How To Create A Basic Scrapbook

The Tombow Mono-Adhesive Dispenser is a popular choice for scrapbooking.
The Tombow Mono-Adhesive Dispenser is a popular choice for scrapbooking.

Scrapbooking has become a huge and extremely popular hobby in the last decade. The proliferation of scrapbooking supplies, tutorials, stores, and classes can be a little overwhelming for non-scrapbookers.

Maybe you just want to create a memento book for some of your ephemera – ticket stubs, winning ribbons, fortune cookie fortunes, etc. These things don’t fit easily into a photo album, but you want to keep them anyway! A basic scrapbook is just what you’re looking for.

When you’re shopping for items for your basic scrapbook, don’t cheap out! Inferior products, or products which are not specifically designed for scrapbooking, can damage your mementos. Resist the urge to use the construction paper and Elmer’s glue you already own.

You’re creating something to be passed down through the generations. It’s worth the extra expense to ensure that your keepsakes won’t be tarnished, faded, yellowed, or otherwise damaged by non-archival supplies.

12x12 or 8x8 post-bound scrapbook album

To begin with, you need the album itself. Most scrapbook albums come in standard sizes, either 12x12 or 8x8. Choose one of these sizes, to make it easiest to find supplies now and in the future.

A post-bound book is one where the back cover has posts, and all the pages and the front cover slide onto the posts. You may be familiar with this as a style of photo album that was popular a while ago. Post-bound books give you plenty of room for expansion, and fit nicely on your shelf.

Choose the cover that you like the best. For a basic scrapbook I would usually go with a plain black cover, like an old-style photo album.

The album will come with page protectors inside. These are sleeves, into which you slip your actual scrapbook pages. Be sure that these sleeves are archival quality, so that they don’t damage your keepsakes.

Archival Papers

Next you need to buy the paper you’ll actually attach your keepsakes to. There is a bewildering variety of scrapbook paper available! For a basic scrapbook you will want to choose a plain paper in a neutral color, without any patterning. This way the background paper won’t steal focus from your treasures.

As with the scrapbook album sleeves, be sure that the paper is listed as “acid free” and “archival quality.” This will keep your treasures from yellowing or being damaged.

You may also want a light-colored paper, which you can use to create labels and explanatory text.


Next, you need a way to attach your mementos to the page. Depending on what you have, you may want glue, tape, and stick-on photo corners. I recommend buying one of each, so that you’re equipped to handle whatever kind of keepsake you need to attach.

If you plan to include a lot of photographs, get a photo tab dispenser. This is like a tape dispenser which puts out tiny squares of double-sided tape, perfect for photographs. You can put one tab in each corner of your photograph and easily attach it to your page. And if you decide to remove the photograph later, it will come off easily.

All three items should be labeled as being specific to scrapbooking use. This will ensure that they won’t damage your keepsakes. Everything should be labeled “archival quality.”

Here’s what NOT to use: Elmer’s glue, rubber cement, or regular (non-scrapbooking) glue sticks.

Assembling Your Scrapbook

For each page, lay out all your elements first without using adhesive. This way you can rearrange the items on the page until you’re absolutely certain you have everything the way you want it.

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