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Stocks & finishes

Stocks & finishes

Finishing refers to all the activities that are performed on printed material after printing. This includes binding, the fastening of individual sheets together, and decorative processes such as die-stamping, embossing or laminating.

Bindery processes

Cutting and trimming

Paper stock may be need to be cut or trimmed more than once during the production of a job:

  • Sometimes the paper that is in stock is too big and needs to be trimmed prior to printing a job.
  • When multiple signatures are combined on one press sheet, those sheets need to be cut after printing.
  • Sheets may need to be trimmed to fit folding machines or other bindery equipment.
  • After folding and binding the unbound sides need to be trimmed. For books this is often done with a three-knife cutter, which has three blades to simultaneously trim three sides.

Cutting and trimming is usually done using a guillotine cutter. A stack of sheets is placed on the bed of the cutter and the angled stainless steel blade cuts through it at the desired position. All the stacks are subsequently often placed in a jogger, a vibrating table that squares the stacks of sheets.


For magazines, books,… large press sheets need to be folded into signatures. This involves a series of  right-angle folds in which the sheet is folded multiple times. Folding a sheet once makes four pages, two right-angle folds make eight pages,…

Other types of work require parallel folds in which two or more folds which are oriented in the same direction are made  in a sheet. This is typically done for leaflets or brochures.


Collating and gathering

These processes involve placing (folded) sheets in the correct sequence. Collating refers to sorting individual sheets into sets. Many laser printers and copiers have a collating function. Gathering is a similar process but it involves folded signatures. Gathering machines have up to thirty slots or pockets in which signatures are fed manually or automatically. The machine then gathers the signatures into what is known as a book block. Such machines can also have a binding function, such as for instance a stitcher.


There are different ways of binding sheets together. Below are the most commonly used techniques:

  • Perfect binding: Pages are fixed to a cover or spine using glue. This process is used for paperback books, magazines, telephone guides,…
  • Saddle-stitching: Pages are bound by driving staples through the center of the spine of folded sheets. This wire binding technique is commonly used for magazines, newsletters, small catalogs,… but is limited in the number of pages that can be bound.
  • Side-stitching: This type of wire binding is less common than saddle-stitching. The staples are driven through the pages, usually parallel to the bind margin. Reports are often bound this way.
  • Thread sewing: A thread or cord is used to stitch a book block together. This is often done in conjunction with using an adhesive. Thread sewing is used for hardcover books. Afterwards the book cover is attached using a technique called case binding. As with wire binding, there are two types of thread sewing: saddle-sewing and side-sewing.
  • Comb binding: The teeth of a plastic ‘comb’ are inserted into a series of slits drilled or punched into a stack of sheets. This process is often used for reports and presentations.
  • Spiral binding: A continuous wire or plastic coil is threaded through holes drilled or punched into a stack of sheets. Spiral binding is typically used for notebooks.
  • Loose-leaf binding: A set of holes is drilled in a stack of sheets which are then inserted into standard or customized ring binders or post binders. This binding technique is used for notebooks, presentations, financial reports, manuals or any other type of publication that require frequent updating.
  • Padding: the binding of a stack of sheets are bound using a flexible adhesive so that the sheets can easily be removed. Notepad are a typical example of padding.


Laminating refers to bonding a separate material or layer of material to the printed matter. The most common type of laminating is sealing the print between two layers of a plastic material. A typical example of this are menu cards for restaurants which often need to be both sturdy and water-proof.

Burst/Perfect Bound Art Setup Guidelines

During the binding process for perfect / burst bound books, there is an area that is hidden between the inside front cover & the first page of text and the inside back cover and the last page of text. The distance is 7mm from the spine, it is best to keep all critical image and text clear from this area.

If an image is to cross from inside front cover to the first page, or inside back cover to the last page, the 7mm hidden area must be allowed for. This is best done at the artwork stage, the image must finish the page 7mm from the right on the inside front cover and start 7mm from the left on the first page (see illustration), it should still bleed 3mm past this point as it would on the foredge
(this would be reversed for the inside back cover and the last page).



Burst/Perfect Bound Art Setup Guidelines

Due to the physics of the burst bound book it is not practical to lay the book flat like a saddle stitched book, therefore there is an area of the pages near the spine that is hidden from view. Again, this is best to be left free of type and critical image. If an image is to run across a two page spread it is best to consider if the portion of the image that is close to the spine (say 5mm either side) is important information that needs to be viewed without obstruction.

If laying out an image that does need to go across two spreads and the image is be viewed at its best, we recommend that the image fi nishes 3mm short of the spine (plus a 3mm bleed) for both the left hand page and the right hand page.