Making Custom Notebooks

We have been making custom project notebooks for many years – they are very popular with participants in workshops or when doing field work as we can make them bespoke for the purpose, and the participants can personalise them as they wish.

Our TK Reite Notebooks project is perhaps the classic example, but we have made many others, such as the recent Field & Group Notebooks for the Antarctic Cities Youth Expedition.

Here is a simple guide to help understand the steps in the process.

Download the PDF here.


Antarctic Cities Youth Expedition Notebooks

Giles Lane has designed a set of personal field notebooks and a group workbook for the participants of the Antarctic Cities project’s Youth Expedition to Antarctica. Five young people each representing one of the “Gateway Cities” have been selected to spend a week at the Chilean Base in Antarctica this February. Look out for the results soon!
“View the Collection here.”


Diffusion Archive Review: Schedulers by Alice Angus

This illustrated scheduler was created by Alice Angus, whilst experimenting with eBook notebooks. Each month (a page) is adorned with one of her works, and writing spaces for tasks and notes. The simple design framework, coupled with her lovely ephemeral illustrations, combine to be one of the most visually pleasing (and functional) eBooks in the Diffusion Archive, even more so with the A3 version.

I rarely take notes, or form plans on paper, but even I’d be tempted to break this habit if it was on this canvas. I’d imagine it would initially be hard to write over the illustrations – I wouldn’t want to spoil them!

Perhaps having a beautiful notebook makes you more organised. Try it yourself – you can download it here.

events inspiration

Pitch In & Publish: City As Material – Streetscapes Notebook

I’ve just made a simple custom notebook for all participants of our first Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event, based on the topic of “Streetscapes”. It contains an overview of City As Material as a theme, as well as some suggestions and interesting locations to kick-start the creative process, and of course, blank pages for idea’s and sketches. It will be interesting to see if and how this notebook is used, as personally I never seem to plan any creative work, preferring to launch straight in. Obviously this affects how idea’s are formed, and often their practical application might suffer as a result, or on the upside, be far more fresh and exciting then I had ever anticipated.

The creative process, and the difficulty in expressing pure idea’s across mediums interest me, and I’ll be looking into how people are inspired to create, and the methods they use to do so, on the bookleteer blog in the near future. It would be great for it to become more than a one-sided blog, and become a platform for people to exchange ideas and advice via feedback, perhaps even collaborate; almost an online Pitch In & Publish session.


How to keep a geological field notebook

A very tangible field notebook (via fieldnotebookcom)

Following on from the paper versus digital notebook conversation the other day I came across this post describing how to keep a geological field notebook. What I liked was how few of the characteristics and possible uses of a geologists field notebook they list actually have to do with the content and how many are to do with the form!

“A well-kept field notebook can function not only as a recording device in the field, but as a scale for photographs, an umbrella, a signal, and most importantly, as a guidebook for the next time one is schlepping through the same area. The notebook itself should be small and easy to carry, and preferably a bright colour, making it hard to lose. It should be bound so the pages will not fall out, and have a hard cover, so that one can write in it easily. Also, because geologists work in all sorts of weather and locations, the notebook should be waterproof, with synthetic or coated paper on which pencil marks will remain legible when wet.”

A field notebook being used to show the scale of a mineralised water droplet (via;

The author then describes the type of content you might want to include in your geological notebook and formats you might want to use (and very sensible advice it seems too) Of more interest to me though is the discussion that followed on from this post where the first person asked “can one not have a digital note book ?”and was told that while you could have a digital notebook..

“your trusty notebook cannot get a virus, cannot crash or freeze, will not run out of batteries, is generally impervious to moisture (see bit in the entry about using pencil – though biro isn’t bad), does not require backups or upgrades (other than a new one once that one is full) is easily archived and retrieved, can be used as a fly swat, impromtu dinner plate, signalling device, flat plane for getting an average dip using the compass-clino, scale in photographs… oh, and it doesn’t break when put in rucksack or pockets along with rocks, hammers, tape measures, lunch etc…”

Which I think pretty much covers all of the ways in which paper notebooks can be used – though of course computer notebooks can do some of these tasks too. (And the authors did say that digital notebooks do have their advantages to geologists such as GPS and GIS.) Now I’m going to go away and think about how I can make a bookleteer eBook that can function as a signalling device, dinner place, fly swat and umbrella..

A notebook being used as a plate (via

p.s. I have to admit, partly I wanted to write about this post because it begins with this sentence.. “A geologist’s field notebook is analogous to the hitch-hiker’s towel – it is indispensable.”