What kind of binding do magazines use?

Some people decide on the magazine binding method the easy way – by the page count. The rule of thumb is that saddle stitching is used for magazines with under 48 pages, while perfect binding is used for magazines with over 96 pages. However, there’s much more to magazine binding than following this simplistic rule. Moreover, what happens if your magazine has something in between 48 and 96 pages?

The thickness of the paper and the production method also significantly influence the choice of binding method. Having this in mind, we’ll give you some more insight into the details of these two binding options. As soon as you have all the important details at your disposal, you can easily determine the most appropriate type of binding for your magazine.

Saddle stitching

Saddle stitching is the most basic and inexpensive form of magazine binding. In fact, it’s the least expensive of all binding methods. The printed pages are stapled and then trimmed to size. This binding method is most commonly used for print materials with a small number of pages.

This magazine binding method is especially suitable in situations when you use paper with the same weight for both inside and out (i.e. self-covers). This is one of the benefits of saddle stitching. It gives you the opportunity to choose if you want to use different paper for inside pages and covers, or the same paper type for both.

But the issue with saddle stitching appears if your magazine has around 80 pages. Depending on the paper you use, it is possible that your magazine won’t lie completely flat. If your magazine is thicker than .25 inches, you will have to opt for perfect binding.

Also, if you use saddle stitching, you won’t be able to print the spine, which limits your magazine’s visibility on a stand. You should also keep in mind that wire stitching slowly damages the paper, which will affect the longevity of your magazine.

When using saddle stitching as a magazine binding option, you need to make the inside pages narrower than the outside ones. The more pages you have, the narrower the inside ones will be in order to be in line with the others when they are folded. Therefore, you may have to make some special design adjustments for creep. These adjustments are especially necessary if you print the magazine in a small format with a high page count.

Saddle stitching also limits the variations you can make with the paper. Since you have large sheets of folded paper, you will have to make an extra effort if you want to use different paper colours.

However, the main reason why people choose to use saddle stitching is its simplicity. Almost every company that offers printing services can do the stitching in-house and quickly. This is, of course, true when the magazine meets the other criteria for this binding method.

Perfect binding

Perfect binding is suitable to use as a magazine binding option if you have a publication with many pages, though at UK Book Binders we do recommend PUR binding due to the extra strength. Perfect/PUR binding is typically used as a solution for magazines with more than 30 pages. Saying this, we can bind from 1.9mm (and up to 45mm) if your magazine is supplied as collated book blocks.

This magazine binding method is more expensive than saddle stitching, but it brings added value to the final product. Magazines with perfect bind have a flat spine, which provides an opportunity to add design and copy on it. This helps in making the magazine easily identifiable on a selling stand.

Perfect-bound magazines are undoubtedly aesthetically pleasing. The opportunity to print the cover all over provides a chance to get creative and make your magazine stand out. With perfect binding, you can also use different paper colours, weights, and finishes wherever you like.

The opportunity to make a custom-made magazine piece is the reason why perfect binding is more expensive than the saddle stitch option. There are many variables that you can play with when designing your magazine, all of which influence the final cost of production.

The greatest benefit of using perfect binding (but more so PUR binding) is the longevity it gives to your magazine. Unlike saddle stitching, perfect binding does not damage the paper over time. However, perfect binding is not recommended for print pieces that need to lay flat when opened for hands-free reading.

For a product that lays flatter, you could look into thread sewing at UK Book Binders.