DIY Notebook Ideas – How I make my own notebooks and planners

DIY Notebook Ideas - How I make my own notebooks and planners

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Are you looking for DIY Notebook ideas? I am someone who LOVES paper, pens, notebooks, and planners. I am also someone who loves magic and I want my notebooks, journals, and planners to FEEL magical in some way. So I started making my own custom notebooks and I want to share how I do this in case anyone else would like to create their own as well. In this article, I walk through my step-by-step process at a high level.

High-Level Process

  • Create my notebook page manuscript in Canva.
  • Design my notebook cover in Canva using graphics that I purchased online.
  • Self-publish my notebook on Amazon KDP as a “low-content” notebook.
  • Purchase the notebook and have it shipped to my house.

Creating the Interior Pages

  • First, I decide on how I want the pages inside the notebook to be set up. Here are common options for notebooks:
    • Lined pages
    • Alternating lined and mostly blank pages
    • Dotted grid pages
  • Decide the notebook size and how many pages I want the notebook or journal to be.
    • Common notebook sizes are:
      • 8.5” x 11”
      • 7.5” x 9.25”
      • 6” x 9”
      • 5” x 8”
    • My notebooks are often between 100 and 150 pages
  • Next, I will create the manuscript for the notebook in Canva
    • I start a new document and make sure the page size or dimensions are correct. For example, if I am creating a notebook that is 8.5 x 11 I will set up the Canva document to be 8.5 x 11.
    • I do recommend setting up the view so you can see the margins so when you design the manuscript you can make sure to keep your lines within the margins. This will help prevent errors when you go to submit the manuscript for print.
    • I design the pages exactly how I want them. So for example, if I am creating lined pages, I will create a lined page and then duplicate the page the exact number of times needed to reach the page number of the notebook (e.g., 120 pages, etc)
    • I save the document as a PDF (best for printing)

Creating the Cover

  • So two things are needed to create a notebook cover in Canva – 1) Accurate specs or dimensions for the cover and  2) Graphics or design ideas.
  • Finding the dimensions (or specs) for the notebook cover.  This is important because if you are making a notebook that is 8.5” x 11” the cover dimensions will be a little bit bigger to accommodate a manuscript during the printing process.
    • I use a FREE KDP Cover generator to obtain a cover template that includes the exact dimensions needed to set up the cover in Canva so it is the correct size for printing. Here is the link to the website that I use – CLICK HERE.
    • The KDP Cover generator needs the following information to create the cover template:
      • Is your book hard cover or soft cover? (for notebooks and the process I use you will want to select soft cover)
      • Width of the book (i.e., 8.5)
      • Length of the book (i.e., 11)
      • Number of pages (i.e., 120 pages)
      • Paper type – Select “white”
    • Once you input the information above and provide your email address the template will be emailed to you as a PDF and a PNG file.
  • Setting up the notebook cover document in Canva.
    • When you open the template that you received via email, at the top left-hand corner of the template you will see the dimensions you need to set up your file in Canva. It will say “Page Layout Size = Full Bleed Size” and under that, it will say “the full cover size including bleed”. You will use the dimensions that you see there for your notebook cover document in Canva.
  • Designing the Cover in Canva
    • Creative Market – (LINK) is the place that I go to find designs that I love. They have an amazing selection and many of the collections offer design examples. You really don’t have to be a graphic design artist to create something you love.
    • You will upload the elements (jpg or png files) from the collection that you purchased from Creative Market to Canva. I like to save them in a separate folder so they are organized and easy to find. 
    • These files can then be used within Canva to create a notebook cover design that you love.

How I Self-Publish

  • I have been publishing my notebooks, journals, and planners on Amazon KDP which is Amazon’s print-on-demand self-publishing service. The biggest reason is because I find the process to be easy. The other compelling reason is that once my low-content notebook is published, others may come across it and decide they want it too! And when they buy the notebook, I will get a small royalty.
  • I eventually do want to create a planner and publish it in a more professional pathway and will research my options for going that route. For now, Amazon KDP helps me create the notebooks I want in a way that doesn’t require a significant financial investment.
  • If you decide to go this route,  create an account with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing at – 
  • You will follow their process for setting up an account.
  • Once you have that setup, you will select “Create” and then “Paperback” to create your notebook or planner. There are three phases to creating your paperback – please note the information here is high-level to give a general idea of the process.
    • First, you will input all of the notebook information including title, author, category, etc. You will also make sure to select the option that what you are publishing is a “Low content” book on this page.
    • When you go to the next page, you will be asked to select the paperback book size and upload your cover PDF and the PDF for your manuscript. After you have uploaded the PDF you will click that you are ready for Amazon to Quality check your paperback book. Amazon will do its thing and then it will give you a preview of the book and manuscript and then also let you know if you have any errors that need to be fixed. (this can be a great learning process!)
    • Once the manuscript and cover look as you want them to look, you will be asked to choose your price for the notebook. Amazon provides guidance to you on how much it costs to print etc so this process should be fairly easy and self-explanatory.
  • It will take 3-5 days for Amazon to review your notebook. Once it is approved and published you can buy it.

Artist Attribution


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Some links on this blog post may be affiliate links that can result in small commissions & help support the site.

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