how to make a zine!


I love creating illustrative stories in my paintings, so I got to thinking that making a tiny story book would be a fun experiment.  I decided to try my hand at making my own zine, and I thought it would be fun to share this process with everyone who would like to try and make their own!

"Deer Girl"

So today’s post will be all about how to print and assemble your own zine or small book!  Let’s get started!

(Note: In STEP 2, there is a downloadable PDF tutorial that I created to guide you on your journey to zine enlightenment!  You will have to have Adobe Reader to view this content.)

STEP 1: gather your creativity!

Things you will need: creative inspiration, miscellaneous art supplies of your choosing

Decide what you want out of your book.  Will this be an original zine that you are making?  A tiny scrapbook?  A personal notebook you get inspiration from and doodle in later?  In my case, I painted a series of eighteen illustrations of a character I called Deer Girl and the environment in her little world before I ever decided to show the images in an art zine.  But when I was finished painting all of them, a zine seemed like the perfect way to display what I had created!  Collect your own images, text, or other items, and prepare to organize them to be read in your book.

STEP 2: planning the zine’s layout

Things you will need: 8 1/2″ by 11″ computer paper, a printer, scissors

After finding all of your book/zine’s content, it is time to plan the layout.  The method I used did not add a cover after all the pages were printed, but incorporated a cover into the layout of all the pages.  If you wanted to just print the filler pages of the book, and save the cover for later, it requites a slightly different approach, but this DIY will show everyone enough to help them figure the process out to suit the needs of their own creative projects.

If you open this file (DIYzine) you will see a PDF I created as a guide to how the pages of books and zines work.  The pages are formatted for double sided printing.  At the bottom of each of the four pages, text indicates how the four pages should be printed together in order to achieve the desired layout of the final book.  (Always remember: in order to double sided print, you must print one page at a time, and place the front of the first printed page image side up in the printer tray for the double side to be printed on the back.)

With my template, you can work inside the grey lines and cut the pages so that the margins are trimmed, and the boxes are cut and separated horizontally, but not vertically.  When cut and trimmed, one strip of paper should contain four pages of your zine – two on the front of the strip and two on the back of the strip.  Practice making this template by cutting out all of the numbered pages as described above, folding them in half along the margin line, and fitting them into the correct order, so all of the numbers read in order from the first page to the last.


Once you have practiced with my “DIYzine” tutorial, you can used the extra pages as physical templates for your own book, or use the knowledge you just gained to create your own method of zine-making digitally.  Plan the content of your zine so that it can be printed in order according to your template.

STEP 3: printing your own zine

Things you will need: 8 1/2″ by 11″ paper of your choosing, a printer, scissors

(optional: a scanner/copier)

Once you have figured out the layout of your zine, and the order of your pages, it is time to print!  If you have physical copies of your zine’s content, you can just organize your pages in the order you want to print them and run them through a copier, so that you print your pages front and back as you did in the tutorial.  If you create your zine digitally, organize the pages based on what you practiced in the tutorial and print.  You can use any type of paper you wish to give your zine its own unique flair.  I used 67lb, acid free, grey card stock because of its sturdy feel, mellow color, and archival qualities.

Finally, cut the zine as explained in STEP 2, and fold the pages so that they can fit together to create your story!  “Now what should I do with all these loose pages,” you may ask.  Well that is the last step of the DIY.  Congratulations!  You’re almost there!

STEP 4: zinebinding

Things you will need: your unbound zine, embroidery floss, a needle, a nail, a hammer

There are many methods of bookbinding out there, and typically for a zine the simple staple method is reserved.  (If using a stapler sounds like a good plan to you, wikiHow has a great how-to about it.  Also, if you’re strictly following the template I designed, the zine will be small enough to use a regular office stapler, instead of a long armed one.)  However, I decided to add some extra handmade warmth to my zine by creating a simple embroidery floss page-binding technique, and that is the method I’ll be showing you today.  Also, there will be lots of pictures to help you along the way!  Hooray!

First, get all of your pages in order and then open your book to the centerfold.  Take a nail and make three evenly spaced holes in the center crease of your book.  You will use these holes to thread the binding.


Once you have made your holes, flip the book so the outside crease is facing up, still leaving the book open to the middle crease which will be facing the bottom.  Thread your colorful embroidery floss (or other fancy fiber of your choosing) in your needle and begin the binding process by sticking the thread through the center hole (or hole 2) of the outside of the book and pulling it though to the inside and then continue following the rest of the directions in the pictures below. zineSTEP4-2 Once you have completed STEP 8 of the images above, you should have your book securely bound, floss trimmed, and zine ready for distribution!


Yay! Now, go forth, and share your zine with the world! 🙂   Happy making! – Annie

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