There are many ways of binding documents if you don't have a machine. Here's our list of options to help achieve a professional look for your reports.

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Working on an important project or report requires a lot of effort and time. Understandably, when you’re done you just want to be done. But you can dedicate just a few extra minutes to a simple process that will make your work look so much better and also protect it.

A coil binding machine is a useful tool to have if you plan to bind in high volumes or bind a lot. However, they’re also pricier than the simple methods and take up a lot more space. If you’re working with a small office or just don’t need to bind that often, there are many non-machine methods for binding your documents.

I’ll go over some good reasons to start binding your work, followed by easy methods for doing so without a binding machine.

The Benefits of Binding

Here are some of the advantages of binding your documents instead of keeping them separate:

It Looks Better

After putting hours into your work, it’s important to make it look nice. Binding makes your project look much more put-together and polished. It’s a way to show that you take pride in what you do. You can also customize the binding method you choose to reflect your project or match with it.

Better Organization

It’s much harder to keep track of pages when they aren’t bound together. You may end up with one sheet in one folder, and another one in your drawer at home. With your documents separated, it’s likelier that they’ll be damaged or impossible to find later.

Binding your documents is a quick and easy way to keep them organized in one place. You may use color-coded and labeled tabs to help even more with organization.


One of the benefits of binding documents is the sheer number of uses this skill has. It’s a great way to compile information before giving a presentation or to hand out laminated, important information and protect it from damage.

Not only can you bind work-related information for your home office, but you can create calendars and cookbooks. In addition, you can use binding for organizing photo albums, workbooks, phone directories, sales materials, and more.

White ruled notebook on a wooden table

Non-Machine Binding Methods

Binding your documents usually involves a binding machine, but these devices can be costly. Thankfully, you have a few alternatives to keep your documents looking sharp.

1. Staples

I’ll start with the most basic and affordable binding options. Staples cost next to nothing, are quick to use and work well if you don’t have too many pages to bind. Another benefit of this tried and true method for binding documents is that staplers are easy to find and widely available. In fact, you probably already have one or two in your office.

However, staples come with obvious limitations, such as not being able to hold many pages. They also can come loose after a while, so they don’t work well for documents you need to have on hand for a long time.

For thick documents, you may need an electric stapler to handle the job.


  • Cheap option
  • Staplers are common
  • Quick and simple


  • Doesn’t look very professional
  • Can’t hold many pages

2. Screw Posts

Screw posts work as long as you have a three-hole punch to work with. Screw posts are made of metal and allow you to thread the screw through the punched holes and secure them by bending the posts until they lie flat (similar to how staples fasten to the paper, except manually done). There are larger sized screw posts for binding thick documents.

One of the only downsides of this method is that it doesn’t look as polished as some other ways of binding. Also, the sheets won’t have a hard, protective covering in most cases unless you add one yourself.


  • Easy
  • Affordable
  • Fast


  • Doesn’t look great
  • Three-Ring Binders

3. Three-Ring Binders

Stack of three ring binders graphics

Three-ring binders are a good way to store and organize your important papers. You can use them for presentations, personal use, or meetings.

You can use a binder with a clear overlay if you want to have a cover for the documents.

In order to use a three-ring binder, simply use a three-hole punch to hole punch your documents, then open the rings in the binder to put the sheets in. Snap it back shut, and you’re done.

One of the downsides of this type of binding method is that three-ring binders don’t always come with a slot for a cover sheet.

But a major plus is that they’re the sturdiest method for binding without a binding machine due to their hardcovers.


  • Easy to make a cover
  • Widely available
  • Affordable


  • Looks basic

4. Report Covers

If you want to make your project look polished and presentable but you don’t have much time, report covers are a good way to bind your documents without a machine. Just slip your pages into the clear sheets and slide the plastic shut to secure your documents.


  • Easy to find
  • Affordable


  • Not as sturdy as binders

5. Loose-Leaf Binding Rings

Another good method for binding loose sheets of paper together is using loose-leaf binding rings. These products fit into regular-sized punched holes. Just pull open the rings, attach them to the paper, and close them. Loose-leaf binding rings come in multiple styles including overlap, screw lock, and snap lock.

You can find book rings in either plastic or metal, and in various sizes. These rings are versatile and may be used for hanging displays, fabric swatches, and more in addition to binding documents.


  • Inexpensive
  • Versatile


  • Doesn’t have a protective cover

6. Binding Pre-Punched Sheets

Another way to bind documents without using a machine is with crimper pliers, pre-punched paper, covers, and binding spines. Since the paper and book covers already come pre-punched, you can just roll the coil binding spines through the pages, then use the pliers to crimp the ends.


  • Holds pages securely
  • Looks good
  • Affordable


  • More complicated than other methods

7. Notepad Binding

Another option for binding documents is using padding glue. For this method, you just need the sheets of paper, padding glue, a brush for the glue, and a clamp. This method is very simple, just clamp together the sheets, add glue, then take off the clamp once it’s dried.

Although this method doesn’t require a machine, there are automated machines and press that use this process and produce higher volume.


  • Straightforward and simple
  • Holds together well


  • You need many tools

Once you start binding your documents, you’ll wonder how you ever went without it! Hopefully, you learned some useful information today about how to bind your documents without a machine.