Traditional vs. Digital Scrapbooking

Traditional vs. Digital Scrapbooking main article image
Posted on March 26, 2021 by Ronda Cook

Main preview photo by Rirri on Unsplash

The world is not completely “paperless” at this point, but so much of what we do is now digital or electronic – banking, online education, working from home. Well, you get the picture. In fact, speaking of pictures, we are now immersed in hundreds, if not thousands of digital photos on various platforms – cameras, phones, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Whether we continue to print our photos or store them digitally, it’s important we tell our story and leave our legacy to future generations. This can be accomplished through traditional scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, or a combination of the two. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each:

Traditional Scrapbooking

According to Wikipedia, “Scrapbooking is a method of preserving, presenting, and arranging personal and family history in the form of a book, box, or card. Typical memorabilia include photographs, printed media, and artwork. Scrapbook albums are often decorated and frequently contain extensive journal entries or written descriptions.


  • There’s nothing better than getting your hands “dirty” and experiencing the feel (and smells) of the paper, ribbon, buttons, stickers. Experiencing ink on your hands, and even getting your fingers sticky from the glue is exhilarating!
  • You can incorporate memorabilia into your layouts – ticket stubs, brochures, your children’s artwork or report cards are just a few examples.
  • Embellishments and memorabilia add texture, depth and interest to your pages.
  • If you enjoy crafting with other traditional scrapbookers, there are day and weekend crops you can attend. (A crop is an event where scrapbookers gather to scrapbook). Not only is it a great way to meet new people and make new friends, scrapbookers are some of the most generous souls I know. There’s nothing better than coming together to share knowledge, tools and supplies.


  • Traditional scrapbooking requires space to create and a place to store all of your physical items. Not everyone has the luxury of having a dedicated space in their home to craft, which means you either have to clean up and put away after each session; and if not, you may be relegated to eating your meals in the living room.
  • Printing photos can be expensive, but you can find coupons and deals on various photo-printing sites, such as Snapfish, Walgreens, etc. to keep down the cost. Personally, I’m a huge proponent of printing your photos, but there’s no hard and fast rule that says you have to print out ALL of them. Pick and choose the best of the best, the ones you’re actually going to create scrapbook layouts with.

Digital Scrapbooking

According to Wikipedia, “Digital scrapbooking is the term for the creation of a new 2D artwork by re-combining various graphic elements. It is a form of scrapbooking that is done using a personal computer, digital or scanned photos and computer graphics software. It is a relatively new form of the traditional print scrapbooking.” 


  • It is not necessary to have a dedicated space to create; you can sit on your couch and scrapbook while watching TV. The only storage necessary is a place to keep your computer, and you probably already have a computer bag for that.
  • Digital scrapbooking can be done in small pockets of time, even if it’s only five minutes. Just hit the SAVE button and your project will be ready for the next go round.
  • Since there are no physical supplies, you don’t have to haul them anywhere or store them away.
  • There’s no limit to the number of duplicate copies you can print of individual pages or entire books with no extra work involved!
  • It can be easier on the pocketbook because individual photos do not need to be printed out. Embellishments you’ve purchased can be used time and time again on other layouts.


  • There are a few software programs specifically for scrapbooking, which can get a little pricey; however, simple scrapbook pages can be created with Canva’s free version.
  • If you purchase scrapbooking software, you may be limited only to the papers and embellishments that are compatible with that particular software.
  • More likely than not, you’re going to want to have your digital scrapbook printed, which can be fairly expensive. Though you may have to wait, your favorite photo-printing vendor will occasionally have sales and/or offer coupons for discounted prices.

Advantages of Digital Scrapbooking

Now that we’ve explored some of the pros and cons of both traditional and digital scrapbooking, take note of a few of the advantages digital scrapbooking has over traditional scrapbooking. 

  • Correct Your Mistakes: Let’s face it. Mistakes are inevitable and though most of them can be fixed in traditional scrapbooking, it’s much easier to correct your mistakes in digital scrapbooking. Just hit the “undo” button! And because you can easily undo your errors, you have a greater opportunity to explore your creativity by playing around with the layout and/or embellishments.
  • Instant Gratification: I enjoy the creative process of traditional scrapbooking, but I can spend hours on a double-page layout! Once you get the hang of it, simple digital scrapbooking layouts are completed much quicker. You may get bogged down in the details on occasion, but overall, digital scrapbooking is fast.
  • Supplies Available: Since there is no physical product, you don’t have to wait until your local craft store gets in the supplies or wait for an online vendor to ship them to you. Your supplies are downloaded instantly!
  • Share Your Projects: Digital pages can be instantly shared with friends and family, through emails, posted to online galleries and social media. That’s not to say that you can’t take a photo of your traditional scrapbook pages for sharing purposes, but photos of your scrapbook pages just never seem to do them justice.
  • Save Money: Traditional scrapbooking requires the purchase of tools, adhesives, papers, embellishments, and post-bound or 3-ring scrapbooks to hold the pages. It doesn’t HAVE to be super expensive, but I don’t know too many scrapbookers who are not also hoarders of scrapbook supplies. Guilty as charged!

Reasons to Scrapbook Digitally

Even if you’re a hardcore traditional scrapbooker and don’t intend to make digital scrapbooking your go-to hobby, there are various scenarios and good reasons where digital scrapbooking may be beneficial or just make good sense.

Baby in Family

Photo by Ana Tablas on Unsplash

New Baby in the Family

Traditional scrapbooking takes time and once you welcome a new baby into the family, your time becomes very limited. It’s hard to find more than a few minutes here and there to work on your projects.

Capturing those precious moments is what scrapbooking is all about, and unfortunately, many parents stop scrapbooking during this time. You’ll continue taking lots of pictures, so instead of waiting until SOMEDAY to preserve those precious memories, why not use your pockets of time to create simple digital layouts.

Small Children/Grandchildren

You may be thinking that once those babies turn in to toddlers, you’ll find the time to get back to traditional scrapbooking. If you’re lucky enough to have a private craft area where little hands can’t into your supplies and projects, then go for it! If not, having bits and pieces where small fists may find them is unsafe for the littles and provides no peace of mind for you. Digital scrapbooking can allow you to have fun while keeping an eye on them.


Tiny homes and living minimally are all the rage right now. If you’re planning to downsize into a less than 400-square-foot tiny space, or even a much smaller home than where you’re currently living, finding a surface big enough to craft on, much less find storage for your supplies will be a nightmare!


Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash


Taking hundreds of photos while on a vacation or traveling is typically the norm, correct? Do you really intend to scrapbook ALL of those photos? A great alternative would be to create some traditional layouts of your favorites, then create a digital scrapbook for all the other photos.


Image by Scottish Guy from Pixabay

Family History

Digital scrapbooking can be a lifesaver when you’re the family genealogist or been left with generations of photos. There are probably several members of your immediate or extended family who would cherish copies of that history. Create the digital scrapbook once, print copies many times over.


Traditional scrapbooking can become challenging if your fine motor skills are dwindling, or your eyesight is declining. However, using a computer takes less dexterity if you have limited movement, and the screen resolution can be increased to accommodate diminished eyesight.

Reduced Income

There are ways to reduce the cost of traditional scrapbooking, but once you use up your supplies, you have to replace them. You don’t have to use costly software to scrapbook digitally, and there are many low-cost and FREE resources for fonts, clipart and graphics; one of those resources being Creative Fabrica!

Dabble in Both

Traditional scrapbooking will never completely go away as long as crafters and artists crave the feel of texture in their hand and glue on their fingers. You may have a strong preference for one type of scrapbooking over the other, but there’s absolutely no reason you can’t dabble in both. And if for some reason your life circumstances change, then learn to adapt and not give up entirely. You may be pleasantly surprised!

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