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Everything You Need To Know About Junk Journal Signatures

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Signatures are one of the most important elements when creating a beautiful and functional junk journal. After all, without signatures, you wouldn’t have anything to write on!

But if you’re new to making junk journals, you might have burning questions, such as:

  • What are signatures?
  • How many sheets of paper should you use for each signature?
  • And other than writing paper, what else can you use as pages?

Today, I’m covering all of this and more. Let’s dive in!

What are signatures in a junk journal?

A signature is a collection or group of papers you bind together to make a journal. You might have heard people refer to their journals as having one signature, two signatures, or three or more signatures. So these would be one collection of papers, two collections of papers, three collections of papers and so on. 

Take my journal shown in the photo below, for example. This one has three signatures or three collections of papers.

Close up of hidden spine junk journal binding
This journal has three signatures (or three collections of papers)

READ NEXT: Junk Journal Definitions & A-Z Junk Journal Glossary For Beginners

How to make signatures for your junk journal

To make the simplest signature possible, all you need to do is fold sheets of A4 or letter-sized paper in half and insert them inside one another. This is your signature or collection of papers. 

Once you get more experienced with making journals, you might want to experiment with your journal pages and signatures. For example, instead of folding a piece of paper exactly in half, you could fold it into thirds or quarters to create interactive fold-out pages

Centre page inside my forest waterfall journal
This music sheet folds out to reveal hidden writing spots and a pretty book page in the centre of my signature

You can also experiment with different-sized papers, tearing instead of cutting paper and adding tip-ins. More on this shortly.

You don’t even have to make your signatures out of paper if you don’t want to!

I once made a three-signature “Enchanted Woodland” journal, which had two signatures full of writing pages on either side of the middle signature, which was a fun junk journal insert I made from envelopes.

junk journal folio using Green Leaves Watercolor Kit from RomanticaArts
This fun flippy folio made from envelopes was my centre signature in my Enchanted Woodland junk journal

READ NEXT: 14 Creative Things To Do In A Journal Or Notebook

How many pages to use for your signatures

How many pages you should use for each journal signature is one of the most widely debated discussions throughout the junk journal community. As with all things junk journal-related, there are no rules or right or wrong answers.

That said, I often aim for around 8-12 sheets of paper per signature, which creates 32-48 sides of journaling space per signature. 

If I’m using lots of thin paper, I’ll use more of it. Whereas, I’ll only use 8 sheets of paper if one or two of them are thicker, such as good-quality envelopes or cardstock.

You also need to bear in mind how much ephemera you’ll add to your journal and how much embellishing you plan on doing. If you add lots, you may want to use fewer papers to avoid having an “alligator mouth journal”.

I recently asked in my Facebook group how many papers everyone uses in their signatures and I had a wide variety of responses. But generally speaking, the consensus was between 5 and 15 sheets of paper – depending on many of the things I’ve already covered.

But a couple of ladies said something very wise indeed, which is to trust when it feels right to you and to keep practising until you get the right balance for your needs and preferences. 

Essentially, yay for no rules! That’s just one of the many reasons why I love junk journals.

READ NEXT: Easy Junk Journal Embellishments – 20+ Examples & Tutorials

Ideas for pages in your junk journal

Speaking of different paper thicknesses, one of the most fun things about junk journals is the freedom to use pretty much whatever you want as journal pages

Here are some examples of things you can use:

  • Junk journal digitals: Ideally, you should use a high-quality printer setting and 100 GSM Presentation Paper for the best print-outs. This is the paper I use. XX
  • Plain paper: Why not experiment with a mix of coloured, plain, tea-stained and dyed papers?
  • Lined or dotted paper: You could repurpose these from old notebooks.
  • Book pages: Both text and illustrated; you can even fold these up to make pocket pages.
  • Maps and music sheets: Instead of cutting large ones down to size, why not fold parts of them in to create pockets and fold-outs?
  • Ledger paper and other vintage papers: These make fun additions to your journals – especially if they have interesting textures and typography.
  • Envelopes: You’ll have better luck with high-quality ones – especially if you want to use them as pocket pages.
  • Scrapbook paper or cardstock: Be wary of poor-quality ones that crack when you fold them.
  • Greeting cards: These make sturdy pages, which are perfect for attaching pockets and other ephemera onto.
  • Paper doilies: Either for writing on or folded up as pocket pages.
  • Thick wallpaper samples: These make beautiful pages if one side is illustrated and the other is plain for writing on.

You might also want to experiment with tip-ins. These are extra pages you add to your journal, but you don’t stitch them into the signatures themselves. 

For example, say you’ve added an envelope to your signature. On one side of the signature, you have the envelope part itself to use as a pocket page and on the other side, you have the envelope flap. By folding a piece of paper in half and glueing it on either side of the flap, you’ve added two sides of writing space to your journal. This is known as a tip-in.

Christmas card belly band
Here’s an example of a tip-in inside one of my Little Golden Book journals

READ NEXT: 10 Junk Journal Page Ideas To Inspire You

How many signatures to add to your junk journal

You can have as many signatures as you like inside your journal. If you’re new to making junk journals, I’d start with one signature so that you can get used to the binding process. Once you’re more experienced, you can start experimenting with more signatures. 

I personally choose only to do one or two signatures as I get bored if I spend too long working on a single journal. But… I know some people who’ve done a whopping 8 signatures in one journal before!

However many signatures you choose to add to your journal, you need to make sure your spine has enough room for them all. Otherwise, you might end up with a “gator mouth”.

But don’t let this hold you back from being creative! There are always ways to fix or change something with a junk journal, such as the time I needed to replace my spine with a bigger one to fit all my signatures.

READ NEXT: How To Make A Junk Journal From Scratch (Step-By-Step)

How do you stitch signatures into junk journals?

You can use many different binding methods when making your journals, but most people (including myself) start with a 3-hole pamphlet stitch. It’s relatively easy to learn and works just fine for most journals.

Mini Lace Junk Journals - Exposed Spines
I used a 3-hole pamphlet stitch for these mini lace junk journals

Once you feel comfortable with this binding method, you might want to try a 5-hole pamphlet stitch next, which is similar but usually more secure.

Or… you can experiment with all kinds of methods – from elastic and twine binding to using buttons! 

READ NEXT: 10 Junk Journal Binding Ideas & Tutorials To Inspire You

What should come first: the cover or the signatures?

Here’s another widely debated discussion: what should come first – your junk journal cover or the signatures? Honestly? It depends on what you prefer. 

I prefer to make my cover first so I know how many signatures I can fit inside it and what size the pages should be. Making my cover first also helps me finalise the overall look and feel of my journal.

Lilacs and Lavender fairy junk journal
The time I experimented with using a stack of envelopes on the cover of one of my fairy journals

I also prefer to bind my pages into the journal when they’re undecorated because they’re not as heavy or chunky compared to when you add the ephemera and embellishments.

However, some crafters prefer making the ephemera and pages first, so they know what size the cover should be and what size spine they should have. 

I’d suggest trying both methods to see what works best for you.

READ NEXT: 21 Junk Journal Cover Ideas To Inspire You

Read More About Junk Journals

Making junk journals is one of my biggest obsessions right now, so I have lots of other blog posts you might want to check out, such as:


I hope I’ve been able to answer all the questions you had about signatures. But if you still have questions, please leave me a note below. I always reply!

Did you like this guide to junk journal signatures? Why not pin or bookmark it now, so you can read it again later?

Everything You Need To Know About Junk Journal Signatures
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Justine Jenkins

Justine is the brains behind the House of Mahalo craft blog, YouTube channel and Etsy shop. She's been cross-stitching since she was 10, baking since she was 6 and just generally creating something fabulous for as far back as she can remember. In 2020, Justine started upcycling various items around the house, and in 2021, she discovered the wonderful world of junk journals. Since then, she's made well over 30 journals and folios by hand, alongside various handmade gifts and home decor pieces. Justine now shares tutorials and inspiring DIY ideas via this craft blog, her YouTube videos and in her Facebook group called Junk Journal Ideas and Inspiration.

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