Saddle Stitch Binding

This is post no.19 of #BlogchatterA2Z.

This includes blogging every day in April for 26 days, except on Sundays. What’s special about it is that every day’s post will be corresponding to each letter of the alphabet. 

My theme for 2021 is Bookish TriviaIf you liked this post, don’t forget to “roll” me on Blogchatter’s website!

All my #BlogchatterA2Z posts 2021 can be found here.

For the letter “C,” I talked about chapbooks–saddle stitched pamphlets of 20-40 pages that mainly feature poetry by budding poets as a sort of portfolio.

In this post, I’ll describe what saddle stitch binding is.

Saddle stitch binding booklet

The next time you pick up a brochure or magazine or even a school exercise book, pay attention to the binding. It’s likely that these are saddle stitched–two staples along the spine.

It may sound like an odd name for a book binding method, but in the printing industry, stapling is referred to as stitching. 

In saddle stitch binding, folded sheets of paper are placed within each other and attached by staples along the spine. 

How does saddle stitch binding get its name?

The name “saddle” is derived from the saddle-like equipment over which the sheets of paper are hung during the stitching process. 

The books are not really stapled–a spool of long metal wire is pushed through the collated sheets in a motion similar to that of a sewing machine. Then the wire is folded into something that resembles a staple.

Saddle stitching is done using either low volume machines that are slow and manually operated or high volume machines that are automatic and work quickly.

Saddle stitch binding is commonly used for catalogs, brochures, magazines, booklets, newsletters, coloring books, wall calendars, and pamphlets. 

Benefits of the Saddle Stitching Method

Saddle stitched booklets

  • It is the least expensive.
  • It works well for low page count books.
  • It allows for a fast turnaround time.
  • It is suitable for both long and short print runs.
  • It does not add too much weight to the book, so it is useful for documents that need to be sent by post.
  • It is suitable for various sizes of books, such as pocketbooks or large maps.
  • It is also suitable for books of any orientation – landscape, portrait, square.
  • It supports crossover images (images spread across two pages) and is easier to design than other types of binding.
  • It allows holes to be punched along the spine so that the book can be added to a ring binder.

Don’t be fooled by the low cost of producing saddle-stitched books. The final product is a professional-looking document.

How is a saddle stitch book constructed?

Saddle stitch machine
Saddle stitching machine

Handmade saddle stitch books are bound by thread instead of wire staples. You’ll find a tutorial for a handmade saddle stitch book here.

Three pieces of equipment are required to create saddle stitched books:

  • Stack of sheets of nested paper
  • A saddle stitch head
  • A spool of saddle stitch wire

The sheets of the book are nested within each other and fed into the saddle stitch machine. 

The stack is jogged from top to bottom and left to right to ensure that they are all aligned.

Both saddle stitch heads pull some wire through the stack of paper and pierce it.

Then, both saddle stitch heads descend. One end of the wire is pushed through, folded, cut, and the other end is pushed in.

The saddle stitch bind is now complete. 

What is the page count of a saddle stitched book?

Saddle stitch page count

Saddle stitched books should have pages in multiples of four. So the page count can be 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, and so on.

Usually, saddle stitching can handle 64 pages or less (upto 4 pages).

Any more pages and the booklet will not lie flat. Instead, it will tend to spring open. Books of smaller dimensions will particularly show this effect.

If very thin pages are used, a booklet of 100 pages may be saddle stitched.

If your book has more pages, you need to use perfect binding or coil binding methods.

This is a limiting factor of this book binding method–the thickness of the book is determined by the strength and the length of the wire staples.

Also, the spine of a saddle stitched book cannot be printed on because it is not flat.

How many wire staples along the spine are required?

Most commonly, two wire staples are used along the spine. 

For smaller books with spine length of 2 inches or less, one staple is enough. 

For large books, around three staples are required.



8 responses to “Saddle Stitch Binding”

  1. […] Zines vary in size from 8.5″ X 11″, 6″ X 9″, 5.5″ X 8.5″ and are traditionally saddle stitched. […]

  2. Oh take care.. i was wondering why your posts were not being updated. Best wishes and hugs. Everything will be ok. Much love

  3. Thank you! My family got covid so I’m unable to catch up with the rest of your blog posts right now!

    1. Oh take care.. i was wondering why your posts were not being updated. Best wishes and hugs. Everything will be ok. Much love

  4. Yes, when we stitched notebooks with thread, right?

  5. Methinks this was the way I used to make notebooks out of paper torn out of notebooks, no?
    But really fascinating

    1. Yes, when we stitched notebooks with thread, right?

  6. This was an amazing new thing to learn here today
    Deepika Sharma

    1. Thank you! My family got covid so I’m unable to catch up with the rest of your blog posts right now!

      1. Oh take care.. i was wondering why your posts were not being updated. Best wishes and hugs. Everything will be ok. Much love

  7. I never knew this. Thank you

  8. […] are usually saddle-stitched, which means that they are kept together with a few staples along the spine of the […]

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.