Computer Journaling

Okay, maybe you have a lot to write on your scrapbook page. Maybe you hate your handwriting. Or maybe you want perfectly spaced, perfectly spelled and perfectly tidy journaling. Whatever the case, I have the solution for you: Computer journaling.

What is Journaling?

scrapbook project
LeNae used a script font to journal her text, using a larger version of the same font for her page title. Page from Design Elements.

Journaling means writing the details that accompany the photos on your scrapbook page. It’s capturing more than just the names and dates behind the photos, it’s recording the stories, the conversations and the memories that go with those photos. It's the difference between a scrapbook and a photo album!

What is Computer Journaling?
Computer journaling is simply typing your journaling on your computer, printing it onto acid-free paper from your home printer, cutting it to size and gluing it to your scrapbook page. You need a computer and a printer--that's it!

Benefits of Computer Journaling
I have terrible handwriting and would never handwrite journaling for my scrapbook pages. For one thing, you couldn’t read it. And if you could read it, you’d find all kinds of spelling errors. That’s the main reason I computer journal—it’s tidier and I can run the spell check! And I find I write more when I computer journal…it seems to take off some of the pressure.

Speaking of having a lot to say: The other benefit of computer journaling is the amount of text you can fit on a page. Typewritten text is smaller than handwritten, which means you can fit that story or anecdote onto your page easily.

You can also play around with the fonts, line spacing and justification of the type—all on your home computer! You can center the text, add a headline in a larger font, bold or italicize words and make the text block fit perfectly onto your page.

Choosing & Using Fonts

scrapbook project
LeNae used a fun font, emphasizing some words by typing them in all caps. Page from Design Elements.

There are a LOT of fonts out there to choose from...and it can be really easy to get a little font crazy! But before you start downloading all kinds of fonts onto your computer, take a look at the fonts that you already have. Chances are, you've already got a nice selection. My must-have font styles are:

  • A kidsy font for kid pages or any time you want a more playful look. Kidprint is perfect; Comic is another fun look.
  • A typewriter-style font that looks great on masculine pages, heritage layouts or when you want a simple, classic font. Try American Typewriter or Courier.
  • An artsy font for travel pages or “grown-up” layouts. Papyrus is my favorite.
  • A scripty font for weddings, anniversaries or special occasion pages as well as heritage. This could be a calligraphy style or something more contemporary. Just make sure it’s easy to read! Café Mini is a great choice.

Remember, legibility is your first priority when choosing a font!

My other must-have font styles are pretty traditional. I need to have a casual font for everyday pages, such as Arial, Times New Roman, Palatino and Helvetica. These basic fonts generally come installed on your computer. The reason they come already installed is because they’re popular and easy-to-read—so take advantage of what you already have before searching all over for fonts that look cool but aren’t really that practical.

Paper Choice
I always print my journaling onto acid-free paper or lightweight acid-free cardstock. The key here is acid-free. Pretty much any paper you find at a scrapbook store will be acid-free; all Paper Pizazz® paper and cardstock is acid-free.

In general, you'll want to use lighter colors of paper; I use a lot of ivory and white for my journaling so the type shows up better. You’ll also want a lighter weight paper or cardstock that’s smooth. Textured or very heavy cardstock won't easily go through the computer printer, so save that for matting or tearing.

Computer Journaling 12” Paper
Most of the time I journal onto an 8.5”x11” sheet of paper or lightweight cardstock. After all, it’s the standard paper size and easily fits into my printer tray. But you’re not limited to 8.5”x11” paper!

You can journal on 12”x12” paper. Trim down the 12” sheet to 12”x8.5” so it fits in your printer tray. You can computer journal a headline to read across the top of your 12” page by going to the File section at the top of your menu bar, clicking Page Set Up and choosing the Landscape setting in the Orientation options.

What if you found the perfect piece of paper for your journaling—but it’s just a 4” scrap? You can still journal on it! Print out your journaling onto computer paper, then make sure the text will fit onto your leftover piece. Place the smaller paper piece on top of the text you printed onto the computer paper. If your smaller paper is a lighter weight, you can hold both up to a light or a window so you can get the smaller piece of paper aligned just where you want it. Tape it down, placing a small piece of regular clear tape at the top two corners. Then place it in your printer tray and print. (Trust me, it works—although the first time I did it I was terrified I would jam the printer!)

scrapbook project
Cut apart computer-journaled text blocks. When I have a lot of journaling to include on a page, I break it up into sections. It makes the text more inviting to read and gives me more choices for fitting them onto my page. Page from Scrapbook Recipes for Journaling.

Fitting Journaling Onto Your Paper
I always print out my journaling onto a regular piece of computer paper before I print it onto my one sheet of perfectly-matching specialty paper. That way I can see how it fits onto my layout, check for any mistakes and make any corrections.

Fitting Journaling Onto Your Page

One great thing about computer journaling is that you can size your text to fit your scrapbook page. When scrapbooking, I choose my background paper, mat my photos and arrange everything on the page—then I fit the journaling in.

So whether you have a lot to write on your scrapbook page, you hate your handwriting or you want perfectly tidy journaling—computer journaling just might be the solution for you!

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