Specifying Divider Tabs
In a prior issue of Quick Tips, I discussed
specifying ring binders. A closely related topic is how
to specify the tab dividers used in ring binders. The following
information will also help you produce spiral bound, GBC-bound
(comb-bound), Wire-O-bound, and perfect-bound books such
as directories, cookbooks, etc., with tabs. You'll be surprised
at how many books--including telephone books--use these
In bound books other than ring-binders,
tabs are inserted between signatures and then folded in.
If they extended beyond the face trim, the trimming process
would shear them off. Once the book has been produced, the
divider tabs can then be folded out.
Tabs tend to be specified as 1/4",
3/8", or 1/2" (in depth/height) with 1/2"
being the most common. Smaller height tabs tend also to
be smaller in width and come more to a bank. Most have rounded
corners. Square edge tabs, or any other shape not commonly
specified, would require unique (costly) cutting dies.
The term "bank of tabs" refers
to a complete row, from the top to the bottom of a book
or binder. A four-tab bank contains four tabs, an eight-tab
bank contains eight tabs, and so forth. Tab makers also
refer to the "cut" of the tabs. A one-fourth cut
includes four tabs; a one-eighth cut includes eight tabs
in a bank.
A bank can have between one tab (10"
long, for instance) and twenty tabs (1/2" long, for
instance). A good rule of thumb in specifying tabs for an
11" sheet would be to indent 1/2" on either side
(giving you 10") and then divide this by the number
of tabs you want (lets say six tabs, which would each be
1.66" long and 1/2", 3/8", or 1/4" deep).
This is especially useful information when you're setting
type for the tabs.
What happens if you can't get all the
type you want on such small tabs? One option is to specify
more than one bank of tabs. This would significantly lengthen
the tabs and give you more room for type. Instead of ten
tabs in a bank, providing minimal room for type, you could
specify two banks of five (wider) tabs. Or, you could mix
the number of tabs in the two banks. One bank could have
four tabs, and the other bank could have six. Most tab manufacturers
will provide a clear plastic overlay to help you design
your tabs. These templates will show the length (how wide
the tab is) and height (the depth of the tab) of various
tabs as well as their spacing within a bank of tabs. They
can also help you specify and fit type within the tab dimensions.
To protect the tabs you can add a strip
of clear acetate over the drilled holes so the tabs won't
pull out of the binder and/or a strip of mylar to cover
and reinforce the tabs themselves and keep them from bending
and tearing. Usually these mylar coatings can be specified
in various colors, and these colors can even be mixed within
a bank of tabs.
Also consider whether you will need
to print text copy only on the tabs or on both the tabs
and the body of the sheet (the actual sheet to which each
tab is affixed). Ink printed on these sheets should be heat
resistant, and wax-free varnishes should be used, due to
the high heat used to attach mylar to the tabs. Otherwise
the ink will run, smear, and mottle when the heat is applied.
Finally, consider using porous
sheets for the tabs. Mylar can be attached more easily and
successfully to uncoated stock, and coated stocks printed
with heavy coverage can allow for trapped air bubbles that
mar the quality of the final tab dividers. Have your printer
also avoid excessive amounts of anti-offset powder since
this keeps the mylar from being adequately attached to the
A reader of the Quick Tips article
on tinting printing sheets sent an e-mail recently, questioning
the legality of photographing the texture of a brand of
printing paper and printing this design as a repeating motif
on the pages of an annual report. In my e-mail reply to
him I explained a few nuances of copyright law that demonstrate
why this was not copyright infringement. I think this information
might be useful to other readers of Quick Tips. This is
what I said:
Copyright law protects original expressions
of authorship once fixed in a tangible medium. This includes
visual art. If one were to interpret the copyright law literally,
one could argue that Zanders holds copyright in every single
sheet of Elephant Hide it produces. However, the copyright
law is not absolute, nor black and white. Commonplace patterns
and designs are not afforded protection, as there must be
a minimum of unique artistic expression for something to
be considered original artwork under the law. Processes
and familiar symbols, patterns and designs are among the
works specifically excluded from copyright protection.
In essence, Elephant Hide is
a process that produces an infinite variety of marbleized
patterns on a textured paper. The Zanders paper products
web site describes Elephant Hide paper as having a "marble-like
veining, which, along with shade and caliper, varies from
sheet to sheet, giving the paper a handmade appearance.
Few people would argue that any one page of this marbleized
pattern was so distinguishable from every other sheet as
to be protected by copyright law. Yet such uniqueness is
requisite for a copyrightable work. Again, since the amount
of creativity required for copy protection is not strictly
defined, each situation deserves individual analysis. When
in doubt, the best solution is to contact the owner of the
work or discuss the sample with a lawyer well versed in
Automation Compatible Bulk Mail
A reader of the Quick Tips article
about designing for cheaper bulk mailing sent in the following
correction, noting that "in order for a self-mailer
to be automation compatible it doesn't matter whether the
fold is at the top or bottom of a mailpiece. Either way
it will have to be sealed with a wafer seal or glue spot.
If the fold [is] at the bottom, you're only required to
have [one] wafer seal (in the middle). If folded at the
top you must have [two] wafer seals [and] they must be within
[one] inch of [the] sides."
[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.]