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How to Assemble a Scrapbook

You've organized your materials and chosen your book. Now it's time to get down to brass tacks. . . and tapes, stamps, stickers, cardstocks, markers...


  • Step 1: Shop for safe materials You've organized your material into layouts; now it's time to construct. The key is using adhesives, papers, and decorative elements that won't damage what you're trying to preserve. Shop for ones labeled acid-free, archival quality, photo-safe, and lignin-free.
  • Step 2: Trim background paper Trim your background paper to the appropriate size for your layout.
  • TIP: A small precision knife will give you a cleaner, straighter line than scissors.
  • Step 3: Check layout Make sure your layout will fit on your page or inside your page protector—if not, make the necessary adjustments to your layout.
  • Step 4: Crop photos Crop photos if necessary.
  • Step 5: Mat photos Mat the photos if you choose.
  • Step 6: Arrange elements Arrange your elements on the background paper, shifting them around until they fit and are visually appealing.
  • Step 7: Begin mounting Begin mounting the materials on the background paper in the arrangement you've just created, starting with the bottommost elements. If you have a custom-cut background for your picture, mount it first.
  • Step 8: Mount picture Mount the picture next, then any printed captions, quotes, or titles.
  • Step 9: Add decorations If you have decorative embellishments you plan to use on top or around the picture, mount them last.
  • TIP: Never use rubber cement, glue sticks, or "school" glues. Even if they're labeled acid-free, they don't work as well or last as long as other adhesives.
  • Step 10: Let layout set Give your finished layout time to set.
  • Step 11: Add captions or titles Add any handwritten captions or titles.
  • TIP: Practice writing on scrap paper first to ensure that the words will fit in the allotted space neatly and legibly.
  • Step 12: Check your page Check your page for any loose elements before sliding it into the page protector or mounting it in the book. Congratulations—you're on your way!
  • FACT: Mark Twain patented a "Self-Pasting Scrapbook" in 1872—by 1901, his line included 57 different designs.

You Will Need

  • Your materials
  • organized into layouts
  • Your scrapbook or album of choice
  • Archival-quality background paper or cardstock
  • Sharp scissors or a small precision knife
  • Archival-quality page protectors
  • Archival-quality tape or adhesive
  • And archival-quality pens or markers
  • Photo mats
  • Decorative embellishments
  • Scrap paper

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