Digi Scrapping with Alphas

digi alphas

Pea Sue font, Alpha from Gina Miller’s Celebrate kit in this month’s Digi Files

If you’ve listened to the Paperclipping Digi Show podcast long enough, you’ve probably heard me (Katie) say that I tend to avoid using alphas (alphabets) on my layouts. It’s true that I’ve gotten a bit lazy about adding alphas to my pages, but as I looked through my past layouts, I found that some of my favorite titles were made with alphabets. I’ve recently been inspired to start looking through my kits and looking at the alphas in them, (and the alphabets I’ve purchased on their own) in a new way. Several of our team members use alphas in such creative ways, I decided to let them share their tips and tricks with all of us.


Team member Heddy says “I *heart* alphas! But, I didn’t always. I used to find them a pain. But now I scrap with ACDSee, so I just select all the letters needed for my title (holding down CTRL), then open them all at once in PS. It’s easy to drag them onto my page, closing each letter after I’ve placed it on the page. Then, I select all the letters on the page, and select *align bottom edges* and they snap into a neat line. I manually adjust the spacing between them and then select them all and place them in a Group. Then I resize and move them around the page all at the same time.

It sounds like a lot, but I swear it’s easy as pie!” (Note that you can also use this trick when selecting alphas in folders).

Team member Jenn Lindsay says “I used to not like using alphas either, and probably didn’t use them at all for the first year or so that I was digiscrapping. Now I have to admit, I’ve bought a kit many times due to the alpha alone. I use the same process as Heddy, except I don’t use ACDSee, so I just use the ctrl key to select multiple letters in my alpha folder, and then open them all together right into PS. I do tend to keep the words that I’m creating with the alphas fairly short though, depending on the style of alpha, so it’s not only easier to create, but also doesn’t overpower the page.”

Team member Trina says “I’m one of the few that actually likes the alpha sheets instead of the individual characters. If a kit comes with both I delete the individual characters to save on hard drive space.” (Great idea!)

Team member Wendyzine says “I love alphas because they make it so easy to create coordinated titles. I love them even more since I discovered Anna Forrest’s Title Builder. You type in your word, point it to the alpha folder and it makes the word for you. You can even set it to distinguish between uppercase and lowercase if you have both.” (NOTE: Anna’s store is closed, but you can email her through her blog to purchase this tool.)

Here are my favorite tips for using alphas:

  • Put all the letters you want to use on your layout first, then select all of them at once using ctrl+ your mouse. Once they are all selected, then resize them all at the same time to maintain proportions.
  • Use grids and guides to line up alphas – see this post for more details
  • Add small embellishments to neutral alphas to dress them up a bit, or help them fit with a theme such as: beach, holiday, etc.
  • While I love Trina’s tip for using alpha sheets, I have to admit I really prefer my letters in individual files. Just a matter of personal preference.
  • I often forget that it’s easy to change alphas up a bit to give them new looks. See this tutorial from Chelle’s Creations for some great ideas!


Alpha “falling” down the page adds movement to the design:

Layout by Heddy. Credits: Phoebe kit by Angie Hinksman; Phoebe alpha by Angie Hinksman; Honey Pots Freebie by Busy Bee Designs

Alpha mixed with word art makes title work fun and creative!

Layout by Heddy. Credits: Cindy’s Layered Templates Set 79 by Cindy Schneider available at Sweet Shoppe Designs; Shabby Sweetheart by Jenn Barrette and Scrapkitchen Designs available at Sweet Shoppe Designs; Alpha by Shabby Miss Jenn Designs

Three alphas mixed together to form title – alphas are fun to mix!

Layout by Heddy. Credits: Rambunctious by Julie Billingsley available at Sweet Shoppe Designs; Scrap Your Heart Out Pieces 9-12 by Janet Phillips available at Sweet Shoppe Designs; Basically Bold Black Alpha by Shawna Clingerman available at Sweet Shoppe Designs; Teeny Type Alpha by Zoe Pearn available at Sweet Shoppe Designs; Stitched by Anna by Anna Aspnes available at Designer Digitals

Font as an alpha

And, this one isn’t an alpha, but imitates the look! Just type in a font you like (chunky ones work best), then rasterize the text, clip on a paper and shadow! Looks like an alpha on the page!

Layout by Heddy. Credits: ’tis season littlekit by I *heart* scrap available at MScraps

Alpha mixed with a font adds interest to title work:

Layout by Jenn Lindsay. Credits: Tempted NSD2011 template by Jenn Lindsey Robo Boy by Micheline Martin Capture The Moment by Nikki Beaudreau and Boutique Cute Dolls Happy Haunters alpha by Kristin Aagard DJB JenLin

Overlapping alpha letters keeps the eye moving through the page:

Layout by Jenn Lindsay. Credits: TempBlends NSD2011 template by Jenn Lindsey Snips & Snails by Nikki Beaudreau (alpha included in kit) Snips & Snails Snippetts and Stickers by Nikki Beaudreau DJB JenLin font

Alpha as a framing accent to the photo brings focus to the subject:

Biggest-Loser by tjscraps, on Flickr

Alpha in center stage emphasizes the story:

Toy-Story-3 by tjscraps, on Flickr

Vary the size of the same alpha is a great way to create titles

Supplies: Luv 2 Craft – KimB Designs iGrow template – SuzyQ Scraps Font – Ganite

Total-Bookworm by tjscraps, on Flickr

Large size alpha makes the title stand out:

Supplies: Spring Blooms – Litabells Designs Head Start Vol. 2 – Litabells Designs Font – Kristen ITC

You-can’t-see-me by tjscraps, on Flickr

Alpha mixed with embellishments adds fun accents to page

Supplies: My Year kit – Meg Mullens and Traci Reed Font – DJB A Bit of Flaire

Laaaaaaa by tjscraps, on Flickr

Mixed alphas and fonts for cute and quirky look:

credits: thankful heart by lauren reid & amy wolff; bliss alpha, scarlet alpha, & wonky templates v4 by lauren reid; 100 by sahlin studio

Use an alpha to emphasize one word:

credits: beach kit by dani mogstad, freebird alpha by lauren reid

fav alphas

Here are some of our all-time favorite alphas to scrap with (all images are linked):


Black and White Alpha by Shawna Clingerman


Doodleicious Alpha

A Little Snippy by Julie Billingsley

Mishmash Alphas

And don’t forget to shop your stash of digi kits, many of them come with alphas – that’s how I found the alpha I used to make the titles for this post. Digi scrapping with alphas is so much fun!

katie big

P.S. The random winner from yesterday’s comments was Mary (Happy Now) who won $10 in product to Lyndsay Riches store! THANKS everyone for playing!