Quick question: What’s the width of an A4 perfect bound portrait page?

OK, OK, it’s 210mm but what’s the visible width?

“It depends” is the simple catch all answer. As with many things in print, it’s not that simple.

On the outer cover, it is indeed 210mm.

But take a closer look at page 1 of text and you’ll see that approximately 204mm is visible.

So where’s the rest gone?

It’s been lost to the spine of the publication. And as you thumb through the pages, you’ll notice that this phenomenon affects pages right the way through.

It’s more obvious on some pages than others. Diagonal lines and text reading across spreads are particularly susceptible. Some designers accept it as as part of the deal with perfect binding but some are positively infuriated by it.

Significantly, some magazine advertisers don’t design for it and expect that a 420x297mm double page spread will appear the same in print as on their screen.

It doesn’t.

The severity varies significantly depending on location within the publication and materials used, but there are things you can do to help reduce the effect.

Firstly, try this checklist:

1. Do you have text near the edge of the page? It’s also known as a ‘critical matter’ margin. This can be particularly noticeable where a publication transitions from saddlestitched to perfect bound.

2. Is there a headline running across the spread? If so, you may risk losing part of your words.

3. Are there diagonal lines or curves straddling the spread? If so, the spine is very likely to create a ‘step’ effect.

If the answer to any of the above is ‘yes’, you’ll probably want to look closely at pushing the content out from the spine to make it visible. “But what goes in the spine when it’s pushed out,” you may well ask.

The answer is to ‘borrow’ some image from the opposite page.

read across on perfect bound publications

Let’s say we have a DPS A4 portrait ad with read across text supplied as 2x A4 pages. Firstly, you’ll need to ‘stitch’ the 2 pages together to recreate the spread as 420 width and save as an eps for import into your page layout application. Secondly, import that spread into each of the left and right hand page so that the image ranges from the original crop marks. Next, move the image 6mm away from the spine. You’ll now see the 6mm on the spine repeating itself but because that will fall in the spine, it won’t be visible on the finished product.

What about the 6mm that gets pushed off the other edge then?

That’s right. It gets pushed off the fore edge. Many DPS ads have plenty of ‘float’ margin but herein lies the most important part of this topic. One solution will not remove all problems. The safest thing to do is speak to your print partner about what you’re trying to achieve with the spread and we’ll point you in the right direction. We understand how important high impact double page spreads are and we’ll make sure we all achieve the outcome you’re looking for.

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