Planners: Decoded!

Planners: Decoded!

There are so many planners to choose from these days-- it's wonderful, right?! But it can also lead to some confusion when it comes to purchasing inserts. If you aren't sure what the differences between A5, Disc-Bound, Half Letter, or Traveler's Notebooks are, read on, my friend!

Step 1: Choose Your Binding Style

The first thing to note is that there are several different binding systems currently available. There are spiral bound planners, ring bound planners, disc-bound planners, and on and on. While I've yet to meet a planner I didn't like, there are some features that make particular planners better suited for particular people.

Spiral Bound

{Erin Condren Life Planner, Inkwell, Plum Paper Planner}

This is probably the style that is most familiar. You used it in school for all your math homework, ripping out pages and leaving bits of paper scattered about. (I'm a former math teacher... I know!) The pages of a spiral bound planner are secured with a metal coil which makes it super sturdy. The pages aren't going anywhere, which is great, but the coil binding also means it's not customizable. Unlike other binding systems, additional pages can't easily be added. (Yes, it can be uncoiled and recoiled, but who has time for that?!)

Ring Bound

{Filofax, Kikki K, Mulberry, Carpe Diem, Color Crush}

This system is also quite familiar for most of us. The good 'ole 3-ring binder brings back more memories from school, doesn't it? With this type of binding, pages can easily be added or taken out, making it infinitely customizable. Most planners that use a ring binding have either six or seven rings. Each manufacturer has their own arrangement of holes and spacing, so make sure to choose inserts for these planners that are not only the correct size, but also the correct hole configuration.

Disc Bound

{The Happy Planner, Arc by Staples, Circa by Levenger, TUL by Office Depot}

This system is less familiar, and though it has been around for decades in Europe, it has only recently started to grow in popularity in the states. The discs are spaced such that there is one every inch or so-- this adds a surprising level of durability to the planner. In my opinion, it's kind of a hybrid between a spiral bound and ring bound system. Like spiral bound, the pages can be turned such that you can flip the entire notebook over and write on the back. Like ring bound, pages can be easily added or removed, allowing you to personalize and customize your planner. It's the best of both worlds!

Stitched/Stapled Bound (Traveler's Notebooks)

{Midori, Foxy Fix}

The final type of planner you might run across is one that resembles a nice leather wallet or book. The best known example is the Midori Traveler's Notebook (TN) from Japan. These planners are designed to be used with inserts whose pages are folded and either sewn or stapled together. There is usually an elasticized band that runs the length of the inside of the TN. The band is used to hold the inserts in place similar to how a book is bound. If you've ever heard the term "bullet journal" or "bujo" you most likely have seen a TN. Though a bullet journal can be made out of any system, most planners find a TN to be their preferred medium for creating layouts.

Step 2: Choose Your Planner Size

In addition to multiple binding styles, planners also come in a variety of different sizes. If you choose a planner that can be customized, you'll need to pay special attention to the insert sizes to make sure you purchase something that will work with your system.

Ring Bound Sizes:

A5: 5.8"x8.3" (six hole configuration to fit Filofax, Kikki K Large, etc)

Personal: 3.7"x4.7" (six hole configuration to fit Filofax, Kikki K Medium, etc)

Disc Bound Sizes

The easiest way to determine what inserts you need is to count the number of discs on your planner.

7 Discs: 4.625"x7" (fits the Mini Happy Planner)

8 Discs: 5.5"x8.5" (fits all half letter planners like Circa Jr, etc.)

9 Discs: 7"x9.25" (fits the classic Happy Planner)

11 Discs: 8.5"x11" (fits all letter size planners like Circa & the Big Happy Planner)