Introduction: Notched Tabs in Books for Marking Sections

Whenever I add tabs to the side of a book to separate different sections, they always end up all crumpled after a while. To solve this problem, I cut notched tabs into the pages instead of tabs that stick out the sides. You can use them to separate different sections in a notebook or journal, or index different sections to make information easier to look up (e.g. in a dictionary or a reference manual). The advantages of this are that the tabs won't get all crumpled and messed up in your bag or pocket so they last longer, and it generally looks much cleaner.

The concept behind this was taken from this inventoids post, but I didn't have a Moleskine so I thought I would use this on my Latin dictionary to make it easier to look words up. Unfortunately, it didn't occur to me to write an instructable when I first did this, so these photos are from tab-ifying another book.

Step 1: What You'll Need

  • a book: it can be a dictionary, reference handbook, diary, notebook, etc. Anything you want to separate into sections or index for easy reference. It also helps if your book is flexible, i.e. you can bend it when you thumb through the pages.
  • a knife: you could use scissors if you really wanted to, but I wouldn't recommend it
  • a cutting mat: if you don't have one, use a stack of scrap paper
  • a ruler
  • paperclips or binder clips (optional): to mark out the sections you want

Step 2: Mark Out Sections

Decide on your sections. Separate your sections using paperclips or binder clips, or alternately you could just write down the page numbers of your sections.

Step 3: What Size Tabs?

First off, measure the margins of your pages so that you won't cut off any text when you make the tabs. The first time I did this, I used tabs with a depth of 4 mm, but I think even 2 or 3 mm would do.

The length of the tabs really depends on the size of your book and the size of your thumbs, but anywhere from 1.5 - 2.5 cm (0.5 - 1 in) works. The tabs can also be overlapped a bit to save space (up to roughly half the length of each tab); see the photos below for an example.

The thickness of the tabs depends on the thickness of the paper, but I find that 4 - 7 pages works best.

Step 4: Orientation of Tabs

I'm right-handed, so I cut the tabs in the pages preceding the first page of each section, so that when I'm thumbing through with my right hand, I'll stop at the first page of each section because of the tab. The photo probably explains this better.

If you're right-handed, you'll want to cut the tabs in the pages immediately before the start of each section. If you're left-handed, cut them in the pages immediately after the start of each section.

Step 5: Cut!

Once you have decided on the size and orientation of your tabs, you can start cutting. I recommend using a ruler and pencil to draw the outline of the tabs before you cut, but you could also just eyeball it.

Take the pages you want to cut, and put the cutting mat underneath them so the cuts don't go through too many pages. You can remove the paperclips as you work through the sections.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

You can write the names of the sections on the side of the book to make it more convenient to quickly access the right tab. If you want to get fancy, you could also make the tabs rounded, like in the big dictionaries.

That's all! I hope you enjoyed this instructable. Thanks for reading!