How To Design For Book Gutter Margins

Open perfect bound book showing the curve that creates the gutter

After all the hard work and time that you’ve put into the design of your perfect bound book or hardcover book as an author, it would be a giant disappointment if you receive the printed product with text and other content lost in the binding! You can prevent this disappointment by understanding what a book gutter is before going to press.

So what is the gutter in printing?

A page gutter is the space on the page that leads into the binding of perfect bound books and hardcover books. These two products have binding types that are clamped and set with glue. This process will create a “curve” of the paper coming from the spine when the book is open.

Note: Other forms of print binding, such as saddle stitch booklet printing, wire o binding, and spiral binding, do not add any book gutter. These products “lay flat” and no content is lost in the “curve” of the page.

Get 20% off your first order at Printivity banner ad

If content, such as important images and text, is left too close to the spine, this content can be lost or hidden due to the curve of the pages.

To fix this problem, we always recommend proper book gutter margins. You will find that properly designed printing gutter margin reduces the risk of losing content between the curve of the pages.

An open perfect bound book will have a curve coming from the spine. If text is designed within the gutter margin, it will not be visible without breaking the spine.

So, what size should my printing gutter margin be? A book gutter margin can be smaller for books with less curve, and larger for books with more curve. Generally speaking, 0.5 inches for your gutter margin is the best recommendation for most books.

What do I do if I have content, such as images or text, that goes across two pages?

Content that goes across two pages is known as “spreads”.  “Spreads” can be very difficult to design for when producing perfect bound books or hardcover books due to the gutter. If great spreads are significant to the overall look and feel of your book, we recommend binding types that “lay flat,” such as saddle-stitched booklets, spiral bound booklets, or wire-o booklets.

Content that gets lost in the gutter is not visible and will make an image appear distorted.
Content that gets lost in the gutter is not visible and will make an image appear distorted

Get started!

Now that you understand what the gutter definition in graphic design and book design is, you can follow the proper steps to prevent this potential issue. Whether it’s choosing a flat laying binding style, such as saddle stitch booklets, wire-o booklets, or spiral bound booklet, or including the gutters when you start designing your perfect bound book or hardcover book.

Printivity is one of the top printers offering a number of complimentary templates for all standard perfect bound book dimensions. if you still have questions about the gutter margin, please call Printivity and share at 1-877-649-5463!

2 COMMENTS

  1. The article says .5″ for a gutter margin….but is that an ADDITIONAL .5″ on top of the normal all-around margin?

    For instance, if my book has a .75″ margin, should the gutter margin be .5″….or 1.25″?

    • Hi Tony,

      Great question! It is recommended to have all important content .5″ from the gutter margin to avoid content getting lost. If your margin is already .75″, you have designed it so there is no content being cut off and you can leave it as is. If you would like a complimentary file check of your file, please email us at Insights@Printivity.com.

      Thank you!
      -Natalie

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here