Setup of a Pocket Notebook

In a previous post I wrote about my use of a small notebook for daily notes. I wrote:

The idea of keeping a small notebook to record events, ideas, sketches and whatever comes along is not new. Rather than using random scrap paper to jot out ideas or lists of projects, I decided in 2001 to keep random notes in a book. My notebook fits easily in my pocket, and I take it everywhere. Others have called these types of notebooks field notes, commonplace books and everyday carry books.

I just completed Volume 13 of this series. See below for a image of the notebook in its dust jacket. Follow this link to learn how to create your own dust jackets.

As I started to prepare Volume 14, I made a list of the steps I take to prepare it and took photos along the way. Everything shared here took about an hour to setup.


I have experimented with a variety of sizes and qualities of notebooks over the years. My current notebook of choice is the Moleskine pocket-size Art Plus notebook, 3.5 x 5.5 inches. The paper is thick (165 gsm), which prevents bleeding of ink through the paper. Additionally, the paper accepts ink well and I do not experience smudging (I am left handed) as I write, sketch, and plan.

Step 1 – Number the pages

As the Moleskine Art notebook only has 80 pages, it doesn’t take long to place a small page number in each corner. I prefer the small number of pages in the event that I misplace the notebook.

Numbered pages are convenient when needing to remember where a bit of information is located. Since I now have multiple volumes with 80 pages each, I can cross reference between notebooks – if needed – with notations like “v5p45.” While my daughter was out of the country for seven months, I needed to pay a couple of accounts for her. I found this type of reference useful when I moved from one notebook, where the login details were located, to a new notebook, as I am sharing in this post.

Step 2 – Enter contact information and date the notebook

On the inside title page, I write the volume number (currently 14) and the date I start using the notebook.

I also have two customer rubber stamps – address and email/phone – that I apply to the inside title page. I’ve only misplaced one of my daily-carry notebooks, and someone who found it emailed me about it using the provided contact information.

Step 3 – Add Post-its

At the beginning and end of the notebook I add a few small self-adhesive notes. These are useful as bookmarks and as a way to leave a note for someone else.

Step 4 – Create a table of contents

Since the small Moleskine Art notebooks have 80 pages, I create a 2-column by 20-row table on two adjacent pages, for a total of 80 spaces. I number these to create a table of contents. As I enter content on a page, I write a one-two word description in the table of contents. This is helpful while I am actively using the book as well as when I need to look for digitized information later.

Step 5 – Add a ruler

From time to time I find it helpful to measure something quickly. Since the longest measurement of the notebook is 5.5 inches, the ruler obviously short (5.0 inches), but it is still nice to have. has a variety of styles and lengths of rulers for printing. You can either print these onto label paper or print and glue them into your notebook.

Step 6 – Insert envelopes

In a previous post I wrote about different types of additions to increase the usefulness of a notebook. I add two small envelopes to store coupons, notes, and an occasional dollar. See this post for instructions.

Step 7 – Create a pocket

In the same post where I covered envelopes, I also provided instructions to create a small pocket. I use this pocket to store paper to leave with others. The pocket is another great place to store receipts and coupons. Moleskine notebooks come with a small pocket at the back, but this is another option that is easier to access and is more visible.

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