29 December 2010

Filofax Buyers Guide Ver 1.03

I hope this guide helps you choose which Filofax is the best one for you, even if you are not new to the Filofax brand,

Though out this guide you will find links to other parts of the Philofaxy site to relevant articles and other information.

Why a Filofax?

The Filofax Organiser has not changed in the way it functions since it came in to existence back in 1921, but the number of users has grown considerably in recent years.  The history of the Filofax Organiser and the company has been documented by one of our readers Kevin Hall.

The Filofax first became popular in the 1980's the pre-mobile phone era!

Nowadays people may say to you 'Why would you want to use a Filofax when I have an iPhone or similar device.'

Here are some reasons....
  • It doesn't crash like a computer
  • It's always 'on' you don't have to wait for it to load up
  • Flexible - in terms of how you organise your data
  • Instantaneous - you can quickly jot down notes anywhere
  • You can personalise it - eg. all Blackberry(ies?) look the same!
We all have our favourite reasons for using a Filofax or coming back to using a Filofax.

Which Filofax?

Yes there is quite a range now. They come in five different sizes (Mini, Pocket, Personal, A5, A4) within those different size ranges. You will find that there are also variations on the ring sizes, the material used for the cover (Leather and non-leather), the internal layout of the organiser (pockets, zip pockets, credit card slots etc). There is a large range of styles in each size and obviously there is quite a price range from tens of £ $ € to thousands of £ $ €, but in between those extremes there is something for everyone.

So looking at each size. The Mini is the baby in the range, it has five equally spaced rings in the organiser and the spacing is the same as the Pocket size.

The Mini page size is 67mm by 105mm, which is about an eighth of the size of a sheet of A4 paper. The Mini is quite small but a useful size to slip in to a pocket or bag.

Because the Mini has pages that have the same hole spacing as the Pocket size it means that pages from a Mini will fit in to a Pocket size Filofax. 

The next size up is the Pocket this has six equally spaced rings; it has a paper size of 81mm by 120mm. Like the Mini is quite compact but again a useful size for your pocket or bag.

Both the Pocket and Mini lend themselves well to being used as a wallet or purse combined with also being used as an appointment diary and for keeping notes and to-do lists.

A page from a Pocket will clip in to a Personal size with just the bottom corner folded up.

We then come to the Personal size, this is the size most people will recognise as being a Filofax, and there are 6 rings in two groups of three. The Personal size is also used for the Slimline style of Filofax organiser, which uses the same size paper, but the organiser has much smaller rings.

The paper size for the Personal is 95mm by 171mm. The Personal size has the largest number of organisers in the range and paper and diary refills also. So if you are just buying your first Filofax this might be a good place to start. Again the price range is quite wide, but we will come on 'where' to buy your Filofax from later in this article.

The next size is the A5, which for some people is too large to carry around. The A5 paper size is 148mm by 210mm, exactly half the size of an A4 sheet of paper. It lends itself well as a desktop or counter type organiser, for holding reference information and family organisation.

Being a standard paper size means that you can print your own inserts quite easily from your own computer and printer. To print to A5 you can do a simple booklet print, then cut the page in half and punch it. There is a large number of templates in our files area which will all work in the A5 size.

The largest size Filofax organiser is the A4, which has a paper size of 210mm by 297mm. The A4 only has 4 rings, but they are standard 80mm spacing. This means that pre-punched paper and punches are readily available in a lot of stationary shops in Europe.

Please note that this size of organiser is not currently sold by Filofax USA, lack of demand and the availability of that size of paper in the US possibly being the reasons.

The picture to the right shows the comparison of the different page sizes when over layed on top of each other, starting from the smallest white page which is Mini, through Pocket (Yellow), Personal(Blue), A5(light Brown) and the largest A4(White).

Philofaxy has a very comprehensive guide to the full world wide range of organisers detailing the ring sizes, retail prices, material used etc. It's kept in the Files page of the site. 

Where to purchase your Filofax?

So once you have decided which size of Filofax is going to best meet your needs, where do you buy it? Well in the Philofaxy Suppliers page there are plenty of links to different suppliers around the world. Postage on these items can be quite high because of their value and bulk so it's best to always try and buy within your own country if you can. Do shop around because prices do vary.

You might also consider Ebay, but a word of caution. Like anything on Ebay you are dealing with people that might not know a lot about the product, so if there is any question about the description of what is on offer make sure you ask plenty of questions. I have seen things described, as a personal Filofax when in fact is was pocket size. If the price looks too good then there's most probably a reason why it is.

Caution when using on line auctions, especially when you see lots of items that say Brand New In Box (BNIB), because they are buying them from somewhere to then sell, you can most probably be able to do the same!

The current range of available styles and colours and sizes changes each year, so if you see a particular style or colour you totally adore, buy it when you see it, because it might always be available.

What else do I need?

If you are buying a new Filofax it will come with most things you need to get started in terms of paper inserts. These will include normally a diary (format might vary on the size of organiser you buy), some lined paper, to-do list pages, financial pages, address pages, dividers etc. Check the Filofax website for the full detail for the particular style/size you are buying.

You will obviously need a pen or pencil to go with your Filofax. Some people prefer to use pencil for appointments because you can erase it should the appointment change. Pens can be used for say permanent entries, journal entries. Your choice of pen (ballpoint, fountain, rollerball etc) is obviously a very personal one, you will know already which you prefer.

Beware the paper in Filofax tends to be quite thin, so it's advisable to test out a selection on pens on a blank sheet of Filofax paper before you settle on a specific pen.

Also check that your choice of pen will fit in to the pen loop, on some organisers this is elasticated so you will have a wider range of pens to choose from with these.

Some people use multi colour pens for highlighting different types of appointments.

If you want to insert your own pages or pictures in to your Filofax you will need a suitable paper punch, we have covered this topic extensively in the past so take a look at the punch posts and the links within those posts. If you are going to be doing more than just an occasional page it is worth investing in a metal punch rather than the simple plastic ones sold by Filofax.

Again the Philofaxy Suppliers page has numerous links that will help you find some of the more specialist items.

This section wouldn't be complete without suggesting that you will no doubt start thinking about your next Filofax if you get hooked on them. One is never enough for most people! The various surveys and reader profiles will testify to that!!!!

What diary to use

Which diary format to use is a very regular topic on Philofaxy, it is one of the biggest causes of anger/angst amongst the readers including our long standing and most experienced readers/users.

Does the perfect diary format/layout exist? I suspect in about 80% of cases most people can work with what is offered in whichever size of organiser they are using. But if you are someone who has a very busy life style/work schedule then your diary is going to start looking very crowded very quickly. Or worse your life style changes mid year then what do you do?

So that was the bad news... here is the good news.... well sort of!

Filofax diary inserts come in a variety of sizes and layouts, they include:
  • Day Per Page (DPP)
  • Week Per Page (WPP)
  • Week on Two Pages (WOTP) some retailers call this layout Week Per View 
  • Month on One Page
  • Month on Two Pages. 
  • There are also horizontal and vertical format year planners. 
Not all of these layouts are available for all of the different sizes of organisers. Again check the website for your particular size of Filofax organiser.

Filofax also make diary inserts in English and multi language formats. If English isn't your first language check out the Filofax site in your country/region they have ones specific to your region and sometimes layouts specific to your region too.  

The weekly diary refills come in horizontal and vertical formats again depending on the size of organiser. Start days of Monday or Sunday. Academic refills start in August and run for twelve months.

If the Filofax diary refills aren't exactly what you want then ones from other companies also fit the Filofax Organiser range, these are from Day Timer, Quo Vadis, Franklin Covey.

Our FAQ page has the details of what size fits which Filofax Organiser, the other companies don't use the same sizes or ring spacing in all formats although in some cases they fit the Filofax perfectly both for size and ring spacing. We have reviewed and used a lot of these alternative formats and the reviews are worth reading if you are looking to branch out from the Filofax range for your diary but still retain your Filofax organiser.

Need more information or help in choosing?

The contributors and the readers of Philofaxy are the biggest and most experienced group of Filofax users you are ever likely to come across. There is quite a community spirit that has built up over the life time of Philofaxy and everyone is always willing to help and answer questions, no matter how many times that question has come up before.

There are several ways of 'tapping' in to the global Filofax knowledge base (a fancy title I know!) On the blog you can email the contributors, or each Friday we have a 'Free For All Friday' post where anything Filofax related can be discussed, just post a comment in that post.

There is also a Google search box at the top of the blog, which can search through all of the posts going back over five years. 

We now have 'Yearbooks' of each years posts so you can read past posts away from your computer. These also include the comments to each post and there is a lot of useful information contained in the comments of posts. The Yearbooks are available on our Files page in PDF and Epub formats so you can also import them on to your ebook reader (Kindle etc). The Yearbooks have the advantage in that you can search through the posts and the comments. 

On Twitter Philofaxy has a readers follow list, follow that list and you will have most of the main 'players' in the group. The chat isn't exclusively about Filofax but we try to respond to all 'mention' and 'direct messages' sent to @philofaxy

Each month we hold a 'Roundtable' discussion for about 1-2 hours on Skype, these are 'advertised' on the blog about a week before the next one. You don't have to speak if you don't want to, you can log in and just listen or log in to the instant messaging side of things. There's no set agenda for what will be discussed during these chats, but they are great for asking questions and in some cases getting instant answers!

We have also had one UK Philofaxy 'face to face' meet up and we know of at least one other taking place in the US. These meet-ups are likely to happen in the future and judging from the feedback from the UK one are likely to happen again in the future.

There is a very active Philofaxy Flickr Group with hundreds of photographs and also a discussion group area.

If you get confused by the abbreviations used on Philofaxy or in the comments people make, we have created a Glossary for you to 'decode' the mysterious letters. 

How do I know when there is a new post on Philofaxy?

There are several ways of doing this:
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • 'Like' our Facebook Page
  • Subscribe to the Posts and/or Comments using the links in the blog sidebar
  • Add the RSS feed to your RSS feed reader or to Protopage
  • Add the blog to your favourites or make the blog your homepage!

So as you can see there's more to buying a Filofax Organiser than you might have first thought, but there is a wealth of experience, knowledge and friendly people to help you find what you want and also help you with using your Filofax.

I hope you have found this guide helpful please add a comment or email us if you have any suggestions for additions or changes and we will make suitable amendments to the document/post, I will increment each amendment.

Document History:
Version Number     Description
1.00  First Edition Published 29 Dec 2010 (SM)
1.01  Filofax Guide Document Reference and Link added in the Which Filofax Section of document  30 Dec 2010 (SM)
1.02 Flickr Group details added, and link to the Glossary added 31 Dec 2010 (SM)
1.03 Page comparison picture added 2 Jan 2011 (SM)


  1. This is an excellent and very comprehensive guide Steve. I am always recommending this site. I wish I knew about it before I bought my first Filofax 2 1/2 years ago but if I did I may own even more than my current 12 by now! Haha. Look forward to more great posts from you, Laurie and Nan in 2011!

  2. hear hear! an excellent starting point and, like CP, i am always recommending philofaxy. two of my friends are getting more involved in the filofax 'thing' lately, very exciting for me!

    i think 2011 will be an exciting year for philofaxy :)

  3. As always, a great article!

    There's just something so satisfying about pen and paper and the marks I make to make it mine!

    Looking forward to spending more time with Philofaxy in 2011! Thanks, Steve, Laure, & Nan!

  4. Great post Steve. I appreciate all the time and effort you put in along with Laurie and Nan.

    Here is wishing our community a Happy and Healthy 2011.

  5. Nice summary, as well as the faq's page which I just now read, and the "punch" post (which I commented on). Wish I'd had these sorts of summaries two years ago when I was learning which sizes went with what!

  6. Excellent overview, Steve!

    Happy New Year!


  7. Excellent post Steve!!! A great start to the new year! Happy 2011 Everyone!!

  8. Terrific article, Steve! Maybe it should be published on a a "getting started" tab on Philofaxy, so that new readers can get a first overview? Or do we already have that ...?

    Happy Philofaxy new year!

  9. Thanks everyone for the great response to this post. As you might have noticed we are already up to version 1.01 !! This one will be updated and revised constantly, I've added a document history at the foot of the post!

    I've also placed a link to it in the Files page.

    The guide will eventually be available as a pdf, when I get a few more moments. Busy with other stuff on the site at the moment!

    Thanks for the suggestion Jotje, I will look in to that. Having probs at the moment with pages which is ongoing, hence why they have moved to the sidebar. But I like your idea.

  10. Great post, thank you Steve!

  11. Hi Steve,

    Trying to find out the differences in the different versions of deskfax. I plan to buy one on ebay.
    Can't tell the distinctive qualities in terms of leather or not leather and inside pockets, zippers, etc. of Kent, Keswick, Richmond and are there others? I want the simplest soft leather with the fewest inside pockets in black.
    Please tell me where to look!!

    Thanks VERY much.

    Mara Kurtz

  12. I need an extra personal binder, preferably black, to store stuff that is blivitizing (10lbs. of you know what in a 5lb. bag)my 20 year old binder. It's really bulging and most of the things in it aren't needed on a regular basis. I'd prefer a binder to a box. The places I've looked all include inserts which I don't need, for it would be a waste. Any suggestions?
    Joanne Silverman / NYC

  13. Jo
    Have you tried Ebay? Or any retailers in your area?

    In London they do sell the binders without inserts, but the saving would be out weighed by the cost of shipping.


  14. Hi Jo and All,

    My quest for a large Filofax binder, the Deskfax, has been interesting.

    As you probably know, Filofax no longer makes the Deskfax and they turn up rarely on Ebay in the US.
    But I have managed to buy six different models on EbayUK. I'm away on holiday but know that I have a Richmond, Kent, Keswick and one with no name designation. My favorite is the "no name" with smaller rings and no pockets at all, so everything just lays flat.

    Some have smooth leather, others patterned calf, one model has a raised seam on the front cover. No two models are alike. What fun!

    The price range vaires depending upon condition and how much the seller knows about what they are posting for sale.

    All of mine are black but have seen several brown binders for sale along the way, even an mock alligator cover.

    If you wish to save a lot of papers, be sure to look for a Deskfax that comes with large rings.

    One of these days I'll take photos of my Filofax treasures and post them here.


  15. Steve,

    Any chance of getting this buyer's guide in pdf for offline reading?

  16. Yes I am working on an updated and expanded version of the guide, not sure yet when it will be finished

  17. Thank you! I have been thinking about purchasing my first filofax and the different sizes and models were a tad overwhelming. I was trying to decide between a pocket and personal size planner but after reading this I think I am going to go for the personal size model. I enjoy perusing your site and love how enthusiastic everyone feels about their filos. Thanks again, and Happy New Year!

  18. Can't quite believe I've found you! My planner hasn't been working of late for a number of reasons!! Thank you ever so much for offering free downloads. You have so many interesting blog posts too. It's where to start!! Off to put the kettle on ;-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...