How To Design For Gutter Margins

Open perfect bound book showing the curve that creates the gutter

After all the hard work that you’ve put into the design of your perfect bound book or hard cover book, it would be a giant disappointment if you receive the printed product with text and other content lost in the binding! This disappointment could have all been prevented if only you were warned about the gutter margin.

So what is the gutter margins?

A gutter is the section of the page that leads into the binding of perfect bound books and hard cover books. These two products have binding types that are clamped and held together with glue. This process will cause a “curve” of the pages coming from the spine when the book is open.

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

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If content, such as important images and text, is 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 gutter margins. A properly designed gutter margin reduces the risk of losing content in 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 gutter margin be? A gutter margin can smaller for books with less curve, and larger for books with more curve. Generally speaking, 0.5 inches for your gutter margin is recommended 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 are known as “spreads”.  “Spreads” can be very difficult to design for when producing perfect bound books or hard cover books due to the gutter. If spreads are very important 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

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Now that you understand what the gutter margin is, you can take the proper steps to prevent this potential issue. Whether it’s choosing to a flat laying binding style, such as saddle stitch booklets, wire-o booklets, or spiral bound booklet, or including the gutter margin when you start designing your perfect bound book or hard cover book.

Printivity offers complimentary templates for all standard perfect bound book dimensions. if you still have questions about the gutter margin, call Printivity at 1-877-649-5463!


  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

      Thank you!


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