tutorial: making personalized notepads

by Sara Tams of sarah + abraham

personalized notepads by sarah + abraham

I began offering personalized notepads at the end of 2008, and they quickly became my best selling product. In fact, my teacher notepads and a note from mom notepads are currently the #1 and #2 most popular items on my website.

If you’re not already familiar with how to make your own notepads, I bet you’ll be surprised to learn how easy they are to make!

notepad tutorial

1. First I cut an 8.5″ x 11″ chipboard pad into fourths for the backs of the notepads.

2. Next I stamp the back of each chipboard sheet with my sarah + abraham stamp.

3. I print the design 4-per-page on 8.5″ x 11″ paper and cut those into fourths.

notepad tutorial

4. I stack 42 sheets of paper on top of each chipboard sheet, and then I stack all of the notepads together. I tap each side of the stack of notepads onto the table one or two times, always ending with the top end of the notepads before setting them at the edge of the table to be glued.

5. I had considered buying a padding press like this one, but I never got around to it. So here I am, hundreds of notepads later, still using heavy boxes or books to weigh the pads down (which has actually been working just fine!). Next I brush on two coats of padding compound, letting it dry completely between coats.

6. Once the final coat is dry I gently peel apart the notepads and package each set in a clear plastic sleeve.

A few additional tips:

  • I sell 40-page notepads, so I always make each notepad using at least 42 sheets in case I need to remove the top one or two sheets. Sometimes excess glue will build up on the top sheet, or some of the chipboard sheet will stick to the top page of the notepad below it.
  • Always double-check that you’re gluing the correct ends of the notepads. It’s so frustrating to print, cut, and glue an entire set of notepads (or multiple sets of notepads!) only to realize when the second coat of glue is dry that you’ve glued the bottom end. I’m embarrassed to admit that’s happened to me on more than one occasion!
  • Be sure to line up the edge of the notepads as close to the edge of the table as possible, and also line up your weight as close to the edge of the notepads as you can. Use as little glue as possible so you have very thin coats of glue. Both of these things will help prevent the glued end of the notepads from getting “wavy”.
  • I haven’t been able to find padding compound online in a smaller quantity than 1 quart (which will last for several hundred notepads), so I buy lots of small plastic bottles from a craft store to split it up into (they’re similar in size to travel shampoo bottles).
First I cut an 8.5″ x 11″ chipboard sheet into fourths for the backs of the notepads (my notepads measure 4.25″ x 5.5″).


  1. Marisa says:

    This is such a great tutorial. I’m going to do this to recycle my daughter’s school work from last year. Hello stocking stuffers!

    Paper Source has a 16oz container of PVA (polyvinyl acetate). They suggest using it for notepads. Does anyone know how it compares to the padding compound?

  2. Tamika Johnson says:

    Thanks so very much for the tutorial on DIY notepads. I’ve always wanted to make my own, however I never knew how. Your steps were user friendly, and I appreciate you taking time to share this with beginners like me.


  3. KrabbyKaey says:

    Well bless your heart for sharing this tutorial. I am a paper fanatic, and I always wondered how you make them. Just a little glue and chipboard, and voila!

    I’m so glad you were the first search result on Google =)


  4. This is amazing! I have customers who want notepad sizes I can’t find with the print company I use for my cards…so this excites me.
    what kind of ink are you using? Do you have an industrial printer with ink that doesn’t run?

  5. Pam Brown says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing this post and for your creativity. I love notepads and would love to create them for my clients, and never did because printers charge so much for them. Now I can do as many as I want, however I want.

  6. Susanne says:

    How do you get all your fourths cut to exactly the same size? I’ve gone through about 4 notepad stacks trying to get the cut just right but it always just seems to be a tiny bit off. Thanks.

  7. beth says:

    Wow its perfect i was making a notepad for my mom for mothers day and i couldn’t figure out how to get it together on to. I will have to try it.

  8. http://www.giftsin24.com says:

    That’s pretty awesome. I had no idea personalized notepads were that easy to make! How do you make the individualized designs though?

  9. Nancy Weaver says:

    Wow! Those notepads are so cute. I like its design; simple yet so attractive. It is also great that you have shown steps on how to make those notepads. Thank you so much for sharing this. I hope you can share more DIY projects. -http://www.notepadsyourway.com/

  10. Jamie Ballesteros says:

    Hello! I have some questions that has been lingering on my mind for quite some time.

    1. What did you do to keep the design of the pad aligned or the way it’s supposed ti be placed?
    2. Did you print some crop marks with the design also?
    3. Could you do a video tutorial starting from printing to cutting so I could visualize it clearly?

    I’d really appreciate if you could answer my questions. I’d really want to perfect my notepad making skills too just like you! Thanks!

  11. Jen Jones says:

    Thank you for all the tips. I just ordered padding compound and chipboard from your links! The padding compound link is broken, but I found somewhere else online quickly. Thanks again, can’t wait to make my pads.
    Hello Literacy

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