How to Organize Those Clippings and Paper Scraps

I have a secret to share, the secret of how I organize all those clippings and paper scraps – the ones I tear out of magazines – so I can reference them later.

I’d often think “I don’t want to misplace it!” or “I’ve gotta remember that!”


I figure no sense keeping them if I can’t find them later. But that’s what would happen. I clip and tear and print all this MUST HAVE info only to then leave it in a pile never to be seen again.

If you’re like me and read your to-read pile with a pair of scissors so you can rip out all that information you want to remember then you might want to learn my secret for storing all those clippings.

  • And those print-outs.
  • And all those snip-its.
  • And those torn out sheets.
  • All those scraps of paper.
  • And those random notes.
  • And those helpful hints, bits of ideas and things you’ve written on the back of envelopes which means they must be important.

So what’s my secret? An address book!

042This little address book became my go-to reference book.

NOTE: If you are tech savvy you might want to stop reading here. This works for me because I am a paper person and will probably always be a paper person. If you prefer paperless options try saving stuff like this in Evernote or pinning it to a private board on Pinterest.

If you are are still reading I’m going to assume we’re the same kind of people – paper people at heart!

Now I’m able to open one book to the exact page with the tip, idea, note or resource I’m looking for!

I already owned a spare organizer, I simply took out the calendar pages and left the A-Z tabs which is what I use for sorting the paper.

I then sorted/filed/organized the papers by how I what I would think of when looking something up.

For example, a great cleaning tip goes under ‘C’ since that’s where I would think to look.

Now you may be wondering if I re-write all the info?

No I do not.

I’ve adopted more of a “stuff it” method, which might be why my reference book looks like this 005 (2)But it works – as long as I don’t hold the book upright.

Learned that lesson once when all the papers slipped out all over the floor. On the bright side it forced me to pare down the papers since I didn’t want to out them all back inside.

On occasion I have taped a paper inside. Very rarely I’ve written the tip directly on a page. More often than not I simply slip the paper into the book under the correct letter.

So what’s in my book?

The question is what’s not in my book?

I have everything from deer-resistant gardening ideas to hairstyles to paint colors to websites to cleaning tips and health articles, you get the idea. I also have “must remember” information like the codes to program the television remote control – those I slipped under the ‘R’ tab.

This is also where I keep lots of ongoing lists:

  • list of books I want to read
  • restaurants I want to try
  • day trip ideas
  • list of gift ideas

If you are going to make your own book just ask yourself, “Where would I look for this?” Simply use the A-Z tabs to alphabetize the clippings. For example a bathroom cleaning tip using vinegar can be filed under ‘C’ for cleaning or ‘B’ for bathroom or ‘V’ for vinegar.

It’s your choice as to where you file it, go with your first instinct. Even if you had to look under C then B to find a tip you know you kept at least you know you have it in the book and you will be able to reference it.

So let’s say you have the name of a website that picks up clothing for charity. You can write the name under ‘C’ for charity or ‘P’ for pick-up.

What’s the MOST important step? Give Your Reference Book a Home!

Keep your reference book handy so you can easily add to it, the book might fit in the kitchen drawer or next to the box of cereal in the pantry.

Always put your book away when you are finished using it, trust me nothing is worse than not being able to find your book when you need it.

The next time you think to yourself, what was that paint color idea, that website I wanted to check out or how do I remove that red wine stain all you have to do is pull out your own personal reference book and look it up!

So this weekend when I finally got to my embarrassingly overdue to-read pile I grabbed my scissors and my reference book.

002Right off the bat my to-read pile was down by 1 since I had a duplicate magazine. Progress already!   005Flipping through I found a profile of the book Will It Waffle? I reference the waffle book in the kitchen chapter of my newest book KEEP THIS TOSS THAT when talking about whether or not to keep or toss the waffle iron.

006So I tore out that page as a reminder to send the author Daniel Shumski an email.

008Then I clipped this little gem, a place to send your unused Slim Jims of all things! So now I’ll know just in case anyone ever asks and I bet someone somewhere will ask me.014By the time I was finished reading I had a pile of papers.

More ideas for where to donate unique items like Slim Jims filed under D for donations.

045A green smoothie recipe – not like I need another one. I already don’t make all the other ones I’ve clipped. Filed under S for smoothie.

046A recommendation for a Williams-Sonoma Spiralizer for making noddles from veggies.

048A recipe to mail to my sister so she can not make recipes just like me.

049A quick 5-minute workout that seems doable.

047A cute teal workout hoodie that I can wear while I consider doing that 5 minute workout.052Which on second thought I realized I didn’t need so I recycled the page.

015And just like that I was through the stack of magazines and I had a handful of clippings safely tucked away so I can easily reference them again at a later date. This is how to organize those clippings and paper scraps.

And yes, it is true I’ll have to pare down the pile soon or the snap on the book won’t close, I’d much rather sort the book every so often than to misplace a paper I know I clipped but can’t find.