Keep It Together: Thoughts on Proposal Binding

binding_proposalsService contractors have their reasons for choosing how their proposals are bound.

Customers receiving those proposals have other needs.

So, beyond keeping 100s of proposal pages from littering the floor, what’s the best choice for binding proposals?

It depends (what a surprise). There’s not a single best choice. However, here are some thoughts that may help you choose how to bind proposals (if you’re a contractor), or how to specify how you want proposals bound (if you’re writing an RFP).

3-Ring Binders (Stock) with Clear Overlay

These are those binders that have a clear cover that allows you to insert a printed page in the cover and spine.


  • Allows customers to pull pages out for copying, or to keep only pages of interest
  • Allows contractors to customize text & images on title & spine to the specific customer & bid for a little sizzle
  • Are relatively inexpensive & easily purchased in small quantities by contractors
  • Can be re-used by customers for other purposes


  • Looks like what it is, may feel cheap, less professional
  • Available sizes may be too large for a small proposal with few pages
  • Can be re-used by customers for other purposes

3-Ring Binders (Custom) with Printed Covers

These binders are printed with the contractor’s name and logo, and in its brand colors.


  • Seeks to send a professional, more committed image to customers
  • Shows contractors brand for easier recognition
  • Allows customers to easily pull out pages of interest
  • Can be re-used by customers for other purposes


  • Can’t customize text & images on title & spine to the specific customer & bid (but there can be limited foil stamping)
  • Available thicknesses may be too large for contractors’ small proposals with few pages
  • Production runs may be large requiring contractor to hold high inventories
  • Producing multiple size thicknesses (1″ – 1.5″ – 2″) is costly to contractors
  • Outdated design & brand may result from high inventories contractors must use before producing new ones

Fixed Binding Systems (Wire, Plastic Comb, Glued)


  • Enables using a soft cover with pre-printed contractors’ brand, logos & designs
  • Enables cost-effective printing of soft covers for contractors’ different vertical markets, matching imagery to industry
  • Easily fits whatever number of pages & size of contractors’ proposals
  • Easy for customers to carry around, flexible & bendable
  • Seeks to send a contemporary, modern image to customers (e.g. tech companies)


  • Customers can’t easily easily pull out pages of interest
  • Contractors can’t customize text & images on title & spine to the customer & specific bid
  • May send message to customer that contractor is too informal

Digital File Only

Adobe Acrobat PDFs are the standard (when you get forms from the IRS you know its the standard), here’s why:

  • Keeps documents’ images & formatting from slipping askew
  • Provides great navigation with hyperlinks
  • Great search capabilities
  • Provides control to enable/prevent copying or printing
  • Provides security to open or edit
  • Compresses file size with images
  • Enables selection of print quality & editing security

Contractors’ proposals and RFP responses should never be sent to customers in Microsoft Word. Unless of course a misguided customer requires it.

To see the downside of Word files take almost every pro listed for Acrobat PDFs and make it a negative. That’s why proposals shouldn’t be sent as Word files.

Online Bid/Auction Tools


No PROs about binding. There isn’t any


No ability to add sales and marketing sizzle, but that’s what customers are trying to avoid with online tools.

How do you bind your magnum opus?

Chris Arlen
President, Revenue-IQ

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