Answering a question about filing layouts

I get some great questions in the comments section and I usually try to answer them as soon as possible when they are posted. Sometimes it takes me a few days though, mostly because of lack of time. This is one that I had to think about a little bit so I thought it would be a good one to share with everyone.

Hi Katie, I'm finally trying to get all of my scrapbook layouts organized. I do have a semi-system, but I end up with ALL of my jpg (flattened) layouts in one big folder called "Pages Only." I'm getting so many (a good problem to have!) that I want to divide them up by year. Where I'm getting stuck is deciding what to do with layouts I've made about earlier years. File them under when I created them? Or file them under the year that the events/stories took place? Any suggestions?

I've already decided to pull out my heritage/ancestry layouts into their own folder. But I have a lot of stories about when my older kids were younger, my parents, etc. and am stumped figuring out how to file them. :-/


At first glance, the answer seemed simple. I file my layouts in folders by year and for me that means the year that the layout is about. Here's a quick peek at my 2012 layouts 

All of those layouts are filled with photos and events that took place in the year 2012. Easy, right?

But I totally understand what Stacia is asking because it's not always that easy. If you create a page that has photos from multiple years (I love those kind of layouts) that can get tricky. In that case, I try to think of where it fits in the overall story of our lives. When I created a collage of pictures of my son over the years, I put it in our 2013 file because I used it as an illustration for a facebook post about him during that year. Also, the last photo in the collage is from 2013. Still pretty easy for me to decide on that one.

Now it gets a little trickier. This is a collage I created for a post I wrote for Capturing Magic a few years ago about Mad Hatter Day. I would like to include it in our albums and write about the hats of Disney. Where to put it? It goes with so many different years and trips. I have a few options:

  1. I can focus on the Mad Hatter Day theme of 10/6 which is the number on the Mad Hatter's hat and also October 6th. Any year I decide to include a layout about this date, I could put it in the October part of my book (I'm pretty chronological with my scrapping).
  2. I could file it with one of the trips that is pictured in the collage. I would probably choose the one with the most recent pictures which in this case would be our 2012 Disney trip. I'm fine to have layouts that look back mixed in with current events, but somehow it feels strange to look ahead in time. Like it would feel uncomfortable to me to have this page in my 2008 album even though some of the pictures are from a 2008 trip because there are also pictures from later dates. I guess that is just a personal preference thing. 

Now heritage and story pages are much trickier! Often, we don't know a specific date and sometimes we don't even know a year. I've created some heritage layouts like this and I would love to have them in chronological order, but the truth is that I have to guess on some of them. I don't have enough heritage layouts to be too worried about it yet and I just have put them all into the same album in the best order I could. This is the approach I've taken for filing them as well. 

This is my grandmother and her twin sister in the late 1920s. That's as close as I can get to pinpointing a time for this photo. Layout credits here. This page is filed under "heritage" in my system and that's it.

Now I'm definitely well versed in OCD tendencies and I'm all for finding an exact and orderly spot for every page. My filing system has served me well over the years, but it's not perfect and amazingly, I've come to terms with that. I try to fit the pieces into their proper slots, but I also recognize that there are times when I'm not entirely sure. 

Would it make you feel better if I admit that I have a folder for stuff I'm not sure which folder to file it in? lol!


There's great freedom in the "random layouts" or "to be sorted" label on a folder. Just don't let everything fall into that category. Everyone needs a junk drawer, but don't put things in the junk drawer that you know actually belong somewhere else.

I hope that helps a little. Bottom line is... I don't have all the answers, but I'll sure keep trying!