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Beginner’s Guide to Printable Planner Inserts

Planning with printables is a great gateway drug to a more serious planning habit. Printables are fun and flexible. You can find them very inexpensive and even free online! But after you find something you love, what do you do with it?

What do I need to get started?

The major items you’ll need to get started are some kind of computer or tablet, a printer, and paper. Let’s assume that you have these three items and jump to what you might have to purchase especially for your new favorite hobby.


I’ve had a huge range of binders. Your binder style is totally up to you! There are a range of options from letter size to A5 (about a half page) and smaller. You may want no closure or a snap, zip, or elastic to keep it shut.

Scissors and a Ruler or a Paper Cutter

If you’re using smaller pages, A5 or personal size for example, you’ll need to trim. More about how to do that later. For now, you’ll either need to use scissors or a paper cutter.

I like to use a nice big set of kitchen scissors to cut my paper, but you may want to use something smaller. Pick your favorite style, and dedicate a pair to paper cutting. Scissors can dull very quickly if you’re using them all-purpose style. So keep a pair in your planning kit and away from all of your Amazon boxes and flower stems. For nice, straight lines you’ll want a foot long metal ruler with cork back. These are less likely slip around and mess you up like many of the wooden ones can.

If you’re planning on trimming a lot of pages – planning for the year all at once or printing out multiple sections for your planner – you might want to invest in a paper cutter. I recommend the guillotine style of cutters. Yes you may lose a digit or two, but you can cleanly cut more pages than with a roller style cutter.


Hole Punch

For punching a few pages, a manual punch will work. If this is your main planner, you will probably want to invest in a hole puncher to match your binder. If you’re using a letter size binder and printables, you will probably just need a basic three-hole punch. I use a high volume punch for large printables – left over from my teaching days when I was punching 20 pages at a time. Specialty punches are available for Filofax and similar style A5 binders, like mine, with six holes. Choose whatever punch matches your binder, and make sure to follow the guidelines for how many pages you can punch at once. It may take more time to punch 5 at a time instead of 20, but you’ll want a clean and consistent punch.

How Do I Go About Printing?

img_0158Printing tips are going to be bit tricky. Every printer I’ve ever had has been completely different but equally evil. I have been printing planner pages and stickers for years, and I still mess up all. the. time. I had to add a sticker that says, “FACE DOWN TO PRINT!” because I double printed so many times.

My best advice is to get to know your printer and printer settings. Which way to put the paper in – right side up, upside down, where is the top, where is the side? How many pages can you print before it starts eating paper?


This is probably the most asked question I get through Etsy: “Can I resize my printables?” Absolutely, and it’s easier than you think! My files and most others you’ll find for download are going to be in PDF form. When you’re printing a PDF from Adobe Reader, it’s very easy to resize for A5 from Letter sized printables. Using A5 as the example because that’s the most popular binder size. 

For PC users only. I don’t know how Macs work. You guys living the iLife are on your own.

  1. Open the PDF file in Reader. Right click the file>Open with>Readerresize-my-printables-pic-1
  2. Select Print from the drop-down menu on the upper left corner.
  3. Scroll down and click More Settingsresize-my-printables-pic-2
  4. Under Paper and Quality select the drop-down arrow for Size – if you downloaded printables that are Letter size, Letter will be the default
  5. Select A5 and click OK


Now you are ready to print. Your PDF will be resized to A5 and you can then either print on A5 sized paper – which is great if your printer is cooperative and will let you print on both sides! Or you can print on letter paper, and your A5 sized printable will be centered in the middle of the page. This is  usually how I print so I can decide where to trim, see below.

You have to go through these steps every time you print. After you print once, Reader will go back to the default Letter size – even when you’re reprinting from the same open file. Trust me. I am remind of this on probably a  monthly basis.


You can also print two sheets per page through Reader. This is a great option if you’re lazy and don’t care if it is truly A5 size or half sheets – which is just a smidge bigger.

  1. Open your PDF in Reader
  2. Select Print from the drop-down menu in the upper left
  3. Under Pages per Sheet, select 2
  4. Now your pages will print two to a page, which is darn close to A5.


Preparing Your Pages

If you’re using letter size printables, you can just skip right over this part.
No trimming for you!

Let’s take a look at trimming your pages in the simplest method and the most readily available tools: scissors and a standard hole punch. I create pages for my binder with printables and with other papers and materials, so I made this template to help me correctly size and punch my sheets.

To create the easiest template to perfectly match your binder, start with one of the sheets that came in your original package (if your planner did not come with any inserts just measure it out on copy paper), line the edges with Washi Tape, and punch through the tape where the holes in your paper are.


The washi makes the edges a bit stiffer and easier
to see when you’re tracing and cutting.

After you trim your pages, punch the holes. Remember that your pages will be facing each other, so make sure to punch on the correct side. Holes should be in the middle so your Left side pages will be punch on the inside right edge of the page. Right side pages will be punched on the inner left edge of the page.


Woo Hoo They’re Finally Ready
Now What?

I love using printables with the look of a bullet journal, but without actually having to bullet journal. The lines are drawn for you. There’s no set up! Print, plan, and done. Now you’re ready to put as many or as few of your own touches on as you’d like.

Simple, Functional Planning and Tracking

I started planning just this way. Simply. No decoration. Just the basics: where did I need to be and when, a few reminders, and tracking.

For functional planning, I have several sets available like Ballpoint Simple. This set includes monthly calendar, annual planning, weekly vertical and horizontal layouts, a daily hourly page, and a titled page for index, notes, or whatever you like.


I still use very functional planning, especially when looking at my annual calendar. I am using this Calendex for annual planning in 2017. With simple lines and color coding, I can see at-a-glance major events and holidays, birthdays, school and camp schedules, due dates for bills, pay dates, homeschool units, and plans for blogging and Etsy releases. Hey, we’ve got a lot going on!

Calendex Printable Example.png

Functional Planning with Flair

If you’re looking for something a little more decorated than the bare bones grid journal, take a peek at a few of my simply decorated doodle journals. Oodles of Doodles is a simply decorated set with monthly, weekly horizontal and vertical, daily, and six box layouts. I decorated this one with just a bit of washi and rainbow pen. The vertical layout is great for daily planning or a health and fitness tracker, see below.


Unique and Decorative Planning

For the more creative planner, I have lots to offer! My best seller is are highly decorated coloring pages I Heart Flags. Perfect for planners who love the look of doodles but don’t have the time to fill up their planner every week!

I Heart Flags Printable Bullet Journal.png

For a unique twist on a calendar, try a Calendar Wheel Template. This set comes with monthly wheels (30, 31, and 28 slices), weekly, and annual wheels.

Beyond Planners

Many of the items in my shop are printables that can be used beyond the planner! Sweet Spots, is a dessert themed planner set with a page of weekly boxes. Usually these would be used in a two page weekly spread with one day for notes and Monday – Sunday in the other boxes. However, I love using this kind of page to put my goals front and center for the month. An example of a decorated goal planning page:


My newest addition is a doodle-style adult coloring page, titled Joy. I had a lot of fun drawing this and setting it up. It would make a pretty scrapbook page or framed picture to help you remember what brings you joy. Of course, I’ll probably just stick it up with a bit of tape.

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