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Words to Bind By
by Mark Rasch, VP

Even the most simple binding and finishing processes contain numerous variables that can make or break the success of your project. Clear communication is critical to getting what you want, and the more you can articulate and understand bindery terms and processes, the greater the chances of that happening. Her are some of the mis-communications we encounter most frequently.

Sheets Vs. Pages
These terms cannot be used interchangeably, though they oftentimes are. One slip of the tongue can incorrectly halve or double the true thickness of a book. It's best to give specifications in terms of the number of sheets of the final book, except when describing signature configurations.

For example, a perfect bound book of 144 pages consists of 72 sheets. A saddle stitch booklet may begin as three 11" X 17" sheets, but the final product will be considered a 12-page or 6-sheet 8.5" X 11" book. Whether or not all pages are printed does not matter in bindery. We're concerned with thickness; hence the importance in correctly communicating the number of pages vs. sheets in a finished product.

Spiral Binding
"Spiral binding" is a term loosely used to describe some style of mechanical binding. Mechanical binding is the process whereby a plastic or wire element is inserted into die-punched holes along the spine of the book to bind it. The pages are not attached to each other, only gathered and bond by the element. Examples include GBC, spiral wire, Wire-O, and Plastikoil or other continuous plastic coils.

Find out exactly what is offered through your bindery supplier to make certain you're requesting the right element. Ask questions if there's any doubt.

Head, Tail, Face, Spine
When describing certain edges of the book, use the term that is least ambiguousits real name. Logically, the top of the book is it's "head"; bottom is the foot. You know "spine," and the side opposite is its "face."

The infamous letter fold. Exactly what does it mean? Does the face edge fold in? Fold down? Or, does it fold facing up? Make sure you clearly communicate what you want and send a sample with the job.

Communications can mean life or death to any estimate and ultimately the project. Call your local bindery before proceeding if there is any doubt in your mind as to what was said and agreed to.


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