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The finishing touch: selecting the correct binders for your purposes.

What do your documents look like? Do they reflect the thought and care that went into creating and preparing them? Many of us simply print out a report or solicitation, staple it in the upper left-hand corner, and send it off. In many cases, that's fine--the person receiving it takes no notice beyond the contents.

There are times, however, when the way you present a document makes a difference. That's especially true when the document you are sending is a proposal or is asking for money, time, or other resources. If the person that is receiving your document hasn't met you face-to-face previously, the document they are receiving from you is going to make an initial impression.

Just as you "dress for success" for an important meeting, your document, and the impression that it makes, will benefit from being "well dressed." The way to accomplish this is to bind it in a cover that creates the impression that you desire.

The Brooks Brothers of binding?

Just how fancy your presentation binder should be depends on what you want it to say. It's possible to spend close to $100 on a fancy leather portfolio in a high-end luggage store. For most nonprofits, that's not only overkill, but sends the message that you're not very careful about the way that you spend the entity's money.

At the same time, a quick clip binder from the local supermarket also sends a message. Again, it's probably not the message that you really want to convey. Selecting the proper way to "dress" your presentations is a bit of a balancing act. You want your documents and presentations to look professional, without looking excessively flashy. In actuality, inexpensive binding machines and cover sets let you accomplish just that.

A trio of affordable binding systems that produce professional looking documents without breaking the bank were tested. One of them should be just right for your office.

Binding systems fall into two general categories--mechanical and thermal. Mechanical binding systems include the familiar plastic and metal spiral and comb binders. These use a cardboard cover set, and place holes in the edge of the cover set and enclosed pages into which a plastic binding comb or metal spiral is inserted. These systems are very affordable, but you may not feel that the resulting document looks as professional as you would like. This type of binding system is best used to bind a presentation consisting of a manual or printout of a PowerPoint presentation.

A more appropriate mechanical binding system is the VeloBind V110e, from GBC ( /products/binding/velobind.asp). For about $110, you get an electric punch machine, which can handle up to 24 pages. The VeloBindV110e uses reclosable four-post binding strips so once a document is bound, you can add or subtract pages from it. The VeloBind V110e uses the same cover sets as other VeloBind systems, or you can buy generic cover sets and punch them in the electric punch. Binding strips are available in several colors, and the bound documents look every bit as professional as if you had them done in a copy shop.

The other two binding systems that you might find suitable are both thermal. A thermal binding system uses special covers which contain a strip of solid glue in the spine. Then you place the pages to be bound in the spine and place it in the binding machine, the glue is melted, flowing around the pages to be bound. When the spine cools off, the pages are solidly bound.

The more easily found of the two systems is the TB250 Thermal Binder from Fellowes ( This $99 thermal binder can handle binders up to 1.75 inches across, which can accommodate up to about 300 pages. The machine takes about three minutes to heat up, and the binding process takes 30 seconds per bind. Covers cost about $1.30 each and you can find them in most office superstores.

One limitation of the two bind systems discussed so far is that they require vinyl covers. These are good looking, but sometimes you want something just a bit different. The SteelBinding systems from UniBind ( are also thermal machines and sell for about $150. There are several differences between the SteelBinding and other thermal systems.

One of the major differences that the SteelBind-ing system offers is that the spine containing the resin glue is a steel channel. With many thermal binding systems, if you open the document up to lay flat, you crack the bound part, just like the spine of a book cracks if you open it too far. When this happens, pages can fall out of your document. With the SteelBinding's steel channel supporting the bound pages, there's no way that the spine can crack.

You can buy these spines separately, for use with your own coversets (which is nice if you have custom-printed coversets), or purchase complete coversets in cardboard or plastic which contain the resin-filled spines.

Another benefit of the SteelBinding system is that you can get hardcover binders. These are pretty expensive when compared with standard cardboard cover sets, a hardcover can cost between $4 and $6 each, but there's no dewing that documents and presentations that are bound in one of these hard-covers makes an impression. The machine that actually binds the SteelBinding sets is a bit more expensive, at between $400 and $450, than maw other thermal binding systems. The results, however, justify the cost if you are looking to put your best foot forward in adding the finishing touch to your documents.
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Title Annotation:Office Technology
Author:Needleman, Ted
Publication:The Non-profit Times
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2006
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