I'm designing a pocket-sized booklet (4-1/4 x 11), so I'm taking common US letter sized paper and folding it the tall way. It's my goal that anyone can download the booklet-formatted PDF and print and staple it themselves. I also need to make about 50 of them (x 5 staples per spine), so I don't want a laborious solution, and I want really well-formed staples because these books will have a rough life. They must go where electronics can't, so must be paper.

Stapling is the problem. I discover to my horror all the staplers I can find have 4" reach exactly, not 4-1/4". Why? tears hair out Do they do this on purpose?

What's my best play here? Do I cut the book down to 4" wide even (8" uncut) necessitating a tedious cut (but it works nicely, the stapler limit is the perfect stop)? Do I send people to OfficeMax to have it stapled? Any other options?

  • I submitted an answer before I noticed that you saw and rejected my suggestion from an earlier post. : ( I regret my oversight; but, did add a diagram and a picture to the rejects.
    – Stan
    Aug 27, 2017 at 1:49
  • How many full pages will have to be folded and stitched to make one booklet?
    – Stan
    Aug 30, 2017 at 15:11
  • @stan that's fine by me. For now, 4-6 sheets but if it works for bigger books that makes me happy. Aug 30, 2017 at 18:02
  • FYI: What you are trying to do is called "saddle-stitching" which is a kind of booklet binding used to minimize the appearance of the staple. The second part of the answer submitted by Willeke is called "side-stitching" which is a booklet binding technique used hold booklets thicker than 8 folded sheets. Either way, ensure that the length of your staples are enough to be crimped so they don't protrude to catch on things or skin.
    – Stan
    Aug 30, 2017 at 18:51

7 Answers 7


If you can keep a wide margin in the fold, you could have the people cut two or three (local prefered version) holes and tie each of them with a bit of cord or ribbon. Or bring a cord or ribbon from one hole to the next and back to the starting point.
Or fold and staple close to the fold on the outside of the booklet. Keep the staples near but not on the fold. 1/8"/3mm would be a good distance in my view.

I have bought a long arm stapler for my own use, A5 booklets, and found that quite cheap. That would work for your 50 booklets, and all those you will need to make in the future. This does not work for the people who have to do their own booklet.
Suggesting to cut the paper before making the booklet is likely not going to work. People will likely take the paper already in the printer and use that.

  • Your second method using a normal office stapler is workable. I have just made a booklet according to Harper's information and your idea works with the normal (a black, metal, rubber base one using #1, ¼", 6.5mm, 26/6, B8 size staple) office stapler. You get good results when you staple ¼" from the fold (for securing the inside page best.)
    – Stan
    Aug 30, 2017 at 19:09

Any stapler that can unfold is okay to use.

Fold the booklets and then place the folded pages face down with the cover up.

Align the stapler against the spine and press the staple into a rubber eraser so the little wire legs protrude. Pull off the eraser to expose the staple's legs. Then, bend the staple legs to hold the sheets together.

The technique is called "saddle stitching." Making one by hand is called making a "dummy" or a mock-up.

![Saddle stitching stapler hack

Here are some detailed instructions to accompany the diagram as well as a different "How-To" drawing. It shouldn't take you very long to do this after you get everything together and organized.

Don't try this with more than a few sheets.

  • Your solution works fine and I've done it many times. The problem is that the OP linked to this method in their question and said they didn't like that solution because it's too laborious. I'm guessing that's why you were down voted.
    – James
    Aug 28, 2017 at 13:00
  • @James Thank you for the morale boost. Notice that I made a comment to the original post noting my oversight. I was impatient and suffered the result.
    – Stan
    Aug 28, 2017 at 14:43

If you don't mind a small crease per staple, make the main fold, fold one side in (partially) again. Then staple over the fold. Please excuse the low quality of the ascii 'diagrams':

Main fold:




Each side is your 4.25 inch page-width.

Second fold (not all the way to the middle):


This makes the right-hand side less than 4 inches, so staple from the right side, then unfold. If you're careful, you'll only get crimp marks where the stapler touches the second fold, rather than a full-length crease.


There are two workflows.

For the PDF downloads: Send instructions how to use a normal office stapler to saddle-stitch the PDF download copies. There won't be many of them to be very much effort. Then, whomever downloads a copy can staple their copy according to the instructions shown here if they want to go to the trouble.

For the 50 or so copies you must prepare initially, use an outside service such as OfficeMax, Kinko's, etc. From my experience, the copy centre will not want to do the stitching without doing the printing too. It's not in their interest to do a portion of such a small (low paying) job for them.


You say that you're designing a booklet… This is key.

HACK: This allows you to design your product to accommodate the tools available.

In Other Words… Design this booklet to be 4" x 11."
There's really no problem. There's no reason to follow any special rules.

You're the designer and you can do whatever you want.

For that matter, why use paper when you can use paper-like Yupo™ plastic? It will last longer and even be an electrolytic insulator which you can use in your marketing literature and advertising

No? Buy the stapler that you need.
No? Borrow the stapler that you need.
No? Rent the stapler that you need.
No? Buy the stapler that you need and then return it after the project.
No? Buy the paper cutter you need to cut down the sheet size.

(Then, you'll see how REALLY labourous this project can become! - Cutting sheets for booklets so that the booklets look squared-up and trimmed is difficult without a "paper shear" which will be waaay over your budget.)

(Grrr: With any of these alternatives, you'll still have to do the work ! ! !)

No? Then, give it to Kinko or OfficeMax.

You asked if this was done on purpose. Yes, out of millions of people a few want to make booklets. For that application, a long-throw stapler was made on purpose. A normal office stapler was designed (on purpose) to staple the corners of a few normal pages; but, it is versatile and also opens to accommodate the job you want to do.

We're all just lazy and want easier alternatives which is excusable. The service industry makes their living from folks like us.


For longer booklets where stapling on the outside isn't feasible (because this creates double the thickness that must be stapled through), you could consider designing your booklets so the fold is not in the middle. The first half of your booklet will be 4" wide, and the second half 4.5" wide, rather than having every page be 4.25" wide. Add a vertical bar on the right margin of the half-way page with the title of the book or some other branding to make this a design element.

When instructing users, you can have them insert the left-hand facing pages into a standard stapler as far as they will go; that will put the staples in exactly the right spot. If they are stapling so the pointy bits are on the inside, the booklet should be cover-side-up, with the front cover inserted into the stapler. After it's stapled (once in the middle and once at top and bottom), they just fold along the line of staples.

Illustration triptych showing 1. The stack of pages, outside-cover up, being stapled 4.5 inches from the left: stapler is positioned so it crosses 4 inches from the right. 2. What the assembled booklet would look like, with a 1/2 inch bar on the right edge of the middle page peeking out from behind the narrower front pages. 3. What the center sheet would look like with two columns of text and a decorative bar on the right edge.

The only tricky part about this will be your layout; each individual printed sheet will be 8.5" wide, but as you are looking at the facing-pages layout the first half of the book will be 8" wide and the second half of the book will be 9" wide. This may be easy or difficult to accomplish, depending on what software you are using for layout.

Illustration of assembled facing pages from first half of the booklet (8 inches wide, with 4" columns of textless margins—on both sides) and second half of booklet (9 inches wide, with 4.5" columns of text on both sides) compared with actual print-layout of sheets (8.5 inches wide, with 4" wide column on left and 4.5" column on right alternating with 4.5" column on left and 4" column on right).


Long ago, I bought a long-reach stapler to do similar projects as you. Here are links to some on Office Depot: Office Depot Long-Reach Stapler

and another one at Office Depot: Another Office Depot Long Reach Stapler

They both cost about $35 USD. Good luck with your project.

  • I already mentioned the long arm stapler, but that is no solution for all other people who will print their own booklet and have to staple it.
    – Willeke
    Aug 28, 2017 at 19:17

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