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What is Creeping?

What is "shingling," also referred to as "creep" or "feathering," and why should you care? Understanding the concept behind these terms will improve the quality of your saddle-stitched books. Shingling, or creep, refers to the fact that the trim margin of inner pages of inner signatures of saddle-stitched books are actually narrower than pages in outer signatures.

Shingling is one means of compensating for creep. Creep is also known as binder's creep, push out, and thrust, and is commonly an issue only in publications that are bound by saddle-stitching. Please note that compensating for binders creep is not necessary when designing perfect bound (soft cover) books due to the minimal amount of creep each signature incurs.

book trimming and shingling

How will creeping affect my print project?

Well, if you have positioned folios, for instance (or any other repeating elements, ie page numbers, rules, borders, tabs and bars) near the face margin, and you haven't allowed for creep, the folios in the center of the book, after the book has been trimmed, will be closer to the margin than the folios at the beginning or end of the book. If your margins are too tight as well, copy can actually be trimmed off completely. This could be catastrophic to your project.


How do you fix it?

To maintain a consistent outer margin despite the page creep, the page content must be shifted incrementally to compensate, a process known as shingling. The closer a page is to the center of the magazine, the more content must be moved very slightly inward. It helps if you have generous inside margins so that moving content inward during shingling won't cause any artwork to be crammed into the spine of the printed and bound piece. While this results in tighter margins at the center, the result is usually less noticeable than margin errors on the outside edges of the pages.
Some binding processes incur shingling to a more pronounced degree than others. Binding a relatively large number of pages, such as those in a magazine, will result in the need for more shingling than binding a publication containing only eight pages. Paper thickness (caliper) and finish affect shingling. Thicker stocks will need inner pages adjusted to compensate for creep. Ask your printer to check your work if you feel unsure of the accuracy of your compensation.
Generally, designers aren't expected to do shingling. It's done by the print service provider as part of the imposition process, which positions individual pages correctly for final printing, trimming, and binding. But when your project has images that spread across pages or has tight crossovers between pages, your design will need to be adjusted before printing to ensure spread elements aren't adversely affected during imposition. If you have any questions on how to ensure your project is produced to your expectations, please contact us first.
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