A Guide to Beginning Scrapbooking

asian woman looking at photos
Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images

The hobby of scrapbooking is quite popular. People use scrapbooks to tell a story, chronicle the history of their family, and preserve cherished memories. Most scrapbookers are also having fun and relieving stress. If you have thought about giving scrapbooking a whirl but are clueless where to start, this guide will help. Even if you are not the artistic type, you can still make lovely pages when following some simple rules and guidelines.

Basic Scrapbooking Supplies You Will Need

Before you start your first scrapbook page, you need to have the essentials. Some of the tools and supplies to have on hand are:


There are many types of glues sold for scrapbooking; decide what kind you prefer. Examples are glue sticks, liquid glue pens, photo tape, foam dots, and more. The glue needs to photo-safe and acid-free.

Albums and Sheet Protectors

Albums come in a variety of sizes; the standard size that most beginners use is 12 x 12 inch. This size allows you to use many sizes of photos and still have room for other scrapbooking elements. Make sure the page protectors are Mylar, polypropylene, or polyethylene. Any other page protector will damage and fade your pages with time.

Cutting Tools

You will want large and small straight edge pairs of scissors. Other options include decorative scissors, paper trimmers, and shape cutters. For advanced scrapbooking, a digital die-cut machine is useful.

Die Cuts

Die cuts are cut paper shapes that you can add to your pages. They are premade and sold in packages.


You will want a variety of solid colored and patterned paper. Paper comes in 12 x 12-inch sheets or in 8.5 x 11 inches. It's sold in individual sheets or stacks. Buy only acid-free (ph neutral) and lignin free paper. Acid-free paper has been treated so that the acids present in wood pulp papers are removed. Lignin free means that the paper has been processed to remove the acidic part of the wood pulp in paper.


Use pens that have pigment ink. It is fade resistant, colorfast, and waterproof. Always practice writing with your pen on a piece of scrap paper first, before writing on your page layout.


Photos are the most essential part of your scrapbook page. Make sure that your photos are well lit and in focus for the best results.


Punches are tools in various shapes that are used cut out shapes from paper.


Rubber stamps add beauty and interest to the scrapbook page. Use embossing powders with a heating tool to give the print dimension. Use markers to add color to the stamped images.


Stickers are an essential embellishment to scrapbook pages. Craft stores sell sticker packages in thousands of shapes, themes, and designs especially for scrapbooking.


Templates are stencils that can help the artistically challenged make perfect shapes and borders. Place the templates on the paper, trace the shapes, cut out, and glue to your layout.


  • Organize your thoughts and materials before you start. Decide if your page is going to be a theme or story page, organize your photos, choose the layout to best fit your theme and photos, gather tools and supplies, and finally start cutting and gluing.
  • Less is more.
  • Touching photos can lead to degradation. Photos should have a matte rather than glossy finish to minimize fingerprints.
  • If you write on the back of your photos, use a pen that is designed explicitly for that purpose. Find them at a scrapbooking supply store.
  • Don't use original photos. Scan and print your photos, then use the printed photos. If you make a mistake, print another copy of the picture.
  • Journaling adds an extra special element on your page. Your thoughts and feelings journaled on paper make it personal and one of a kind.

Taking It to the Next Level

If you determine that scrapbooking is a hobby that you want to continue, you will find inspiration galore in scrapbooking magazines, online videos, scrapbook product manufacturers websites, and personal blogs devoted to the craft. Scrapbooking will give you endless hours of fun, stress relief, and an outlet for your creativity.