Breaking in the Spine of Your Notebook + Bullet Journal Care Printable

Hello everyone! Erin Floto of @erinflotodesigns (on all social media) here to discuss one of the absolute most important steps to beginning your bullet journal journey- opening your notebook. I know I know, it sounds silly but there is actually a proper way to open in your notebook and that is called breaking in the spine. In this blog, I’ll show you how to break in the spine without actually breaking the spine and ripping your beautiful notebook in half.

Recommended Bullet Journaling Supplies:

  • Archer and Olive Notebook
  • A flat surfaces of put the notebook on
  • Your hands!

 It is that simple for this one!

Breaking in the spine of a notebook is fairly simple but exceptionally important for its care. Think of this as self care for your bullet journal! It is a simple, yet important process. Why is it so important you may ask? Just like if you are preparing to go for a run, it is important to stretch. When your notebook is made, the spine and the sewn pages are bound together and need a good stretch before beginning its journey - otherwise it may lead to a cracked spine and separation in your pages. 

So, how do you break in your spine? I will break it down here with photos and steps but I also have a video to watch as I break in the spine if you are a visual learner and want to follow along while I do it.

Step 1

Sit the notebook spine side down to your desk without opening it.

A5 Notebook

Step 2

I like to start with the back cover. Put the back cover and about 20 pages (it doesn’t need to be precise) and lay against your desktop. Once you’ve done that, run your fingers against the crease of the book to separate the pages. You should be putting enough pressure to create a slight separation in the pages but not enough to separate the spine completely. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and go lighter because this process can be repeated.

bullet journal


dot grid journal

Step 3

Repeat that process with the front cover and about 20 pages while the pages in the back are still against your surface. Run your fingers along the middle of the book to stretch out the spine.

dot grid notebook

dotted notebook

Step 5

Switch back and forth between the front and back while slowly stretching the spine.

dotted journal

journal notebook

empty journal ideas

Step 6

Once you’ve reached the middle, you will lay the book flat on the table and do your final stretch, again by running your fingers down the intersection of the pages. 

moving journals


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