26 October 2016

What size would suit me best?

M2 then Mini right down to A4 at the bottom

What size of organiser to use can become quite a time consuming and expensive exercise. However help in the form of this post is at hand, I suppose it could have been done as a large table, but it was easier to do as text.

Karine and I covered this topic in our very first podcast, but it will not harm to revisit it at a slower pace and without the pressures of trying to fit all my ideas and thoughts in to a 30 minute recording!!

Filofax and other brands of organisers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so let me start at one end of the spectrum and work our way up to the other end giving the details and my own personal thoughts on each one.

A long discontinued size from Filofax, this uses paper size that is similar to Mini size but landscape format and with only 3 rings spaced at 19mm apart.

Filofax stopped making the organisers some time ago, and ceased offering inserts as well this year. But you can download and print your own inserts at Philofaxy for the M2 size.

M2's can be used as both as notebooks/wallet combinations being landscape in format, I have found the page format easy to use and it slips in to your back pocket or in to a jacket pocket so neatly.

This is the smallest size available, it uses paper that is 67mm by 104mm in size and five rings each is spaced 19mm apart. Mini is near enough an eighth of the size of a piece of A4 paper or roughly A7 size but slightly narrower.

Filofax have stopped making Mini size organisers, but you will still find them available pre-owned and may be new in one or two stores around the world. Filofax do still sell Mini inserts though.

Van der Spek offer a Mini size as well, but the ring spacing is not the same as the Filofax one, so inserts are not easily interchangeable, but VdS do offer a range of inserts for theirs.

Gillio offer two models in the Mini size, their ring spacing is the same as the ones in Filofax Mini so the inserts are interchangeable.

I have one Mini a grey Malden, I've only ever used it for notes and reminders really. But I have seen people that use these as a 'satellite' planner.

This size that remains popular with users. It has 6 rings all spaced by 19mm and takes paper that is 81x120mm which is slightly bigger than A7 (74x105mm) paper.  Pockets come in various ring sizes from as small as 11mm to 19mm.

Quite a few Pocket size organisers have a full width back pocket, which makes it suitable as a wallet/organiser.

Older Filofax pocket organisers only had 4 rings, these are spaced the same as the middle four rings of a Personal size page, so a personal punch will work. Filofax no longer sell inserts with slotted holes to suite 4 ring pockets. This post explains the difference between 4 and 6 ring pockets.

The size of the Pocket lends itself well to be used as a small planner that fits in to a small bag or a slightly larger jacket pocket.

A6 size organisers have been around for some time, but this size has become a lot more popular in the last two years. You will find them from Mulberry (Agenda), Van der Spek(Senior) and Gillio(A6) as well as a few other manufacturers.  The paper size is half of A5 so it measures 105mm by 148mm. It is worth noting that the ring spacing of A6 is different to that of Personal.

Franklin Covey Pocket size uses the same ring spacing as A6 but with a paper size of 89mm by 153mm.

Filofax have never made an A6 organiser, but you will often see Ebay sellers advertising Personal size organisers as A6, best to check the paper size as well as the ring spacing before purchasing.

I really like the A6 size, the paper proportions being the same as A5 but smaller, it means that our diary inserts have been very easy to adapt to this size.

Slimline also uses personal size paper, but with small rings and generally they do not have a clasp and some not even having a pen loop. Rings tend to be 11mm or 13 mm in size and therefore quite limited in terms of their capacity. But they are slim enough to slip in to the inside pocket of a man's suit jacket pocket without being too heavy.

Compact uses the same paper size as the Personal size, but it is more compact due to the size of the rings used somewhere between 13mm and 16mm with most recent examples using 15mm size rings.

When people think of 'A Filofax' most people would recognise it as being a personal size one. It's still remains the most popular size. The paper size of 95x171mm can be too narrow for some people. Personals vary in ring size between 19mm and 30mm, although there are some models that go bigger from other brands.

Being the most popular size you will find a huge range of models to choose from. Too many to include here.

The closest Franklin Covey size to Personal is their 'Compact' size this uses paper that measures 108mm by 172mm  so a bit wider than normal personal. Some organisers are wide enough some aren't especially if you want to use side tabs. However, some people have had Van der Spek make them a Custom Standard organiser made wider to take the FC pages. FC Compact is the same ring spacing as Filofax Personal.

Gillio use the size designator of 'Medium' for Personal size, whilst Van der Spek use 'Standard' for theirs.

A5 is a popular size due to its size, using paper that is 210mm x 148mm in size gives you plenty of space for even the busiest of people to plan a full week of appointments and tasks in a week view spread.

Ring sizes on A5's vary from the compact 16mm in the Filofax Heritage to the huge 35mm rings in the Van der Spek Manager with a lot of 25mm and 30mm falling between these extremes. Filofax, Van der Spek and Gillio A5's all use the same ring spacing along with other A5 makers

Franklin Covey Classic size uses paper similar in size at 140mm by 216mm but the ring spacing is not the same as Filofax A5.

There are a very very large range of models available from most of the manufacturers across all price ranges too.

A5 is the size I currently use most, I've found that it fits my needs best, I have adapted the contents of my A5 so that it isn't that heavy to carry around as well.

The Deskfax was discontinued by Filofax soon after the arrival of the A5 size. Yet despite that is still has a loyal following.

Unusually it has 9 rings in three groups of three, each group being spaced by the usual 19mm and the groups being spaced by 51 mm which is the same as personal size, so personal size pages will slip on to the rings of a Deskfax.

The Deskfax uses B5 size paper which is 176mm x 250mm which is between A5 and A4 paper sizes.

This is the biggest size available that I'm aware of, unless you know of one bigger? It uses a paper size of 297mm by 210 mm with a standard 4 rings each 80mm apart.

Franklin Covey Monarch uses full size Letter paper which is similar in size to A4 at 216mm by 280mm but the ring spacing is not the same as the standard 4 rings used by Filofax and other A4 binders.

The A4 size is the grand daddy of the range of sizes available. It has its advantages as well as the disadvantages. On the plus side it takes regular size paper that you will find in most offices with just 4 holes to punch. As a planner you can easily get away with a simple week per page format, meaning that you don't have so many pages to keep on the rings.

The main disadvantage I found when using mine is not so much its size when closed but the size when open, they do take up a lot of desk real estate!

Filofax have cut back on their A4 range with just two models available these days. However, Van der Spek have A4 models in the range of writing cases, some of them with ring mechanisms.

I hope you have enjoyed this quick tour of the various sizes!


  1. Excellent and thorough post. Thank you Steve

  2. Hi Steve, Pocket FFs have also Rings with 23 mm diameter.

    1. News to me, the largest I've seen is 19mm. Plenty of Personals with 23 mm diameter rings. I am measuring the internal diameter not external diameter.

    2. Ah, I see. That's the difference. My measurement was external. The internal is a generous 19mm which I would have taken as 20mm on not absolutely circular rings :-)

  3. Re: personal size - Daytimer's portable size uses the narrower paper as Filofax does.

  4. I've always considered an A4, but my obstacle has always been the open-binder real estate. If there was an A4 binder which folded back on itself, I would strongly consider a transition.

  5. Excellent overview, Steve....

    What we need is a TARDIS size binder.....small on the outside, but huge on the inside.....

    In meantime, I'll stick with my vdS Custom Standard that lets me use FC Compact inserts as you mentioned...

  6. Today I bought as a prize for myself Finsburry Rasberry A4 - my first one of such size and 11th Filofax. I an thrilled to see how A4 will be, as usually I use A4 notebooks around 200 sheets, so I am used to the big formats. I noticed that this size doesn't have much accessories like smaller ones. Do you know if the smaller accessories would fit A4 one? I was wondering if they worth buying some of them.

  7. Great post. I am trying to decide if I should upgrade to an A5 from my very old but just too small personal. I had used a (Filofax compatible) A5 for a while but found it too bulky and heavy to carry around all the time and I guess I'm too lazy to have 2 going and transcribing into the larger stay at home planner!! So I'm scouring the web for an affordable and pretty A5 to try again. Any advice on a slightly less bulky A5 to go for would be gratefully received. Thanks