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Taijitu Magazine

is published by

Phosphene Publishing Co.

All material © 2016

A magazine of martial and movement arts, with a focus on the internal style of Tai Chi Chuan

Types of Book Binding

by Christopher Dow



These are the different types of binding for most multipage pieces of printed matter. In almost all cases, the paper stock or other material used for the covers are harder and stiffer than the pages they protect.

Hardback binding without a dust jacket, left, and with one, right.

Hardback Binding


Generally, hardback binding is the most durable and expensive type of binding, enclosing the pages in a hardboard cover. Usually, a group of pages are folded into each other to make bundles that are stitched together with thread at the fold. These bundles have different names depending on how many times they are folded before being stitched at the central fold—folio folded once, quarto twice, and octavo three times. The bundles are themselves bundled together with stronger thread and/or glue inside of a durable material such as heavy cardboard that is sheathed with another durable material such as leather or heavy cloth. The spine usually is not directly attached to the butt ends of the gathered bundles. Either it is glued to the back edges of the covers or the sheathing material simply wraps around both covers and the spine. Usually, a printed paper dust jacket is included to protect the cover and to add descriptive material and more colorful packaging.

Two examples of case binding: a children's book, left, and memoir, right.

Case Binding


This type of hard binding is similar to Hardback Binding except that the cover boards are covered with a graphic—like a trade paper book—and coated with a tough clear material instead of leather or cloth. There is no dust jacket. The flat spine allows for the display of type, such as title and author. These sorts of covers often find homes on cook books, children's books, textbooks, and other more utilitarian publications.

Perfect binding is a common binding method for paperback books, catalogs, some magazines, and many other types of publications.

Perfect Binding


A type of soft binding in which the pages are inserted into a wrap-around paper cover that is glued to them along the spine. This is a common binding type for paperbacks, trade paper books, phone books, and some periodicals—usually those with page counts over 100. As with hardback and case binding, perfect binding produces a flat spine that allows for the display of type.

Saddle stitching is used for magazine, catalogs, and other types of publications that do not have enough pages to be enclosed in perfect binding. The spine cannot be printed on.

Saddle Stitching


A type of binding in which the printed sheets of paper are all folded in the middle, inserted together inside of each other, and stapled together along the folded edge. This is a common binding for booklets, pamphlets, and periodicals such as comic books and magazines with a page count lower than about 100. The spine is a ridge and cannot display type.

Comb binding is a method used primarily for textbooks and other utilitarian publications. Plastic combs can be printed on by specialty printers.

Comb Binding


A type of binding in which small rectangular slots are punched through the edges of the pages to be bound. The pages are held together by a circular wire or plastic comb whose teeth clamp through the punched slots. Plastic combs can be printed on by specialty companies.

Strip binding is often used in publications produced in a photocopy facility.

Strip Binding


A binding type in which a series of small holes are drilled through the edges of the pages. Plastic posts are inserted through the holes and into corresponding holes in plastic strips, and all the junctures are fused together. The back of the book will be rectangular, as with perfect binding, but the spine edges of all the individual pages will be exposed, and no title can be printed. (Unless you get out your trusty magic marker and print in crude bold letters.)


Spiral Binding


A binding type…. Well, you know: those spiral notebooks you carried all those years of school. But some manuals, textbooks, and other printed items use this sort of of binding.


Three-ring and Report Binding


Yep, those other notebooks you carried. Good for binding ephemera such as flyers and class handouts. And all those report covers are just dandy for the same purpose. (I recommend going with paper report covers since mold tends to attack the plastic ones after a few years on the shelf.)

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