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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Irvine chapter.

Whether you’re in the market for a new craft or have always dreamed of having a physical copy of your favorite fanfiction, bookbinding is a great way to merge the modern culture of online literature and ebooks with the historical production of hand-sewn novels. In this guide, I will simplify the lengthy process by providing my favorite tips, tutorials, materials, and examples to make the crafting process seamless. This tutorial is best used when binding fanfiction. As with any craft, practice makes perfect.

What is book binding?

In simple terms, bookbinding is crafting a book. From printing and sewing pages together to making your hard-cover bookcase, bookbinding is a way to make your library uniquely yours.

Useful Vocabulary

Typesetting/formatting is the process of formatting your document for printing. This includes choosing margin sizes, fonts, and line spacing. You can experiment with your typeset until you get your desired look.

Macro:A Microsoft Word program that will help with formatting.

Book Fold: Setting your pages to “book fold” allows your pages to be put in proper order for folding; this is called imposition. This is why your pages will appear out of order before folding. Each sheet of paper. has four book pages (two front and two back).

Signature: A signature is a group of pages you have folded to form a small portion of your book. The size of your book will determine how many signatures you will have. Typically, a signature will consist of 8-16 sheets of paper, depending on your preference. 

Text Block:The pages of your book that have been folded and sewn together.

Book Case:The hard cover exterior of your book. 

Hinge gap:The gap between your spine and cover. This gap allows the cover to fold.

Anatomy of a book

Typesetting Your Fanfiction

After choosing what fanfiction you want to bind, it’s essential to pay attention to the word count. This will help you estimate the size of your book. Depending on your font size and formatting, 100,000 words is roughly 400 book pages. 

To typeset it, you will need Microsoft Word. Unfortunately, Google Docs isn’t advanced enough to structure the pages as needed. 

Before adding your fanfiction to the document, you will want to arrange your margin size, font, and spacing. TikTok and YouTube are invaluable resources for this craft. User @hanabobb on TikTok has a very helpful video on the typesetting specification for basic formatting. 

Remember to set your page to “landscape” and have it on “book fold”; these settings are required to fold your pages correctly. You will also set how many sheets of paper you will have per signature; I recommend 12 sheets per signature.

For example, if your book is 432 pages, that would be 108 double-sided sheets of paper. If you have 12 sheets per signature, that is 48 book pages. Your complete book will have nine signatures.

While it’s possible to go to Ao3 or wherever you get your fanfiction and copy and paste the work into your document, this will require you to organize your chapters by hand. It can be tedious and frustrating to get it formatted how you want.

Instead, I recommend you use a macro. A macro is a specialized program that you can run in Microsoft Word. It will essentially take your pasted fanfiction, generate a title page and publication page, and format the chapters for you.

My preferred Macro: https://blakbooks.wixsite.com/blak-books-bindery/macros

Macro installation tutorial: https://wintersediting.com/install-run-macros/

Creating Your Text Block


Before printing:

  1. Make sure your paper tray and ink cartridges are full.
  2. Make sure it is set to “Double Space” and “Short Edge” in your print settings.
  3. Once your book is fully printed, count out however many sheets of paper you set aside for your signature.
  4. Take your signature sheets and fold them in half, using a bone folder to get clean edges. 

Once all of your pages are folded, you should be left with a stack of signatures resembling a book. Double-check your page numbers to make sure everything lines up after folding. Now, you are going to want to flatten it. This can be done by placing something heavy on top for a few hours. 

Sewing your signatures

Once your book is nice and flat, it’s time to sew your signatures together. This involves making holes in your signatures and using a French link stitch to sew them together. You will need a curved needle, waxed thread, and a hole punch guide.


Basic binding kit

Hole punch guide 


  • This video will explain how to punch your holes and link your signatures together with the French stitch. 


At this point, your signatures should be sewn, a text block created, and ready for gluing. 

Using an acid-free glue, you will want to saturate your book spine. Once your text block is dry, you will add cardstock paper to both ends of your book. This is a time when you can start making personalizations by choosing decorative cardstock. Hollanders has lots of fun prints and designs. 

You will also want to reinforce your spine by adding a piece of mull. This is also the time toadd a headband to the top and bottom of your spine and a ribbon bookmark. 





Adding mull and headbands 


Attaching endpapers


Making Your Bookcase

This final step will turn your text block into a hardcover book. Using a thin piece of cardboard called a chipboard, measure the height and width of your cover and spine. 

Using these measurements will help you cut your chipboard to size. Once your three pieces are cut, glue them to a piece of cardstock to prepare for your book cloth. The video below will help you arrange your book board to fit correctly over your text block. 



Measuring your text block and cutting chipboard: 



Once your book board is assembled, it’s time to add your book cloth. Book cloth is paper-backed fabric that will give your hardcover color. Book cloth comes in a variety of textures and colors. Using your bone folder, start gluing each side of your book board to your book board, smoothing and defining your hinge gaps as you go.


Book Cloth

Attaching Book Cloth


Gluing in your text block

The final step in this lengthy process is to glue your text block into your bookcase. This involves gluing your end papers onto your bookcase, leaving out the spine.


Once you have completed your book, I encourage you to look into ways to customize your cover to make it even more personalized. A common technique is using a Cricut vinyl cutting machine. 


This craft requires patience and may not look perfect on your first try. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different materials, styles, and techniques to make each book uniquely yours. Whether you’re binding your own stories or preserving your favorite fanfiction, each book is a testament to your creativity and dedication.

Ava Horsman

UC Irvine '25

My name is Ava Horsman and Im a third year transfer student at UCI. I am currently studying literary journalism and hope to add film and media studies as a minor. At my community college I worked for the school paper writing everything from news to feature pieces. I truly found my love for writing about entertainment and lifestyle. If you talk to me for longer than 5 minutes you will very quickly learn that the only two things on my mind at any given time is Taylor Swift or The Hunger Games.