I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Notebooking 101: Different Types of Notebooks {with a video}

Notebooking 101: Different Types of Notebooks {with a vlog} The Unlikely Homeschool

As I mentioned in part 1 of this series (The What and Why of Notebooking), notebooking starts with a notebook. But from there, notebooking can take on many forms. One glimpse down the stationary aisles of Target will tell you that there are a plethora of different types of notebooks and journals...all of which are perfect for creating a one-of-a-kind learning treasure. In addition, there are many different ways to create your own notebook without having to purchase one at a store.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.) 

Here are just a few samples of different kinds of notebooking projects that we have created in our homeschool. Please know that I am not suggesting these are the ONLY ways or the BEST ways to make notebooks. These are just a few samples of the ways WE have done it. Experiment with these and others to create your own unique style of notebooking. (Quick aside: In the video, I refer to a "steno" notebook. It is actually a composition notebook. Oops!)

As I mentioned in the video, there are a few different types of notebooks. Here are some pros and cons of each as well as some links to help you create a similar project with your kids.

3-ring binder style 


  • Most pre-fabbed printable notebook pages are formatted for 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper which is perfect for a 3-ring binder.
  • You can add pages throughout the notebooking process. So, you don't necessarily have to worry about having all the elements in place before beginning the notebook.
  • You can rearrange pages to accommodate for any changes you wish to make in the notebook.
  • You can remove pages if you make a mistake or just don't like an element that you had originally included.
  • You are not limited to a particular amount of pages for your notebook.
  • You can include pocket folders, plastic protective covers, DVD sleeves, etc.


  • Often, the pages begin to tear away from the binder.
  • Most people have a tendency to only include pre-fabbed notebooking pages which sometimes discourages organic journaling additions.

Steno/Composition style


  • They are easy to store from year-to-year because they are a standard size and thickness to them.
  • Lots of lines create lots of room for the organic narration of a topic.


  • The book/journal will come with a pre-set number of pages that you can not add or detract from.
  • Oftentimes creating a rough draft is necessary so that you can be sure to have a polished narration in the notebook. There's no really successful way to remove mistakes.
  • The arrangement of the pages is set in stone. You can not rearrange the elements within the notebook.
  • The binding prohibits you from adding many bulkier elements like pocket folders or collection envelopes to your notebook.  

Spiral/Comb-bound style


  • If you create this type of notebook yourself at an office supply store, you have the benefit of looking at a year's worth/unit's worth of notebooking pages as a whole and selecting only the ones that have long-term merit.
  • The spiral binding style makes it easy for you to fold the pages back and have a smooth writing surface.
  • You are not limited to an 8 1/2 x 11 size. You can create a much smaller or larger notebook to fit your needs.
  • A project that was not initially designed to be a notebook can be turned into one by just compiling it together and having it bound.


  • You can't always add bulkier elements or keepsakes.
  • Once the notebook has been made, there is no adding or detracting after the fact.

Hybrid style


  • The options for hybrid notebooking are limitless. If you have a writing portion and an illustrated portion, you can consider it notebooking.
  • Smaller projects completed in a short time span can be perfect for notebooking newbies or those with a limited attention span.
  • Smaller hybrid notebooks can be combined into a larger format such as a lapbook or binder at the end of the year to create a cohesive whole.
  • Smaller notebooks are generally more portable and can be tucked into a purse or backpack for on-the-go learning.
  • You don't have to focus on every aspect of a topic, just the one aspect that interests you.  


  • You can not see a lot of progression in your skill level with a short-term project.
  • These types of notebooks have to be created. You rarely find these available for purchase and ready to be personalized.
  • They are more difficult to store as they don't always file nicely on a shelf.

Other helpful links

How to create a fact fan
How to make a tri-fold lapbook
Creating a simple ABC book-ABC printable pages
Simple alphabet picture book

More on notebooking

Over the next few weeks, I will be continuing our discussion on notebooking in homeschool. I hope you'll join me as we consider...


  1. We've never tried notebooking before but are going to add it in this year. Thank you for this rundown of the different types... now to decide!

  2. do you have the printable for the bird book - love the size of this one - great for nature studies.

    1. Unfortunately, the printable he made for that ended up on a different computer that eventually crashed. So sorry.

  3. You are such an encouragement! We will begin our first year of homeschooling this fall (pre-k level). Your site has become a go-to for me!

    I'm having trouble finding the primary school steno notebooks (With drawing space). Where did you find yours? Online?

    1. Yay! I found them this afternoon at Staples!

    2. Oh, I'm glad. I found mine at Walmart. Office Max has them also.

  4. Your information is FANTASTIC. Thank you.... love your videos... we've been doing notebooking for a long time but I'm hoping to expand on it this year even more... the hard part is encouraging non-writer/non-creative types (my eldest son!) to engage in notebooking.... tough! I think my children need to start creative writing journals this year... :) Cass @ TheUnpluggedFamily.com

    1. I have one of those too, Cassandra. For him, I just have to remember that the drawing portion can be the biggest feature in the notebook. He learns through pictures. And that's OK.

  5. We are starting our notebooking adventures this year! How do you find images or get magazines for the notebooks?

  6. We started notebooking this year with history and science. We all enjoy it, even my reluctant writer. I am wondering though, do you just do one notebook with all subjects, or one notebook for each subject?

    1. You can do it either way. We prefer to have separate notebooks. With the exception of a specific topic, we usually only notebook for history, science, and art history.