I usually print out PDFs to read them on paper. For example, I print out my textbook chapter by chapter so it's easier to take them to the classroom.

Since I have annotations on those printouts I would like to keep them after use. However if I just leave them as a pile of paper, it will be hard for me to find a specific title next time (I have printouts for more than one book). Binders are not a good solution, because a book will usually have hundreds of pages.

How can I effectively organize them into "real" books, ideally, or just organize for easy access?

I don't like to read on the screen. That's the reason why I printed them out.

4 Answers 4


As I am a high school student I got the same thing to do.

  1. First of all you can staple each title separately for a single unit.
  2. Create an index holding each title at correct position for each unit at the top.
  3. Then you can combine these into the units into a file holder.

Now it will be easy to take and read separate titles easily. And also their order won't get merged.

  • An index is an brilliant idea! I may also consider indexing all the file holders.
    – Ryan
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 1:15

Print shops offer binding service, where they drill holes through the pages and add hard covers. This should make the printed material as book-like and preservable as possible.

However, I recommend you take a look at large-screen e-ink readers such as the new https://www.sony.com/electronics/digital-paper-notepads/dpt-rp1, or you can look at the roundup at http://blog.the-ebook-reader.com/2017/01/19/large-e-ink-ereaders-roundup-for-2017/. I also used to printing out everything because reading on a normal screen is unbearable. But that's simply unsustainable in the long run and I had to throw away tons of paper. A large e-ink reader would be ideal.

  • Large screen e-readers may be good, but I still worry about the navigation experience... Anyway I may consult my local printing shops for the charges, as long as they offer it as a separate service.
    – Ryan
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 1:12
  • @Ryan I've just bought the newest Sony Digital Paper and I really loved it. The only shortcoming might be the lack of access to the table of contents, which is a bit weird from them. I just use my computer to find the desired pages and then jump on the device. I recommend you check out some review videos and see if you'd want one as well.
    – xji
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 0:27

My first suggestion is to get/use a different screen or set of screen settings and get used to reading on screen. That will simplify your life and cut costs.

For the paper/home printed versions I would suggest to punch 2, 3 or 4 holes, depending on what is the local prefered version.

Now you have the option of commercially made binders, bookrings, commercially availble 'storage' holders or string.

I have personally used string.
You need strong string which holds its knots and it not too thin, (thin string will cut the paper.) I would not go for string under 3mm (1/8") diameter. You can make a string ring for each hole or you can feed the string through all the holes in turn, going up through one and down through the next.

If you need access, tie the string with an adjustable knot.
If you may want to add later or change the binding system without having to cut the string, a reef knot (square knot) is the one.
Otherwise, just use any reliable knot you know.

With all these binding options you can go from one to an other if your requirements change. Like use a binder with a strong cover for the books you use at the moment, change to rings while you still use the book at times but not every day and store with string when you do not use the book other than for occasional access of one or a few pages.

  • Any suggestion on how can I punch a hole through at least 200 pages?
    – Ryan
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 10:31
  • Depending on the available options, by the up to 20 pages on a small puncher, by going to a bigger printers and have them use the factory size puncher. Or by clamping the pages between wood and drilling through the lot.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 10:34
  • lifehacks.stackexchange.com/questions/15286/…
    – Willeke
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 10:37

You usually need those textbooks for only one course. After the course, I recommend you run the stack of paper through a scanner. The resulting PDF contains your annotations and is much easier to store than a stack of paper. If you OCR the scanned images, you can search at least the printed text (OCR probably won't read your annotations).

I'd also look into using an ebook reader or a tablet to read the PDFs instead of printing them. Both have high-resolution screens that you might find more pleasant to read from.

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