How To Design For Book Gutter Margins

Open perfect bound book showing the curve that creates the gutter

Last updated on June 19th, 2024 at 01:26 pm

After all the hard work and time that you’ve put into the design of your Perfect Bound Book Printing, Hardcover book, or any book printing binding 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.

There are 2 reasons why content will get “lost”. Important content that is printed all the way to the edge of the sheet will be glued and will never be seen again. The curved sheets is the second reason. Your reader will be able to see that content but will need to push down at the spine. This will cause damage to the spine of the book and create a difficult viewing experience for the reader.

Note: Other forms of print binding, such as saddle stitch booklet printing, Wire Bound Book Printing, and spiral binding, do not add any book 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 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 a 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!


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