Why Do I Use Tabs in my Art Journal?

Tabs are a girl’s best friend.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. But tabs are pretty cool! They’ve taken the art journal community by storm. Whether you’re a tab expert or you’re wanting to dive into this tabtastic world (I’m sorry), consider this your comprehensive guide! I’m going to try and answer all the questions I received on Instagram about the topic.

[tl;dr: tabs are amazing, tab everything]

Here are two past inserts and my current journal with their tabs on show for you:


As you can see, tabs come in all shapes and sizes, and they make the edges of our journal pages look much more interesting.


A Brief History

Tabs aren’t anything new. They’re used mainly for organisational purposes, in planners and folders as dividers. People also use them as page markers.


The idea to use them for decoration on the edges of journals was first introduced to me by Johanna Clough. She made a video about how she adds eclectic tabs to her junk journal, from all sorts of materials, and I just had to try it for myself. Here is her video:

I just adored the was she stapled scraps of pretty fabric and papers to her journal. Such a simple technique, but it adds such dimension to the journal. I add them to the edges of pages and tip-ins.


Why did you start adding tabs to your journal?

This is by far the most frequently asked question when it comes to tabs. I mean, after all, they are just little bits of paper  or fabric added at random to the edge of a journal. I love how they make my journal look. I think it adds a lot of character and interest to the pages, even if the tabs contrast with the spread. It’s a lot of fun to pick through papers and attach them.

What do you do with the tabs? What do they mean?

Most of the time, they mean nothing! They’re simply a fun bit of decoration.

How do you make them? Do I need a special punch?

The joy of tabs is that

a) they are so easy to make and

b) you can make them out of virtually anything – the possibilities are endless.

One way of making tabs to add to your journal is to use a punch. This is good if you want all your tabs to be the same size and shape. I have a We R Memory Keepers punch. You can get one here.

Alternatively, you can cut out any tab shape you like. Or, you can fold it in half and attach it to the page – just make sure you don’t stick two pages together! You can use out of the box materials for tabs too, such as tags and paint sample cards.

How do you attach the tabs?

My favourite method is a stapler. It’s quick, easy and sturdy. But if you are not a fan of the way staples look on your pages, or you don’t want to add any bumpy surfaces for writing, you could use glue, clear tape/washi tape or double sided tape instead.

How do you keep tabs from bending or breaking?

If you are concerned about your paper tabs getting damaged, you may like to use fabric instead. Although my tabs have gotten a bit of wear, generally they are okay and it doesn’t usually bother me. To prevent any ripping, you could add clear tape around the tab to add extra strength, or use very thick card stock.

Do they have any other uses?

You could also reverse them and use a tab to label you page with the day or date. I have also seen them used for headings in bullet journals. For this, ideally you would want a plainer tab to be able to read the text on top. If you use tabs in a way I haven’t thought of, let me know!

Finallt, I asked you to send me pictures of the tabs you use in your journal, to show a variety of styles:


Robyn (@art.journal.girl)



Gesa (one of the @wave_sisters)

“I must admit I didn’t want to buy the tab-hype at first but, well… Once I had made my first tabs for my journal I literally could not stop 😂 #highlyaddictive”



Maria (@micisaacc2014)

“I love things poking out of my journal, paper, strings, whatever makes me want to crawl in and look around 💕”



Asfiya (@booksandbrushes)


Congratulations if you have made it to the end of this blog post! I hope I answered all of your questions. As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Meg x

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