You probably use a notebook every day. It has come in handy for it all – meeting notes, to-do lists, and angsty poetry from your teenage years. That’s why it’s worth knowing how all that paper comes together.

What are all the steps in making a notebook? How are those paper sheets bound together? Get ready to take notes on the process from start to finish!

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What is Pulp?

Pulp is a wood-based renewable material that’s used for a variety of paper products. It’s found in not only your notebooks, but also in tissues, napkins, magazines, labels, cardboard, food packaging, and even clothing.

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It’s important to be familiar with pulp when it comes to understanding notebook production. This material plays a key role in the entire manufacturing process.

How a Notebook is Made: Step By Step

Notebooks don’t just grow on trees. Wait… they actually kind of do. Let’s learn more about the entire notebook-making process and how pulp is turned into paper!

Here is how a notebook is made:

  • Step One: Trees are cut down and ground into pulp.
  • Step Two: The pulp is cleaned, drained of water, and potentially colored with dye or bleach.
  • Step Three: The next step is beating the pulp, which involves squeezing and pounding until all the pulp adheres together.
  • Step Four: The newly formed paper is put into giant rollers that smooth it down and compress it even further.
  • Step Five: Details are added to the pages such as lines, holes, logos, or designs.
  • Step Six: The notebook cover is created from the desired material and cut to size to fit the paper.
  • Step Seven: A hardcover notebook is bound together in the same way as a book, whereas a spiral bound notebook is held together with thin metal wire.
  • Step Eight: The notebook is ready to be used!
  1. Step 1

    Cutting Down Trees

    Softwood trees are cut down and ground into pulp. This is done through machines known as “pulp digesters.”

    The most common types of trees used during this process include:

    • Spruce
    • Fir
    • Larch
    • Hemlock
    • Poplar
    • White Pine
    • Eucalyptus
  2. Step 2

    Spraying the Pulp

    Once the pulp is clean and purified, another machine takes it and sprays it onto a wire screen. The machine then drains the water from the pulp, which allows the cellulose fibers to adhere together into paper. Bleach or dye may also be added at this stage to add some color.

  3. Step 3

    Beating the Paper

    The pulp goes through a pounding and squeezing process that’s referred to as beating. At this stage, filters are added like chalks, clays, or chemicals to give the paper its opacity and overall final look.

  4. Step 4

    Finishing the Paper

    The next step is smoothing the paper and compacting it even further. This is done by passing the paper through metal rollers called calendars, which are giant reels that end up holding about 49 miles worth of paper!

  5. Step 5

    Adding on the Details

    The paper is far away from its original pulp state and is now ready for the fine details. For some notebook paper, that involves using machines to create the lines, holes, or any other detail you see on the pages.

  6. Step 6

    Making the Cover

    Now it’s finally time to turn that paper into a notebook. The first step is making the cover, which can be made from a variety of materials including plastic, leather, fabric, and cardboard to name a few.

  7. Step 7

    Binding Together

    For hardbound journals, the cover is cut down to size to fit the paper and then pressed on via giant mechanical rollers. A spiral notebook is added on using thin metal wires that are pulled through all the holes in the paper.

  8. Step 8

    Ready for Writing

    The notebook is complete and ready for all your thoughtful words!

The process of making a notebook is fairly easy once the paper has been created. It’s about binding it all together and adding on the trademark cover.

Do you want to see the full process in action?
Check out this video!

Optional Last Step: Customizing Your Notebooks

Some notebooks feature a design or text on the cover. These can be useful giveaways for weddings, fundraisers, company trade shows, and a variety of other events.

The design on the cover is typically printed on via screen printing, digital printing, or debossing. From there, it’s all about finding a creative way to use your custom notebooks.

Take for instance Phenomenal Young Women, a non-profit in Maryland that stands for female empowerment and sisterhood. In 2017, they ordered metallic journals printed with their logos to hand out during their first back-to-school meeting. The girls were encouraged to write their goals for the year and develop a plan for achieving those goals.

This is just one example of custom notebooks being used in a powerful way. Who knows? A great inventor might use a custom notebook to develop their next big idea.

How Else Are Notebooks Made?

The steps above highlight the main production of notebooks using pulp and traditional binding methods. However, they’ve also been made in other creative, more eco-friendly ways.

Notebooks can be made using:

Stone

Karst Stone Paper, a company in Australia, received a lot of buzz in 2017 when they introduced notebooks with paper made from crushed stone. The paper is hard to tear, easy to write on, and no kidding, completely waterproof!

Sewing Machine

Are you looking for a cute way to keep track of your vacations? Try making scrapbook-inspired notebooks by folding construction paper inside decorative cardstock and sewing along the crease.

Wood

Field Notes offers a line of notebooks made from American Cherry Wood. Each cover is made from a handpicked tree grown in Illinois or Wisconsin and is completely unique from the other ones in the line.

Technology

In this digital world, you’ll find tablets and other devices where you can “write” on a screen. Rocketbook, Boogie Board, and Bee Times are a few brands with electronic notebooks on the market.

Craft Supplies

You can make your own notebook with the right supplies. All you need is paper, glue, a 3-hole punch, thread or wire, and maybe some cool decorations for the cover.

Want to make a notebook in less than five minutes? Follow this process to make your own “Instant Book.”

Stats for Success

It takes about 24 trees to make 1 ton of paper.

Back-to-school shoppers will spend about $122.13 on supplies like notebooks and pencils.

Moleskine makes about $20 million every year in sales on their trademark notebooks.

The Bottom Line

A lot of hard work goes into making a notebook, which means you shouldn’t let yours go to waste. Use it to dream big and draft up all kinds of crazy ideas and inventions. You have a whole lot of paper in front of you!

References

UPM Pulp. (2019). What is Pulp? Retrieved July 29, 2019, from
https://www.upmpulp.com/sustainable-pulp/what-is-pulp/

World Atlas. (2019). What Kind of Tree Does Paper Come From? Retrieved July 30, 2019, from
https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-kind-of-tree-does-paper-come-from.html

Tree Removal. (2019). How Paper is Made from a Tree. Retrieved July 30, 2019, from
https://www.treeremoval.com/how-paper-is-made-from-a-tree/#.XnJbO6hKjIV

Reference. (2019). How is Notebook Paper Made? Retrieved July 30, 2019, from
https://www.reference.com/business-finance/notebook-paper-made-313d0d1800d9576b

How Products Are Made. (2019). Paper. Retrieved July 30, 2019, from
http://www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Paper.html

Martinko, K. (2017, October 19). The Paper in This Notebook is Made from Stone. Retrieved August 5, 2019, from
https://www.treehugger.com/paper-notebook-made-stone-4857105

Made Everyday. (2017, September 7). Sewn Notebooks. Retrieved August 5, 2019, from
https://www.madeeveryday.com/sew-a-notebook/

Sorokanich, B. (2014, March 26). Real Wood Covers Make Every One of These Field Notes Notebooks Unique. Retrieved August 5, 2019, from
https://gizmodo.com/real-wood-covers-make-every-one-of-these-field-notes-no-1551975054

World Atlas. (2019). How Many Trees Does It Take to Make 1 Ton of Paper? Retrieved August 5, 2019, from
https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/how-many-trees-does-it-take-to-make-1-ton-of-paper.html

National Retail Federation. (2018, July 12). Back-to-School and College Spending to Reach $82.8 Billion. Retrieved August 5, 2019, from
https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/back-school-and-college-spending-reach-828-billion

Lileks, J. (2017, May 8). How the (Paper) Notebook Has Become Trendy Again. Retrieved August 5, 2019, from
https://www.freep.com/story/life/2017/05/08/paper-notebook-trend/101245532/

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over three years of experience in the industry. Her passion for writing has led to a BA in English & Communications from Aurora University and work published for the Advertising Specialty Institute and The Bolingbrook Sun Times.