For practical purposes, a printed document needs to stay flat on a desk. This limits the binding that you can use. The basic options are explained here.
Wire binding is also known as spiral binding or Wiro binding. A reference manual can stay flat on a desk and can be folded back on itself (this is useful if desk space is restricted). A disadvantage is that the binding is not attractive.
Plastic comb binding is not as strong as wire binding. A reference manual can stay flat on a desk and can be folded back on itself. However, a reference manual does not stay as flat as with wire binding. Sometimes, comb binding has an unprofessional appearance.
Perfect binding looks good, but for practical purposes perfect binding is not good. To make a reference manual stay open is difficult. If the spine is bent back to help the pages to stay open, the pages become separate from the binding and finally fall out. Perfect binding is not practical for small quantities, because of the setup costs (£30 to £40).
Technically, staple binding is known as saddle stitch. For no more than approximately 30 leaves (60 sides), staple binding is a good option. Staple binding is cheap. A reference manual stays flat, and can be folded back on itself.
Lay-flat binding is practical for documents that have between approximately 96 pages and 400 pages. For small quantities, Lay-flat binding is not practical, because of the setup cost. For an A4 size reference manual of 96 pages, 500 copies have a unit cost of approximately £2.60 for printing and binding. Unit costs decrease with increasing numbers of manuals. (This information is supplied by Printwise, June 2007.)
Most printers do not supply Lay-flat binding.
Canadian binding is wire binding that has a cover that wraps around the spine. Therefore, the reference manual is visually more attractive than a wire-bound reference manual, and a title can be printed on the spine.
Suppliers of printing and binding
TechScribe writes software user documentation. TechScribe is not a printing company and does not bind manuals. (If you buy our software documentation services, we can organize printing and binding for you as part of that service.)
For digital print services and print finishing services, we recommend Mensa Printers (www.mensaprinters.com).