How to Calculate a Spine for Perfect Binding

Written by douglas quaid
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How to Calculate a Spine for Perfect Binding
Most paperbacks are perfect bound. (old paperback books image by Warren Millar from

In a perfect-bound book, the individual pages are all glued together at the spine. The spine is then creased about a quarter inch from each side, to make the book easy to open. Perfect binding is usually used for paperback books, as opposed to saddle-stitch binding, which is normally used for hardcovers. Because perfect bound books simply have the pages stacked up and glued, the width of the spine is essentially the sum of the widths of the pages.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Find the caliper size, or thickness, of the paper you are going to use for the book and the card stock you will use for the cover. The caliper size should be printed on the packaging of a ream of paper. If it isn't, contact the manufacturer of the paper for the caliper size.

  2. 2

    Multiply the caliper size by the number of sheets of paper in the book, and add twice the caliper size of the cover. The result is the width of the spine in inches. Remember to use the actual number of sheets, not the number of pages. If you are folding the sheets to get four pages out of each sheet, count each sheet twice.

  3. 3

    Contact your publisher, unless you're binding the book yourself. The publisher will be able to give you the exact width of the spine, based on the number of pages and the paper stock they're going to use.

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