Printables Checklist PDF - 4 pages spread across image

Checklist for Designing Printables

If you’re thinking about designing your own printables this step by step checklist for designing printables will help you get started. If you’re simply interested in grabbing a checklist to help you out, scroll down to download my FREE Designing Printables Checklist.

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perpetual calendar

What Are Printables?

Printables can mean anything that you print. They are pieces of artwork, drawings, graphic designs, images and more. When you purchase a printable they will most often come in a PDF format. The planner world is filled with printables. Any type of planner that you can imagine has most likely been made into a printable.

From a consumers perspective, if you have the tools to print your printables, they are a cheaper option than purchasing physical items. Firstly, they are simply cheaper to buy. Secondly, you have access to them for as long as you need them so you can reprint as often as you need to.

My two favourite characteristics of printables are:

  1. Instant access – no more waiting for your items to be created then posted.
  2. Cost effective – they are much cheaper than purchasing physical items.

If you are lucky, you will find a resource of free printables that you can use (for personal use) to help you organise your life or decorate your walls. 

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Types of Printables

I’ve mentioned some different types of printables above. Here are a few more ideas for items that you can create.

  • Quotes & inspirational sayings
  • All types of planners
  • Trackers
  • Workbooks
  • Lesson plans
  • Checklists
  • Artwork
  • Cupcake toppers
  • Bookmarks
  • Business cards
  • Postcards
  • Photos

Basically if it can be designed on a computer, downloaded & printed then it’s a printable.

Top View of desk - cut off laptop with Calendar

Benefits of Designing Your Own Printables

There are some significant benefits of designing your own printables. Here are the most significant benefits:


Control is something that is important to me. I love the control I have designing printables that are suitable for my needs. I love the ability to redesign my printables as my needs or style changes. The ability to control the style, the colours and layout of my printables brings me peace of mind. I like the control that comes with having the knowledge and skills required to design anything that I can imagine.


Having the skills and equipment necessary to design your own printables brings you more freedom than you might think. Once you are competent designing your own printables, you will notice the freedom from constantly searching for the right printables. I’m a planner girl at heart and for years I was searching for exactly the right planner. There were some that were close but nothing was perfect. The ability to design your own planner using the dimensions, style & paper you need you will be free from that constant struggle. If you like spiral bound planners, you can take your planner to the local stationery store and they will bind it for you.

You will also discover a financial freedom from the expense of constantly purchasing printables or planners that don’t work for you.

Creativity Outlet

Do you have a creative heart and do you love to design? Do you enjoy learning new skills? You will be able to utilise your creative talent to design perfect printables. Designing printables is one of my two favourite tasks running Blue Gum Lane (the other being teaching others how to create their own printables). Microsoft Publisher is not the most advanced program for design, however if you can imagine something, you’ll get pretty close using it. If you already design using other programs, you will be able to save as an image and import it into your Microsoft Publisher design.

Learn Something New

This could be just me, but I love to learn new things. Not all new things – I have no interest in learning how to fly an aeroplane – but I do love learning. Learning how to design using any software program is something that can be fun. You can get whatever is in your head onto the canvas on your computer screen. Of course it doesn’t hurt that you can multitask and drink a cup of tea and eat a biscuit at the same time if you need to.

For me, once I become comfortable with my current skill level in any software program, I’ll find something else to learn. I never use the full potential that technology has to offer and I love exploring new possibilities in the platforms that I’m already familiar with.

Saving Money

You have got to love this benefit of designing printables. With the knowledge and skills that come with learning how to design your own printables using Microsoft Publisher, you will be free from spending money on designs that don’t meet your needs. It is cheaper to design and print your own printables than to purchase them. Your initial costs might add up. For example, you may purchase a course on how to design using a particular program, you might purchase a new printer or some pretty special paper. Once you’ve made that initial investment, DIY printables is the most cost effective way to go.

Making Money

Once you are a printables design champion, you can create a passive income selling your printables online. It’s worth some serious consideration.

If you are looking for a course on how to design your own printables please check out my BGL Planning School

BGL Planner School

What Do I Need to Design My Own Printables

These things don’t just happen by magic. There are a few things that you will require in order to design your printables.

  • Idea
  • Software Program
  • Computer
  • Paper
  • Printer
  • Good Fonts
  • Images
  • Commercial Licenses – If you’re planning to sell your printables
  • Hole punch
  • Laminator for printables such as covers, dashboards and tab dividers
  • Cutting machine – if you are going to be printing die cuts or stickers.
  • Sticker paper for printable stickers.
  • Binding – either your own binder or take to your local stationery shop for binding.
  • Checklist for Designing Printables – keep scrolling to download my pdf checklist for designing printables.

Some of those items will be optional, but that’s the basics for making your own printables. Read this article Equipment Needed For Designing Printables for more details.

Checklist for Designing Printables

Now you know what printables are, why they are so fabulous & you have everything you need to get started, you’re ready to go. The list below is my checklist for designing planner printables. If you are designing something else, you may leave out some of these steps.

Here is my checklist for designing printables:

  • Open a new document – use any size that works for you. I use A4 as this is easy to print at home. For my personal use, I print quarterly planners & have them spiral bound at my local stationery store.
  • Set your margins – I find 15mm is enough for my own personal use, but when printing for others I’ll make the margin larger to ensure the end user has enough room to punch holes.
  • Add pages – I always start with four pages. This is just a number that works for me & it helps with the next point. You will often have to add more pages, this is just a great starting point.
  • If you are designing planners on a two page spread, use the ‘facing pages’ option if there is one so that you can see what your layout looks like on your computer screen as you are working.
  • Select your style – by style I mean fonts & colours. If it’s an option with your software, load your colours and fonts and keep them as a favourite or in an assets library for ease of use. This saves you so much time in the long run if you are continually using the same fonts, colours or even images.
  • Create a text box at the top of your first page – this will be the header for your page. Type your heading and format it to the rough size and font you will be using. This will probably be tweaked at a later stage in the design process.

The Design Part Comes Next

  • Design the main canvas – This part will depend on your design. If you are creating a monthly planner you might use a table. If you are using an Erin Condren style planner you might choose to use boxes. This will be the longest part of the process. 
  • Tweak – Once you’ve created a draft of your design it’s time to start tweaking it. Use the following tools to perfect your design:
    • Align Tool – you will use this tool a lot
    • Weight tool – change the weight of lines, outlines, tables etc.
    • Fonts – make sure you’re happy with the style and size of the fonts. Also make sure they are aligned properly.
    • Add additional assets – Now that you’ve got the layout basically done, add any images to enhance your design. 
    • Colour – change the colours to suit yourself or match any images you’ve included in your design. I like to make lines for writing grey rather than black. You might want to fill boxes with a colour that you love.
  • Design Front Page – I will often give planners a cover page.
  • Design Last Page – I like to include a notes page at the end of my planners
  • Branding – if you intend to sell your printables you will need to include your branding. The cover & last page are a great start. I also include my details in a light colour at the bottom of the page.

If you want to learn how to design your own printables, check out the courses at my BGL Planning School.

Final Thoughts

Designing printables is great fun once you are past the learning curve. The list of what you can design is only limited by your imagination. Whether your intention is to create printables for your own personal use or to sell, this is a great creative outlet.

Once you settle into the process, you will develop your own steps and methods for designing your printables.

Get Your FREE Checklist Here

Printables Checklist PDF - 4 pages spread across image
Click the image above & I will send you my FREE Designing Printables Checklist

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Happy Planning x

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