Scrapbooking 101: Scrapbooking Supplies for Starters

When you’re a beginner with scrapbooking, the hardest part can be choosing the right products to purchase. They are all helpful in their own way and let’s not even get started on the beautiful cardstock and embellishments — you could spend days browsing them all to find the perfect design, pattern or color.


We’ve got you covered on the must-have scrapbooking tools and supplies to buy so you can spend more time crafting and less time browsing supplies.

What to Look For in Scrapbook Supplies

While there aren’t many rules when it comes to scrapbooking, there are a few tried and true tips of what to look out for when purchasing supplies. Make sure that any paper, embellishments or scrapbooking supplies you purchase are acid-free, so your photos don’t fade, darken, change color or decay over time. After all, a scrapbook is about preserving your memories forever, right? Acid-free paper has a pH higher than 7. The higher the pH number, the less acid the paper contains.

Lignin-free, archival safe and non-toxic are also key terms to look out for. Archival safe paper has a pH between 7 and 8.5, which is considered pH neutral, meaning it will have no chemical interaction with the objects touching it. Lignin-free paper means it is free of lignin, which reacts with light and heat and can cause the paper to turn yellow over time.

These are all easy ways to ensure you’re using scrapbooking supplies that will stand the test of time, so you can pull out your scrapbook years from now knowing it’s still in the same condition from the day you put it together.

scrapbooking supplies

The Scrapbook

One of the first and most important supplies to purchase is the memory or scrapbook album. Like most scrapbooking supplies, there are a variety of options: different sizes, designs, finishes and colors. Some of the most popular options include:

Post-Bound, which holds the pages together by using a metal post (looks sort of like a long screw) that is typically hidden behind a flap. These types of albums typically come with the pages covered by sheet protectors, and you can add extra pages as needed. To move pages or add more, you have to unscrew the posts, which can be a slightly more involved process than other options.

Ring Binders, also known as a three-ring binder. Yes, the type you probably used in school. Pages for these types of binders go inside page protectors that have the corresponding three holes. Once you created your scrapbook page and inserted it into the page protector, you simply place it inside the D rings and close them. This type of scrapbook album is ideal for projects that you aren’t sure if they’ll be large or small – you can easily customize the amount of pages included. If you have a project that will be quite large, a ring binder is probably your best option.

Journal Style, also known as book style, is a type of album that resembles a hard cover book. The finding is sewn and glued and the pages are permanently bound in there. You cannot add extra pages to these types of scrapbooks, although some of these types allow you to remove pages using perforations. These types of scrapbooks are ideal for smaller projects that don’t require a lot of pages or embellishments.

All albums come in a variety of sizes, the most typical being:

  • 12×12
  • 8 ½ x 11
  • 8×8
  • 6×6

Before you decide on a size of album, think about what you want to include. If you have a lot of embellishment ideas and photos to include, consider using a larger album. If you’re sticking to mostly just a photo and a few embellishments, you can use a smaller size.

scrapbooking paper

Cardstock and Scrapbooking Paper

Cardstock and scrapbooking paper are areas we like to have a little bit of fun, because the options are endless. There is a wide variety of patterns and colors available, so it’s not hard to find the perfect style of cardstock. But there are some things to be aware of when making the purchase.

First, take some time to think about what you want from your project. Will you be embossing the paper? Not all types of paper can be embossed, so if that is a technique you’re using, make sure to purchase paper that works with it. Some of the thicker types of paper are more ideal for card making than scrapbooking. Something that is too thick, no matter how beautiful you think it will be, will only make your scrapbook bulky.

Cardstock is a heavier type of paper, typically the weight is between cardboard and regular paper. Plain, colored cardstock is typically used as the background of a scrapbook. Patterned paper can come in a variety of textures, but if you’re using it to add accents, using a lighter weight paper is recommended.

Specialty paper can be an easy way to achieve a specific look you’re going for:

  • Mulberry paper, made out of plant fibers, has a soft, feathery texture and beautiful natural patterns
  • Vellum, an elegant semi-translucent paper, is great for layering and embossing

And, of course, with paper, don’t forget about acid-free, archival safe, non-toxic and lignin-free!

Cutting Tools

Now that you’ve got all this paper, you need the tools to get the right cut. There are a variety of cutting tools available:

  • Scissors are the most basic cutting tool every scrapbooker should have on hand. Just make sure they’re sharp! As you begin to experiment with different types of cutting techniques, you can find scissors with decorative edges.
  • Slicers and Paper Trimmers are an easy way to create straight lines, cut paper down to the size you need and create unique shapes.
  • Xacto Knives and Rotary Cutters area good option for quick, straight cuts.

Scrapbooking Adhesive

Of course you need a simple and permanent way to adhere your photos and embellishments to your paper. That’s where the right scrapbooking adhesives come in. Much like paper, first make sure you’re purchasing products that don’t damage your precious photos. Make sure you’re purchasing products that are photo safe.

  • Glue Dots are dots of adhesive perfect for adding small embellishments and details and ideal for unique-shaped items. They come on a roll and are pre-measured, so you just place it on your page, add your item to be secured and you’re done!
  • Tape Runner is a strip of adhesive that comes in its own handy dispenser. The dispenser helps to make a tape runner one of the smoothest applications – just run it over the area you want to place adhesive.
  • Glue Stick Probably the most well-known of scrapbooking adhesives, a glue stick is a great way to make sure your project stays clean!
  • Decorative Tape is a fun and easy way to add unique embellishments without a lot of mess. Decorative tape comes in a variety of patterns and even glitter.

scrapbooking embellishments

(Photo courtesy of Core’dinations)


Scrapbook embellishments are an area where you can have fun – there aren’t many rules to follow with adding embellishments, but here are a few tips:

  • Choose items that will work with your overall theme
  • Don’t limit yourself to pre-made embellishments. Try unique ideas like playing with textured paper, stamps and more
  • Add some personality – pick out items that work both with your theme and your unique style
  • Don’t feel like you have to include embellishments. If you’re going for a simple, clean layout, you don’t have to include them.

So what are you waiting for? Start shopping now so you can get to work on your scrapbook sooner!


  1. Dea says

    This is advice I wish I’d had several years ago when I began scrapbooking. I went into a hobby store and was totally overwhelmed by the variety of items to buy. And I hugely overspent on stickers! I still have some that are over 15 years old! My addendum to this article would be: Only buy exactly what you will need (or at least, the best guesstimate you can make) until you find out what your “style” of scrapbooking will be. I turned out to be a lumpy-bumpy scrapbooker. I like embellishments that have some texture and tactile differences. I like brads, and eyelets, and ribbons and page pebbles. So all those lovely flat stickers are still in the bottom of my sticker supply box. I’m not getting rid of them — someday I’ll use them. But I wish I’d spent my money a little more wisely.


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