Is Saddle Stitch Binding Worth Using?

When getting materials professionally printed, you’ll have the option of choosing between several different types of binding. One of the least expensive binding options is saddle stitch binding, but is this option worth using? And if so, what are the most appropriate applications for it?

The Basics of Saddle Stitch Binding

Saddle stitching is the process of using staples, inserted into the back of the spine of folded pages, to bind a booklet, manual, catalog, brochure, or other printed document. In this approach, pages are folded together and a specialized tool is used to insert the staples along the spine. Once finished, the book can be easily opened and the pages can be easily turned, though the staples will still be visible along the spine.

The Pros and Cons of Saddle Stitch

As you might imagine, there are some pros and cons associated with saddle stitch binding.

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the pros:

·       Inexpensiveness. Saddle stitch is one of the least expensive binding options available. Assuming you meet the requirements for saddle stitching, it can save you a lot of money, especially if you’re printing large quantities of a given document. If you’re on a tight budget, or if your biggest priority is reducing expenses, this makes saddle stitching extremely attractive, especially when compared to more expensive binding options like 3-ring binders or perfect binding. The exact cost is going to depend on the printer you hire, the nature of the project, and other variables. Still, it’s usually the cheapest, or one of the cheapest binding methods available.

·       Faster turnaround. In most cases, saddle stitch binding is associated with a faster turnaround time. Applying specific coil bindings, like spiral binding, takes longer on a per piece basis. And some methods, like perfect binding, require even more time; in this case, the glue needs to set. If you’re eager to get your documents as quickly as possible, or if you have a looming deadline that’s causing you stress, saddle stitch might be the way to go. Still, you might only be able to save a few days with this binding option.

·       Conduciveness to projects of any scale. Saddle stitch binding isn’t necessarily limited in terms of project size. Regardless of whether you’re printing a single booklet, or hundreds of thousands of booklets, you can employ saddle stitching. There are no inherent advantages to choosing saddle stitching at scale, other than the benefits already listed, but the versatility of this binding option makes it attractive overall.

·       Multiple cover options. Contrary to what you might believe, saddle stitching is perfectly appropriate for many different types of covers. If you want your cover to be a thicker stock, saddle stitching should still be able to punch through it. You don’t have to change your binding option just because you want a different type of cover.

However, there are a few drawbacks you’ll need to keep in mind:

·       Page limitations. Stapling a couple of pieces of paper together isn’t very demanding. Stapling 10 pages together requires a bit more effort. Now imagine stapling 100 pages together. Chances are, you would be unable to staple the pages effectively, or you might break your stapler in the process. There’s a strict upper limit to the number of pages that can be saddle stitched together, rendering this binding method impossible for some projects.

·       Texture problems. Some people deliberately attempt to avoid saddle stitch binding because of texture, feel, or appearance problems. This is because the staples are plainly visible, and are able to be felt, along the spine of the booklet. If you want your project to feel and look smooth, saddle stitch may not be the option for you.

·       Less professional appearance. Saddle stitching is a totally acceptable method of binding, but it doesn’t always look as professional as other types of binding. This is largely subjective, but many people are more impressed by options like binders and perfect binding than they are with saddle stitching. You can mitigate some of this downside by choosing higher quality paper stock and perfecting your designs.

·       Risk of degradation. Also, saddle stitch binding runs a slight risk of degradation over time. You won’t have to worry about your books falling apart anytime soon, but understandably, pages stapled together are going to suffer from more wear and tear than something like spiral binding.

Alternatives to Saddle Stitch

Perfect binding is one of the most popular alternatives to saddle stitch, since it’s fairly analogous, offering permanent binding at the spine. However, it offers a few distinctive advantages and disadvantages. For starters, perfect binding utilizes a glue along the spine, rather than staples, greatly increasing the number of pages that can be tolerated. Additionally, this form of binding allows for you to print graphics on the spine itself. However, it’s more expensive than saddle stitch.

Spiral and wire-O binding are options that allow you to bind pages together with the help of plastic or metal rings, fed through holes punched in the edges of the paper. It tends to carry a more professional look than saddle stitch binding, and it offers easy page turning. This binding style also allows for pages to fold flat quite easily, which is perfect for some applications. However, it’s more expensive than saddle stitch and has an upper limit to the number of pages you can include, and you’ll generally want to use a thicker stock, at least for the cover pages.


There are many other alternatives available. 

Before choosing a type of binding, it’s important to evaluate the nature of your project, your budget, and the goals you want to achieve. Saddle stitch binding isn’t perfect, but it comes with enormous advantages for projects that are a good fit.

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