Header image for booklet-making

What’s so hard about booklet-making?

Well, quite a lot, actually. 

Booklets come in several forms and are used for many applications, from leaflets and presentations to university prospectuses.  There are some important practical considerations to bear in mind.

Types of booklets 

Firstly, there are a few options that we offer for printing booklets.  It’s mostly down to cost, simplicity and the particular requirement.

Saddle-stitched

The simplest solution, suitable for brochures, prospectuses and other booklets, but limited to about 40 sheets (160 booklet pages) of 100gsm stock with a heavier cover sheet.  It simply consists of a folded document stapled along the spine.  This is fine for most applications and is a popular option, not least because there are automated systems for creating the booklet.

Booklets MUST be in pages divisible by FOUR, unless you are happy to have blank sheets to make up the difference.

Perfect binding

This is the solution to larger documents with more sheets of paper, up to around 150 sheets (600 book pages on 100gsm) and is the most common way of creating paperback books, though not the most durable.

example image for perfect-binding

Perfect binding uses glue to secure the pages, which are jogged into a straight block, glued and then clamped down to set.  The cover is then wrapped around the block and also glued.  This makes the process fairly labour-intensive for smaller runs without automation.

Pages must be divisible by four.

Wire- or comb-binding

Wire- or comb-bound documents are not really booklets but are single pages attached by a metal wire spiral or a plastic ‘comb’, up to a maximum of about 150 sheets of 80gsm for wire or about 280 sheets for comb.  Other companies may differ in these figures but this is what we offer at FirstpointPrint.  This binding is best suited to business presentations and similar documents.

example image for wire-binding

example image for comb-binding

Because they are not true booklets, pages do not have to be divisible by four.  Even an odd number will simply result in a blank page on the back or behind the front cover.

Checklist:

  • Saddle-stitched: max approx. 40 sheets, pages divisible by four
  • Perfect: slower process, max approx. 150 sheets, pages divisible by four
  • Wire or comb: max approx. 150 or 280 sheets respectively, pages divisible by two

 

Imposition

We get files from clients all the time which are intended to be printed as booklets.  They’re mostly wrong.  Usually wrong in a way which isn’t easy for us to fix.

People often try to supply files which are already ‘paginated’ (organized for printing as a booklet); we actually prefer artwork to be supplied as single pages for us to rearrange using specialist software.  However, we understand that people may still supply paginated documents for various reasons and we simply have to roll with it.

A document is usually created in logical page order: 1-2-3-4 and so on.  A paginated file for booklet-making must be printed in a certain page order so that the finished sheets appear in the correct order when you turn the page.  The most logical mind can struggle with this concept and pages are often supplied in the wrong order.  It also locks the designer in to the number of pages in the document and the pages must otherwise be rearranged.  It’s an old-fashioned and unnecessary way of producing a booklet.

Illustration for pagination

If you must paginate your booklet in the vain hope of being helpful, make a mockery—sorry, a mock-up—of it first with some folded pages, then write the intended page number on each page, starting on the front cover.  Then separate the sheets and open them, placing them in sequence to reveal the paginated page order.  The following is an example from an eight-page booklet:

Checklist:

  • Please don’t
  • Make a mock-up first

Spine

The spine is simply the bound edge of the document and will vary according to the booklet type.  A stapled spine on a fairly thin document will be sharp and narrow, whereas a perfect-bound spine will be flat and its width will depend on the number of pages.  Because of this, a perfect-bound document may have text or graphics printed on the spine, or have a continuous image wrapped round the whole cover.

When designing the cover on a perfect-bound book, you must allow for this extra gutter when defining the width of the page.  For an idea of how wide this should be, speak to us first and we can estimate the thickness of the entire document based on the number of pages and the stock thickness.

One issue to keep in mind is that, on a sharp spine such as a saddle-stich, digitally-printed toner may crack when it is folded, which looks messy.  Laminating the cover can help to mitigate this.  In litho printing, the ink soaks into the paper, so it is not a problem.

Checklist:

  • Avoid solid colours or photos on a narrow spine unless laminated or litho
  • Allow extra space on perfect-bound covers
  • Ask us about document thickness
As always, we at FirstpointPrint are here to help, so don’t be shy!