What Are the Pros and Cons of Spiral Binding?

spiral bound document

(4-min read)

As you research finishing and binding options for multi-page production print materials, you’ve likely come across spiral binding. But just what is spiral binding, and what are the benefits of it? Let’s take a look into what is considered spiral binding, its pros, cons, and applications for your organization. 

What is Spiral Binding?

If you’ve ever attended school, you probably already understand what a spiral notebook is. A spiral binding, or “coil binding” as it is sometimes referred, is a style of paper document binding in which one side of the paper is uniformly punched with equidistant holes. A spiralized piece of metal or plastic is spun through the holes for a simple binding. This allows for a loose-yet-organized binding that is especially popular among those printing manuals, workbooks, and other guides. 

The Benefits of Spiral Binding

  • It allows books to lay flat. Where a glued perfect binding is best for a hand-held book, spiral binding is preferred for materials that will need to lay flat on a desk, workbench, or possibly a podium. This is especially handy for manuals and guides that provide instructions—allowing for the use of one’s hands (on computers, during technical repairs, assembly, maintenance, etc.). 
  • It can accommodate a wide range of page counts. When it comes to spiral bindings, the number of pages is virtually irrelevant. Large or small, all that needs to change is the size of the plastic or metal binding piece. 
  • It can be folded entirely over. Spiral binding can be opened in a full-360-motion to allow for a focus on a single page. This is especially handy for when the book is large or desktop space is limited — such as in a classroom setting. 
  • Pages can be added or removed after binding. Though rare, there may be an occasion when a mistake exists on a page within spiral-bound document or a section has updated with new information. Instead of throwing out an entire shipment and reprinting new books, spiral binding can be unwound to allow for the removal, addition, or substitution of pages.

The Cons of Spiral Binding

  • It’s not the cheapest. Though spiral binding is relatively inexpensive, perfect binding can still be less expensive binding techniques. Perfect binding, however, does not contain most of the “pros” mentioned above.
  • It is prone to damage due to flimsy covers. Due to flimsier covers and completely exposed page edges, spiral-bound books can become more easily damaged in backpacks and during commutes. Though this can be remedied by using a harder front-and-back cover, unlike perfect-bound documents or manuals, the internal edge of pages are still largely exposured. 
  • It can come unraveled. The spiral binding typically does a great job of remaining within the punched holes in the paper by closed bent ends in the material. If the bent ends become unsecured, however, this can cause the spiral piece to come unraveled and in need of attention.

Matter of Application & Preference

When selecting a binding style for your documents, its important to carefully consider the application of the document.

  • What will be the intended extent of its useful life?
  • Will it only be used for a weekend convention or is it intended to be the user manual for office equipment for years of service?
  • Are its intended recipients on the move or will the manual likely remain under one roof?
  • Will it be useful for those who consult this document to lay it flat, such as those who consult it as a manual for fixing equipment?

All of these questions and more can help you select the proper binding for your documents.

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