Hipster PDA

Templates and text are ©2004-2006 Douglas Johnston except where noted

About the Hipster PDA Edition

The D*I*Y Planner 3.0 Hipster PDA Edition is a series of do-it-yourself 3″x5″ (index card size) templates for planning and organisational purposes. It was created as a supplement to the D*I*Y Planner 3.0 kit and the templates are re-designed for the smaller paper size.

Please note that these instructions are meant to compliment the D*I*Y Planner Handbook (included with the regular kit), and as such only detail the differences in the two editions.

This package is available in three forms: 1-up, 2-up and graphics. Depending on your printer, paper stock, software and set-up, one format will probably make more sense than the others. Please read the descriptions below and decide for yourself.

For more information about the Hipster PDA, as conceived by Merlin Mann, please visit www.hipsterpda.com.

The 1-Up Version

The 1-Up version is meant for printing directly onto 3″x5″ index card stock. However, your printer may not be able to handle margins that are, by necessity, close to the edge. Your forms may be clipped. If your printer is capable of full-bleed printing or has no problems with 1/8″ (3mm) margins, and you have the appropriate index (record) card stock, this is probably the best format for you. Simply feed the cards into the printer (perhaps in an envelope tray), and print. Do not let Adobe Acrobat resize, scale or centre the documents.

The 4-Up Version

The 4-Up version is meant for printing four adjacent cards onto letter-size (8.5″ x 11″) card stock and then you can cut the page apart with a guillotine or scissors. If you want to print double-sided cards (for example, the monthly ‘flip card’), simply turn over the paper and print again.

Since the four cards are exactly centred on the page you should be able to print these on A4 paper as well. Just remember to tell Acrobat to centre (but not scale)the document.

You can usually find a decent ‘paper’ guillotine at office supply and department stores for between 30-60 USD. Avoid ‘rotary trimmers’ and get one with a self-sharpening chopper arm. For an example, see the GBC GT II Series Trimmer, 15in., which is a great investment for a fairly low price, and you’ll probably be passing it on to your grandchildren.

The Graphics Version

The graphics version is for those people who:

  • Have problems printing with the supplied PDFs because of their printers (or cranky Acrobat settings).
  • Want to use a different layout programs, such as Freehand, Illustrator, CorelDRAW or OpenOffice.org Draw.
  • Use Avery perforated forms, or similar, and want to paste the D*I*Y templates into their regular layout program.
  • Use different paper sizes and want to arrange the templates to make the best use of space.
  • Want to make minor modifications to the templates such as changing colours, titles, spacings or supplied text.
  • As this covers quite a number of possibilities and setups, they cannot all be covered here. What we can recommend is to try layouts using the free OpenOffice.org Draw (you can put a different card on each ‘slide’) and graphics manipulation using the free application The Gimp. The D*I*Y planner uses the free font named Blue Highway.

For those who are curious about such things, the file format used is 8-bit PNG, and should work well with almost any modern bitmap graphic application.

Please note that these graphic files are released under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial No-Derivatives licence. However, I waive the no-derivatives part if you wish to make modifications of these files for your own personal use. If you make something you’d like to share, please see our How-To: Submitting a Template page.

Printing Tips

It seems that a lot of people have issues with odd paper sizes, different types of stock, and bewildering printer setups. Most of these issues can be avoiding by keeping a few things in mind while setting up to print your cards.

Print Resolution
Because of the small fonts and subtle greys you should use a fairly high resolution when printing, at least 600 dpi. However it is equally important to bear in mind the quality of coating on the paper. Too high a dpi can be as bad as too low. My Mac OS X print dialog does not allow me to choose DPI, I find that if I set the Print Mode to be the highest quality possible for the paper (under ‘Detailed Setting’), it works beautifully. Your own settings will depend heavily upon your OS and drivers.
Card Stock
You should certainly use coated (or otherwise hi-res) card stock. If not, you will experience some muddiness and bleeding of ink, making it difficult to read the small fonts. For example, we find 110lb (280-300 gsm) bright white card stock is absolutely perfect on one side (the one with the best coating), and very good on the other. However, the generic index (record) cards we picked up at the local department store result in small type that is almost illegible.

By way of weight, you probably want between 60lb and 110lb (160-300 gsm)(with the typical index card being about 90lb (240 gsm), I’m guessing). Keep in mind that weight is very much a personal preference: you may prefer lighter and thinner cards if you like to carry around a lot of them, or heavier ones if they undergo extensive usage (such as monthly and yearly calendars). Or you may prefer a mix of weights in your set. De gustibus.

Whatever you choose, be sure to experiment with your printer settings, printing a test page each time (on both sides, if you intend to print double-sided). You may find, for example, that choosing “Plain Paper” results in far less ink being laid than “Matte Photo Paper”, and therefore the fonts will look far more crisp. This was the case with my Canon i350 under Mac OS X. Your mileage will certainly vary.

Printing Margins
Because of the limited space on 3×5″ cards, these templates were designed with 1/8″ (3mm) margins. Many printers have minimum 1/4″ (6mm) margins, and so you will experience clipping. If this is the case with your setup, you should use the 4-Up version, or the graphics version in your own layout program (which should allow you to resize as necessary).
Saving Ink
There are a number of ways to save ink, depending on your printer. First, try printing the black-and-white templates in ‘Grayscale’ mode. While the resolution might be slightly lower, you aren’t going to use a lot of colour ink to simulate black as many inkjets do, even if they have a black cartridge. (Silly, yes, I know.) Second, try printing with your media set to “Plain Paper”. Many printers lay on less ink in this mode, sometimes less than half of that used for photo, matte or inkjet paper. Third, and I know this is common sense, only print what you need. Some people get carried away with printing a tonne of templates at the very start, only to find that many of them are ill-suited for their planning style.


The D*I*Y Planner kits evolve constantly, and I always consider them to be works in progress. If you have any comments about them, please feel free to contact me through my contact form. I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have, and I’ll certainly listen to any proposed areas of improvement or new templates you would like to see.

Take care, stay loose, be kind, and do things right.

This application has been replaced by Dynamic Templates v2.x: The Next Generation. Please use the link to the left

This is the yet another installment of the Digital Dynamic Templates, a series of cross platform applications that should ease the load on the folks who make templates. This program generates all the different “Notes” pages (like in this template collection) using the basic D*I*Y Planner look and feel.

  • Plain Lined
  • Plain Lined with a Grey Column
  • Grey Lined with a Grey Column
  • Cornell Notes (plain)
  • Cornell Notes with Grid and Lines
  • Grid
  • Dots

When I previewed these to Doug, he said:

Heh, soon you’re going to give me no reason to update the DiyP at all.
Of course, that might make me very happy. 😉

You betcha ! This will allow folks like Doug to move on to other tasks and eliminate the drudgery of producing multiple versions of the templates for all the different paper sizes.

This is multi-platform software. Below are download links for pre-built, static, binary applications for both Windows and Mac OS X as well as the source code. Through the Nordic Magic of the Qt Libraries, both of these applications were built from the same source code. This source can be built on any platform supported for Qt 4.3

Here’s a shot of the Mac version:

And here’s the Windows version:

Basic instructions:

  • Be sure you have the font “Blue Highway” installed as it is hard coded into the application
  • Use the “Page Setup” button to set paper size
  • Use the Margin controls to set your margins
  • Set your line width to look good on the display.
  • Set the page title and the title alignment (left, centered, right)
  • The “Print” button will send the page through your printer drivers.
  • The “Save PDF” button will create a PDF file.
  • INTERNATIONALIZATION: Two simple changes — the addition of translation files, and the addition of a locale string in parentheses in the title bar. The string in the title bar lets you know what your system is looking for. The translation file name is “DIY_Notes_LOCALE.qm” For the translations to work, the string in the title bar has to match the LOCALE part of the translations file and the translation file needs to be located in the same directory as the application. A slight renaming of the translation file may be necessary as the locale consists of both a language and a country indicator.

License granted to me (Dan White) by Douglas Johnston to duplicate the D*I*Y Planner forms look and feel under the Creative Commons NC-ND License. The source code is declared under GNU GPL.

That’s part of the Nordic Magic. It should be multi-lingual. Please let me know if you have any language related difficulties

Frequently Asked Questions: Hipster PDA Edition

Hipster PDAs, made popular by Merlin Mann and 43 Folders, are a great way to make your planning lifestyle lighter and more portable. However, the notion of a pack of planning cards is not entirely devoid of sources of bewilderment. This FAQ attempts to answer some of the more popular questions Doug and the D*I*Y crew have had about the Hipster PDA Edition templates.

  1. How do I use these cards?That’s an excellent question, but it all comes down to a matter of personal taste and a process of experimentation to find out what works best for you. If you use these in conjunction with the ‘regular’ D*I*Y Planner, you can read the handbook for usage advice, tips and various pointers on implementing David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology, much of which also applies to these cards. Otherwise, you might want to check out the excellent 43 Folders and its Google Group for plenty of advice on how to use a Hipster PDA, implement GTD, or explore plenty of other ways of staying organised. You can also find a tonne of cool hacks in the 43 Folders Wiki.
  2. What’s the best way to guillotine the 4-up versions?I like to do top, right, bottom, left, centre horizontal, then centre vertical for each pair. That’s just the fastest way I’ve personally found to do it, since I just keep rotating the paper in the same direction, taking a quick chop each time. You do get very fast with a little practice. If you don’t have a vertical cutting guide, it also helps if there’s a light source bouncing up from under the edge of the cutting edge, so you can line up the edge with the printed border. Whatever you do, be sure to hold the top edge of the paper against the wall at the top of the board (this keeps all cuts perpendicular), and don’t cut yourself. I shall not be held legally responsible for the loss of any body part, finger or otherwise. (See the Beginner’s Guide to Making a D*I*Y Planner for plenty of handy instructions with photographs.)
  3. What are those weird symbols at the top of the Finances grid?Those are my symbols for cash (dollar sign), debit card (down arrow), credit card (up arrow), and cheque (check mark.). Make a little line, x or dot in the correct column for the transaction. There’s not much room on an index card, I know….
  4. Matrix? Bwahahahaha! The blue pill! The blue pill!Ahem, yes. The *Matrix* template serves a number of purposes that aren’t immediately evident to the hard-core sci-fi fan. Some examples: diet log, exercise/fitness log, text/assignment grades, homebrew tracker, number of cars passing in front of your house (by colour, of course), etc.. It’s like *Notes*, but for tabular data — an analog spreadsheet.
  5. How do you carry these around?Carry them in whatever fits. People’s choices range from zip-lock baggies to office-supply card cases to Levenger International Pocket Briefcases. To see what other folks are using, you can check out our Kit Photographs Gallery or our Kits & Equipment Forum.
  6. I don’t need no stinking expensive corporate wallet! I’m a *do-it-yourselfer*!Then try making the gtdductster.
  7. Can you make me some red/blue/teal/polka-dot versions of the templates?I’m afraid not. However, you can certainly load up the graphics version of the Hipster PDA Edition in your favourite bitmap graphics program and make colour changes yourself. Likewise, you can change text, spacing, and anything else that really bugs you. (If you don’t already have a graphics program, and want to download one for free, I’d suggest grabbing (and learning) The Gimp.
  8. Why did you make these cards?I received plenty of requests from frustrated people who were trying to squeeze down and contort the regular D*I*Y Planner templates to fit onto index cards. In short, pity. 😉 I’ve actually started using them myself, so it worked out well in the end.
  9. Aren’t I creating a derivative work if I modify your graphics files?Technically yes, but I will waive this for personal usage. If you would like to offer your own creation online for public consumption, I ask that you check with me first. (That would be the ‘permission’ part in the licence.) The other option, of course, would be to use the Widget Kit to create your own cards, which is under a different license that allows derivatives.

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