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How to Make a Tabbed Book

You Don't Need a Template

Making a tabbed book is quite easy! You don't even need a template. You simply need instructions.

You will only need:

  • scissors (or a paper cutter)
  • a ruler
  • a stapler
  • paper

Okay. Follow these step by step directions and you can make this minibook right now.

This book can stand alone or be included into a lapbook.

The Directions - for a tabbed minibook

For this tutorial, we'll be making a four tabbed book. Since it also has a title page, that's five sheets of paper in all. So get five sheets of paper that you want to use for your book.

But wait! You need a cutting template, so add one more sheet; it can be scrap paper. That's a total of six sheets of paper. Cut them all to the same size. In my photos, the cutting template is purple and my book's pages are blue.

First, prepare your cutting template by marking a section where you want your tabs about one inch (2.5 cm) tall. Then divide it equally into four sections. It doesn't have to be pretty. This will eventually get thrown away.

Set Aside One Piece of Paper

Before you start cutting, be sure to take one of your book's pages and set it aside. It does not get cut at all. (I often forget this step and have to make another page! So don't forget like me!)

Take the remaining four pages and stack them all together with the cutting template on top. Holding them tightly so they don't shift about, cut out the first notch from the entire stack (that's four pages of your book plus your template).

Take one of the book pages and set it aside. You have two pages ready so far.

Stack your three pages with the cutting template again and cut out the second tab.

Take one of the pages and set it aside. Now three pages are done.

I'm sure you're seeing the pattern now. Holding your cutting template over your last two pages, cut out the third tab.

And lay that page aside.

Now take your cutting template and one remaining page and cut off that last tab. Your last page, actually your cover or title page, is now done!

Now you have five sheets - four pages and one cover.

Now you can throw away or recycle your template and all the little scraps you cut away.

Stack your pages, putting the tabs in order.

Staple the book through all pages on the side.

Done! A beautiful tabbed book!

Variations on the Tabbed Book

1. Put the tabs on the side or bottom instead of on the top

2. Use a rainbow of different colored papers to make the tabs really stand out

3. Make your tabs different lengths -- some short and others long

Tabbed Book Poll

Have you ever made a tabbed book without a template?

See results

Tabbed Book Examples

Here are some examples from my daughter's lapbooks.

Stapled Book with Tabs

This video is compliments of Live & Learn's Video Assembly Guide.

Tabbed Book Guestbook 6 comments

groovyoldlady profile image

groovyoldlady 8 years ago

Awesome!!!!!!


anonymous 8 years ago

Great instructions! When I work without a template I have a hard time figuring out the size. Do you have any tips? Can you tell me the size of the paper you used in your example? Thanks!


jimmielanley profile image

jimmielanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA Author

You can use any size paper. It makes it easier though if the width of the paper is easily divisible by the number of tabs you need. So if I want a five tab book, I'd try to make the width of my book 5 inches (one inch tabs) or 7.5 inches (1.5 inch tabs).


Tarra99 8 years ago

Cool!...I have an 8 year old who would love this!


poutine 7 years ago

Very well explained and the pictures help a lot.


tssfacts 6 years ago

I have never heard of tabbed books before. I will keep this knowledge for the next time I need a quick and fun activity. Thanks for the information.

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