Ring Binders vs Spiral Binders

iStock 000008026850SmallRing Binders or Spiral Binders – which way do you go? As the person in charge of a bid submission, it can be a bit daunting deciding the final trimmings that will display your team’s hard work and resulting masterpiece. But there are a few things to consider when making this decision.

First things first, check the brief. If the bid specifies how the documents should be bound, then the decision has been made. However, if the bid is silent on such detail, you should consider the following:

  • differences between the two methods
  • document security
  • the need to add pages at any stage; and
  • the equipment to effect the binding.

Binding Differences

Ring Binding

Ring Binding is one of the simplest methods of binding document pages and, when housed in a folder, can be quite distinctive. Loose leaf pages are punched with holes to match the configuration of the binding (i.e. 2, 3, or 5 holes). An advantage of ring binders is that the pages can be added or removed easily.  The use of a folder enables the loose leaf pages to be self-standing while the ring binding allows the pages to lay flat while being read.

An important consideration when printing pages to be bound in this manner is an allowance for a gutter margin to prevent the punched holes from interfering with the printed words of the document.

Spiral Binding

Spiral binding consists of a one-piece binder in a spiral shape, which is coiled through numerous small holes evenly punched into the pages of the document.  The spiral binder can be metal, plastic or plastic coated metal.  The plastic or plastic coated metal binders are available in a variety of colours which can be selected to match the bid theme.

While documents bound in this manner won’t self-stand, they can be laid flat when reading or their pages can be folded completely over. A gutter margin will also be required to preserve the integrity of the printed words.

Document Security

As well as being themed in the bid logo and colours, the binding (either Ring or Spiral) must be functional and must secure the document pages such that none “go MIA” during the assessment period.  You can be fairly sure that if pages go missing, it won’t instil a lot of confidence in the client requesting the tender submissions that you can deliver as required.

If you are favouring Ring Binding with a large number of pages, you will need to consider a minimum of 3-hole configuration.  The larger the document, the more holes required to stabilize the pages.

If Spiral Binding is looking more likely, you will need to ensure that size of the wire or plastic binding is strong enough to hold the amount of pages without leaving the document “floppy” and too pliable. 

Last Minute Additions

Despite the best planning, it is often the case that some last minute information must be added to the submission.  This is easily done if Ring Binding is used, as it is a simple process of opening the binding and inserting the pages into the appropriate location.

However, Spiral Binding adds a new level of complexity as it is impossible to insert additional pages in the middle of the document, once it has been bound, without pulling the document apart and starting again. In fact it might be easier to bind the new pages into a separate bound copy calling it an addendum.

Binding Equipment

Ring binding really only requires the folders and a hole punch and you can bind the documents yourself.  Now this is a bonus if time is getting a bit tight at the business end of the submission as you can compile the documents as you go rather than waiting until the 11th hour.

However, Spiral Binding requires a special binding machine that will place the holes in the document in the required location and then thread the binding coil through the pages. The bid team will either need to acquire this type of binding machine for DIY or outsource the binding. Outsourcing will require the document to be finalised well before the submission deadline and you will need to allow time for delays from the outsourced binding company.

Ring Binding v Spiral Binding – which is better?  I don’t think there is a black and white answer and it obvioulsy depends on the situation and the resources and time available. Ring Binding is certainly a more immediate and simple solution with the stationary supplies readily available. When deadlines are tight, this will definitely be the option you reach for first.  

Bronwyn Coulthart

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