Saddle Stitch Printing Steps


Sketchbook Page Layout—Lauren Manning

Also refer to the following resource links:

By far the three most common kinds of binding the pages of a book together are;

  • Saddle-Stitch/Staple Binding
  • Perfect Binding
  • Japanese Stab Binding

They each have their strengths and weaknesses but usually the deciding factor in choosing between the first two versions is the number of pages to be held together in the publication. 20-25 pieces of paper (not pages) is a good average rule of thumb. Fewer than this amount makes a good candidate for saddle-stitching/stapling while a number greater than this makes perfect binding a better choice. (You may hear the common “under 48 always stitch” and “over 96 perfect bind” rules of thumb. This refers to the page count, not the pieces of paper).

Too many pages bound together by saddle stitching and the book will not lie flat and the result bows out. Potentially the stitching or staples may actually come out because of this added stress. Page layout for saddle stitching should be facing pages or spreads.


too many pages saddle-stitched

saddle stitch binding.png

Advantages of Saddle Stitching
– Least expensive of all binding options
– Fast
– Widely available, as most printers saddle stitch in-house
– Lies relatively flat
– Special gatefolds and foldouts are possible
– Can use a self-cover or a separate cover

Limitations of Saddle Stitching
Longevity. The wire stitching takes its toll on the paper and is not recommended for pieces intended for heavy use.
– Limited amount of paper variations within the piece. For example, if you are stitching two 16-page forms together to create a 32-page self-cover brochure, and you want pages 3 and 4 to be red paper, then pages 1 though 8 and 25 through 32 will also be red paper. (There are other ways of configuring this 32-page brochure of course, but the idea here is that what happens on the front side of that form will also affect the back side of the form.)
– No printable spine
Thickness limitations. Documents thicker than .125 to .25 inch may require another binding technique.
– May require special design adjustments for creep, especially small formats with high page counts

Books to be Saddle-Stitched or Staple Bound

The following pertains to booklets intended to be saddle-stitched when bound
(your inDesign file will be set-up with the facing pages option checked and you will see designer spreads—also called reader spreads— on your computer).

The steps are slightly different depending on your method of binding which will affect how you put the paper back in the paper tray as well as the inside margin.

  • Select “Print Booklet” not “Print” from inDesign
  • for books with facing pages otherwise known as spreads.
    • Range—All Pages
    • 2-Up Saddle Stitch (for most books using facing pages)

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.04.32 PM


Choose one of the following 3 options

* 1. To easily print 2 saddle-stitched books at once do the following:

  1. Print all printer spreads on one side and pay attention to how the resulting stack of paper comes out of the printer. (see above for determining printer paper path). After printing the front sides, you must reorder or collate the stack before printing the backside. As you look at the stack of prints still in the printer you will see that the sheet at the top of this stack is the last page in the printer order. You must first rearrange this stack so that it is at the bottom.
  2. Place the 2nd sheet on top of the 1st, the 4th on top of the 3rd, the 6th on top of the 5th, etc. (You are only switching the order of each “pair” of pages, keeping the top pair on top and so on) refer to the drawing below. This will result in 2 of every spread, printed on both sides. You now simply collate the pages into two books.
  3. Assuming that you already know the paper path of the printer you are using (see above) do work-and-turn and place this stack of pages back in the printer with the same edge going in first. (if the bottom of the page was on the right for the first printing then it will now be on the left. This means you need to change the direction of the upside down man icon) and print the entire file a second time.
  • All print settings should remain the same as the first side printing except one thing. You must select the “upside down man” icon from the four page orientation icons in the Print Window Setup (to do so you may have to deselect the auto rotate option first to make the page orientation icons active) You must now also select the opposite paper direction from that used for the first side printing. (ie. If the icon for the first side direction was right-side up/vertical, now choose upside down-vertical, or if the orientation icon-guy had his head on the left-side for the first time printing, then you now need to change it to have his head on the right-side).

Trouble Shooting


Printing Booklet from Acrobat

1.     Create a High Quality Print PDF of the document from the layout or reader spread page order from the Export command under the file menu.

2.     Check All and Spreads, click Export button

3.     Open the PDF in Acrobat.

4.     Choose File > Print.

5.     In the drop-down list under Copies and Pages, choose Paper Handling,

6.     Under Pages to Print, choose Even Only and print the spreads. Repeat for the back sides after reloading the paper in the printer by selecting Odd Only.

Set up Duplexing (If you have a duplex printer)

  1. From the Print window select the Printer button at the bottom of the window and click OK at the Warning box
  2. Choose the correct printer from the smaller Print window
  3. Click expansion triangle to display more options if necessary
  4. Select Layout from the drop-down menu
  5. Choose Short Edge Binding
  6. Click the Print button to apply the changes
  7. From the larger Print window hit OK and then Print from the Print Booklet window

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