For over a century binders have been used in a variety of settings like schools, offices, and homes. The crazy thing is that the basic functionality and make of binders hasn't changed too much after all these years.
You can say that given this new digital age we no longer need them, but I think we are still a while away from that time period, and given the diverse ways binders can be used I don't see a slowdown any time soon. Binders will continue to be a popular way of organizing, protecting and presenting information. If you shop around, you will come across differences like material they are made from, type of rings, and embellishments such as pockets to hold loose pages. How do you choose?
First off, you need to figure out how you'll use the binder and how much information you will store. This can be difficult, sometimes you over-estimate your needs but most times you under-estimate them. The great thing about binders is you can always get another if needed.
For our use case we will assume you are building a health journal to store your printed pages containing medical details about doctor visits, medicine, and vitals. Our printables are 8.5x11 inch letter size pages, so that is the only trim size we will look at. The considerations for choosing what size binder you purchase should include things like how many people, overall health, and personal style preference. For this discussion, the "size of binder" is referencing the rings (or how many pages it can hold), not the trim size (or width x length).
If you are creating a health binder for one person, then you may not need a huge binder unless there are a lot of health/medical factors going on and it is expected there will be a lot of printed pages to archive. A larger binder size also makes sense for a couple, either with or without kids. There may be cases that it makes the most sense to get one smaller to medium size binder for each individual person to keeps things separated.
Overall health can be tricky to gauge so a better way to look at this might be to think back on the last few years and figure out how many occasions the need to document or archive medical information came up. It's likely you have a small stack of lab results and receipts in a folder or stuffed in a cabinet from medical appointments over the last couple years, so this can be a helpful clue. If you only saw the doctor a couple times and don't really take medicine, and it's only you, then you might not need a big binder – you might just need a file folder.
However, if you're getting older, or caring for someone with different health ailments or a child with recurring episodes of illness, then it is important to get the right size binder that will allow plenty of space to grow. You'd be surprised how quickly you can go from a folder to a binder busting at the seams. Documenting daily vitals by itself can create many pages of archived data.
Personal style should also be considered. Do you want your health binder to be discreet and unassuming, or do you want it to be bright and easy to find. There are solid color binders and colorfully-designed binders. Having the ability to print binder cover art might be something you desire. Perhaps a more sophisticated leather or faux leather binder is more your style, or one that is zipper protected. It is possible that the health journal gets shared between caregivers and practitioners, so choose appropriately..
As if that isn't enough, you may want to think about whether or not you want pockets, or perhaps a few divider folders can achieve the same storage goals.
Once you figure out your needs, size and style, you have to figure out what material you like. There are several options but traditional cardboard binders are always a good option. Of course there are other heavy-duty alternatives like a cardboard core plastic-covered binder or plastic 3-ring binders, but these can be a problem for the environment and become an issue for disposal.
If you aren't too dizzy yet, there's the business of the type of rings. There are Round-ring binders, D-ring binders, and Slant-ring binders. The most important takeaway is that Round-ring binders hold the least number of pages, the Slant-ring binders hold less pages than D-ring binders but are more durable, and D-ring binders hold the most number of pages and are more durable than Round-ring binders. D-ring binders are probably the best overall choice, but use your judgment based on your personal circumstances.
With so many things to consider, things can quickly get overwhelming. Don't get lost searching, keep it simple, you can always make changes in the future based on your evolving needs.
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