A Designer’s Guide: Saddle-Stitched Books

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May 17, 2016

Designing a print piece for mass production can be an arduous task. When you’re designing booklets, programs, or pamphlets to be produced in the thousands, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and obsess over every single detail. While you may have a trusty production team to obsess for you, it is still essential to setup up your designed document correctly. Doing this ensures that the process goes smoothly and may keep you on the press team’s good side.

So what should you obsess over, what special considerations do you need to keep in mind when preparing these files for press? While there are dozens of books written on this subject, let’s focus on three of the most prominent and, possibly, most important prepress considerations, imposition, creep, and cutter pull.

  1. Imposition: The process of creating printer spreads from layout spreads
    You can get an in-depth look at this process in Adobe InDesign here.
  1. Creep: The shifting position of the page in a saddle-stitched bind. Creep is the distance pages need to move from the spine to accommodate paper thickness and folding. Creep can also be defined in negative or positive values. For a negative creep value, the outermost sheet is not adjusted, but the pages on the inner sheets move towards the spine. For a positive creep value, the innermost sheet is not adjusted, but the pages on the outer sheets move away from the spine. 
    NextPage has imposition software and skills to handle this for you.

  1. Cutter Pull: The slight deviation in margin width that occurs when a large stack of paper is cut simultaneously by a commercial cutting system. The action of the blade cutting into the paper shifts the paper edges slightly as it comes down. While the deviation is usually less than a millimeter, it is important to keep in mind when designing. To put it simply, if you’re thinking of adding a thin border at your margins…just don’t.


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