Labeling Moleskines


I bought my first Moleskine around 1999, and have used them ever since. I read Bruce Chatwin’s "Songlines" about 10 years prior, and when I saw my first Moleskine on the bookstore shelf, his passage came back to me.  I remember when I read about Moleskines a decade before, mourning the fact that they were extinct before I ever saw one. I felt I had struck gold!

Since then I’ve bought my Moleskines in California, Florence Italy, and Hong Kong.  I live in Thailand now and they’re not available here, so I buy a few whenever I see them while on the road.  But it’s good to know I have as a backup when I’m down to my last pages there’s no trip planned.

I use the large, unlined notebook and turn it 90 degrees to write, using it like a Reporter, because my handwriting is large.

My dream Moleskine would be the large size with good watercolor paper.  It is absolutely the perfect size for me, not too big to carry, but big enough for expression.  I look forward to seeing the new Watercolor Moleskines when I’m in California this summer.  But I’d really like a version that opens as
a traditional notebook, with binding on the long side, rather than opening as a Reporter with binding on the short side.  I prefer the 2-page spread to be a big, nearly square canvas to work on, rather than a long thin rectangle.  But maybe it’ll inspire me to do landscapes.

I have a question for the Moleskine hackers out there, about labeling Moleskines.

I use several Moleskines at one time, so labeling them 1, 2, 3… doesn’t make much sense because they overlap in time.  I have one for a daily journal, one for projects I’m developing, one for sketches, another for daily notes, reminders, to-dos, another for quotes.

Believe it or not, I’ve never labeled the outside of any of my notebooks. On the "As a Reward" page I write the dates when I filled the book, and keep them in order on the bookshelf.  But now it’s getting a bit out of hand, so I need a labeling system.

I could label them "Journal 2006 1, 2, 3" "Sketches 2006 8, 9" and shelve them in chronological order of completion.  (So Journal 2 could be next to Sketches 8).  But I’m sure one of you has a more clever way.

I’ve also thought of stacking all the Moleskines I finished in 2005 and writing very large/tall, "2005" across the entire stack of spines.  So that when they’re on the bookshelf I see the whole year in one block.  And then I know the chronological order of each book in relation to the others because they’ll be shelved in the correct order to read "2005." Then the individual spines could say "Journal 1, 2, 3" etc.

Other ideas?

Any alternatives to the silver Sharpie?  It seems too brash to me.
Something softer, more elegant?

Sandy Shum

Image: ABF

Print it in Moleskine MSK format
This entry was posted in My Moleskine. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Labeling Moleskines

  1. Arnault says:

    Hey Sandy,
    If you are in Bangkok, there are actually two stores carrying the Moleskines :
    – Libreria Siam Society 131 Sukhumvit 21 (Asoke) Bangkok.
    You can contact them at Tel: +(662) 661-6480 or Fax: 661-6479
    – Thailand Creative and Design Center 24th Fl. Emporium Tower, Room no.6, 622 Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok Thailand, 10110
    You can contact them at Tel: 66-2-6646767
    Hope this helps!

  2. Christopher says:

    All good ideas. I really need to start labelling mine. Never seem to get to it. ;-(

  3. Sandy says:

    Thanks Amault, I had no idea. I’ll stop by Siam Society next time I’m in Bankok.

  4. chelee says:

    A while back someone demonstrated how to emboss the outside of the moleskine. Much more chic than sharpie.

  5. Eric says:

    Mask off the spine with some masking tape, then spray it with a colour to signify what type it is. I am sure you know which colour is which.

  6. Elena says:

    For reward, I always put “a moleskine of your own.” If a person returns it, they deserve one.

  7. You can write with some white “paint pen” to spine of your Moleskine, for example extra fine “Pilot Super Color White”. And you can write to upper edge of your Moleskine with some fine and water-resistant felt pen, for example “Pilot Marker for Projector”. My labeling schemes include these:

    – Year (in Moleskine diary)
    – Address & Tel. (in Moleskine addess book)
    – Moleskine 1, 2, 3 etc
    – Travel 1, 2, 3, etc. (my travel diary)
    – Name of city (in so called Moleskine Info-book)
    – Sociology 1, 2, 3, etc. (Sociological notebook as told in Anthony Giddens’ book called “Sociological Imagination” or something like that)
    – Memo (Moleskine Memo-pockets)

  8. Amy says:

    Check this out.

    It makes letters similar to the debossed word Moleskine. The font is slightly different and so it the size but they are very harmonous.,43456,43461

  9. Alia says:

    Oh, thank you, Amy. I vaguely recalled letter punches existing for metal smithing, but also vaguely recalled that these sets were price, and perhaps all wrong for imprinting softer materials. The wood punch set you supplied a link to looks perfect, and it’s cheap. (Not that I won’t try it out on some metal, and several other surfaces, too.)

  10. J. Diniz says:

    I’ve been hooked on these for a few months now, and did quite an extensive internet research on usable hacks. My favorite models are the squared and blank pocket book, and the blank reporter notebook, as well as the small blank or squared cahier for individual projects or trips. Here’s what I came to (and this is just my implementation of other peoples’ ideas):

    1. Writing implements
    Pilot G-2 is the smoothest, darkest, silkiest pen around. Best for general use. Mini version available, called XS or Pixie.
    Pilot G-TEC-C4 writes the finest line ever. Great for stuffing lots on info on a small paper landscape.
    Fisher Space Pen, for the adventurous ones. Very pocketable and strong, impervious to the elements. Nevertheless, in regards to the writing pleasure, it’s still just a ball pen.
    Leadholders (2 mm, 2B) are classy and versatile for writing and sketching.
    Mechanichal pencils (0,7 mm, HB) are really fine for writing, especially on the blank paper Moleskines.
    Pencils are the way to go for the traditionalist, the artist and the cost-concious out there. You do, however, have to carry a knife or sharpenner to keep going anywhere. Best to chose a good brand like Staedler, and a B or 2B grade for softness and darkness.

    2. Labeling Moleskines
    Since I use three or four Moleskines at the same time, for different uses, I paint the rims of the pages with a highlighter. Just close the book, hold it tight, and run the thing through. Green is for my geocaching logbook, orange for my diary/planner, yellow for my profession, and blank for my personal use Moleskine. Can spot them a mile away.

    3. Extras within
    3×5 sticky notes on the front inside cover used for lists and handouts.
    3M page color labels on the back inside cover for marking sections on the Moleskine.
    Half a dozen 3×5 ruled index cards used for notes, page markers and blotter use (this is important with the G-2 pens).
    Numbering pages seems to be mandatory, and I did it, but never actually got to use them as hyperlinks. Don’t bother anymore with those.

    4. Organising the pages
    I just start by leaving a few pages blank at the beggining, for the more permanent stuff like calendar and dated matters. Just draw the calendar myself for the next three months or so, depending on the life expectation of the book.
    Next comes the main section, which I will divide only when needed to create a new category.
    The last pages ae set aside for contacts and other type of reference material.
    Doodles get to be backward written from the end of the main section.
    Important lists go to the main chapter, shopping and transient lists go on the sticky notes or index cards.

    5. Wallet use
    When travelling light, just stick VISA and ATM cards on the back cover pocket, ID and car documents amongst the last pages, close it up with the elastic band, and it’s good to go.

    6. Miscellaneous
    A knot tied at the end of the page marker keeps it from sliding with the book closed, and from unravelling. Simple and efective.
    Reward offered on the first page: a brand new Moleskine for whoever returns mine, if lost. Or, if preferred, a couple of gin tonics and a coffee appeal to lots of people (to me, it does).

    Regards from Portugal.

  11. sandy says:

    Thanks everyone for your great ideas. I love the elegant and subtle look of embossing and I often hand-emboss paper. So Amy, thanks so much for the link to the great embosser. You could also do gold foil stamping with that, though I prefer the look of blind embossing (no color). I’ll order it when I go to California, can’t wait to try it. I assume you’ve used it on Moleskine covers, though it won’t work on the spine.

    Eric, thanks for the idea to mask off the spine and paint. Could mask off an interesting design/shape and extend it to the front and back covers even. With Easter just here, it reminded me of when I used to decorate EAster eggs when we were kids, I did a lot of masking tape and multiple dips, took an hour to complete 1 egg.

    Thanks J. Diniz from Portugal for a great summary of useable hacks. I like your and Juhapekka’s idea of highlighting or writing on the rim/edge of the closed Moleskine. I can see taking off with this, with calligraphy, rubber stamps, drawing, marblizing.

    Thanks so much everyone!

  12. Alia says:

    I got the letter/number punches from Lee Valley (as linked to by Amy a few comments above). Very nice little set. I also bought a star-shaped traditional punch (no spring-loading so you’ve gotta use a hammer on harder surfaces or really press down on a Moleskine). Personally, I’ve got some trouble keeping my letters perfectly vertical and on a straight line. I think it’s just a matter of practice. Also, while experimenting on different materials, I learned if you’re going to use the punches on a cahiers, put some sort of shock-absorbing material between the cover and pages (or just fold the cover out of the way of the pages), lest you imprint your message many pages deep.

    I used the letter punches to put my initials and stars at the top of the back cover of my current sketchbook. It’s a subtle way to personalize an already very personal notebook.

    Once I’ve practiced some more and can reliably get my letters somewhat straight, I’ll consider debossing lengthier text.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

I accept Privacy policy and Terms of use