They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  But of course, well…we do it anyway.  And we tend to like pretty “covers.”  Studies have actually shown that we are more likely to use or engage in things that are visually appealing.  But no one ever said that we can’t “dress up” the boring, everyday items that, albeit useful, are drab and just plain ordinary.  I don’t know about you, but I have never found a three-ring binder to be very attractive…until now!

Regardless of what lives inside the binder, whether it be your Biology notes, family photos, or your entire life organized into printables, you can create a cover that looks AMAZING.  And all you need is Microsoft Word!  (And this tutorial, of course.) 😉

I am going to break this down for you in five easy steps with PLENTY of screenshots!  So open up Word on your computer and let’s get started!


You will need to start by choosing a background.  There are many free designs online or you can purchase digital papers in packs from Etsy or Creative Market.  These are the images displayed when I type the words “free digital paper” in Google.

I ended up using a free design from Chicfetti.  They have the cutest printables!  Download your chosen design and save it in a convenient location on your desktop.

Most backgrounds will come in a JPEG or PNG format, which is great for this tutorial.  However, if your design comes in a PDF format, just open the file in Adobe Reader and click “Save As.”  Then click on “Image,” and in the dropdown box there will be an option for “JPEG.”  Then you are all set for the next step!

Create a new word document.  Go to INSERT and then click on SHAPES.  Choose the RECTANGLE shape.  (On my document, it is in the top row, fourth shape over.)

Then click on the top left corner of your document.  Without letting go of your mouse (so basically in one “long” click), drag your cursor from the top left corner to the bottom right corner.  This should create a rectangle to cover your page.

Click on the small blue squares on the bounding box to drag the lines to the end of the page to make sure that your entire page is covered.

Next, go to the FORMAT tab and click SHAPE FILL.  In the dropdown box, select PICTURE.

Choose your saved design.

The image of your design should fill the rectangle to create a background for your binder cover.  At this point, you might want to print the blank design for your back cover.  If so, skip down to the “Print and Enjoy” section, and then scroll back up to continue with the directions.


Next, you will need to create a frame for your monogram and text.

There are a couple of ways you can do this.  I am going to add a frame that I bought and downloaded from MayPLDigitalArt on Etsy.  However, there are many free digital frames you can download online.  Just search “free digital frames” in Google.

Go to the INSERT tab and click on PICTURE.  Just like we did with the background, double-click the file with your chosen frame.

If your frame does not show up right away, go to the FORMAT tab and click on the BRING TO FRONT box.

This should bring your frame to the front.

You can resize your frame by clicking on it and dragging the blue squares (or the little circles in the corners), just as you did with your background.

On the FORMAT tab, click on ALIGN.  In the dropdown box, click ALIGN CENTER.  Then, click ALIGN  again.  This time, choose ALIGN MIDDLE.  This will place your frame in the center of the page (horizontally and vertically).

If you’d rather have a circle frame…

(If you just want a circle frame instead, go to INSERT and click SHAPES.  Choose the CIRCLE.  Repeat the same steps as if you drawing the rectangle until you have reached the size you want.  Then align in the center and middle.)

If you want extra text under your monogram…

If you are going to put a box underneath with text (to identify, for example, a school subject), you can click on your frame a drag it up slightly on the page.  Be sure to stay as close to the center (horizontally) as possible.  If you get off center, you can always go back to the ALIGN box and click ALIGN CENTER again.

If you are going to create a box with text underneath your monogram, go back to the INSERT tab and choose SHAPES and click on the RECTANGLE.  Just as you did before, create a rectangle by clicking and dragging until you have reached the size of your choosing.  Once again, go to the FORMAT tab and click ALIGN, then ALIGN CENTER.  (To add text to the rectangle, skip down to step 4.  Follow the same directions as inserting text on the binder spine.


Now it is time to add your monogram!  The monogram I am using for this example is actually one that I bought from Font Bros, but if you want a free version of a similar font,  you can download and install THIS FONT.

If scripty letters aren’t your thing, here is a great post displaying names and links of different types of monogram fonts.

To add your monogram, you are going to start by inserting a text box.  To do this, go to the INSERT tab.  Click on TEXT BOX, and then SIMPLE TEXT BOX.  This will place a text box on your document.

Click on your text box and drag it to the center of your frame.  Do this by positioning your mouse on the edge until the four-pointed arrow is displayed.  Then, hold down your mouse and drag until you have reached the center of the frame.  It is okay if it’s not perfect.  We will fix that in just a moment.

Now, click on the little blue circle in the lower right corner and drag until you reach the lower right corner of your frame.  Do the same thing to the upper left corner.  Your textbox should now be roughly the same size as your frame.

Click on the text in your textbox and hit the BACKSPACE button on your keyboard.  This will take away the text.  Then, on the HOME tab, choose your FONT and FONT SIZE.  I normally start with size 72.  Then, type out your monogram.

NOTE: On most script monograms, you need to start with a lowercase letter (your first name initial), then an UPPERCASE letter (your last name initial, and lastly another lowercase letter (your middle name initial).  Example: aCb

Next, highlight the monogram text.  Then, click directly on the font size number (NOT on the little arrow beside it).  This should highlight the number.  This is where you will need to play with the font size a little until you reach the size you want.  I normally start out with 200 and then increase or decrease from there.  In this case, 200 looks pretty good.

While the text is still highlighted, click on the “Center Text” shortcut  on the HOME tab.

Next, click on one of the outer edges of the text box.  On the FORMAT tab, click on SHAPE FILL.  In the dropdown box, click NO FILL.

Directly underneath the FILL button, click on SHAPE OUTLINE.  In the dropdown box, click NO OUTLINE.

Currently, you will still have a bounding box around your monogram, but might be a little more difficult to see.  In my example, my monogram looks to be slightly larger than my frame allows.  If this happens, you can do one of two things.  Either change your font size or change your frame size.  I am going to go with the latter and adjust the size of my frame.  To do this, just click on the outer edge of your frame and drag one of the corners out just a little, making it slightly larger.  If needed, go back up to the FORMAT tab and click ALIGN, then ALIGN CENTER.

And now you have a beautiful, personalized binder cover!


If you want a coordinating spine for your binder, create a new document.  On the PAGE LAYOUT tab, click LANDSCAPE.  This will rotate your page.

Next, draw a square anywhere on the document (INSERT—SHAPES—RECTANGLE).  The square can be ANY SIZE, because you are going to manually change the dimensions.

Next, in the FORMAT tab, click on the WIDTH box and type 11”.  The HEIGHT will depend on the size of your binder.  If your binder is one inch, you will leave the height at 1”.  If it is 1.5 inches, you will need to change the height to 1.5 inches, and so on…

Your rectangle will not automatically center itself on the page when you change the dimensions, so go back to ALIGN, and ALIGN CENTER.

While still in the FORMAT section, click on SHAPE FILL.  In the dropdown box, choose PICTURE.  Locate your digital design and double click.

Now, your design will fill the space within the rectangle.  Your print won’t look exactly the same because Word tries to fit the entire image within the small rectangle.  However, I actually like that it doesn’t look exactly like the front cover.  It still coordinates with the original design and adds more variety to the overall look of your binder.

Draw a small rectangle within the spine and ALIGN CENTER.

Right-click the small rectangle and click ADD TEXT.

On the HOME tab, choose your font style and size.  Type out your text and click on the CENTER TEXT shortcut.  You might have to play with your font size here.  When you feel like your text looks good, you can resize your rectangle to fit and center it on the spine.

Looks like you are ready to print your designs and cut out the spine insert!


Whenever you are ready to print your design, click the top left button in the corner of your screen and choose PRINT.  You can print your cover on any type of paper, but cardstock is recommended for the best print quality and sturdiness.

Click the PROPERTIES button.

Click the BORDERLESS box.  This extremely important if you want your cover to print edge-to-edge.  If a pop-up regarding print quality displays on the screen, just click “OK.”  Then click “Print.”  Wait a minute or two before touching your paper to allow the ink to dry.

STEP SIX: NOW JUDGE YOUR BOOK BY ITS COVER! …(and download your free printables)

Like what you see? 🙂

Are there any other printables/tutorials/etc. you would like to see featured on this blog?  Let me know in the comments section or by e-mailing me at


*PLEASE NOTE: You MUST have the latest version of Adobe Reader to access these files.















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