Choosing a Scrapbook

Making Sense of Scrapbook Styles and Sizes

Album piled up
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One of the first things that you will need to decide when you get started scrapbooking will be which scrapbook to buy. When you enter the scrapbook aisle at your local craft store you will discover that there are a myriad of choices and confusing styles. Do you want a 3-ring or a post-bound album? A 12x12 inch or an 8x8 inch scrapbook? A quick run-down of the choices available and which one’s work best for which project should help make your decision a little easier.

The two primary considerations in selecting a scrapbook are style and size.

Scrapbook Styles

The style of a scrapbook album is primarily determined by how it is bound. The most typical styles fall into these five categories:

  • Post-bound – A post-bound album has machine screws and posts that screw together to bind the book. The page protectors have holes punched in them which allow the posts to hold them securely in the album. Each page protector opens at the top so that you can simply slide completed scrapbook pages right into the protectors. Two pages can be slid into each page protector back to back to create a double sided page. If you need to move pages around, you can easily remove pages from their protectors. When you want to add additional page protectors to your album, you can unscrew the machine screws and add extenders to lengthen the posts.
  • 3-Ring – A 3-ring album uses page protectors that are usually identical to those found in post-bound albums. Instead of being bound by posts a 3-ring album uses standard 3-ring notebook style hinges to hold the page protectors in the book. D-ring albums allow the pages that sit flat in the book when it is closed. 3-ring albums offer the most flexibility if you need to remove or add pages to your album.
  • Strap-hinge – Strap-hinge style scrapbooks use pages that have staples built into the edges. Plastic straps slide through these staples and hold the pages in the book. Since the pages themselves are bound into the book, page protector sleeves are slid over the pages to cover them. To add or remove pages from the album the strap-hinge assembly is taken apart. Creative Memories popularized this style of album.
  • Book-bound – A book-bound scrapbook is book that is bound like a traditional, hard cover book. It will have a sewn and glued binding where the pages are permanently bound in the book. Pages cannot be added, however many such books have perforations that allow pages to be taken out to give more room for the bulkier items on the remaining pages.
  • Other – Other scrapbook bindings include rings, spiral, ribbon, or hand-made fasteners. Scrapbooks have become as individual as the person making them. If you try your hand at making your own album you will find that there is no limit to the ways that could potentially bind it, or the shapes and sizes that it could be.

Scrapbook Sizes

The size of the scrapbook determines how much room you will have on each page for photos, memorabilia, journaling, and embellishments. Your choices, generally, fall into these categories:

  • 12x12 Inches – 12x12 inch albums have become very popular and can be found in a wide variety of styles, colors, and designs. A 12x12 two-page spread can easily hold 10 or even more photos if needed. For ideas for adding many photos on scrapbook pages visit the 12x12 Sketch Gallery. Many people use a 12x12 album as their main family scrapbook.
  • 8 ½ x 11 Inches – 8 ½ x 11 inch albums are obviously slightly smaller overall than a 12x12 scrapbook. They hold fewer photos but also use less expensive sheets of paper. While not as popular as the 12x12 books, a large variety of 8 ½ x 11 books can be found at most local scrapbook stores. Some manufacturers have turned this album on its side and created an 11x8 ½ album.
  • 8x8 and 6x6 Inches – Following in the popularity of the 12x12 square scrapbook page design, 8x8 and 6x6 inch albums have become a very common choice for theme albums. These smaller books can be completed in a shorter amount of time. The square page seems to lend itself nicely to photos and journaling on a scrapbook page.
  • Other - Mini, theme, and hand-made scrapbooks can come in any size. You can make them yourself for find them made from metal tins, paper bags, or paper covered chipboard. These little books make great gifts and usually hold photos that revolve around one theme, event, or person.

    Rebecca’s Picks:

    After perusing all of the information on what albums are available you may feel no closer to knowing which ones to choose so I thought I would share with you which types of albums I use most often.

    • Family Albums – All of my general family-life albums have been in post-bound, 12x12 scrapbooks for years now. There are some many choices in manufacturer and colors that I can always find ones that I like. I prefer to be able to feel the album and the page protectors before I buy them to get an idea of the quality of workmanship and materials. Because I need to remove and add pages a lot when I use them for classes, I have recently been drawn more toward 3-ring bound albums. I am especially found of American Craft D-ring style 12x12 albums.
    • Individual Albums – Each of my children has his or her own 8x8 post-bound scrapbook to create page for. They each have a tote bag with supplies, so that when I am working they can pull out their stuff and work along side me without me having to stop what I am doing and get things out for them. When I sort photos, I pull some aside or print extras of ones that I think they would like in their books.
    • Theme Albums – I have a wide variety of different theme albums and mini books. In general, I love little 6x6 inch post-bound scrapbooks for pictures of a special trip or occasion.

    When you enter the scrapbook aisle of your local scrapbook or craft store, if you come armed with the knowledge of what style and size book you are looking for, your only choices you will have to make is picking out a manufacturer that you like based on the feel of the book and the protectors and selecting a color.