Top 7 Binding Styles, Pros & Cons, & How to Use

Estimated Reading Time 

  • 6 minutes
Spiral customer choosing between the different binding style options-comb binding manuals and spiral bound books.


Comb? Coil? Wire? Where to start? With a wealth of options, choosing the right binding method can be overwhelming. But by the end of this guide, you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to pick the right binding solution for your needs and budget.

Investing in a binding solution is a big expenditure, and even just knowing where to start with research can be challenging. With industry-specific terms and bookbinding equipment & supplies that are unique to each method, there’s a lot to learn about each type of binding. But we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ll explain the ins and outs of: 

  • Wire binding
  • Coil binding
  • Comb binding
  • Tape binding
  • Thermal binding, and more!

Wire Binding – Sleek & Professional for Corporate Use

Wire binding is durable, versatile, and aesthetically appealing. Available in a variety of widths and colors, wire binding (also known as double loop or wire-o binding) is great for producing a sleek look with pages that can spin 360 degrees. With a wire spine and small loops made of coated steel, they can withstand a fair amount of handling and have a long lifespan. You’ll see them used on everything from architectural and engineering documents to calendars since they’re easy to flip through and visually appealing. 

There are three basic elements of how wire binding works that you should understand:

  1. Wire binding machines have a built-in hole punch that places square holes through the edge of your document.
  2. After hole punching, you feed the wire spine and loops into the document’s holes.
  3. Lastly, you use the wire closer on the machine to clamp the wire loops back together.

Coil Binding Method – Durable & Practical for Business Needs 

Although wire binding is great, coil binding can nail that “notebook” look we all know and love. Coil binding (also known as spiral) uses a plastic coil to produce a flexible and durable binding. Just like wire binding, it allows for 360-degree opening of pages. Coil binding is a little cheaper than wire binding. For the average consumer who doesn’t own a binding machine, spiral binding a book typically costs anywhere from $2–$5 per copy. 

Intrigued? If you’re going for that notebook aesthetic, here’s a primer on the basics of coil binding.  

  1. Coil binding can actually be done by hand or with a coil binding machine
  2. In coil binding, a thin plastic coil (like you’d see on a spiral notebook) is inserted into holes in the document and spirals down its length.
  3. At the end of the process, all you have to do is trim any excess coil from the edges–and you’re done!

Comb Binding – Flexibility for Business Editing

Comb binding is arguably the most affordable binding method, and it is also one of the oldest and most popular. In comb binding, plastic combs close through square-punched holes to bind your pages together. The combs can be opened and reused multiple times, which is environmentally friendly and provides flexibility for adding or removing pages after binding. 

Here’s a quick rundown on comb binding basics:  

  1. Pick a comb size and color for your document. Many machines have margin control and measuring devices to help you figure out exactly what comb size to use.
  2. Almost all comb binding systems will have a hole-punching device, whether manual or electrically operated. Once the hole-punching is done, you can load the comb into the machine.
  3. Comb-binding machines typically use a lever to open the comb.
  4. Once the comb is through the holes, close it back up, and you’re done!

Tape Binding – Low Maintenance & Cost-Effective for Businesses

If you’re looking for something affordable and easy to use, tape binding is worth looking into. Tape binding uses special adhesive tape for book binding to create crisp-looking books up to 350 pages in under 20 seconds. The end result is a nice, clean edge (unlike the rounded sides you’ll see with comb, coil, or wire). If you want to get into binding without significant training, investment, or headaches, machines like the Fastback 20 are a great start.

Here’s a high-level brief on the essentials of tape binding. It’s pretty simple!

  1. Collect and align your covers (front and back), and the papers in between.
  2. Select the correct tape size and product–don’t forget that tape for book binding comes in different widths! Modern machines will tell you which size tape to insert after you insert your covers.
  3. When ready, simply hit the button on the machine and allow it to cycle through the binding process. 

Thermal Binding – Quick Setup for a Professional Finish

Thermal binding uses heat to bond the pages to the spine of your book or document with an adhesive. Just like tape binding, it’s fast to use, efficient, and easy to learn how to do.  Companies like Coverbind make machines capable of binding one document per second and up to  1-1/2″ thick. Many thermal binding machines have automatic cover size selectors, LCD screens, and other tech to demystify the process. Who needs a custom book binding service when you’ve got one of these? 

Thermal binding involves the following steps:

  1. Pick a binding cover. In some cases, the machine can help you select the size automatically.
  2. Once all materials are loaded, and a binding cover is selected, the heating process begins. By melting the adhesive, the machine allows the pages to create a strong bond with the pages.
  3. After the adhesive is heated, it needs to cool down to allow the bond to strengthen and solidify. 

Book Rings – Efficient and Cost-Effective for Varied Business Needs

If you’re doing one-off binding jobs or just aren’t ready to invest in a binding machine, book rings (aka binding rings) can be perfect. Commonly used for sample packs and hanging displays (think color swatches in a paint store), you can use one ring at the top corner or put several on the side to hold your pages together. Beyond affordability, another great aspect of this method is how easy it is to undo the rings to add or subtract pages from your document.

Here’s a simple 4-step walk-through on using binding rings:

  1. Gather your pages, align them, and punch holes in the desired spots. 
  2. Select the correct size book rings. Focus on picking something that fits your document’s thickness and won’t constrict pages while you turn them.
  3. Open the rings. Some rings have a snap mechanism, but others may have a screw lock. 
  4. Once everything looks good, close the rings by snapping them back into place. Ensure they are secure before you start handling documents. You don’t want pages falling out!

Screw Posts for Long-Lasting Business Documents

If you’re on a budget and you’ve got a basic three-hole punch lying around, then consider screw posts for your binding needs. In this method, a screw threads into a smooth metal tube that goes through the hole in your document. You won’t see the screw when it’s in (only the rounded caps on each side), and similar to book rings, it’s great for affordable, no-frills binding. Popular with everyone from individual consumers to architects and design firms, they’re also available in plastic posts. 

Here’s an easy-to-follow guide on using binding rings:

  1. Choose between metal or plastic posts. If using plastic, note that they are semi-permanent and harder to redo later.
  2. Ensure you have clean holes punched in your document wide enough to accommodate the posts.
  3. Screw or snap them together, and that’s it!


Whether you’re drawn to the simplicity of screw posts and book ring bindings or spiral binding a book, there’s no wrong way to put your work together. Ultimately, you need to honestly examine your budget, audience, and aesthetic preferences before deciding. Wherever you’re at in the process, Spiral Binding has all the info and inventory you need to find the binding solution of your dreams. 

Need help finding the perfect binding solution for your unique needs? Call us at 800-631-3572 for one-on-one support from your dedicated sales rep and our experienced customer service team.

About Ryan Sexton

Inspired by his years as a market researcher and teacher, Ryan Sexton leverages his experience to create content that simplifies the complex. His goal is to help every customer find the perfect solution to their individual needs—regardless of the size of their business. His contributions range from in-depth articles onindustrial grade, high-tech binding machines to easy-to-implement recommendations for picking the perfect accessories, materials, and methods.