12 March 2020

Guest Post - Filofax Clipbook Personal - my ‘Goldilocks’ Filofax? - Jane

Thank you to Jane for this guest post about the Filofax Clipbook Personal size. 

I’ve seen them on the retailer’s shelf and passed them by - even thought they looked a bit weird with those prominent rings and strange opening mechanism; why would I want one - I’m a ‘proper’ Filofax user.  But two months into actually trying Clipbook personal and I am wondering- could this be my ‘goldilocks’ Filofax?

Those luxury personal Filofax binders are gorgeous- but are just a bit too chunky & heavy to enjoy carrying around. The pocket size are equally lovely, dinky and cute, but in practice I find the pages are a bit too small for comfortable writing.

The compact personal size should be ideal but even with 15mm ring capacity I find myself rationing new pages as the rings are usually already full. But the Clipbook may just hit the sweet spot with its lightweight, compact and flexible form, the personal paper size and its 25 mm rings capacity.

So far so good.

The Clipbook advantage is most striking when you compare weights, which I measured with typical contents and no pen:
  • Finchley personal  400g
  • Holborn compact personal 290g
  • Aston pocket 230g
  • Clipbook personal 230g
We’re all different so I’ll explain how I use my binder: most information is in my iPhone but some things work better for me on paper: this week/ this month plans and a year view calendar; a general notebook; and topic/ project plans & notes.

I’m recently retired but have various activities inside and outside of the home to keep track of. I’m not one for fancy fountain pens, posh paper, or pretty page decoration, and don’t need pockets and wallets; I just want a functional loose leaf notebook which feels easy, natural and enjoyable to use, at home or out and about.

I’ve tried them all -: Filofaxes (mini, personal, compact & pocket), then Moleskines (hard and soft back), a Bullet Journal, Filofax Notebook, back to Filofax compact - then pocket again.

Each has its appeal and works for a while (months even) till its limitations become just too frustrating and I’m tempted to try something else.

Maybe A6 would suit me better, I had been thinking, so I studied Philofaxy reviews of A6 options (thank you) but the price of binders and the bother of printing my own inserts for what would be just an experiment was off putting.

Then I saw the Clipbook in a store again and suddenly recognised a potential solution to my right-size-binder dilemma - or at least a much cheaper experiment! A light and compact binder for personal size paper with 25mm rings - yay!

So what is it like to use?

The cover is a pleasantly tactile soft vinyl feel and I chose black for an understated and functional look - although other designs & attractive pastels are available. It comes with various useful papers and undated diary/ calendar formats which I’ve added to my stocks, preferring to continue with the existing personal size inserts I was using beforehand.

My page markers stick out slightly top and bottom (not a problem) but the side divider tabs do fit just within the cover.

Filofax marketing stresses the flexibility of Clipbook and how you can personalise contents and decorate the covers to suit your own style. I’m not one for all that - but I see Filofax do offer the option of tasteful personalised lettering on the cover. Perhaps I could reward myself if I’m still using Clipbook by next Christmas!

One thing which feels a bit awkward at first is the action of pulling apart the covers to open the rings, when you’ve always been used to pressing the tabs. One benefit of the flexible spine is that you can flip it to one side or the other to ensure that when you open the rings the side with the higher stack of pages won’t pop off.

It comfortably holds more than the compact size but the construction does mean that part of the ring capacity is taken up by the cover itself so it might not suit someone with the full 25mm of pages to stuff in.

An unexpected benefit is that the flexible spine and hinged covers raise up the pages on the edge next to the rings, giving them more support, closer together across a ‘spread’ of pages and reducing the extent to which the rings are in the way for writing.

It’s small and light enough to hold in one hand and write with the other. And holding by the spine allows you to flick through the pages a bit like a bound notebook.

There are 3 options for storing my frixion multi pen: hooked on a ring inside the spine (as in an earlier photo); tucking the pen clip through an adhesive pen loop I’ve mounted on a card insert; and simply closing the book with the pen inside the pages.

The book does lack a closure so my talented crafty husband has made one which keeps the book together in my bag. He made small incisions into the back cover and inserted the ends of the elastic between the layers which form the cover, along with some rubber based glue. It works just fine.

So that’s it - the perfect planner/ notebook sorted! (Fingers crossed.) I hope this review is helpful for anyone else who like me struggles to find their ‘right size’ Filofax.

Thank you Jane for sharing your post with us. The personal size it certainly worth looking at for a practical straight forward simple organiser. 


  1. I am now very tempted to try this design thanks Jane. They aren’t the nicest looking, but do seem very practical. One question - are normal opening tabs still present on the ring mechanism in addition to the method you describe of pulling on the covers? I can’t really tell from the photos.

  2. Thanks Jane. It's really interesting to read the viewpoint of somebody who actually uses a Clipbook rather than just decorates it. I just never "got" it - the plasticky faux-leather, the enormous floppy spine which disproves the claim that the Clipbook lies "flat", and so on. Maybe I should take a step back and look at them again.

    1. Hi Graham, thanks for your comment. To be fair I would say that the plasticky cover is not dissimilar to a moleskine soft back cover, actually better in my view and certainly more robust, although I admit I'd prefer a lightweight flexible leather!; and the book really does lie perfectly flat - the floppy spine just flops out of the way! One of the photos sort of shows that. I assume the novel construction with the large floppy spine is something to do with keeping the notebook flexible, given that the covers are held on the rings, but I can't quite work out how. Good luck if you do have another look at Clipbook! Jane

  3. Hi gmax, no there aren't any 'normal' opening tabs - just the ability to pull apart by the covers. It's ok, once you get used to it! Jane

    1. Thanks Jane. I’d never really considered these before because I thought they were only offered as A5. I’m going to have to try the personal sized version now.

  4. I've just started using a clipbook in a similar way. I think most of us now entrust our contacts and calendars to the cloud but there are some things that just work better written down. I'd get on OK with a Galaxy Note or similar but, if I wanted to use something like that for work purposes, I'd have to sign over control of my device to my employer.
    Compared with a conventional organiser, It took a bit of time to get used to the ring closure as it's much more difficult to insert and remove individual, or small numbers of pages. It didn't take me long to work out that it was a good idea to rotate the rings into the right position to accommodate the existing pages when adding more (as mentioned in the review). Although I haven't yet tried it, I think that using a couple of elastic bands or bulldog clips to hold the pages in place might make doing big switch arounds, or adding large numbers of pages a doddle.
    I like the (literal) flexibility which makes it easy to use it as a notebook folded in half. I also considered using a Filofax refillable notebook but there isn't much selection of refill papers and they are quite expensive. Whilst the notebook is smaller and lighter again, I didn't feel as confident about using the notebook folded in half as it seemed to me as if the pages might be more likely to fall out over time if I used it repeatedly in this way. I also like the option of being able to print things out on plain pre punched paper if I need to which swung things further in favour of the Clipbook.
    I was also very attached to a soft leather 6 ring binder, which could also just about be used when folded (as long as it wasn't too full) but, even though I miss the aesthetics of the more conventional binder, the Clipbook won me over on size, weight and general ease of use.
    It's a shame that they seem only to supply the clipbooks with an organiser style fill. I think they would do well if they were also sold with a fill that could compete with conventional exercise books, journals and refillable notebooks - perhaps a fill of all lined or dotted paper (or a mixture of lined, dotted or grid and plain) would go down well and attract a new fanbase.