Special thanks to Amanda Osenga for writing this guest post to help all of our lovely Fun-Schoolers during this season of change!
When you think of PDFs, I bet your first thought goes to a pile of printed pages. What if I told you there are dozens of options for using PDFs? Including options involving zero printing at all. You can even get them printed into a physical book! I hope these tips will help you find new ways to use PDFs.
Binding and printing options-
Yes, you can go the standard route of print and staple. There’s nothing wrong with this! It’s a tried and true binding technique. Here are a few other options-
- “Booklet” style.
This is a setting in Adobe. This will print the size of a standard book. You can fold them in half, staple them, or even hand-stitch them. We find printing about 48 pages at once easiest to work with. Otherwise, it gets too thick.
Most local print shops can print PDFs as a book for you. Lots of Fun-School moms tell us Barnes & Noble Press does a beautiful job for close to the price of having individual pages printed through a print shop. https://press.barnesandnoble.com/print-on-demand/
- Disc-bound binding
These are most well known through the “Happy Planner.” A benefit is the ability to move pages around. Moms love this method for rearranging journals and/or combining multiple journals. You can purchase disc-bound punches at craft stores and office supply stores. This option functions similarly to a spiral notebook and can be folded back or laid flat. This also allows you to reuse the same rings- saving money and resources!
- File folder
Use expandable or hanging file folders to sort, organize, and file PDFs. Print with your desired number of pages per sheet and organize to your heart’s content! Some moms organize by day, others by journal- and others by type of page (Reading Time, Screen Time, Math, etc.)
- Multiple pages per sheet
Consider printing two or four pages per sheet. This will save paper and money! It is also a great option for kids overwhelmed by writing because it reduces the space to write on. Moms with kids who love to color often choose to print the coloring pages full-size.
- Three-ring binders
Similar to the disc-bound method, this allows you a lot of flexibility. Fun-Schooling families often recommend the Five Star Flex binders because the cover bends backward and lays flat. Any binder will do!
- Spiral bind
Spiral binding is another classic printing method. Local shops and box stores can bind for you. Binding machines are also available for purchase, including some with reusable spines. Sometimes churches, schools, or community centers will allow families to use their binding machines.
- Combine methods!
Print a PDF booklet style and use it with disc-bound disks. Or print multiple pages/sheets and stick them in a binder. Play around with different methods until you find what you and your children like best. Remember, each kid may like a different method!
Making Family Count is a homeschool printing company operated by a Fun-Schooling family. There are also several other homeschool-based printing companies out there.
Your Local Print Shop
If you haven’t dropped into a local print shop lately, I encourage you to do so. One shop I visited had over 20 different ways they could print and bind PDFs! It’s worth it to head in and ask for their ideas.
Printing Considerations and Tips
Here are a few tips and considerations-
- Ask your local library
Many libraries have printing allowances for those with a library card. Some will do discounted or free printing for homeschoolers.
- Reach out to local churches– especially those with homeschool programs
We’ve heard from many moms who can print free or cheap this way!
- Community centers sometimes have free or cheap printing available too
- Do you, a spouse, or a relative have a printer at work? Ask about paying a small fee or providing your own paper to use printer
- The Epson Eco Tank printer seems to be the lowest-cost option for an at-home printer This one is on sale at the time of this posting for $169.00 (discounted from $249.99!!)
- Subscribe to email newsletters from box store office supply companies. They do deeply discounted paper a few times a year.
- If money is extremely tight- ask your neighborhood Buy Nothing, Freecycle, or Neighbors Helping Neighbors group to see if anyone would be willing to print for you if you provide the paper.
- Some moms combine multiple journals for an entire week, month, semester, or school year. You can rearrange journal pages with some of the flexible binding methods mentioned above. There are also programs available online to merge and reorganize PDFs!
- If your print shop has any concerns regarding printing copyrighted material, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and request a printing release.
Skip Printing and Use PDFs Digitally
You can use PDFs digitally with the following apps/programs- tutorials can be found on YouTube for using them
– Liquid Text
– PDF Expert
– Microsoft Edge has a built-in PDF editor
You can also get the paid version of Adobe and edit directly on the PDF.
*Note- these are programs Fun-School Moms have suggested. We have yet to test all of them. This is not considered an endorsement of these programs. Do your research to verify their privacy rules, advertising, etc.
We hope these tips help you to get the most out of your PDFs! Let us know if you do something else unique with your PDFs.
*Some files do not have the fonts embedded properly for the Barnes & Noble system to recognize. We cannot guarantee Barnes & Noble will be able to print your journal. They do carry several of our journals pre-printed. Find them here https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/sarah%20janisse%20brown