Thursday, August 11, 2011

Building a Better Notebook

Yes, I still use paper for some of my genealogy research but I did find a better notebook system. has had Circa brand notebooks for years but they are really pricey. Staples has a similar system called ARC notebooks. The notebooks come in two sizes: letter (8.5 x 11) and junior – (8.5 x 5.5).

What’s so great about these notebooks? Well, now that they are available at a reasonable price from Staples, they can make note taking in seminars, meetings, and even online much easier. The power of these notebooks is in the binding system. The pages are easy to remove and reposition. You can fold the cover back and have a hard surface to support the pages for note taking when you don’t have a desk to lean on. There are many different paper styles including my favorite: the planner page. Other papers include: to do list, college ruled, and grid. The paper is thick and very smooth making it easier to use both sides without bleed through. There are also dividers, pocket dividers, business card pages, cases, and other inserts available.

What these notebooks excel at is (re)organization. Spiral notebooks only have one type of paper in them. Three ring binders are cumbersome and not suited to taking notes in your lap. Both Levenger and Staples have flexible covers and portfolio covers with slots for loose papers and business cards. Both Levenger and Staples’s notebooks have plain flexible covers or portfolio covers with slots for loose papers and business cards.

Now, when I’m researching one ancestor and come across information on another line, I can just start a new sheet and move that page to the appropriate notebook or section for review when I return home. If I run out of pages in a section, I can add more paper and move on. No more post-its to let me know where the notes are continued. No more torn out clipped in or taped in pages between notebooks. No more transcribing notes into a master notebook. No more fussing with notebooks and sections while I’m researching. I can just grab one notebook and know that it will serve my needs all day no matter what I’m doing.

So, if you like using spiral notebooks and like the pen on paper experience, consider these notebooks. If you prefer the electronic experience …(tomorrow)


  1. I'll have to look at these when I next go to Staples. They sound useful for a variety of subjects. (I only wish for a photograph to go with this post.) Thanks for suggesting them.

  2. These are really nice. They look like they would hold up a long time in passing hands.