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Monthly Archives: January 2019

  1. Saddle stitched, perfect bound or wiro bound - which book binding is best?

    Saddle stitched, perfect bound or wiro bound - which book binding is best?

    Not sure which type of booklet is right for your project? Let’s take a closer look at book binding methods - how they’re made, the benefits each type offers, and the things you’ll need to consider before you order a whole print run of them!

    What’s saddle stitch binding?

    Booklet with saddle stitch finish

    Saddle stitch binding is essentially the same as stapling. Each leaf of the booklet is folded in half to create four pages, then placed over a triangular metal frame (like a saddle on the back of a horse) and stacked one on top of another. The middlemost pages sit at the bottom of the nested stack, while the front and back covers sit at the very top. Once all the pages have been nested, they’re ‘stitched’ together using short lengths of metal wire, which are threaded through all the pages at the spine. The fastened booklets are then further pressed to help them stay folded and flat when closed.

    Advantages of saddle stitch binding

    • Affordable quality. Saddle stitching is a more cost-effective alternative to perfect binding, but retains a similar level of presentation quality (particularly for smaller, limited-use publications such as reports and event programmes). It’s also relatively quick and easy to produce - which makes it ideal for last-minute, fast-turnaround orders.

    Ability to lay flat. The spine of a perfect bound book will put up some resistance to staying open, and heavier books can sometimes fall shut by themselves - which can be a nuisance for recipe books, instruction manuals and other publications where the reader will need their hands. A saddle stitched book will generally be less susceptible to this problem (although it won’t lay quite as flat as a wiro bound book).

    Things to consider with saddle stitch binding

    Limited page counts. Since each leaf forms four pages, every saddle stitched booklet can only contain pages in multiples of four. Also, booklets with more than 48 pages (depending on paper thickness) will tend to pop open slightly instead of lying flat.

    Paper creep. Each leaf of your booklet will naturally protrude slightly from the leaf it’s nested within. This is usually only an issue for booklets with thicker paper stocks and/or higher page counts, and can be fixed by trimming to outer edges of the booklet after assembly - but the artwork design of your pages might need to be adjusted to prevent print elements drifting to the outer edge of the booklet (and potentially getting trimmed off).

    What’s perfect binding?

    Brochure with Perfect Bound finish

    In a nutshell, perfect bound booklets are glued together rather than stitched together, with two pages to each leaf rather than four. The booklet’s leaves are placed in a simple vertical stack and glue is placed along the left edge of the stack; the stack is then nested inside the booklet cover so that the glued edge fastens to the spine of the cover. Finally, the three outer edges of the book are trimmed to ensure a seamless finish.

    Advantages of perfect binding

    • More professional appearance. Every page of a finished perfect bound book has the same dimensions and won’t suffer from the page creep problems that saddle stitching can bring. It also generally looks and feels more like a premium publication than other binding methods.

    • Larger page counts. With better durability and no bulky folded spine to worry about, perfect bound booklets can store a lot more pages - up to 144, depending on paper thickness!

    • Extra cover printing space. Out of the three bookbinding methods listed here, perfect binding is the only one which gives you the space to print the name of your publication on the spine - so your booklet is still identifiable in a shelf or stack of other publications.

    Things to consider with perfect binding

    • Inability to lay flat. As we covered earlier, perfect bound books prefer to stay shut and won’t lay flat on a table or stand - which makes them less ideal for presentational and instructional publications.

    • Less economical. Perfect binding is a good choice for publications which are intended for multiple readings; but for items with a shorter shelf life and smaller page counts, it’s more affordable to go with saddle stitching instead.

    What’s wiro binding?

    Booklet with wiro bound finish

    With wiro binding, each leaf is hole-punched and threaded onto an open wire coil which forms the book’s spine. Once all the pages have been placed onto the coil, the wire is bent to close the loop and keep the pages securely fastened to the spine.

    Advantages of wiro binding

    • A more versatile spine. Wiro bound books lay flat with no resistance whatsoever, and since each page can move almost a full 360 degrees around the wire loop, you can simply open the book to the one page you’re using and fold the other half of the book under itself. This makes wiro binding ideal for notebooks and journals - they’re easier to use on the move and take up less space on a desk compared to other binding methods.

    • Even larger page counts. Theoretically, the wiro binding method offers almost unlimited page counts - the bigger the circumference of the wire loop, the more pages the booklet can accommodate.

    Concerns for wiro binding

    Less professional appearance. Wiro bound books are highly practical; but if you’re looking to print marketing publications to deliver to prospective clients, a saddle stitched or perfect bound booklet is more visually appealing.

    Fragility. It’s a lot easier for pages to get torn out of a wiro booklet, particularly with thinner paper stocks. This can be very handy for notebooks and calendars, but it’s obviously less desirable for most other booklet applications. The wire spine can also become bent or crushed, particularly if stored with other wiro bound books in a stack.

    Margin space. The inner margins of your pages will need to be punched with holes to fit onto the wire spine - so be sure to leave a bit of extra space when designing your page and cover artwork!

    Still not sure?

    Now you know all about the types of book binding on offer at Better Printing; and you’ve probably already picked out the method you want to use for your next print run.

    But if you still need help deciding, Better Printing can provide expert guidance on the right booklet type to match your publication needs. Call us on 023 8087 8037 to speak to our friendly team!

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  2. 4 essential print collateral items for the 2019 trade show season

    4 essential print collateral items for the 2019 trade show season

    We’re about halfway through winter; which means the season for industry conferences, exhibitions and trade shows is almost upon us. And as always, it promises to be the perfect opportunity to get your brand out there, and connect with exciting new partners and opportunities.

    But is your business ready for the show floor? Whatever line of work you’re in, it’s important that your booth design and handout materials reflect the business you are today, and the goals you have for the new year.

    Here’s 4 essential items for your trade show presence in 2019 - and our tips for making the most of your print collateral investment.

    Display Banners

    The display graphics of your booth are arguably the most important thing to get right about your trade show presence. You’re competing with hundreds (if not thousands) of other show vendors, so your booth needs to command the attention of exhibition attendees - even from a distance. It’s a good idea to have a range of display banners of various different sizes. For example, you might choose to place a large banner along the back of your booth, and surround it with smaller roller banner units on each side. Not only does this give you more options for customising your brand’s presentation and increasing your booth’s visual impact; it also gives you the flexibility to adjust your display to different exhibitions. For example, if you’re cramped for floor space, you could simply bring a couple of roller banners with you. Alternatively, if you have a lot of room in your booth area, bringing along larger banners can help you take maximum advantage of the space you have available.


    A high-quality catalogue isn’t just a showcase of the products/services you have to offer - it also serves as an indicator that you’re a well-established, successful and professional company that attendees can trust with their money. Your choice of paper stock for your catalogues can actually play a big part in how your brand is perceived by attendees. Remember, the higher the GSM of a paper stock, the thicker and more sturdy the paper will be - consumers tend to associate these higher GSM grades with luxury and quality. Likewise, adding gloss lamination to your catalogue prints will give them a shiny, smooth finish which readers will often perceived as lavish and luxurious. (Alternatively, picking a matt finish for your catalogues can be useful for positioning yourself as a no-nonsense or eco-friendly brand.) And don’t forget to print twice as many catalogues as you think you’ll need - there’s nothing more embarrassing than having to turn booth visitors away empty-handed!   Business cards - and business card dispensers Not everyone wants to carry around a small novel of a catalogue with them - particularly if they’re more interested in collaborating with you than buying from you, and/or they’re already carrying catalogues from other exhibitor booths. For these attendees, make sure you have some pocket-sized handouts ready to go; such as flyers, leaflets and business cards. It’s a good idea to have a card dispenser set up too, printed with a friendly ‘please take one’ message - that way, visitors who are too busy to stop and chat can still pick up your materials and find out what you’re all about.

    Business cards - and Business card dispensers

    Not everyone wants to carry around a small novel of a catalogue with them - particularly if they’re more interested in collaborating with you than buying from you, and/or they’re already carrying catalogues from other exhibitor booths. For these attendees, make sure you have some pocket-sized handouts ready to go; such as flyers, leaflets and business cards. It’s a good idea to have a card dispenser set up too, printed with a friendly ‘please take one’ message - that way, visitors who are too busy to stop and chat can still pick up your materials and find out what you’re all about.

    ‘Practical’ handouts

    A lot of exhibitor handouts will simply be filed away or dumped by attendees once they get back from your trade show. Once way to prevent your marketing materials ending up in the bin is to make them useful to your booth visitors - for example, giving them a desk calendar to help them manage their to-do list, or a pen pot to store their stationery in. Not only will attendees be more inclined to keep these around, but they’ll think of your company every time they use them - perfect for encouraging repeat business.

    And finally - a few general design tips…

    • Make sure your promotional materials communicate the message of your brand. Abstract and mysterious designs are good for grabbing attention, but if they don’t reveal who you are, what you can offer the consumer and what sets you apart from your competitors, attendees will just be left scratching their heads.

    • Set out your goals for your exhibition appearances, and let those goals inform the design of your print collateral. Are you looking to sign up X amount of new customers to your services? Bring X amount of new traffic to your website? Make sure your calls-to-action drive attendees to take the action you want

    • Don’t show up to exhibitions with the same old displays and print designs year after year - regular show attendees will just start passing over your booth in favour of new exhibitors. Your business (not to mention the market around you) is always changing, so make sure your booth reflects the company you are now - not who you were five years ago!

    Need custom-printed marketing collateral for your next conference or trade show? Get in touch with Better Printing on 023 8087 8037 to find out how we can help you!

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  3. 3 Print Design Cliches to Avoid

    3 Print Design Cliches to Avoid

    Did you know the word ‘cliché’ itself actually comes from the printing industry?

    Nor did we until fairly recently! Apparently the word refers to the metal plate used by early printers to economically reproduce identical copies of the same text (which was also known as a ‘stereotype’ - that’s where that word comes from, too!)

    Why was this plate called a ‘cliché’? One method of manufacturing these plates was to press wooden type blocks into molten metal - this would make a distinctive sound which gained the onomatopoeic name ‘cliché’. (Just in case you’re unfamiliar, an onomatopoeic word is a word which sounds like the thing it’s describing - like ‘meow’ for a cat’s call, or ‘fizz’ for the bubbles of a soft drink.)

    This daft factoid got us thinking about clichés in general - particularly the ones we see from time to time in the designs we print. Here are our top 3 design clichés - and how to avoid them in your own print artwork!

    What’s wrong with design clichés?

    Design elements are simply tools for creating artwork, and no particular design is objectively worse than another. Design tropes can often come in handy, particularly as a starting point to guide the creative process.

    The trouble comes when particular design choices become widely used to the point of oversaturation; they lose their original meaning and become boring to look at.

    Using clichéd graphic design in your own promotional materials won’t help you stand out from your competitors, and can often make your organisation look cheap, amateurish and not to be trusted.

    Here’s three design clichés you should run a mile from...

    example of overused fonts

    Ask any graphic designer to tell you their least favourite font, and they’ll probably answer ‘Comic Sans’.

    If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a fun, ‘cartoony’ typeface which vaguely resembles childrens’ handwriting. It often shows up on teaching materials and other documents produced for kids. (It’s also said that dyslexic readers find Comic Sans text easier to read, although the jury’s still out on this.)

    And it’s not the only font with an image problem - other widely-derided fonts include:
    • Papyrus - a font designed to emulate ancient Egyptian calligraphy; now used for everything from cafe signs to the logo of the movie Avatar
    • Arial - a bold, clean ‘neo-grotesque’ typeface, thats essentially a copy of the superior Helvtica that pops up a lot in company logos and Business Cards - something we’ll be talking about more very shortly...
    • Lobster - a relatively new modern calligraphy font which is just starting to drive graphic designers nuts with its overuse

    Remember, none of these fonts are objectively bad, and there’s nothing to say you can’t use them in your own promotional materials. Just make sure your font choices are appropriate for the situation - and keep in mind that a more original font will help you stand out from the crowd.

    Generic logo example

    Generic logos

    This is more of a branding issue than a print design problem - hopefully you’ve already secured a great logo design long before you’ve started considering your print literature - but it’s still a common design pitfall to avoid.

    Your logo is a key part of your company identity. it’s usually the first thing your potential customers will see, so it needs to represent who you are, what you can offer them and what makes your organisation unique.

    So why do so many companies choose logos that look the same as any other? The world of logo design has its own set of clichés, particularly when it comes to B2B organisations:

    • Lightbulbs - ironically often used to signify original ideas and innovation - but overused to the point of attracting ridicule
    • Globes - often used by companies who deliver a wide-reaching international service, especially those in distribution and forwarding
    • Industry-specific designs - many different business types have their own design clichés - for example, how many car dealerships and garages have you seen that use a stylised car for their logo?

    To avoid committing the same mistakes with your own logo, start by researching the company logos of competitors in your industry. Which objects and design features are cropping up again and again? Which competitors are doing something a little different with their logo designs?

    photoshop faux pas

    Last for this list, let’s talk about the dreaded effects that plague every beginner Photoshop project - the bevel and drop shadow effects

    Both are commonly used for similar purposes making two-dimensional text and images appear as 3D objects. Applying a drop shadow gives the impression that the text or image is ‘floating’ above the surface of the page, while the bevel effect creates the illusion that the object has bevelled edges.

    Sounds good, right? Everyone wants their print marketing to jump out at readers - so why not use these effects in your own design?

    The trouble is, drop shadows and bevels are not only overused, but also often overcooked - the effects are applied to starkly, resulting in ugly designs which don’t convincingly convey the 3D illusion. Blurry shadows can often make text more uncomfortable to read too; especially if the text colour isn’t sufficiently brighter than the shadow underneath.

    It’s best to avoid the two effects altogether if you want a professional, original design - but if they’re used sparingly and creatively, they can sometimes provide subtle contrast to bring out text, icons and other design elements.

    And that’s our three print design clichés to avoid! Which design clichés drive you up the wall? Let us know in the comments below.

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