How to Make a Sketchbook

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE little sketchbooks & notebooks. There's always one in my bag and I use them for everything (to do lists, drawing, address book, jot down a quick idea, etc.). They are super easy to make and are great to have on hand. 

I’m going to show you how to make a sketchbook/notebook that is 4”x5” but you can use these steps to make any size little book.


Heavy weight paper (for the cover)
X-acto knife
Push pin
Paper creaser (or any flat edge)


supplies for making a notebook: ruler, paper, pencil, x-acto knife, paper creaser, staples, binder clips


I’m using scrap paper for this notebook because I’ll be using it to jot down quick notes/ideas. But you can use any kind of paper you like - feel free to use drawing paper or printer paper - whatever you have is great.

It’s not an exact science but about 12 - 15 pages works well for this size sketchbook/notebook.

Start by cutting your paper down to the correct size - for a 4"x5" notebook, the paper needs to be 8"x5". 

Next, fold your paper in half using a paper creaser or a flat edge. In book binding they use a bone paper creaser (most are probably plastic) but any flat edge will work (butterknife, ruler, etc).


hand folding and creasing paper

Then open your pages back up and stack them.


hands holding a stack of creased papers




You’ll want to use a slightly heavier paper for the cover, like scrapbook paper, chipboard, cardstock, or any other heavy weight paper you have. You can use blank cardstock, draw/paint your own designs, or use a paper that already has a pattern on it, like scrapbook paper.


A stack of creased paper, a paper creaser, and a sheet of cardstock

Cut your cover to match the size of your paper, then fold and crease it just like we did above with the sheets of paper.


hands folding paper in half with paper creaser


Open the cover back up and stack your cover on top of the papers.



With your pages and cover stacked together, use binder clips to clip everything together on both ends, making sure the edges line up neatly.


A stack of paper clipped together with binder clips at each end


Next, we'll mark where the staples will go. I’m going to use two staples but for larger notebooks/sketchbooks you might need three (or more). 

I want my staples to be 1" in from the top and bottom edge. So I'll measure in 1" and make a dot, then measure the length of the staple and make a second dot. 


using a ruler to measure and make marks on a stack of paper


Do this again on the opposite end. 


stack of paper with marks to measure where staples will go


Use a push pin to make a hole at each dot you marked (make sure it goes all the way through to the cover).


pushpin going through a stack of paper


Starting from the cover side, push your staple all the way through.

hand pushing a staple into a stack of paper

staples sticking out of a stack of paper


Use a flat edge to fold the staples over.


hand pushing over staples with a ruler

stack of paper stapled together

*If you have a long-armed stapler then you could obviously skip this part and just use a stapler. Just make sure the flat part of the staple faces out (cover side).



Remove the clips and fold your notebook closed. The pages won't line up and will stick out past the cover - this is called page creep - don't worry, we're about to fix that. 


closed notebook, pages stick out past the cover edge


Place your ruler at the edge of the cover.  You want to cut the jagged edge of the paper but not the cover, so line your ruler up right at the edge of the cover.


handing holding ruler against edge of notebook


Use one hand to hold the ruler in place and the other to slowly cut through all the paper layers using an X-acto knife. You won’t get through all the layers in one pass - just hold the ruler steady and take your time. It might take several passes but you’ll get through all the layers.


hands cutting a stack of paper using a ruler and an x-acto knife

Round Corners (totally optional)

I love rounded corners so I went through and used this little paper punch to round all the corners. Not necessary but I like how it looks.


rounding the corners of a notebook with a small paper cutter

small handmade notebook with an avocado print on the cover

side view of a small notebook


And that's it - it's super easy and you don't need any special tools or fancy paper - just use what you've got on hand and have fun!