I have a bunch of paper memorabilia which would like to bind into a book. The challenge is that there are two types of pages, each type having a slightly different size; and the pages interleave. I don't want to cut them to the smaller size - there is virtually no margin space on the smaller pages.

Is there a binding technique I can use? How do I even align the block? (the problem is that smaller pages are free-floating between larger ones)

I was thinking about going page by page and manually gluing each one to align. After that I would use one of the standard book-binding techniques to form a strong spine (e.g double fan or notched-spine). But maybe there is a better way?

Two types of pages (smaller white and slightly larger yellow): two types of pages

Block: block

Update: described the problem with the algnment, clarified that I meant to use glue to help with that part only, and mentioned the planned ways to form the spine.

  • 1
    Are they double sided or single? If (mostly) the latter, a scrapbooking approach might be a better option; there are pockets available for occasional double sided sheets.
    – Chris H
    Nov 29, 2019 at 7:24
  • Mostly single sided. Some of the notes pages have writings on the back occasionally. Can you please clarify what exactly do you mean by scrapbooking? I have no experience with it.
    – vitaly
    Nov 29, 2019 at 7:26
  • It's not really my thing, but I've done a little as a way of keeping photos and other items in a holiday in a journal. I'm sure there are people here who are keen, and much more knowledgeable about techniques and products. At its most basic, it's about sticking (usually permanently but not necessarily) flattish memorabilia etc. into a ready made book, which can be quite fancy or rather plain. Annotating and decorating the pages is common.
    – Chris H
    Nov 29, 2019 at 7:33
  • 1
    Matches my (superficial) understanding - thanks! Sounds like it would be a rather degenerate case of scrapbooking. Although it got me thinking that maybe I can bind the yellow pages and use it as a "ready made book" for scrapbooking involving the smaller white pages.
    – vitaly
    Nov 29, 2019 at 7:38
  • Another consideration for a scrapbooking approach: there are acid-free / “archival” papers and glues available if the materials being collected and preserved are precious.
    – Laurent R.
    Nov 29, 2019 at 9:13

5 Answers 5


A Comparison of Two Possible Solutions:

Binding the larger papers, scrapbooking the smaller ones: You have thought of the unconventional idea of binding the larger memorabilia pages and then using scrapbooking techniques to secure the smaller pages within that bound book. Unfortunately, it is possible that the bulk that would be added with this technique could be prohibitive, depending on how many smaller pages there are. For example, if you were to interleave one piece of paper in each gutter of any random bound book, you would have effectively doubled the number of pages, and the book would neither close nor lay normally: overstuffed book

I used the term “unconventional” for your idea, because it would be out of the ordinary to bind the documents you are trying to preserve, as this would irreversibly alter them. The more traditional approach would be to affix the items to archival (lignin / acid free) album pages.

Proposed Alternative: Traditional Scrapbooking in a Post-Bound Album: In agreement with @ChrisH, below is a list of “pros” for a scrapbooking approach (which is, the use of adhesive or mounting corners to adhere your memorabilia to album pages.)

I am specifically recommending Post-Bound albums, which have special expandable bindings that use 2 or 3 metal binding posts (screw heads on both ends of a post, one stationary, one moveable) to tightly hold the pages between the front and back covers. Using an album with three posts is much sturdier for a thick, heavy project.

post-bound schematic at amazon

empty post-bound album

spines of post-bound albums


  • One can easily achieve the look of a bound book, even on the back of the spine.

  • Post-Bound scrapbook bindings are expandable, allowing for the addition of more pages by changing to longer post screws.The longest posts I found are these 60 mm posts on the Michael’s website.

  • The integrity of the memorabilia can not only be preserved, but they can be protected from further damage.

  • Pages with contents on both sides can be placed in page protector pocket sleeves or in photo sleeves so that both sides are visible.

  • By not binding the larger memorabilia pieces, one can tap into archival methods for mounting materials:

  • You can customize the size and weight of album paper to what is best suited to your materials:

    • SIZES of Scrapbooking paper: The two main sizes for a project such as yours are 12” x 12”, and 8.5” x 11”. 12” x 12” seems more economical, as you can fit in more objects per page. Also there are more choices of paper in the 12” x 12” size. Cons of 12” x 12” are that it is more expensive per page, and that there is a wider selection of binders in the 8.5” x 11” size.

    • WEIGHT of album paper: This is measured as the fixed weight of 500 sheets of said paper, stacked, then measured in pounds. A stack of 500 sheets of copy paper, for example, weighs about 20 lbs. Therefore, standard copy paper has a listed weight of 20 lbs. (This is the U.S. measurement system. It is measured by GSM in Europe and other parts of the world.)

  • Categories of paper by weight:
    • 10-55 lbs: Light weight paper
    • 55-85 lbs: Medium weight paper
    • 85-120 lbs: Heavy weight paper
    • 120 lbs and up: Extra heavy weight paper

  • Choosing the best weight of paper for your application: I think 60 to 80 lb paper would probably be your best range:
    • 20 lbs: Jot a note, make a copy.
    • 35 lbs: Print double-sided without it showing through on the other side; no embellishments.
    • 60-65 lbs: Heavier than copy paper, but won’t be holding very many embellishments or liquid adhesives; a common weight for lighter patterned scrapbook paper, drawing paper, and lightweight card stock.
    • 80 lbs: A base for a card or a sturdy layout page involving liquid adhesives, embellishments, and some mixed media elements; the weight of business cards.
    • 90-110 lbs: High quality invitations or announcements; a heavy, high quality cardstock, accommodates heavy embellishments, paints, paste, ink, mixed media.
    • 110 lb paper: Standard for cards with lots of embellishments.
    • 140 lbs: For watercolor painting and mixed media inks; a thick, heavy paper, will buckle or warp much less than lighter papers when wet; holds weighty embellishments.

  • Although archival scrapbooking materials can be expensive, decent products are out there in an affordable range, especially if you maintain a simple design, which seems to be your intent. When I was new to scrapbooking, the biggest challenge was dealing with the overwhelming quantity of choices. Going into this project with as clear and specific an idea as possible on what you want the final product to look like will help prevent information overload. Here is an excellent article for beginning scrapbookers, which was a source for quite a bit of the information above, and includes compelling rationale for use of archival materials.

  • Scrapbooking techniques are very straightforward for a project such as yours. Really once you have researched and chosen your materials, the rest of the task will not require much of a learning curve at all, nor a lot of special equipment, which would both be the case if you were to go the bound book route.


Thanks everyone for great suggestions. I learned something new from each one of them and intend to use the learnings in my future projects.

For this one, I ended up doing it my own way. I am happy to report that it worked out quite well.

enter image description here

First, I built a simple rig (what a big word for what it actually is) - basically a shallow cardboard box tilted so one of the corners is pointed down. I manually (with the help of gravity) positioned each one of the 225 pages into the rig and aligned them with the walls of the box. No matter the page size, they all shared that position in the corner.

enter image description here

That produced a reasonably aligned block that I chose not to cut. After clipping the block in place with giant office clips I was able to take it out and manipulate further. (I used double fan adhesive binding - with PVA and fabric - to create a surprisingly strong spine. I then made a cover and glued the two together. I am especially pleased with how the lining paper turned out!)

enter image description here

  • That looks really nice! So the spine is just the stack of paper glued together, without an additional strip of paper or cloth? And is the cover made of cardboard?
    – Joachim
    Jan 18, 2020 at 11:02
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    Thank you! I did use a strip of cheesecloth for the spine. I followed youtu.be/RO6NGw8oNCQ and youtu.be/uHFV3aAMBjw to make the block. The cover is made of cardboard from the back of a notebook, inspired by instructables.com/id/How-to-bind-your-own-Hardback-Book The outer part of the cover is made out of a Staples hanging file folder.
    – vitaly
    Jan 19, 2020 at 5:58

From experience I know that glued books a disaster. Sooner or later, the pages will fly freely again. So I actually recommend against just gluing.

I can see some options, none of them really perfect.

  1. Use a sheet puncher. Add the sheets to a folder or a binder. While the binder is actually more awkward, it allows for easier page turning.

  2. Add each sheet to a plastic sleeve. Add the plastic sleeves to a folder or to a binder.

I actually use option 2 for several purposes, when I need to keep documents organized: medical papers, job related stuff (e.g. contracts), proofs of purchase, proofs of payment...

You can imagine that those papers come in all shapes and sizes. But the sleeves accept anything, and order is restored.

  • I was thinking to use glue just for the alignment and then create a spine. Puncher would destroy parts of the notes (there are no margins). Sleeves sound like a practical approach, but I would really like a book; besides, I would need a few hundred of sleeves and ideally they should match the larger page format.
    – vitaly
    Nov 29, 2019 at 7:03
  • The punching machines for spine-ing usually align the papers for you - if you use them properly. Maybe give us some information why the machine is not helpful with this.
    – virolino
    Nov 29, 2019 at 7:06
  • I don't have any experience with punching machines, so likely missing something. But the problem with manual alignment is that the smaller pages don't have any protruding edges that I can push to align. Instead, they are sandwiched between the larger pages. Also, the pages had been folded, so there are creases left even after the press, which does not help with sliding the pages against each other - they tend to stuck.
    – vitaly
    Nov 29, 2019 at 7:14
  • Ah!, I understand what you mean. My idea was that you punch them one by one, or you punch them grouped according to size. After that, you reorder them properly and bind them.
    – virolino
    Nov 29, 2019 at 8:38

Bookbinding in the traditional sense is a painstaking process that requires you to cut the edges of your pages. I once saw a documentary explaining the process (I'll try to find a video or reference later).

  1. The pages are cut slightly biggher that the book should become
  2. The pages are aligned (you'll never be able to perfectly align every single page), pressed tightly together and the edges are cut from the block to give all pages the same size
  3. A special glue is applied to the freshly cut and still-pressed-together edge that faces the spine. This glue must be viscous enough not to seep into the paper and stay flexible after drying
  4. A strip of fabric is pressed to the glued edge to hold the pages together
  5. The block of pages is released from the press after the glue dried and subsequently fixed between book covers.

What you plan to do (glueing the edges of paper sheets together) yields a result like a cheap sketch pad that looses pages after being turned a few times. Every paper that wasn't perfectly aligned and has no contact with the glue falls out immediately. Or even worse: the glue seeps into the pages and you won't be able to turn them individually anymore and lose the information written at the egde anyway.

As mentioned in several comments and answers, your best bet is to take an existing book and attach the papers to the pages scrapbook-style or put them in plastic sleeves.

  • I understand some of the basics of bookbinding. (I have bound maybe 10 books although they all had "standard" same-sized pages). In my original post, I meant to use glue to help me align the block before I strengthen the spine (there are ways to do it, e.g. the double fan method or sawing grooves in the spine and putting glue soaked twines there). I don't mind cutting the block to make the edge smooth, I just don't want to cut the large pages down to small page size.
    – vitaly
    Nov 29, 2019 at 21:12
  • I updated the original post to clarify the ambiguous parts
    – vitaly
    Nov 29, 2019 at 21:33

An option I've often used is self-adhesive binder strips. They're typically about 1" wide clear mylar that's pre-punched with standard looseleaf holes on one edge and an adhesive strip on the other. You stick it onto the edge of the document. There are a few styles available like these:

enter image description here Source: Amazon

enter image description here Source: Amazon

For small items, you can cut the strip to a shorter size and use just two of the binder rings.

  • Very interesting option, thanks! The only two downsides I can see are the price and the labor need to attach pages one by one. Still not too bad.
    – vitaly
    Nov 29, 2019 at 21:21

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