23 October 2014

How much paper is too much paper?

Does your Filofax look as stuffed as this one?

Actually that one isn't so bad, most of the 'extras' aren't on the rings themselves, although the strap looks like it might pull the popper out of the front cover....

How about this one, doesn't look too bad does it?

Look at this one!!!! Ah now we are talking... now pay attention to how the paper is bending around the rings.

Thank you to Deb, Chris and Leah for those photos. Here's some I set up myself.

So to attempt to do something similar I just kept adding paper the odd diary insert or two as you do, to get a similar result.

Again notice the pages being pushed around the rings towards the base plate.

Notice what happens when you open the organiser, the pages just fan out, because that is what they want to do when there's too much paper on the rings.

Here is the same organiser with the normal number of pages in it.

Notice this time when we open it, the pages largely stay together in the middle.

What about slimline organisers?

If we look at a slimline with only 11 mm rings the issue of the paper inside of the arc of the rings becomes a little more obvious.

With a similar number of pages on either side of the rings, there doesn't look like there is too much of a problem. But when you have more on one side than the other, the inside edges of the pages start to interfere with each other as in this first picture below.

Then when you try to move all of the pages to one side of the rings... they open!! Getting the pages back on to the rings and getting them closed takes some fiddling!

Why does this happen?

So what is going on here. Let me try and explain with the aid of some simple drawings and we will look at normal size personal size rings.

So here is a 'normal' load of pages, if you imagine each single page here was say 20-25 pages you will get the idea better...

So with this number of pages, they sit quite neatly in the middle arc of the rings.  Now at this point I want you to note what is happening to the inside edge of the pages that sit within the rings. In this example you will see that as they are neatly sat towards the middle of the arc of the rings the inside edge, inside the rings is clear of the inside arc of the rings.
So with the organiser open, we add even more pages, more than double. As you can see they start to fan outwards the further around the arc of the rings they are.

Now look at what is happening with the paper on the inside of the rings, it is starting to press against the inside of the rings.

To make matters worse if we use card dividers towards the front or back of the organiser with this amount of paper they will not bend as easily and will press on the inside of the rings with this amount of paper in the organiser.

If we now close the organiser with this amount of paper in it look what happens. The inside edges of the paper are now pushed inwards as the paper is compressed.

I have tried to show here that having more paper on the rings than you should have this results with the paper on the inside of the rings being compressed together on the inside of the rings and this potentially starts forcing the rings open or causing them to gap.

So what can you do to solve this issue?

  1. Use less paper in your organiser...  or
  2. Use an organiser with larger rings, such as a Van der Spek Standard (personal) which are available with 30 mm rings. or their A5 Manager with 35 mm rings.

How much is too much?

Whilst I was at the Van der Spek workshop two weeks ago, I was given a copy of the Krause rings specification sheet for the rings they use on their organisers.

The ring capacity is given in the specification sheet as a thickness of paper on the rings. Krause quote their rings by the external diameter, were as we normally quote the internal diameter. The letters and numbers in () are the Kruse model numbers which you will find on page 21 of the catalogue in the link above.
  • Pocket (PER152/06/20) - 20 mm internal diameter - Paper capacity 14mm
  • Personal (PER171/06/25) - 25mm internal diameter - Paper capacity 19mm
  • Personal (PER171/06/30) - 30mm internal diameter - Paper capacity 24mm
  • A5 (PER216/06/25) - 25mm internal diameter - Paper capacity 19mm 
  • A5 (PER216/06/30) - 30mm internal diameter - Paper capacity 24mm
So as a rule-of-thumb, take the ring internal diameter in milli-meters and subtract 6 mm and you have the paper capacity in milli-meters.  You should be able to apply this rule-of-thumb to any brand of organiser with similar size rings.


  1. I'm still new to this Filofax world and came across your blog a few weeks back. It's so informative and I'm learning quite a bit already :-) I dare not overstuff my planner... They are really expensive here in Malaysia, even the "cheaper" ones are pricey. I think my Saffiano can still take a few more inserts and I'll be adding a Finance/Expenses section at the bottom.

  2. Fabulous post Steve. So informative. If the VDS Krause measurements are external measurements of 35mm on an A5, then how big is the interior of the rings in reality, ie as we would measure them on a Filofax? Just curious, as the rings in reality may not be much bigger than my Malden A5, as they are measured externally, and yet VDS lovers attest to the fact that the rings of 35mm are much much bigger than say the Maldens and really do hold much more. What do you think Steve, as you have got VDS A5s?? What are the internal ring sizes on the 35mm Krause rings? Thanks. xxxxx

    1. They are in fact 35mm internal I've just measured mine, when I looked at the catalogue again they also quote the internal dimensions too.
      Those 35mm rings can hold an awful lot of paper. My VDS A5 can hold about 1kg of paper! Good job I don't carry it around much

    2. Thanks Steve!! Now I want a VDS more than ever!!! Big rings are luring me!!! xxxx

    3. "My VDS A5 can hold about 1kg of paper! Good job I don't carry it around much"
      And there in Steve lies my argument, thats why I don't want to use an A5, and want a PERSONAL SIZE Filofax with 30-35mm rings, don't like VDS, tried one!

  3. Steve, I am going to post a picture for you to tell me if there is too much in mine, then if there is I will slim it down a lot :)

    If that is ok, of course? :)

  4. This is genius Steve, thanks so much for this very scientific way of measuring how much paper is too much! Could explain some of the ring-gapping episodes too. I know I'm guilty of putting too much paper on my rings.

  5. Great post Steve, thank you.

    Change over to Davinci paper and you'll never have a problem, I promise!

    1. David, where do you source your Da Vinci paper? Is it lighter weight no bleed through paper?? Just curious about its good points. xx

    2. I usually don't like thin paper as it crinkles with all the page turning I do. Does Da Vinci wear well in this respect? My Filo is such a workhorse. xxxx

    3. I usually buy mine from Jetpens, in packs of 100 Personal (Bible) sized pre-punched sheets, 6.5mm rules. I believe 5mm ruled is also available, but I've only seen it in packs of 30 sheets.

      Light weight, minimal show-through, no bleed-through using my fountain pens. As for wear and tear, that obviously would depend on how hard a time you give it. It works fine for me.

    4. I use Tomoe River paper for notes in my binders. I think it is the same as the Davinci paper. You can buy it from Nanami papers in loose sheets. It is easy to print on as well if you are making your own inserts.

  6. Too much paper?? Hmmmm, I can't seem to understand that concept :) I usually have an Organiser somewhere between the last two photos. It used to look like the last, overstuffed, photo all the time, until smartphones came along and supposedly dispensed with the need to carry contacts on paper. Sadly, I've lost info more times than I care to remember, through a variety of syncing issues over the last decade. I'm planning to go back to adding contacts in my organiser.

    Steve, a question on this which has puzzled me since the 1980s. With a 5/4 Personal organiser, even one that is only half full, I have always found that when closing it from being open on a flat surface, the rings do exactly the same as you describe above, especially the ones on the top of the organiser. is this because of the wideness of the rings? It seems to afflict the 5/4 almost always, but not the 7/8 size. My Portland Grand used to do it most of the time.

    1. Still keep back up paper contacts, learned that lesson the hard way when "oh so brilliant" (not!) technology failed on me. Same thing happened to my boss. Paper is safer!

  7. Later I will compare the Krause/Ring Alliance guidelines with the Franklin Covey ones.

  8. Now I am truly convinced to get a VDS Standard with 30mm rings! My Personal Malden is so stuffed that it is irritating me and I cannot find anything else to take out without feeling like I am missing something.

    1. Bought a VDS, hated it for all the bigger ring size, my Malden is my love. Just wish Filofax would make one with bigger rings!!

  9. Thank you!!

    This post is very helpful for me because I'm just about to place an order on a personal planner and didn't know what kind of rings size to choose. Now I know :)

  10. Or do what I've done and written to Filofax begging them to make Filos with larger ring sizes like they did back in the 1980s (30mm and 35mm sizes), despite all ring advice to the contrary, my Personal Malden is stuffed beyond bursting because I use my Planner for so much. I don't WANT to use an A5 (its bigger and heavier to lug around for a start), all my papers are in Personal so imagine the work to upgrade all that to A5 (no thanks!), I don't get why Filofax don't dig out a few old pictures and listen to requests for BIGGER RING SIZES in Personal!!! (Preferably re-design the Malden which is perfect in every other way). I had a Personal Size Filofax back in the 80s, had huge rings, sadly no longer got.

    1. Since this post was written two years ago I've changed how I use my organiser and which organisers I use.

      I've now using just a single organiser for planning. A5 size and with just 25mm rings. This organiser is light in weight as I'm only carrying the minimum amount of paper.

      I still have a larger A5 ringed organiser that I keep the other pages in, but I don't find I refer to this one very often, so it can sit closed on my desk, ready to hand, but I don't need it open.

      In my 25mm ring A5 or smaller rings even, I find it is light enough and slim enough to fit in to my bag and it is easy to carry around.

      I supplement the planner pages with additional notes pages if required. But with some management of what the organiser contains I can get away with just the 16mm rings in the Heritage A5 and still be as efficient as I was with either a 30mm Personal or 35mm A5.


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