21 September 2011

6 rings?

I was pondering the other morning... as one does... why 6 rings in a Filofax? or the pattern of rings in a Filofax?

To just recap, the 3 rings in an A5 or Personal Filofax organiser are spaced by 19 mm or 3/4 inch with the gap between the sets of rings being set to 50 mm (2 inches) for Personal and 70 mm  (2.75 inches) for A5. With the Pocket the rings are equally spaced 19mm apart and the same with the Mini, but there is one less ring.

My first thought was why so many? So I've had a look around for clues in to the design of ring binders. Wikipedia gives us the history of the ring binder, but not the reasons behind the design.

I've consulted an expert and at first they were surprised at my question, I do come up with some odd questions at times!

The paper has to be held securely in place and in the A4 it is held at four points spread at 80mm intervals. That seems sound, but why 6 rings on a page that is about half the size of an A4 page?

The only sound reasoning I've come up with is that 90 years ago paper quality wasn't as good as it is now may be. So the paper was more prone to tearing so by spreading the strain on the paper over 6 rings they solved the problem.

It's worth remembering of course that the early Filofax organisers were also used a lot by the military, so there might have been some requirement to use the same hole spacing as used by them.

But if you know why a Filofax organiser has six rings apart from looking nice, be sure to add a comment. Now where's my coat.......


  1. If one was to be cynical - it forces you into buying their proprietary (and very expensive!) hole punch!!

  2. Interesting. Although Mike - I doubt they had a proprietary hole punch in those days!

  3. The world does very well with 3 holes, though there is a 7 hole standard which I think is just too many. I am reminded of my old Jeppesen flight manuals...and the price of note paper was cheap ... even now it is $5 for 500, yes 500, sheets!


    With many letters, invoices and receipts from the 1880's onwards I find it difficult to think paper quality was an issue when fax’s started. Have always thought 4 rings were sufficient. It is the lack of standard spacing and bulk of the rings that make fax rings awkward, especially with personal size and smaller...perhaps flexible plastic or nylon rings which can be renewed? Different coloured rings? You can get silver, gold and black, but being the ever so slightly faxy tart that I am … I’d like blue and orange.

  4. That is a very interesting thought, i will be thinking all day now....

  5. But there are plenty of decent punches available at sensible prices and I'm not talking about the cheap plastic ones.

    Take a look here:


  6. There is also this one that Jotje has but postage to U.K. is 33.00 Euros but the hole punch itself is only 8.57 Euros.


    Would love to get my hands on one of these.

  7. I got a punch on ebay - it is a niceday by Guilbert P606. It punches A5, Personal and (I think) Pocket because the two sets of three punches slide to different positions. It is much more substantial than the Filofax one (mine never worked that well).

  8. There is one on ebay now for the personal size: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/FILOFAX-SIX-HOLE-PUNCH-PERSONAL-SIZE-95MM-X-171MM-/130576919874?pt=UK_BOI_Office_Office_Supplies_Stationery_ET&hash=item1e66fdad42#ht_500wt_1202

  9. @Alison: browsed the blog for information about the Amazona binder and noticed that you wanted one in Black, personal size. Did you see the Danish site, with 50% off?

  10. I was so shocked to find your post as just yesterday I was looking at my open A5 Domino and wondered the EXACT same thing about the choice in number of rings and of spacing!!! Interesting ... glad to know I'm not alone in wondering about random odd things..

  11. @Cecilia - yes thanks I did check it out - according to an online currency converter, it works out more or less as expensive as the expensive ones on ebay at the moment, and that is without postage. I'll just have to sit tight and keep my eyes open!

  12. I'm sure Mark has a point about the profit protection issue, but I do think that the six rings are beneficial given how long some pages remain in the average Filofax, how many pages there are and how often they're turned in the course of the day.

    I'm just moving back into a Winchester with the 5/4-inch rings, and even with the six rings the leaves often need to be "snugged in" manually to reduce the chance of tearing when closing the binder.

    There probably aren't too many people using A4 Filofaxes but I'd say the main motivation would be the ability to quickly move pages on into standard A4 files, so that standing up to repeated daily page-turning would likely have less relevance than matching the international standard 4-hole spacing.

  13. Paper is a 3000 year old technology, it was already very well established by the 1920's.

    It's interesting how the Filofax Personal six hole size fits everything on the market that's even close in size: FQ, DayTimer, even Rite In The Rain.

    And in the A5 / 7 Hole size range NOTHING matches.

  14. Well, I don't know for sure why there are so many rings, but I have found that using my FC/daytimer pages in a cheap 5.5x8.5 plastic binder with only the 3 rings has caused several pages to break through the holes and become loose. I never had this problem when I was using a 7 hole binder.

    So on a similar but possibly completely different topic... I am thinking of jumping from DT/FC to Filofax/TimeSystem binder and inserts. I'm trying to figure out how well I might be able to repunch my FC/DT pages to fit into the A5 Domino. Any suggestions welcome.

    Why am I wanting to do this? It's your fault, Laurie! I keep reading Philophaxy and Plannerisms and also, I have used TimeSystem in the past and have had good results in my productivity.

    But the real reason is... I saw the Ultraviolet Domino and it's so pretty... so very very pretty...

    Question: can anyone tell me the empty weight of the A5 Domino?

  15. Domino A5 is 258 grams empty.


    And can we please dispel this 'punches are expensive' myth... they aren't, please see the link I posted earlier.

    When you consider the saving you will make on buying inserts even the metal Filofax ones will pay for themselves. But I have posted cheaper but just as good if not better alternatives....

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Wow, 258g = 9.1 ounces... super lightweight, just want I need... so pretty, the ultraviolet. Somebody stop me!

  18. Just found this article ...


    "The original Lefax company also competed with Filofax. They majored on personal service. Assistants at their showrooms in London and New York would spend up to three quarters of an hour with each customer tailoring the Lefax to their exact needs."

    That is exactly what is needed to promote planners, customisation to make them useful as opposed to a toy.

  19. Sarahb1: FQ 7 hole and A5 match up exactly wrong. Not even close and no known workaround.

    I've thousands of pages of 7 hole paper I've love to be able to use, but no fit.

  20. JJHit: True for sure, but a question that I have is whether or not repunching US 7ring paper with an A5 6 ring punch (or viceversa) will result in a viable insert, or will the holes overlap each other in such a way as to make the insert floppy and unusable in either binder?

  21. @Sarah: I have actually done this. Bought Desk sized 7hole Flavia Daytimer inserts, then repunched them to fit into my A5 Filofax. It.Looks.Horrible!
    Only the upper and lowest holes interlap (meaning: they get wider with A5-repunching). The pages sit firmly in the Filofax-rings, no worries there!
    However, why won't you use TimeSystem pages in your A5 Domino? The ring sizes match 100%, no ugly repunched pages ... Plus: same page size!
    The latter bothered me even more than the unappealing 11 holes of DIFFERENT DIAMETER(!) I have now: the Daytimer pages are a lot (like 1 inch!) narrower, and a few mm longer top and bottom than the Filofax refills.
    If you use both DT-tabs AND FF-tabs, the DT-tabs will simply become invisible, because they don't peek out.
    My advice: nah!

  22. Jotje: thank you for that info! Yes, my plan was/is to use the timedesign/timesystem inserts, but I have reference pages and things from FC/DT that I thought maybe I could re-use in the Domino. I'm still considering the options. Thanks again for that information, though.

  23. Hi everybody,

    to the question with the 6 rings:
    last week I wrote an email to filofax germany, and received the answer today. I´ll quote:

    Sehr geehrte Frau Ziegler,

    zunächst einmal vielen Dank für Ihre e-mail und Ihr damit verbundenes Interesse an unseren Produkten.

    Unsere „kleinen“ Bücher haben eine sechsfach Ringung, da es sich hierbei um eine vorgeschriebene EU-Norm handelt.
    Die großen A4 Bücher haben eine vierfach Ringung, da die handelsüblichen A4 Blöcke ebenso eine vierfach Lochung haben.

    Wir hoffen, dass wir Ihnen hiermit zumindest ein wenig Ihre Frage beantworten können.

    Viele liebe filofax Grüße und ein schönes Wochenende.

    for those, who doesn´t use google chrome with the automatic translator:

    she said that the six rings are an eu norm (rule). it´s not the idea from filofax, but rather an neccessarity in cause of an international eu rule.

    so i kept searching, and found a wikipedia article about "DIN 5005: paper and carton - filler paper, hole diameter, hole center distances for the sizes A4 and A5"
    I couldn´t find an EU norm...

    nosy, what´s inside the DIN (German Industry Norm) 5005, i kept searching and found this:


    There are several measures about 2 or 4 rings for A4 and A5, but nothing about 6 rings.
    And although the article is from 2008, i don´t think that there´s a newer one.
    Aaaand i also can´t believe that it´s really an eu-norm, cause many other timers don´t have the 6 rings, and also don´t have the same holemeasures as filofax does.

    sooo... i think we´re as smart as we were before i received the email from filofax. ;)


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