Binding. It is the process of gathering sheets of paper or similar materials along their margins or intermediate areas to form a book or booklet that can be consulted sequentially. The main objective of the binding is the preservation of the written text.


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  • 1 History
  • 2 Antique binding styles
    • 1 Byzantium (IV-XIII)
    • 2 Múdejar (XV-XVI)
    • 3 Renaissance (XVI-XVII)
    • 4 Baroque (XVI-XVIII)
    • 5 Plateresque (XVI-XVII)
    • 6 Fanfare (XVI-XVII)
    • 7 Fan (XVII-XVIII)
    • 8 Pointillé (XVII)
    • 9 Rococó (XVII-XVIII)
    • 10 Neoclassical (XVIII – XIX)
    • 11 Curtain (XVIII)
    • 12 Cathedral (XIX)
    • 13 Romantic (XIX)
    • 14 Modernist style (XIX)
  • 3 Current bindings
    • 1 Rustic binding
    • 2 Cardboard binding
    • 3 Cloth binding
    • 4 Leather binding
    • 5 Paste binding
    • 6 Spiral binding (plastic and metallic)
    • 7 Front Binding
    • 8 Stapled binding
    • 9 Binding with hole
  • 4 Gallery
  • 5 Sources


The history of bookbinding dates back to periods prior to the very creation of the printing press . The binding has had a double utility; firstly as a way of preserving human thought and secondly as a true aesthetic and cultural manifestation. In ancient times, from the papyrus scroll to the books or documents in the form of a codex, began to accumulate on the library shelves, and only the librarian or person in charge was able to locate a work. The books were kept in different containers such as boxes, amphoras, baskets etc. At this time it is not possible to speak of binding in the strict sense, although already at that time the scrolls dealing with the same subject were placed together in the same amphora or metal chest.

With the disappearance of the scroll and the arrival of the codex the first and primitive bindings occur. In Roman times, slaves were responsible for both copying the book and making its binding.

The purpose was clear: the codex, made up of several notebooks written on parchment, was very fragile and the need to protect them was soon seen. The first bindings were made on cedar slats, with leather bands to wrap them and straps to hold and transport the codex. The first ornamentation and decorative techniques began to appear on the covers.

Throughout the entire medieval period (6th-14th centuries), the goldsmith binding made of materials such as ivory, silver, precious stones and enamels stands out.

With the appearance of the printing press ( XV century ), the book takes for itself the binding techniques of the codex and protects itself with wooden covers covered with leather or valuable fabrics. At this time, and until the middle of the 18th century, the booksellers were at the same time the bookbinders, so that the book came out of the branch press (a book that is not yet bound, but whose sheets are printed, folded and ordered) and the bookseller bound in his own way and style the game he acquired.

At the end of the 18th century, mechanical or industrial binding was introduced. The greater diffusion of the book causes that the noble materials are replaced by imitations or by fabrics. The binding is already in charge of the publisher himself who decides (not always fortunately) a type of binding suitable for the theme and use of the book.

Antique binding styles

Throughout history there have been different styles and currents of manual binding that goes from Antiquity to the end of the 18th century . The artisans who developed this trade did not make many technical changes over time, but they did create a variety of styles, leaving the aesthetic imprint corresponding to each era reflected in their works, as shown below:

Byzantium (IV-XIII)

Byzantine binding

Byzantine binding influenced that of Western Europe and gave rise to a style called Byzantine or Greek. Byzantine bindings are characterized by having no eyebrows, that is, the plates are cut to the exact dimensions of the body of the book, while the spine, which was smooth, stretched above and below. The tables of the tops were covered in leather, in the luxurious ones with goatskin, silk or brocade. The codex was closed with one or three snaps.

Its covers have a very characteristic anchorage: with the sewing thread, each cover is entered after having repeatedly exited through each sewing station to form a set of lines (conveniently housed in a slot) parallel to the spine. The binding of the luxurious codices was adorned with enamels, metals and precious stones. While the normals wore embossed decoration, with hot or cold irons on the skin.

Múdejar (XV-XVI)

Mudejar binding

They are bindings that were made in the 15th and 16th centuries in Spanish workshops with techniques and typologies where the Islamic tradition is fused with elements typical of western bindings. The Mudejar bindings were made mainly in leather to which various metallic applications such as nails or brass plates decorated in relief covering the corners are added. Normally they are whole covering both covers, although half bindings are also found.

Renaissance (XVI-XVII)

Style that was born in Italy and stands out for its elegance and luxury. Great compositions are made with small irons with motifs from architecture.

Baroque (XVI-XVIII)

Style consisting of completely filling the tops with square and hexagonal structures, decorated with loose gold-stamped irons. The designs of the Spanish bindings were greatly influenced by the popular embroidery of Toledo, Salamanca, Zamora and the Alpujarras.

Plateresque (XVI-XVII)

Spanish creation based on the aesthetic line typical of the sixteenth century, which can be considered as a mixture of Renaissance and Elizabethan styles. Its fundamental characteristics are: the decorative abundance (heraldic coats of arms, zoological wheels, vegetable rosettes, castles, lions, etc.), imitating embroidery, and the resemblance to the work carried out by silversmiths and goldsmiths.

Fanfare (XVI-XVII)

Fanfare binding

Style characterized by the multitude of scrolls, spirals, arabesques, etc., mixed with geometric motifs.


Binding with gold irons stamped on the four corners of the cover fanning out, ninety-degree circle segments, and others with a center position, and simpler bindings formed with heraldic squares and borders, ovals, rosettes, and superlibris .

Pointillé (XVII)

Filigree type that resembles lace, achieved by engraving with dotted irons.


It takes its name from the artistic style that succeeds the Baroque. It is characterized by its ornamental motifs, which are mostly the flower and leaves of the acanthus.

Neoclassical (XVIII – XIX)

Neoclassical binding

Along these lines, the bindings are enriched and simplified at the same time: the covers are decorated with borders and the central space is empty, the spines concentrate the decoration and it is usual to gild the edge, the eyebrow and the cuts. On the other hand, the rosettes and rockeries are replaced by classical Greco-Roman motifs, and the structure of the decoration is concentrated on the spines, which are decorated with loose irons.

The borders are made by filleted wheels, decorated with well-defined motifs such as flowers, long curved spiral stems. Wavy lines that cross each other also leave a geometric space, decorated with a star or small flower. The various leathers are mounted on cardboard in its color or dyed in various shades.

Curtain (XVIII)

Style created in Spain, with simple decoration as well as the neoclassical style, combining with the lines similar to that of the curtains, the covering in bright colored leather.

Cathedral (XIX)

Cathedral Binding

The coldness of neoclassicism begins the development of a new style in the mid-19th century called cathedral, for imitating the designs of the Gothic windows.

Romantic (XIX)

Romantic-style binding

The decorative style in the Romanesque binding takes its motifs from architectural forms such as arches, towers or facades. Its decoration consists of several parallel fillets that are attached to the corner plates and frame a central motif, sometimes of an oriental type. During this stage, interpretive bindings or talking covers are created, where allusive motifs or scenes taken from the text content are represented. Finally, it becomes simpler and at the end of the century the decoration ends up being limited to the back.

Modernist style (XIX)

In this style, stylized anagrams, neo-Gothic drawings and a new genre on the rise: photography albums. In the covers the colors are pure and the textures, the relief, the illustrations and the prints are played with.

Current bindings

Binding process

The XIX century was the scene of a growth of the publishing industry as a consequence of the technological advances that took place in this sector. This had a decisive influence on the entire process of making the book until it was finished or finished.

Complex machinery is required such as: paper punches, automatic bending machines, jointing machines, coupler gluing machines, soft cover binding machines, hard cover binding machines, among others.

Materials such as inks to marble the skins and the paper of guards, varnishes, etc., which until the end of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century constituted a series of annexed and indispensable knowledge of the exercise of the bookbinder, Other classifications that are can establish, are those that are made according to the material used in its preparation. In this sense, the bindings that are frequently found are the following:

Rustic binding

It consists of sewing and covering the book with a simple paper or cardboard cover that is quite resistant, trying to make it equal to the size of the book. If the margins are cut, then small eyebrows are left on the cover that serve as covers; Printed on the cover is the title of the work, the name of the author and the publisher; the spine is also usually printed.

The industrial binding applies three types of paperback, they are: sewn (increases the price of the book), flexiback (glued), easel (saddle stitching) or wire (the book is saddled, but it is glued and covered with the sewing). Its use is dependent on the packaging, that is, the volume or paging of the book.

Cartoné binding

It is often confused with the naked eye with the aforementioned type of binding, since in this case the same procedure is applied with the difference that cardboard replaces paper. The cardboard used should be thin. It is the preferred binding for reference and elementary textbooks.

Cloth binding

In this paper or cardboard is replaced by fabric, you can find this binding in half fabric, as well as in combination with other types of bindings. Half cloth: It consists of covering the spine and the ends with cloth, and the planes with paper, generally jasper paper. When using fantasy paper, the fabric covers almost half of the top of the plane. As a general rule, bookbinders apply this type of English fabric of the highest quality and in light colors.

All cloth: As the name implies, the entire book is covered with cloth. Cretons, silks, raw yarn, etc., of various colors and patterns, are almost always used. It is known as editorial cloth when applied in industrial binding. In this case, textile fiber is used, and it is called fabric imitation.

Leather binding

The tops and the spine are entirely lined with leather, generally worked. It can also be called full skin. Any kind of leather is used although the most widely used are chagrines, tafiletes and vaqueta.

Paste binding

In this type of binding, the binding parts (spine and planes of the copy) are covered with skin. Within this type, the modality known as Spanish pasta and Valencian pasta is especially recognized, this terminology is applied when the skin is marbled. Spanish pasta: The tapas and loin are covered with lamb or pig skin dyed light brown and decorated with sprinkled jasper. By tradition, the Law books and the Dictionary of the Royal Academy continue to be bound with this material.

Pasta Valenciana: In this case the skin wrinkles before dyeing it, offering a richer and more capricious marbled look.

Spiral binding (plastic and metallic)

It is an economic method that consists of placing the sheets in blocks, making a row of holes on the side of the spine and passing a spiral of wire or plastic through the holes. Widely used in notebooks.

Front Binding

The main characteristic of this technique is that all the pages are mounted on top of each other, thus forming the order in which you want to form the magazine, booklet or sheet that would be part of a book. They are generally wire stitched or buttoned. Sheets or booklets can be lifted one on top of the other manually or with a machine called a collator. Finally they are stapled around the edge.

Stapled binding

Where each sheet of the book opens in the middle, falls above the previous one and so on and they are stapled by the spine

Hole Binding

Drill Binding is a type of binding that has revolutionized the bindings of the time since current books are printed on single sheets and not on folded sheets as before. This type of printing forces the printer to block them vertically with special hot or cold rubbers.

The advantages of hole binding are that the spine is drilled with thin drill bits vertically following a uniform sequence for subsequent vertical stitching. Its durability depends on the thread used, preferably nylon. This shape prevents leaflessness or breakage by opening the book excessively.


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