Making your own notepad is much easier than you think! This is a really fun project that requires minimal expense to get started. Making your own printables and notepads means you can customize them to your life and needs.

List of Materials

  • PVA Glue: This adhesive is the best option for joining the pages, offering a durable and flexible bind.
  • Alternatives to PVA Glue: If PVA Glue is unavailable, consider Mod Podge for a versatile bond, White Glue (e.g. Elmers) for something you may have laying around, or Tacky Glue for a quick-set option.
  • Paper: Any paper of your choice, standard A4 or letter paper works well for general notepads.
  • Cardboard: Chipboard is a great thickness for this project, but I just used a piece of thin corrugated cardboard I had saved from some project packaging. I used to save the cardboard from pantyhose packaging (does anyone wear those anymore??). This is used for the backing to give it a little sturdiness.

Tools for Notepad Making

  • Guillotine Paper Cutter: To achieve straight, clean cuts, a guillotine paper cutter is your tool of choice. If you plan to sell your notepads, you will want to invest in one of these.
  • Craft Paper Cutter: This creates straight lines better than scissors, but you can only do a couple pages at once. Best if you are just making these for yourself and it doesn’t need to be perfect.
  • Tip: Avoid using scissors as they are less likely to provide the straight lines needed for a professional-looking notepad.

Designing Your Notepad

Before you start crafting your notepad, consider how it will look and function. The size and the layout of the pages will depend on the use. In my simple tracker, I was able to fit four to a page. If I was making a grocery list, I may choose 2 vertical lists side by side on the page.

4 notepad pages laid out on a single page of paper

Planning the Layout of the Page

Next, outline the layout of the pages. Consider the following elements:

  • Header: Do you need a title or a date line?
  • Footer: Space for additional information, such as contact details or a logo, if making to sell
  • Margins: Setting adequate margins to frame the content. Allow room for decorations
  • Lines or Grids: Decide if you want lined, grid, dotted, or blank pages.

Using design software allows you to customize these elements efficiently. Remember to leave adequate space for binding on one side (usually the top edge.


Usually for home projects we don’t need to worry about bleed. Bleed is extending images over the edge of the page so that they are not cut off when printing.

In the example above, I included a border image to the edge of the page but needed to trim some white from around the edges. This is because not all home printers will allow you to print to the edge of the paper.

There are too many printers to give specific advice, so I recommend looking in your printer’s manual or print settings to select printing to the edge of the page if available.

You will also want to print at full size, don’t let it scale your image. Set up your document design to be the exact same size of paper as your printer. In North America this is Letter size (8.5″ x 11″) and the other common printer paper size is A4.

If your printer does not print to the edge, I recommend not putting any design elements or images that extend to the edge of the page.

Designing your pages

In this video, I show how to design a notepad in one of my favourite softwares, Affinity Designer. You can also design this in Canva, Adobe Express, InDesign, Publisher, Powerpoint, Google Slides…your choice.

Notepad Assembly

Now it’s time to print out your pages. To get a decent thickness that you are able to bind, you should aim for at least 20 pages (once cut to size). In my case, with 4 to a page, I would print a minimum of 5 copies.

As I talked about above, check your printer settings so it prints at full size. Also, enable print to the edges if available on your printer.

Cutting Paper to Size

Now you’ll need to cut your pages. Aim for uniformity in size to ensure a neat stack. If your are using a craft cutter like I did, do a few pages at a time, use the grids and guides to get things neat and even, and take your time. Mine turned out a little uneven because I didn’t want to be too slow for the video 🙂

  • Tip: Use a sharp paper cutter or guillotine for straight, clean cuts. If you don’t have a paper cutter, a ruler and a blade (e.g. Xacto knife) can work too. Paper actually dulls blades pretty quickly so if you are not getting clean cuts, it might be time to replace the blade.

Measure and mark your paper carefully, then make the cuts. Align each sheet to verify that all pages are of the exact same size—consistency is key. Once your stack of paper is cut, it should look uniform and tidy, ready for the next stage of notepad assembly.

Binding the Notepad

Proper binding ensures the longevity and functionality of your custom notepad. This section will guide you through choosing an appropriate binding method and then binding your pages together.

Selecting a Binding Method

For a traditional tear-away notepad, glue binding is the recommended option as it is simple and effective. Select a strong, flexible adhesive specifically designed for paper products to ensure the pages remain secure until they need to be removed.

PVA glue is used for bookbinding. It is an ideal choice and isn’t terribly expensive. I covered the alternatives at the beginning of this article.

Binding the Pages Together

  1. Collate your paper stack, making sure all edges are flush and that none of your pages are upside down.
  2. Clamp the stack along the top edge or apply steady pressure with heavy books or a book press
  3. Apply a thin layer of the adhesive across the top edge with a paintbrush
    • Be sure to cover the entire surface evenly.
  4. Allow the adhesive to dry thoroughly.
    • Applying a second coat may enhance durability.
  5. Once it is dry, remove the clamps and test the binding

Inspecting the Notepad for Defects

  • Edges: Check that all pages are neatly aligned and that there are no sheets sticking out. Inconsistent edges can be trimmed for a clean finish.
  • Binding: The adhesive binding should be firm and consistent. Confirm there’s no excess glue causing pages to stick together unnecessarily. Tear off a page to check that it comes off easily, but not too easily. There should be some slight resistance to starting the tear.
  • Pages: Flip through the pages. They should turn easily without falling out. Watch for misprinted or blank pages that need removal.

Go Further: Customizing Your Notepad

Part of the fun of creating your own notepad is you can use designs and elements that are uniquely you. Whether it’s for personal use or a gift, customization turns a simple notepad into something special.

Adding Personal Touches

To add personal touches to your notepad:

  1. Choose a font that matches your personality or brand. For example, a sleek sans-serif for a modern look or a script font for elegance.
  2. Consider monogramming your initials at the top of each page for a classic personalization.
  3. Incorporate color schemes that resonate with you, whether they be bold and vibrant or soft and pastel.
  4. Use personalized watermarks or borders on each page.

Decorating the Notepad

When it comes to decorating your notepad:

  • Add stickers or stamps that represent your interests or style.
  • Create a theme for your notepad. For example, botanicals for garden enthusiasts or astronomical elements for space lovers.
  • Apply images or doodles at the corners of the pages that you can enjoy every time you take notes. You can draw these yourself in Procreate (awesome iPad app)