Get the FAQs on Custom-Made Portfolio Books with Expert Scott Mullenberg

If you’re thinking of making your own custom-made book or paying someone else to do it, you should definitely take a look at these “frequently asked questions” (complete with answers), provided by expert bookbinder Scott Mullenberg of Mullenberg Designs.

Mullenberg Design is a hand bookbinding studio specializing in custom portfolio fabrications for the visual artist. “The goal at Mullenberg Designs is to exceed your expectations for design and craftsmanship, and to provide you with the highest level of personal service.” In addition, the Portfolio Design Studio, an arm of Mullenberg Designs, offers the “D.T.K., Dressed To Kill” line of portfolios and slipcases in 5 sizes and 8 fabric styles with optional name/logo debossing on both the portfolio and slipcase.

The following are some frequently asked questions and answers to help get you started.

FAQ with Scott Mullenberg

When fabricating custom portfolios, what materials do you use?

I use a variety of bookbinding cloth and synthetic cover materials. When selecting cover materials, the most important consideration is wear and tear. If you frequently send out your portfolio, my experience is that you can generally expect three years of “life” from it. However, I have clients who have been using the same book for ten years. Regardless, if you’re sending your book out, I highly recommend use of a Tenba case (or similar) for shipping as it will provide additional protection of the portfolio.

Who should I order sample swatches from?

I order materials primarily from Talas (, Hiromi Paper International (, and Fifield Fabrics ( When you are ready to select coverings for your portfolio, you can order swatch books by phone or by placing an order online. When ordering swatchbooks, reference the following:

  • From Talas (paper backed cloth): Asahi, Iris, Cialux, Chromo, Techno, Canapetta
  • From Hiromi Paper (paper backed cloth): World Book, Kyoto Deluxe
  • From Fifield (simulated leathers): Vienna, Lantau

While availability of materials is generally good, sometimes items go out of stock. I can easily check availability for you once materials are chosen.

Why use screwpost construction?

Screwpost construction allows you the greatest flexibility in the event you want to swap out images. It’s classic, contemporary, and elegant, yet simple and easy to re-load.

Do I want a slipcase or a clamshell box?

Clamshell boxes are durable and provide protection to your portfolio. I recommend the use of a clamshell box if you’re frequently shipping out your portfolio.

Slipcases are great for in-house and walk-in presentations because they take up less space on a table or desktop and are not as cumbersome.

Many of my clients order one or more of each construction because they want the flexibility of having both boxes.

Do I want hinged or scored pages?

The choice of whether to hinge or score your images is an individual one but there are factors you need to consider before a decision is made.

  • The type of paper you’re printing on will determine whether to hinge or score your pages. Matte paper easily takes to scoring, but glossy does not.
  • Cost is another factor to consider when making this choice. Hinged pages are more expensive.
  • Scored pages offer you more self-reliance. To add or replace a damaged hinged page makes you more dependent upon my schedule.
  • Scoring is also best if you’re doing “full spreads.”
  • If you choose scoring over hinging, I require that you send me at least two test prints when I’m constructing your portfolio.

How do I determine the final size of my pages?

I can make a portfolio to fit any size image. Typically, square portfolios range in size from 10”-12” (trimmed page size), while rectangular portfolios range in size up to approximately 11” X 17” (trimmed page size).

What margin do I need to allow when printing my pages?

For scored pages, I need a 1” margin. So, for example, if your final image size should be 12”X12”, I’ll need the page to be 12”X13”.

For hinged pages, and if you’re printing on one side only, no extra margin is required. However, if you’re printing on two sides, keep in mind that the hinge will be exposed on the back side – thus, if you’re doing full bleeds, the hinge will adhere onto ¼” along the image’s edge. In addition, if you want hinged pages, and you’re using full spreads, keep in mind that you won’t want full spreads to follow each other consecutively because of the exposed hinge on the back side of the page.

Can I print images on both sides of the page?

Yes. Just keep in mind the hinging restrictions noted above if you’re printing full bleeds and full spreads.

Can I use pre-drilled and pre-scored pages to print my images?

Yes. Some of my clients are now using the new pre-drilled, pre-scored pages available from Moab Paper (

How many pages should I have in my portfolio?
Most of my clients include 20-25 images in their portfolios, a number which is the current industry standard.

What is the difference between blind and foil embossing?
Blind debossing/embossing has no color. Foil debossing/embossing can be in a variety of colors. Generally speaking, your chosen materials will dictate the choice of blind vs. foil embossing.

What color choices do I have if using foils for the logo emboss?
Foils come in a variety of different colors and finishes. However, matching to a specific Pantone color is not currently possible.

For the full FAQ and pricing, download Scott’s PDF. Get it here.

The following are portfolio books Scott has recently built. *Click images for larger view.

Courtesy Duncan Pollard,


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  1. Nate DaCosta

    Thanks for this info. I’m a student working on putting my portfolio together before I graduate in May. This Q&A was really helpful!!

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