Planner Tales

Welcome to the wonderful world of planners. Where there are so many sizes and formats that it is enough to drive a person mad!

With that being said, I hope to guide you through the planner maze to find the right options that fit your lifestyle. It is definitely a daunting task as more sizes come out seemingly every day. Then add to it the different formats (rings, strings, discs, spiral, etc.), it’s downright complicated. It is my desire to help make purchasing your planner refills much easier. While this is not an exhaustive list of every planner format and size known to man, it should point you in the right direction.


To get started, let me tell you about the most common types of styles or formats. As a planner, you have the choice of ring binders, notebooks, disc-bound, spiral-bound, and hardcover. There is also planning in a digital format, but we won’t get into that here as it doesn’t involve physical, paper planners.

When looking at the different formats, you need to think about how you might want to use the planner. Do you need customization? The ability to pull pages in and out, rearrange sections as your needs change? Or is portability more a factor? Do you need a ready-to-go, almost complete planner? Answering these questions will help narrow down what system would work best. Then you can move on to size. Told you it was going to get messy!

Basically, the short and skinny of it is, the only major difference is how the paper joins to the actual planner. Read on to see what intrigues you the most.

Ring-bound inserts: Inserts for ringed planners are hole punched to fit into a binder that has a ring mechanism. How many rings the binder has depends on the brand. They come in 3, 6, 7, and some planners, even more. The most common ring configuration is the 6 ring. How close the rings are is usually relative to their size. For example: due to the small size of Pocket inserts, there is no gap between the rings. This gap between the rings becomes wider the taller the insert is for the most commonly sized planners. This is why one insert size cannot be interchanged with different size binders.

Ring bound insert sizing chart

Rings are great for people who need to be able to swap inserts in and out, move around sections. Ring inserts come punched and ready to install in your planner. Pop open the rings, place inserts, snap closed. It’s as simple as that! Ring binders are great for people who like to decorate too. There are also lots of accessories that can be purchased, such as pouches, dividers, dashboards, cardholders, and more.

The most common sizes are A5, Personal, and Pocket with a few more gaining popularity. Ring binders are also pretty easy to come by. From the inexpensive to the very expensive. My favorite binders are from Filofax, Louis Vuitton, and kikki.K. To name just a few manufacturers.

Traveler’s Notebooks: Next up, we have the notebook refills. They are booklets that have either a hand-stitched or stapled binding. The booklets are available in around 12 different sizes (as of this writing) and fit into covers containing elastic bands that hold the booklets in. They are commonly referred to as Traveler’s Notebooks. Traveler’s Notebook is a brand name that has become a generic term for a notebook that is held in the cover by elastics.

Traveler's notebook sizing chart

It’s best to have a cover to utilize these booklets. Although, it is not necessary. The fact that they are bound means you can carry them without one. That’s the great thing about these notebooks. They can be tossed in your purse, slid in your back pocket, carried just about anywhere. You also have your planning contained in a booklet versus having to deal with loose pages. The downside to this is you cannot take pages in and out. Each book is set to one design (fitness, monthly, bill tracking, etc.). If you choose to utilize a cover, you can get some customization. Most covers have four elastic straps to put four booklets in. If you have jump bands, you can add more if the cover is wide enough.

The covers that hold these booklets can be made of leather or fabric. Most makers name their covers after the dimensions of the inserts the cover is intended to hold. Others use a numbering system for sizes, such as 1 through 10. If in doubt about what size the cover holds, check the listing for refill information.

White on Teal Spiral Coil

Spiral-bound: this style is held together with a spiral coil. Either made with plastic or metal, single or twin-wire, coiling. A lot of people start with a spiral-bound due to the fact they usually come with everything you might need to jump into planning. The books normally have a monthly and weekly layout, notes pages, a grid, and blank sheets to jumpstart you. You can purchase some dedicated to a lifestyle such as fitness, teaching, school years, and more. Of course, the drawback is no pages can be really taken out or added in. Unless, of course, you have one of our CityGirl Spirals. Plus very little in the way of personalized decorations. Spiral-bound planners come in a variety of sizes.

Hobonichi Weeks Companion refills

Hardbound books: These planners have a lot in common with spiral-bound and Traveler’s Notebooks. While they are great as an all-in-one, on-the-go planning style as they are self-contained, you are not able to customize the planner to your needs. Since they are bound like a book in either soft or hardcovers, pages cannot be taken out or added in. They come in an array of sizes and covers to match your personality, but that is pretty much the end of any personalization.

Disc-bound: Disc systems have the most in common with ring binders. This type of planning holds the paper with plastic or metal discs. The paper is punched with “mushroom” shapes that are hooked to the discs. This is another great system if you want the ultimate in customized planners. Some people worry about the paper slipping off the discs, but in reality, they actually hold onto the paper quite well.

With this system, pages are able to be taken in and out, moved around at will to best suit your needs. It is also great for decorators. You can personalize with dividers, dashboards, pocket folders, covers, different colored discs, you name it I’m sure it’s out there. Just like ring binders, there is plenty of accessories available.

Disc-bound’s one flaw is the wear and tear on the punch stems if moved in and out too frequently. It has a tendency to weaken/bend the stems where the disc won’t hold as well. As long as you don’t go crazy popping pages out all day, every day, I think you should be fine.


Once you figure out which format will work for you, then it is time to pick a size. Once again, thinking about portability should be at the top. If you need something that will go with you, a smaller size may be needed. If you want something for your desk, you can definitely go for a bigger size. Also, consider how much actual planning space you will need. Are you super busy with lots of activities that need to be written down? You will need more planning room. If you have little in the way of daily projects, maybe a smaller size can be used. Handwriting also has a bearing on size. Keep that in mind too.

Earlier in the post, you will see size charts that show the most common sizes in ringed and notebook inserts. We don’t include a chart for spiral, hardbound, or disc planners. There are way too many and, to be honest, we are not familiar with sizing on planners we do not currently make designs for.

Why get your inserts from CityGirl Planners?

CityGirl Planners was born out of a love of designing functional pages to create an organized life for us and our customers. We create simple, modern, functional designs so you can build your perfect planner.

Why should you have to fit our style with our colors? Get creative all over ours…do you like bold colors this week…maybe neutrals the next? Nothing, just a plain Jane? You got it! What good is your planner if it doesn’t speak to your soul? We want you to live, breathe, and be inspired in your planning.

We are sure you will find the right format and size here at CityGirl. With our catalog of over 300 designs and several binding formats, our goal is to make your life easier. To make your planner…….simply you.

Speaking of “simply you.” Did you know you can customize any of our spiral planners? If you are a 7×9 planner, we have add-on packs to bring more functionality to your calendar. If you want even more customization, such as a smaller size, put together a true DIY- our Metro Planner. Choose your favorite size Complete Metro and add functional inserts in the same size, then pick your binding style. Or go completely crazy and start from scratch! Add your favorite calendar(s), some functional inserts in the same size, then our Bind My Inserts-Coil Binding and Interchangeable Cover combo listing to your cart. Oh, the possibilities!


So, you have picked out your perfect planner binder/cover. Now you are on the hunt to make it truly you with more calendars or functional designs. Something very important needs to be mentioned. Please, please, please measure the inserts you currently have in your ring binder before purchasing any inserts/refills. If you don’t have your binder yet, contact the manufacturer for the refill size that fits their planner. I cannot stress this enough. The measurements are more important than purchasing by name. We use the names that major manufacturers adopted when we originated back in 2014. If the names for certain measurements have shifted with new makers entering the market, we are still going to use what we started with. There is a post on our blog regarding a common ordering error in Personal and A6 size rings.

Paleta Collection complete

It’s always best to do a search by the name first, then narrow down through exact measurements. It’s also a good idea to make sure you are purchasing the correct format too. Several sizes have different formats. An example would be Personal size. You can get Personal size in ringed inserts and notebook refills. Most shops (including ours) will mention which format either on the title or in the listing itself. Or both. These formats are not interchangeable. Sometimes the actual sizes of the same name will be different as seen in Pocket. The Pockets rings are 3.2″ x 4.7″, but the Pocket notebook is 3.5″ x 5.5″, commonly called Field Notes. *head spin*

For ease of use, you can hit the navigation bars at the top of our website and go directly to the format and size that you need quickly. Our Ring sizes are under the Ringed Inserts title and for our disc-bound, check under The Metro Planner for complete planners and refills. If you are looking for our new CityGirl Spiral line, click on the Spirals heading for add-ons, interchangeable covers, and multiple design formats. Please note, we have discontinued our Traveler’s Notebook refill line as of November 2020. The available sizes for each format will drop down if you hover over either one. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

If you have any trouble getting around or have questions about what planner would be right for you, contact us. We would love to hear from you!