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Related terms: Zines
See also: Fannish Bookbinding, Fancraft, Zine Production
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Binding is the method in which the pages of a print fanzine are fastened together. The binding type is determined by the dimensions of the zine, as well as economic factors. Small digest-sized zines or booklets can be center stapled. Zines over 50 pages will require either spiral or comb binding. Early fanzines in the 1970s were secured with screw posts or brass brad fasteners. In the 1990s, the era of fanzine standardization, the majority of media fanzines were comb bound, as fanzine editors could buy a comb binding machine and use it to bind entire series of fanzines. Perfect binding, a commercial bookbinding technique, was initially very expensive and even today is not the commonly used method of binding fanzines.

For more about the various types of fanzine binding methods, read Susan Garrett's explanation here.


Small booklets can be center or "saddle" stapled. Larger zines can be stapled with three industrial strength staples.

Screw Posts & Brad Fasteners

Screw posts (sometimes referred to as "bolts") were inserted into three hole punched paper. Publishers would use either two or three posts, depending on the stability they needed.

Similar in functionality were brass brad fasteners that could be inserted into three hole punched paper and twisted back to hold the pages together. They are still used in binding screenplays.


tape and staples (Duet)

Often combined with three industrial-sized staples. Over time, the tape could lose its adhesiveness and fall or peel off (see example to the right).

Comb and Spiral Bound

binding types, left to right: plastic comb, metal comb, spiral
  • Comb bound. Comb binding can only be accomplished by using a comb binding machine that holds the comb 'open' and allows the pre-punched paper to be inserted. After insertion, the comb is released and snaps shut. While the individual comb binders were not expensive, the upfront cost of the comb binding machine (in the hundreds of dollars) often meant that only large scale fanzine publishers could afford to buy one. Many publishers needed to either borrow one or take their fanzines to printers or photocopying services and pay to have the fanzines bound.
comb-binding machine used today
  • Spiral bound. Spiral bound fanzines are made by 'rolling' and threading the coil the wires through pre-punched paper. The ends of the coils are then crimped to prevent the coils from slipping out as the pages are opened and closed. While this can be done manually it is a labor-intensive process and, again, most fanzine publishers would either purchase a spiral binding machine or have it bound at a copy shop.

Both spiral and comb bound fanzines required that the paper be pre-punched. Combs required 19 holes and spirals required 44 holes. You could either buy your paper pre-punched or punch it yourself. Some comb and spiral binding machines sold today allow small scale page punching by hand (5-10 pages at a time).

Perfect Bound

Very few fanzine publishers could afford the cost of commercial paperback style perfect binding. There was also the concern that the more professional a zine looked, the greater the risk of running afoul of copyright interests. Amateur press should, according to some copyright holders, look amateurish. Still, even in the 1980s, a few fanzines were released in the perfect bound format (ex: Dragon's Teeth (1986), The Weight Collected (1988) and Thousandworlds Collected (1983)) and the recent introduction of digital self-publication services has made the method more affordable and common.

Unique Bindings

Some fans created their own special binding for print zines. Some publishers also took binding beyond the usual and made it unique. Some samples are below. Also see Custom Zine.

A Fan-Illustrated Guide to Binding Loose Letterzines

A fan submitted some suggestions for binding looseleaf issues of a letterzine to S and H #15, published in 1980.