 40 pages. If you have more than 40 pages then they become very bulky when folded in half. This will cause your zine to ‘bounce’ open when laid flat rather than staying closed. Best to choose a lighter paper weight to help with this - maybe 100 or 120gsm all the way through and skip the thicker cover.


Wire stitching more than 40 pages causes stress on the staples and they could rip or fall out when the zine is read.






Issues to Consider

On thick silk and uncoated stocks (200gsm+) the paper fibres can crack when they are folded (as shown here on the right).











We always recommend matt or gloss laminating the outside of covers printed onto paper weights of 170gsm or thicker. Lamination gives the sheet more protection and prevents the ink from cracking. Our example here on the right has black ink printed on to a 350gsm silk cover but because it is matt laminated the ink hasn't cracked (unlike the image above).









Design Considerations

In thicker wire stitched booklets the inside pages are pushed further out (away from the spine) when they are folded. The image to the right shows this. Therefore when they are trimmed, the pages nearer the centre of the book become shorter the nearer the middle of the book they are - this is sometimes referred to as 'creep'. For this reason it is a very good idea to keep any page numbers and important information a good 5mm away from the page edge. The slight change in page width will also mean any repeating patterns or objects intended to be in the same position on every page won't be and will show some variation as you flick through the book.





Finally, you need a multiple of four pages for wire stitched booklets. When you fold a sheet of paper in half to staple the spine you get four pages so we need 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36 or 40 pages. We can't do a 21 page Zine because you would end up with one loose page.


For step by step help on setting up a file for a wire stitched zine click here






Wire Stitching Summary

1. Your total number of pages must be a multiple of 4 (8,12,16,20,24,28 etc)

2. Lamination prevents covers onto 170gsm+ from cracking when folded

3. Pages towards the centre of your zine will be trimmed shorter
4. The thicker the booklet, the more it will bounce open rather than sit flat
5. Stick to 170gsm or less for text pages to avoid staples being pulled out

Perfect Binding / PUR Binding

Perfect binding gives the Zine a more book-like appearance. We recommend perfect binding for zines of 40 pages or more. OR zines that have a width of more than 3mm. (Increasing the weight of your text pages will make the spine thicker. However, we don't recommend choosing thicker than 170gsm for text pages because the pages become too rigid to turn and read).
















In the Perfect Binding process all the pages are trimmed to size and stacked in a block. They are aligned at the left hand spine edge, roughened up and a strong glue is applied. The separate cover is creased, wrapped around the text block and then bound on to give a square finish.


"Why do I have a 4pp cover?"

Your cover is made up of 4 pages: a front cover, a back cover, inside front and inside back cover. All of these are printed onto your chosen cover stock making the 4pp cover.






A 'hinge' is creased on the front and back cover (see image to the right) around 6mm from the spine which allows the cover to open more easily.






Perfect Binding Tips and Design Considerations

Spine Size

If the spine is less than 3mm we would advise you to go for wire stitching because there won't be enough surface area to glue.


You can add text to the spine (we dont charge extra for this) but it works best if the spine is 5mm or more so there is plenty of room for the text to sit. Our presses have a 1mm tolerance and paper is after all a natural material which can shrink and expand during printing. The image to the right shows what can happen if you have a solid background colour or large text on the spine - this can slide round to the cover so is best to keep text well away from the spine edge.





The cover is subject to scoring and folding which weakens the paper fibres. If you have a large area of flat colour it could (and usually does) crack. Lamination takes away any risk of cracking on thicker paper stocks! It is a very cheap process but will make your finished zine look a lot more professional.






Spine Gutter
The 'spine gutter' is the section of a page which is immediately next to the spine. The pages are glued (quite tight sometimes) so it can be hard to press a page flat to read all of it. The area lost or hidden tends to be around 2 or 3mm. It's best to allow some extra space on the spine side of each page to avoid losing any content.

The 'filthy' example here shows a line that should run smoothly across the centre spread but with 3mm lost on the left and the right hand pages of the spread the line actually appears jagged and not continuous.

It is never a good idea to put text across a spread because when some of the text is lost in the spine gutter the words or sentences will be incomplete and will no longer make sense to the reader.



If you have an image that crosses over the spine (a spread) some of it can be obscured within the spine gutter. An example of this is seen on the right.

The good news is that you can overcompensate for the spine gutter by splitting the image in two then moving the left hand image 3mm left and the right hand image 3mm right so they appear to match up when the zines are bound.




Cover Hinge

To make your cover easier to open a 'hinge' is creased onto the front and back cover (see image). This is normally around 6mm. To give it extra strength the hinge is glued to the first page and last text page of your zine. Therefore you will lose 6-8mm on these pages so it's best to keep important information 10-12mm away from this hinge area.


Quiet Zone

Paper is made from natural fibres which can move and slide when trimmed. We advise leaving a ‘Quiet Zone’ of 3mm around the edge of each page so if the paper moves slightly none of your content is trimmed off. The bleed will also help with this but it's never great having important information because if it's partially trimmed off it will lose the desired effect.


For step by step help on setting up a file for a perfect bound zine click here









Perfect Binding Summary

1. You need AT LEAST 40 PAGES to be thick enough to glue and bind

2. You will lose around 3mm in the spine gutter on each page
3. Allow 10mm clearance for the cover hinge on 1st and last text pages
4. The thicker the inside pages the harder they are to turn and read

5. Limit inside pages to 170gsm otherwise they can pull out from the binding
6. Laminating the cover will prevent cracking on the spine fold