Geek Scratch Paper

Grid scratch paper pad

Grid scratch paper pad

Everybody needs doodle paper, but geeks need graph paper. What to do?

Go to and set up a half-page grid with 5×8 1-inch divisions, 0.5-inch mid divisions, and 0.1-inch minor divisions (I think 1 / 0.6 / 0.3 pt line widths look nice). The obvious metric divisions are a bit too fine for my taste, but 2 cm – 1 cm – 2 mm might work.

Fetch the PDF, load it into The GIMP at 300 dpi, expand the canvas to a full-page sheet (8.5×11 inches), duplicate the grid so you have two on one sheet, save it as a PNG for later use.

If you don’t have a full-bleed printer, pick a full-page size that’ll print within whatever margins your printer enforces. You really want those one-inch grids to remain one inch, right?

Print a few dozen copies, whack ’em in half, and bind ’em on the long edge. Add a thin cardboard backing sheet (Mr Breakfast Cereal Box, meet Mr Paper Cutter) so the bottom sheet stays neat.

I have an old IBICO (since absorbed by GBC) plastic comb binding machine, but it’s easy enough to line the sheets up and coat the edge with white paper glue, rubber cement, or, for the true geek, liquid electrical tape.

Pre-position pads wherever you’re ordinarily at a loss for scratch paper: neat doodles!

PS: Put some money in his tip jar when you use his graph paper. It’s a nice gesture.

[Update: Inexplicably, I didn’t have a picture of a pad. Here you go… low res, but you get the general idea. Great for off-the-cuff graphing, too.]