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What Is The Difference Between a Junk Journal and Scrapbook?

If you are new to Junk Journalling or Scrapbooking, you may be wondering what the difference is! Here are my best tips and ideas for figuring out which one you should do.

What Is The Difference Between a Junk Journal and Scrapbook?


Let's start with scrapbook pages because I think that is what most of us are familiar with.

This is where you use large, 12X12″ papers that are the backdrop for pictures. The focus is on having a formal record of events, family or friends.

scrapbook page layout from EZ Scrapbooks on Etsy

There are scrapbook binders made especially for the large pages that remind me of old photo books I had as a kid. The scrapbook pages are made separately and slid into sleeves.

Many scrapbookers have a focus on creating an archival quality book with acid free patterned paper, glues, pens and other supplies that will be around for decades without fading or discoloring.

Most scrapbooks are made to look at rather than for ongoing journalling or to include any more than what is included in the finished book.

There are a bunch of different kinds of scrapbooks including:

  • Wedding scrapbooks
  • Baby first year
  • Kids
  • New puppy
  • Christmas
  • Back to school
  • Prom
  • Summer, Winter, Fall, Spring

They are made to commemorate a fixed period of time or a specific event.

Junk Journals

I had to use someone else's picture for the scrapbook because I am a big old junk journaller!

What Is The Difference Between a Junk Journal and Scrapbook?

Where scrapbooks are made to be polished and beautiful, junk journals are made to be used, written in and to remember things you want to keep track of. Often a junk journal is a handmade book and is not intended to last a long time the same way scrapbooks are.

For example, this is my “grandpa” journal. It has all kinds of different “tuck spots” where you can pull out pictures of grandpas.

Junk journal grandpa pictures

As you can see there is a kind of “journal” aspect where I have my Dad's name, Clearwater Florida and bits and pieces that make me think of grandpas (like the army man to represent the fact that the Grandpas were in the service!)

I used an old planner book for this one so that I didn't have to bind it myself. Oftentimes I will make a junk journal out of different papers or a book or (my favorite) an old yearbook, which is what I used for my rainbow journal.

You can just see the senior pictures behind all the “stuff” that I have on the page!

Yearbook background for junk journal

Junk journals were originally made from actual “junk” like old advertisements, junk mail envelopes, stickers and other “stuff” that would otherwise be thrown away.

Junk Journal Books

You can use anything as the base for your junk journal including:

You can use a “real” book or a book created with papers and book covers.

Junk Journal Ephemera

The cool thing about junk journals is that they are a place to keep all the “stuff” that you collect along the way. For example, this was a junk journal I was working on during a conference I attended this year. I found magazines and flyers that I could use to remember the event!

You can use any kind of ephemera in your junk journals including….

Fun related resource :: 9 Creative Ways To Store Your Washi Tape!

printable ephemera from ArtyMaze


Many people use their junk journals as actual “journals” where they record thoughts and feelings.

As with all things junk journalling you can do this as you wish, writing things down or just having large words in your artwork.

Junk Journals Versus Scrapbooks Wrapup

Whether you are a scrapbooker or junk journaller, you are doing it right! There is no wrong way to do art so whatever you try to do its great. Each is a way for memory keeping, however you choose to do it!

I see so many gals thinking they had to be “good” at it before they start. I can promise that you will not do well when you start, but for sure the only way that you will get better is to create a junk journal and get to work!

If you want to see a progression from okay to better, check out my daily mixed media art journal pages where I show my work starting from the very beginning!

What Is The Difference Between a Junk Journal and Scrapbook?


Saturday 27th of January 2024

This is the BEST explanation at introducing junk journals,to traditional scrapbookers! Thank you! I feel better about using a brand 8×8 manila notebook from Amazon, instead of taking apart an old book, and starting over. It's for me, and what I hold near and dear to my heart. Thank you!

Tara Jacobsen

Thursday 1st of February 2024

So glad you liked it Teresa!!!...:) I mostly like to start with a made book and have the fun of tarting it up!

Nancy Hickory

Friday 18th of February 2022

Thank you. That's the best comparison I've read (Not that I've read a lot of them). I have told myself that there is no right or wrong way to do a junk journal but having you say that makes me feel better. "Family and Stuff that makes me Happy" is the name of my first junk journal. Journal on. Nancy