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10 Frequently Asked Questions about Wire-O Binding

A book with Wire-O binding

1. Is Wire-O Binding the same as Spiral Coil Binding?

Although these two binding methods share some similarities, Wire-O binding is not the same thing as Spiral binding. Wire-O binding uses a C-shaped spine element made of metal wire, which is inserted through holes punched along one edge of a book's cover and pages. The C-shape is then squeezed closed to form round loops that entrap the paper sheets. Conversely, Spiral binding uses a spring-like coil, usually made of flexible plastic, that is threaded through a series of holes punched in the cover and pages.

Spiral binding coil compared to Wire-O binding spine
Plastic Spiral binding coil (top) compared to metal Wire-O binding spine (bottom)

2. What are the advantages of Wire-O binding?

The Wire-O binding style adds a very professional and high-class look to printed books. The function of the spine lets books open fully without the need to be held open. This leaves the hands free to perform other tasks, such as when referencing a cookbook or instruction manual. Wire-O books can even fold back upon themselves (cover to cover). This allows the books to take up minimal room on a table or desk. The Wire-O binding spine can also be placed on any edge of the book - side, top, or bottom - and it is well suited for use with index tabs that divide various sections within a book.

3. What are the finish choices?

Wire-O binding spines are available in a variety of finishes. These include painted colors such as black, white, blue, red, green, and gray. Wire-O is also available in metallic finishes such as gold, silver, pewter, or bronze. These finish choices provide a complementary color for most book projects.

4. What is the size range for Wire-O binding?

Wire-O binding spines are available in diameters that range from 1/4" to 1-1/4". The 1/4" diameter spines can bind as little as two sheets of paper. The 1-1/4" diameter spine can accommodate a page stack up to 1-1/8" in thickness, which equates to around 280 sheets of 20# bond or 50# offset.

5. Wire-O binding spines are referred to as 3:1 or 2:1. What does this mean?

As mentioned above, Wire-O binding spines are installed through holes punched along one edge of a book's cover and pages. The references to 3:1 and 2:1 are used to designate the number of holes per inch, which is also known as the "pitch." The term 3:1 is verbalized as "three to one" and designates the ratio of three holes to one inch. Likewise, the term 2:1 is verbalized as "two to one" and designates the ratio of two holes to one inch. The Wire-O spine diameters from 1/4" to 9/16" generally have a 3:1 pitch and the spine diameters from 5/8" to 1-1/4" have a 2:1 pitch.

An assortment of colored Wire-O binding spines
Wire-O binding spines are available in a variety of colors and metallic finishes

6. What types of projects are typically Wire-O bound?

Because Wire-O binding allows books to open fully and lie flat on a desk or table without the need to be continually held open, it is an excellent choice for cookbooks, journals, workbooks and instruction manuals. In addition, the clean and sophisticated appearance of Wire-O binding makes it a good choice for bound presentations, directories, and corporate reports. Wire-O is also a popular choice for easel style calendars and self-standing flip books because it allows the pages to flip easily and stay in place once flipped. Furthermore, Wire-O binding is frequently used for multi-page wall calendars because it allows the pages to hang flat against a wall.

7. Can Wire-O books be sent through the mail?

Because Wire-O binding is made from metal wire, most assume it will be strong and resilient. However, because the binding process requires the wire to be pliable enough to form into the circle needed to secure a book's cover and pages, the metal can obviously be bent. This means Wire-O binding can also be bent or distorted if subject to excessive pressure or rough handling during mail processing. For this reason, Wire-O bound books cannot just be placed into a Kraft envelope or Jiffy mailer and taken to the post office. When mailing Wire-O bound books, the outer packaging has to offer ample protection, such as a strong corrugated box.

8. Is Wire-O suitable for crossover images?

A crossover image refers to one continuous image that spans across two opposing pages of a book. The image "crosses over" the spine of an open book as it traverses from the left side page to the right side page. Though there is no law preventing Wire-O books from having crossover images, it is important to know that Wire-O binding will interrupt the image as it transitions across the spine area. This is due to the series of holes punched along the spine, the wire loops themselves, and the physical gap that occurs between the left side pages and the right side pages.

An open Wire-O bound book showing the metal spine loops
An open Wire-O book showing the wire loops inserted through holes punched along the book's spine area

9. Can Wire-O binding be opened and closed to add or remove pages?

Wire-O binding is not really intended for book projects that require periodic page updates. Once the wire element is formed into its circular shape to bind the cover and pages, it is difficult to manually open and close it again without the loops becoming bent or misaligned. A contorted spine is not only unappealing from an aesthetic standpoint, it can affect the book's function. If a book project needs to allow for periodic content changes, custom-printed ringed binders are a better option.

10. Does Wire-O binding go by any other names?

Wire-O is the original brand name and has been in use since 1935. But, this binding style also goes by many different generic and trade names throughout the printing and binding industry. These include Dual Loop, Double Loop, Twin Loop, Duo-Wire, Ring-Wire and WireBind.

Color Vision Printing specializes in affordable book printing. If you have an upcoming book project and would like to learn more about Wire-O bound book printing, or any other softcover book binding method, give us a call at 800-543-6299 and we'll be happy to help.

Or, if you already know your project's specs and would like a quote emailed to you, simply click here to submit our Quote Request Form. As always, we look forward to assisting with your next book project!

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