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All about perfect binding; when to use it, what it’s best suited for, and how to work with it!

What is perfect binding?

Perfect binding is a method of binding books with a soft card cover, using a strong, flexible adhesive to glue the pages into a square spine. This is commonly used for property marketing, company profiles, yearbooks, family history books, and more!

When saddle-stitching a book, once you get up to 40pp (20 leaves) it may start to get a bit too thick for the stapling method. Perfect binding is a great alternative, and can elevate your publication to look more professional without being super expensive.

printing services melbourne perfect binding book
Nice square spines!

Perfect binding vs saddle stitching

We know that for saddle-stitching, the number of pages has to be a multiple of four. However, if you are using the perfect binding method, it only needs to be a multiple of 2 (as in, the front and back of one sheet of paper).

There is one requirement for number of pages – the spine needs to be at least thick enough to glue into a square spine, about 2mm or thicker is ideal. This can be worked around by using a thicker paper stock for your text pages.

When to use perfect binding

You will often see this binding method used for magazines, annual reports, novels, corporate brochures, family history books, property information memorandums, and coffee table books.

Remember, the pages are glued into the spine, so the book won’t sit open flat. While it looks great, it is not the most convenient binding method for say, a cookbook.

This book only opens flat in the centre.

Setting up the artwork 

When setting up your cover artwork for the perfect binding method, don’t forget the spine! You will know the size of the spine when you know how many pages there are, and what stock you will be using. We will always provide a mock-up for a booklet, to ensure any last minute changes like this can be made. Remember that, as part of the cover, your spine can be part of the whole outside spread.

A tip: leave the spine area on the inside of the cover blank – this is known as the “glue trap”. Keeping this area free of ink ensures a solid bond. If you do include any print here, nobody will be able to see it anyway. You know, because of the glue.

How long does it take?

The actual binding part of your print job requires three stages – the machine needs to heat up the glue, then the actual process of binding itself, and then the drying time! As a rule the glue should dry at least overnight before you even think about opening your perfect bound book. If you have a deadline for your project, we recommend you contact us for a timeline based on your specifications!

MJ Printing are experts at perfect binding. We even do perfect binding for other printers.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of holding your own finished book in your hands! If you have a book project that you are working on, we would be happy to help. It is our favourite kind of project to work on. Drop us a line at or call (03) 9544 9055.