30 August 2013

Reader Tip: Alternative A5 Paper

Thanks to Mike for sending this tip in by email. 

For many years I have been using a cheap lined book as a diary and planner, inside a hand-made felt-covered binder. With holes worn through the felt cover, it was time to either get my sewing machine out, and make another cover, or try a ringed A5 binder. When I found a cheap shop-soiled Filofax A5 Domino, I embraced the opportunity for change. It needed the elastic closure replaced, but coloured elastic is readily available, and replacement is a relatively simple task.

What to do for inserts however? Somewhere I read about “filo-frugality”, and with this philosophy in mind, I have a tip for everyone which appears to have been overlooked.

Since I was looking for A5 inserts, and did not yet have a punch, I began my search with spiral bound notebooks, looking for any that matched the Filofax A5 rings. I found that the yellow covered “Spirax” (Pelikan/Artline) A5 spiral spring bound notebooks are a perfect fit :

  • No 570 200 pages 7mm ruled with “2 Note Pockets” A5 Note Book
  • No 571 300 pages 7mm ruled A5 Note Book
  • No 585 30 sheets 5mm squares A4 Graph Pad (fold the sheets along the centre punched hole to fit)

Also, the Esselte 43470 Spiral System Cards 50 pages 127 x 203mm (3” x 5”) “almost fit”. They need to be put in the A5 binder 3 to 4 cards at a time with the slight bow in the centre to be trained (stretch the holes). These cards have lines running perpendicular to the ruled pages above.

All of these pages have perforated edges which should not be separated. Use a pair of needle-nosed pliers to open the spring at each end of the notebook, and a pair of diagonal cutters to cut off the ends.

Unwind the spring, and remove as many pages as desired to the binder. Rewind the spring back into the book for storage. When placing the pages in the binder, count down five holes, and place the next hole on the top ring. The lined pages sit 2 to 3mm high in the binder compared to a genuine Filofax pages. Don’t overlook the useful cardboard end piece, the front cover, and the “note pockets” as useful materials. Also, the pages can be inverted to use both sides of the paper.



It is quite possible that you will find something similar on the UK/USA retail shelves.
Thanks Mike for the tip, I will try this out with a locally bought notebook here in France!


  1. My favourite Personal-sized lined paper was also made by Esselte, the company that makes these notebooks. It had the product code S-115FT, came in a box of 500 sheets, and was slightly heavier than standard 75gsm paper; I'm guessing it was probably 90gsm. My searches for this paper in the past decade have been fruitless.

  2. We already talked about it here on Philofaxy, but should this be of interest to anyone, the Oxford International A5 Notebook fits different A5-6 holes binders, with different holes combinations and elongated holes.

    Amanda did a very nice review too, see her blog post on Paper Pens Ink.

    Tested in myself the brief time I had an A5-filofax, and I liked it a lot, especially as the lines were higher than Filfoax paper, and the page was more "structured".

  3. @Frederique
    Thanks for the shout out! I love the Oxford International A5 Notebooks. I use them all the time at work, especially for the structure to the page you mention.