Don’t Forget Your Margins – A Graphic Designers Primer on Binding Machine Use
As more graphic designers are being trained for web production instead of print, they tend to forget the small details, like setting proper margins when they’re creating print jobs that are going to put through a binding machine.
Most designers usually only make this mistake once, and then the lesson is remembered forever. But it can still be an expensive mistake to make, if you don’t have someone who catches it before the job prints, or if you have to do an expensive reprint. If it is not margined properly, the binding machine can not fix it.
Before you start, be sure you use the proper margin settings. When you setting up a new document in your page layout program, be sure you select the option that lets you set inside and outside margins, not left and right margins. You use left and right margins if you’re printing one-sided sheets, like a typical report. You should be able to select double-sided as a layout option, which should then activate the Inside/Outside layout option.
Here are a few important points to keep in mind, based on the different bindery options.
- Saddle stitch: This is the typical staple-in-the-center bindery method. While you don’t lose a lot of interior space, you will lose a little on the outside. That’s because when you stack several folded sheets together, you start to get a fanning effect, where the innermost pages stick out beyond the front cover. When this happens, the pages have to be face cut, and you can lose as much as .25 inches off the outside margin. Talk to your printer and see what they recommend.
- Perfect Binding: Your typical book binding. Most book publishers want a 1.5″ margin for an inside margin. Take a look at a book, and see how much you’re able to see on the pages in the middle. As you get further into the book, the pages are harder to open, which means you need some extra white space. Some trade paperbacks, like the Dummies series
- Comb, Coil, Spiral, and Wire binding: These books are made to lay flat, unlike perfect bound books. It’s like laying two stacks of paper side by side, with about a .25 inch gap between them. Because of this, graphics should not cross pages. That is, don’t create a two-page photo spread, especially if you’re going for something really fancy and high class. You can do it with saddle stitching, especially if you can land it on the center page of the book, but it just doesn’t look good with these spreads. The margin for these books should run around 1.5″, but can go up to a 2″ inside margin. Talk to your printer to find out what he or she recommends.
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