Introduction: Pocket Size Accordion Notebook With Business Card Holder

About: I'm an architect by day. I love doing projects by night, both on my own and with my kids

This is my entry into the Pocket Size Challenge. I'm a very forgetful person and depend on task lists to keep me focused and on track. To keep me organized this is a PocketMod inspired ultimate task list. I've been told that this is called a "Leporello" style notebook. I first published this before Halloween but unfortunately it just got lost in the flood of Halloween Projects. Because the Pocket Size Challenge deadline was extended to Nov. 21st I decided to pull it and wait until after the Halloween deadline to try again.

About PocketMods

I first learned about PocketMods a few months ago and have been a fan ever since. Basically you create a custom mini notebook on a single sheet of paper. check out . There are templates for calenders, to do lists and even games.

There are a number of PocketMod Instructables that are great, especially the ones with covers.

I Love PocketMod's but not PocketMod Lists.
For what I do the PocketMod lists don't really work. The sheets are in vertical (portrait) which doesn't give much room for each item. This works great for a simple things like a shopping list, but not if you need to write more than 4 words. My lists are very descriptive and I do lot of sketch's.....a picture is worth a thousand words. I also save all my lists so that there is a history of the decisions and changes that have been made. I'm constantly referring to this back history.

A New Kind Of Task List
One day I had an idea for my own task list. The idea is to create a long continuous paper strip which is folded accordion style down to Pocket size. I've been told that this is called a "Leporello" style notebook. The inspiration came from looking at a long grocery receipt after a big shopping trip. I used a receipt to create my first list but I felt very self conscious about people seeing my shopping, so I quickly abandoned that idea. If you don't have any problems with that; they work great so you can skip ahead to step 3.

What I like is that the list expands as you need. you can use one page at a time or pull out as much as you need or even the entire strip. You use the book horizontally (landscape). This way adjacent pages naturally make your writing area twice as big. Pull out the strip as you need to see the entire list. This is how I work. I never make a new task list, i just keep adding to the end. This way you have this giant notepad which vanishes into your pocket. Fully unfolded this sheet is 4" x 60" (5 feet) but folds down to 4" x 2 1/2"

Cover Options

  • Use a single folded strip. These work great for quick notes and shopping lists
  • Simple cover using a recycled magazine
  • Simple cover with business cards
  • Duct tape cover with money and credit card slot and has RFID shielding.......coming soon
  • Fabric / leather cover with elastic ban, pen loop and book marks......coming soon.

Step 1: Print & Trim Graph Paper

Computer / Printer
Old Magazine to be recycled
First Aid Fabric Bandage Tape

Paper Cutting implement - scissor, x-acto and straight edge or paper-trimmer
(2) rulers

there is a 8 1/2" x 11" template and a 11"x17" template. use whichever you prefer and your printer can handle.
If possible print in color. the grid is a light blue color, so black writing will stand out well.
I only use this single sided. If you can, use old prints so that your not wasting paper.

Print as many pages as you like depending on the length that you like.
For the ones I've been using 3 pages of 8 1/2 x 11 and end up with a total length of about 5 feet (60 inches). With 1 sheet of 11x17 you get 3 sheets at 16", will give you a 48" strip. The 11x17" strips are 1/4" narrower than the 8 1/2 x 11 strips.

Once your pages are printed use scissors, paper trimmer or x-acto knife & straight edge to trim off the edges, then cut paper into linear sheets on the red line. the dark blue lines are the fold lines.

Note: the width of the spine on the cover template is based on using 3 sheets of 8 1/2x11 or 2 sheets of 11x17. if you go thicker you'll want to make the spine a little wider.

Step 2: Folding

Once you have the sheets cut, then it's time to fold.

For 8 1/2 x 11 Sheets

Start with the Center Folds.
The center fold needs to be a "mountain" fold, meaning that the crease points up. To make this simple take your sheet and flip it over. Take one edge and align it with the opposite edge. Do this with every sheet.

Making the Crease
to make a crease press your finger to the sheet about an inch from the crease point and then drag your finger over, continually pressing down so that the paper is pulled tight and you establish a crease point. then working from the center drag your finger up and then drag it down so that you have a nice even crease with no wrinkles.

Quarter Folds.
With your sheet folded in half, flip the sheet over so that the grid faces up. now take an outside edge and align it with the center fold. press down the fold using the finger technique. Flip the sheet over and repeat with the other side.

For 11 x 17 Sheets
Third Folds
there are 4 mini pages with an 8 1/2x11 sheet, while there are 6 with an 11x17 sheet.
For the 11x17 sheets start with the left edge and bring it to the

Flatten Each Accordion Sheet
Once each sheet is folded, use a pen, or something else with a round edge to flatten each crease. Starting in the center, press the pen down and then slide it up and then down. Do this with every edge.

Step 3: Tape

Use First Aid Fabric Tape
At first I used scotch tape to tape the sheets but after the tape had been creased, it would split after a few unfoldings, so I switched to first aid fabric bandage tape. It folds well and last a long time.

Tack the first sheet down then align and stick down the second
first unfold your sheets. To get the strips to line up I use a table edge as a guide.

I'm pretty picky about my taping because I want the grid to line up. What I do it is lay a strip of tape on the table that is just wider than the paper approx. 4 1/2". Stick on the first edge. Bring the second sheet edge over but don't press down. you can move it around until you get it positioned then press and stick it into place.

use a pair of scissors to trim the tape. The fabric tape folds easily so once your sheets are taped, fold them into the final stack.

Flatten the stack.
Using the same pen technique used to flatten each sheet, flatten the stack edges.

Step 4: Simple Cover From Old Magazine With Optional Business Card Slot

For these booklets I make a simple cover using an old magazine cover.
First print the cover pattern. The pattern is that, the two outer rectangles are folded in. the center rectangles are the front and back cover and the narrow center rectangle is the spine. this spine size is 1/4" which is sized for (1) 11x17 print or (3) 8 1/2x 11 prints.

Start with a Recycled Magazine
Get an old magazine that has cover graphic that you like that you don't mind destroying. position the pattern on the cover so that your happy with way that the front and back covers will look. Its ok if the end flaps end up being a weird. Once you have the pattern positioned tape it in a couple places. if the sheet overhangs the magazine simply tape the edge that is visible on top, then flip over and tape from underneath. Now cut out using scissors or a xacto knife and a straightedge. if your using a x-acto use a sharp blade so that you get a clean cut and be sure to press hard enough so that you go thru both the template sheet and the magazine.

Now for the folds.....I wish there was a trick like there is with the accordion but there isn't for the cover. at least not one that i've figured out. (I'm open to suggestions).
What I do here is a simple folding method that I developed years ago. First I lay the cover pattern back on the cut out magazine sheet.
I take two rulers that have beveled edges. the first ruler I lay on top of the pattern and align one edge with a fold line. once it's lined up and firmly press down and hold it in place. with my other hand I slide the second ruler under the paper and bring it to the other. then while pressing firmly with the top ruler I will roll the bottom ruler up. this will establish the fold line. it's very accurate and you end up with very clean folds. I have an idea for a folding tool which will be the subject of a future instructable.
repeat this procedure with each fold line. the two center folds are the trickiest because they're so close together.
once you have the folds, press each fold with the mug as you did with the booklet.

Now all, I do is take the booklet and insert the last page under the back cover flap. that's it. I like to leave the first page loose so that as I flip thru the pages I can pull out and look a the entire list.

These notepads are the perfect size for business cards so one cool thing you can do is keep some cards in the cover. This is the same as the other cover with the addition of a thumb slot on the back cover. Originally I put the cards under the front flap, but I had problems with the cards falling out when I opened the notepad. At first I was going to add flaps to the cover to keep the cards in but then my wife suggested "why not just use the back cover?" duh.....
On the cover template file is the slot layout. the slot is 1" from the back cover edges. this is the thickness of my metal ruler so I simply align the ruler with the edges. first trace the slot & then cut out.

To insert the cards, first insert the accordion strip and fold the cover. pinch the back cover and insert some cards between the cover and the graph paper. This is really for about 5 cards. take the cards and separate them so that they'll slide out easily. To get a card , hold the notepad and put your thumb on the bottom of the slot. slide your thumb up and a card will stick up thru the top. if the cards are loose you'll only get one. make sure to insert the cards so the back faces out to keep the fronts from getting dirty in your pocket.

I have some ideas for some different covers that i will update later.....

Well, that's it.  if you have any suggestions please let know. this has been a constantly evolving design and I'm always looking for ways to improve it.

This is something that i use and depend on every day.

Pocket-Sized Contest

Participated in the
Pocket-Sized Contest