A Beginner’s Dive into Ring-Bound Planners: Part 3 – Binders

Original Person Filofax in Teal


This is Part Three of  6-part series about getting started using ring-bound planners. Please check out the previous articles, Part One: Why and Part Two: Sizes.

So, by now you’ve decided if a planner is something that might interest you. You’ve even thought through what size binder and paper might work best for you. Now its time to shop for the “big purchase”. The binder is where the majority of your expense will be. That said, you don’t have to buy the most expensive planner binder in the world for this to be the best option for you. You might prefer to start with a binder you can find at your local big box retailer. Secondhand binders occasionally come up on Ebay and last season’s colors or designs might pop up on Amazon or Ebay as well so there’s the potential to do some comparison shopping.

(from Plotter USA)
(from Plotter USA)

Binder Materials: (updated!)

Obviously, aesthetics and personal preferences are the first order of business when choosing a binder. Binders come in an array of materials from Italian leather to canvas and fabric. There are leatherette options as well. Most manufacturers feature sturdy, durable leather for the majority of their planners. This is fine with me but other folks might want to consider the non-leather options for price or personal reasons. Some leather planners can get very pricey (I’m talking to you, Smythson of Bond Street and PLOTTER.) so proceed with caution. DayRunner, Filofax, Franklin Covey and Kikki K planner binders can all be had, in leather, for less than $100. On sale, you can find them closer to $60 or $70.

Non-leather binders at the Personal/Compact size can start around $40-$50. In a world where an A5 Moleskine notebook costs upwards of $20, $40 doesn’t sound so bad for a reusable notebook cover.


Pictured clockwise from top left: Filofax Original Personal Size with a snap closure, Filofax Malden Zip in Pocket Size, Filofax Domino in Personal size with horizontal elastic closure, and a Kikki K Medium Mint with vertical elastic.

Binder Closures:

Binder are available with an array of closures —  some have a strap with a snap or magnet to keep them closed, some zip closed, some have elastics that run horizontally or vertically, and some have no closure at all. Again, this gives you lots of options so that you can choose what look you prefer.

I mentioned in my previous post about ring sizes though its probably more relevant here. I’ve added it again here since it makes more sense in the context of selecting your binder.

Ring Sizes:

Be sure to consider how many pages you may want to carry in your planner when deciding on a size. The Filofax Compact and Slim line utilize smaller rings which will limit how many sheets you can fit in your planner. If you choose to cut down Tomoe River paper to fit in your planner, you might be able to use a smaller binder but if you plan on having lots of pages, dividers and additional content, you may want to consider a binder with a larger ring diameter. Some binders have a ring diameter at 1.25″ while others can have ring diameter as small as 0.75″.

Systems like ARC and Circa sell different sized discs that make it easy to swap out the capacity. Discs start as small as 0.25″ and go up to 3″.

To read the rest of the series:



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8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. A Personal Personal reason is very personal right? (Just a little problem up here in the text) Anyway, I’m loving this tale between Planners and procastination, it’s like, your post are pushing me to learn how to organize my life. And thats great.

    Have a good day 😉

    1. Thanks for catching my typo! I’m glad to know you read the whole post so as to catch my mistake. Let’s get organized for 2015!

  2. I love this series. It’s very helpful and informative! My only suggestion is that, while I like that you link to the previous posts in case anyone needs to catch up, it would also be helpful to have a link to the next part. It would be easier than searching the site each time.

    Thank you for the work you put into this series! 🙂

  3. I really would love to get the ring bound planners, love them, but I really don’t like the fact that they are so heavy, and you can’t really decorate the cover. Maybe one day.

  4. Have you found any A5 ring planner’s in a 2 inch or more ring size? I am desperate to get something bigger than an inch and a quarter.

    1. Hey Heather,
      I’m having the same issue…it’s been a challenge searching for a binder cover with larger-sized rings. I have a Day-Timer binder cover with 7 rings that are 1.25″ in diameter. I absolutely love my binder cover! It’s perfectly worn in all the right places for me! I have a few extra planning sections I’d like to add but there’s no way for them to fit with my current ring size. Increasing to two inches, even three, is definitely what I need, too. I’ve been shopping everywhere for a new binder cover and have had zero luck. Recently, after hours of researching online, I stumbled upon YouTube videos of people changing out the entire ring mechanism in their binder covers. Have you seen these? It looks a little tedious but I need to research further. From the what I think I’ve gathered, you have to have a specific type of ring mechanism (current installation) to even be able to do this without destroying your binder cover altogether. The videos I watched included links to websites that sell these replacement ring mechanisms. I don’t know what my mechanism is and just the thought of removing everything from my planner…well, that will be a project for sure…and one I’ve put off…still hoping I’ll find one similar in style with the much needed larger rings…and without an expensive price tag.

  5. A handful of years ago, business reasons led me to change my planner system to the Day-Timer binder in the desk size. With great thanks to this article, my refill pages for 2017 are the classic size from Franklin Covey. I’ve been able to find better deals on planner pages and accessories by broadening the brands. Now, if only I could find a binder cover with larger-sized rings…

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