Introduction: Whiteboard Notebook

Picture of Whiteboard Notebook
In order to practice for engineering interviews, I bought myself a small whiteboard for my apartment. As I got more comfortable using it, I've come to find it indispensable. Now, I prefer it to pencil and paper as writing and erasing the old fashioned way seems too laborious. I like the effortless flow and removal of dry erase ink even better.

So, to support this new affection, I took to carrying a small whiteboard around with me in my backpack. But even though it is small, it takes up a significant chunk of space in there. What I really wanted was some sort of 'whiteboard notebook' with whiteboard pages. Maybe it exists out there, but I decided to try and make one in the spirit of instructables.

I tried some approaches which failed. First I went looking for some vinyl fabric thinking that that glossy white patent leather plastic stuff would be the perfect whiteboard surface. Not finding any at the fabric store, I tried a cheap $2 shower curtain liner from Target. To my dismay, the whiteboard ink would not erase from it! I guess it has a very fine texture which was enough to grab and hold the ink. Then I tried ironing some clear vinyl which had the desirable whiteboard-like surface effect over the white vinyl. The two vinyl sheets stuck together well enough, but after ironing, the clear vinyl no longer had the whiteboard property and I couldn't erase the ink off it!

I tried another approach of recycling the hard flat plastic shell that came with some packaging. I cut it into squares as evenly as I could, poked holes with a hole punch in that and separated the plastic pages by sheets of plain white paper. I joined the holes together with links removed from a chain. It worked, but turning the pages was awkward and the holes kept breaking free.

Then I had a duh moment and realized I was trying too hard. There is a much simpler answer and here it is. As it happens, some other great minds here have had similar ideas. And this one:!/. And here:

I guess I've taken it a little farther and made it into a notebook.

Now all we need is someone to invent a DIY dry erase marker ink in a refillable pen. I wonder how that could be accomplished?

Hope you find this idea useful.

Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts

Transparancies (the write-on type for overhead projection)
Notebook cover
binder rings
hole punch
plain white paper (not pictured)

assembly is pretty easy. Just punch the holes in the transparencies and the white paper, then alternate transparency with sheet of paper. that's it!

Note that one side of the transparencies is slicker than the other and easily erased, while the other side isn't. So, before assembling, make note of which side is the good one and face that side up.

Also, it's kind of hard to separate the pages with your fingers, so it helps to add a post it tab to each page to help turn and access the pages.

Step 2: Caveats

Picture of Caveats

Be careful how you erase the ink. I used my sleeve and it made fine scratches in the transparency so that the ink could not be removed! So, just use a kleenex or something soft like that.


HLightning11 (author)2016-03-07

or you could use those little sleeves that already have the holes, or you could laminate the paper.the first thing you could also put printed paper in, like logic puzzles!

* with the first thing...

pcarney (author)2014-02-01

Hey I've made something similar:

foobear (author)pcarney2014-02-01

That's really nice. I saw something also similar at Barnes and Noble recently. I like to imagine that I was an influence! =)

bostoneight (author)2011-06-06

Refillable markers are available, these are terrific.

foobear (author)bostoneight2011-06-16

those are cool

Abbey_Lad (author)2008-12-18

Just to say I've laminated a few pages and yes they can be used as whiteboards. They don't clean as easily as whiteboards and after a while there is some residue build up. So far I've been lazy and laminated a few other pages than actually try and clean up the dirty ones. There probably is a cleaning product but so far I've not found one in a small compact "carry with you" size.

moneydoc (author)Abbey_Lad2011-05-03

You can probably buy a travel size pump hair spray at Walmart or a dollar store and after you finish the product you have a small spray bottle to carry some glass cleaner or white board cleaner in.

sgsidekick (author)Abbey_Lad2009-04-07

My regular whiteboard has a buildup from all the messages, and I read that regular rubbing alcohol will cut thru the buildup. It worked!

Generally, if you draw over the "permanent" marks with a dry erase pen and quickly wipe it away, the marks will disappear. This works with permanent pens, too.

rpjamess1 (author)Abbey_Lad2008-12-19

Try acetone/fingernail polish remover. Should remove any of the ghosting effect that you're seeing.

foobear (author)rpjamess12008-12-19

I could be wrong, but I would think that the acetone would cause the finish to come off the surface, making it rough and therefore harder to clean later. Dunno, haven't tried it though. Maybe whiteboard cleaner. That stuff is great, did you know, it will clean sharpie ink off of surfaces (if you use it right away).

WickedFabala (author)2010-03-15

whiteboards will last longer if you don't erase with your fingers/hands, the oil ruins them

zerrodach (author)2010-02-16

Instead of having a transparency and piece of paper separate, you could just laminate several sheets of plain white paper. There would be more pages to use before you had to erase, plus it would be more durable and waterproof (the pages, not the ink on it). Food for thought.

devilsin44 (author)2009-10-26

thats so niceeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!
recently i hvae bought a whiteboard to remember test i have 2 study for. i find it great . Onli prblem i have with this is i do not have a hole puncher

Brother_D (author)2009-03-28

Expo makes retractable dry-erase markers nowadays, they're pretty cool.

bluefly1215 (author)2009-01-11

Our local arts and crafts store sells 12X12 squares of paper used for whiteboard. They frame them alone or along with cork sheet, blackboard sheet and or magnet board (galvanized steele).

karossii (author)2008-11-26

I have been using sheet protectors for years as re-usable 'whiteboard' surfaces while gaming... simply buy a pack of protectors, slip in a sheet of paper (I usually use graph paper for maps, or character sheets for whichever roleplaying game I am playing), and use wet-erase or (preferably) dry-erase markers on them. Not as cheap as transparencies, but easier, I think...they come pre-punched for you, and you can slip in sheets of paper without holes in them.

the_sandypants (author)karossii2009-01-04

this is an awesome idea. I actually had some sheet protectors laying around and plenty of plain white paper (and graph paper if I need it) and badabing! instant whiteboard. I have since put one in the kitchen for weekly menus and grocery list, and one in my notebook for my constant doodling. Awesome idea.

foobear (author)karossii2008-12-19

An equally good idea

jmiksanek (author)2008-12-25

You can also use the cover of a white binder (the kind that's made to be able to insert a piece of paper into the front and has a clear sheet covering it) It works awesomely in a classroom setting to have a moving board. It does become impossible to erase eventually.

MarkKiger (author)2008-12-22

If you are looking for something more durable you might try Formica laminate; although it is a bit thicker than your transparencies (~1/32"). It is available at most home centers. As for removing ghosting, rubbing alcohol will not attack most plastics unlike acetone. It will also remove 'permanent' ink (found that out when I grabbed the wrong marker for the board).

ejk00 (author)2008-11-25

I can see a definite use for a small white board. Here's another suggestion - there is a company out there called "GoWrite!" that makes 8-1/2 x 11" sheets that can be run through a laser printer or copier (not ink jet). They aren't too expensive, so maybe you could have a blank page, then one with a graph-paper grid on it, and one with an isometric grid (for drawing iso views), and maybe one with an engineering graph-paper grid on it. Or get even more custom. Their website is

foobear (author)ejk002008-12-19

I just got a pack of these from Amazon, they're pretty nice. A little pricey, but full of potential.

TheScientist (author)ejk002008-11-25

you could print those onto individual transparancies and then just put them under the one you're using at the time too... then you wouldn't need to worry about rubbing it off when cleaning too

ejk00 (author)TheScientist2008-11-26

You're right. And the more I thought about this, the more I came up with. For one, you can easily find all kinds of free graph paper templates and "make your own" pdf generators online. I have used them to make custom graph paper design sheets for my company. Secondly, as I was rummaging through the office supply closet last night, it occurred to me that any company more than about 5 years old probably has a box of transparancies sitting around gathering dust (in this age of Power Point and LCD projectors, who uses overheads anymore?). These could probably be easily "liberated" without anyone's care. Total cost = $0!

foobear (author)ejk002008-11-25

ah sweet, thanks!

fireraisr (author)2008-12-19

This was exactly what i was looking for. For those wondering I just bought some tranparencies from office depot, the write on ones were $28 for a hundred pack, i don't think you can buy smaller packs any more because it is a dying media. Markers were $5 for a 4 pack. $28 is kinda pricy but when you think that with regular use one sheet will last about 3 months or so(even longer when you use the hole punch enforcing stickers) it's not a bad investment. And hey, if someone likes my idea at school i can always sell em a sheet and marker for $3 and make a dollar something profit back :)

foobear (author)fireraisr2008-12-19


rpjamess1 (author)2008-12-19

Another option, and I don't know if this was mentioned in the other instructables, is to buy the flexible white boards. You could get them at Wal-mart, Office Depot, Target (I don't know if you still can as I haven't looked for them in a while). These are usually large enough to cut into 4 letter size sheets. I've done that before for taking notes at my desk before.

foobear (author)rpjamess12008-12-19

I haven't seen those, but that sounds cool, thanks

eli18 (author)2008-12-03

i love your idea! i'm crazy about whiteboards and this seems like a great plan- even to just add a few pages in the front of my regular notebook. i was wondering if you knew if laminated paper could be erased? you could just laminate plain sheets of paper and they would be sturdier than the transparencies.

foobear (author)eli182008-12-04

I bet they could. I've never tried it, but it seems like it would work.

mg0930mg (author)2008-11-25

How much were the transparencies.

foobear (author)mg0930mg2008-11-25

Well, these were the cheapest of the transparencies. These are the sort that go onto an overhead projector. I'm not sure who uses those anymore, but evidently that old technology is still around. I bought them for doing animation a long time ago, so I'm not sure of the price. I do remember they were a lot less than the inkjet type which cost a bloody mint.

CapinPorcupine (author)foobear2008-11-29

my school still uses them!

mg0930mg (author)foobear2008-11-25

Oh well, maybe I'll look tomorrow. I was going to make stencils with them. I like the instructable too,It's pretty cool.

ChrysN (author)2008-11-25

Neat idea to put it in notebook, I can see that being really handy. Plus a great "how to doodle cute cats" video.

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