Choosing an Album

scrapbook projectThe one question I often hear from new and beginning scrapbookers is this: What kind of album should I choose? My answer? There are a few things to consider before you buy!

  • Album theme: Will this be a general family album, or a theme-specific book, like a baby book?
  • Album contents: Do you have a lot of photos/memorabilia, or just a few?
  • Personal style: Do you want to stick to the basics of photos and journaling, or do you want to add lots of embellishments?

Another question I hear is: Do all of my albums need to be the same, for the sake of lining them up on a shelf? Only if it’s important to you.

Many scrapbookers will choose different albums for different purposes. A general family album that includes all your family activities might be a 12”x12” three-ring binder, while a photos from a week-long vacation might be in an 81/2”x11” post-bound book. A gift album for Grandma could be a 5”x7” scrapbook. There are a variety of albums on the market, so let’s take a look at the most popular:

The 12”x12” Album
The most popular and most readily available album size is 12”x12”. You can fit several photos, plus lots of journaling and memorabilia or embellishments on a single page. You can find lots of 12”x12” papers to use as backgrounds. Most of the page ideas shown in idea books and magazines are 12”x12”.

It’s perfect for a general family album, when you have a lot of photos and memorabilia, or if you really like to embellish and decorate your pages. This size of album is available as strap, post-bound or three-ring, which I’ll talk about a bit later.

The 8.5”x11” Album
An 81/2”x11” album page will give you enough room for one or two photos, some journaling and minimal embellishments. You can find 81/2”x11” patterned paper, although it’s not as widely available as 12”x12”—or you can simply cut 12”x12” paper down to fit. These are available as post-bound or three-ring.

An 81/2”x11” album is a great choice for scrapbooking a vacation, school year for a child, or topical albums like home remodeling or even for a pet. This size is also nice for heritage books, when you typically have fewer photos, or smaller photos.

The Smaller Albums
scrapbook project

An 8”x8”, 6”x6” or 5”x7”” album is popular as a gift book or very specific theme scrapbook. They make wonderful gift books for teachers, coaches and grandparents or to scrapbook a child’s school photos. You can fit one 4”x6” photo on a page, so you might want to crop photos down to fit more per page, or simply put one photo on a page and include journaling on the opposite page. These are often post-bound.

So what’s my favorite? I personally use a 12”x12” three-ring binder for my scrapbook. I like the versatility and ease of the binder. I can insert finished pages on one side and a photo holder on the other side. And it’s easy to move pages around so I don’t necessarily have to work in chronological order.

Different Bindings:
There are three basic types of album binding, and it’s all a matter of personal preference.

  • Post-bound albums: These albums come with black or white cardstock pages covered by sheet protectors; the pages are bound into the album with three metal posts that can be taken out so you can add pages or move them around. I pull out the cardstock and replace it with my page.
  • Strap-hinge albums: These albums have flexible plastic straps in the cover that run through wire loops on one edge of each page.
  • 3-ring binders or D-ring binders: These are just like the binders you used in school—a simple 3-ring center means you can add or switch around pages easily. A D-ring allows pages to lie flat. The best thing is that you can fit a lot of pages into a 3-ring binder.

Whatever album style you choose, you’ll also want sheet protectors to cover the pages. Many albums come with 10 or 12 blank pages covered by sheet protectors. You can purchase additional refills. Sheet protectors keep fingerprints, smudges and spills from damaging your photos—and all your hard work!

A 12”x12” album will sell for anywhere from $20.00 and up, depending on the cover. An 81/2”x11” album generally sells for $15.00-$20.00, while smaller books will be about $10.00. The price will depend on the type of cover—as you shop, you’ll find lots of choices on covers, from leather-bound to fabric-covered, to easy-clean vinyl. They all come in a range of colors too.

Where Can You Find Albums?
You can find good-quality scrapbook albums at any scrapbook store. If you’ve never been to a scrapbook store, check your online Yellow Pages or shopping directory to find one in your area. You can also check Hot Off The Press’ Find Your Retailer section to locate a store near you. The staff at the store can give you personalized service and help you select your album.

Craft stores also carry albums, as do photo supply shops and photo processing stores. Paper Wishes catalog carries a variety of albums, too: check to see.

LeNae Gerig is the author of LeNae’s Scrapbooking Basics and LeNae’s 30-Minute Scrapbook Pages. She’s known as a “realistic” scrapper because she wants to create great pages quickly and easily. She is the host of and contributes regular monthly columns and layouts.

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