Picking a point of view to use for journaling

point of view journaling

Sarah Jones say I love you. Arial font.


One of the questions scrapbookers usually have about journaling is “what point of view should I use when writing?” This is completely a matter of personal preference, and I have no problem using several different approaches in my own scrapbooking. Here are a few basics to keep in mind:

First Person Point of View

Grammar Girl says “The first-person point of view is used primarily for autobiographical writing, such as a personal essay or a memoir.” As the creator of a page, I have no problem using the “I” form of journaling. After all, it is me who is telling the story. Here’s a page I scrapped using first person journaling:


Notice the language used in the journaling:

I had the most amazing opportunity to attend CHA this year with Steph from The Daily Digi. Steph arrived at the airport a little before me and was nice enough to wait for me so we could ride to our hotel together. We were roomies and we stayed at the Paradise Pier hotel on the Disney property. We attended a press event in the afternoon and went to dinner with several digital designers in the community. We finally got to meet up with Peppermint (it was the first time we met her in real life!) On Saturday, we walked the show floor together to look for items that would interest digital scrapbookers. We had a meet up on Saturday night for a few local Digi Show listeners and it was so neat to hear how much they enjoy the podcast! It really was an amazing and fantastic experience!

The journaling is all written in my first person perspective. I’m just telling the reader about my experiences and I use words like “I” and “me” and “we” to talk about what I did.

First person journaling is thought to be too personal (and not objective enough) for most academic papers and technical writing, but it’s perfect for sharing memories on a scrapbook page! It is the form of journaling that I use most frequently.


Second Person Point of View

With the second person point of view, you directly address the reader using pronouns like “you” and “your”. I like to use this method for journaling, especially on my children’s pages. It’s like I’m telling them what it was like to be there, or expressing some of the memories they might have experienced. Here’s a layout I made using the second person approach:


See how the writing is directed at my daughter (the intended audience).

Today you spent hours working on the new skill of knitting that you learned the night before at a Young Women‘s activity. You sat patiently in the living room most of the day, knitting rows and undoing them until you got it right. You didn’t even ask me for help (you knew I wouldn’t be able to help you anyway). Lunch was one of the few things you stopped for (just a quick plate of Lynn Wilson Tamales from the freezer). After a time, you decided to listen to your iPod while you were knitting and that seemed to help you focus and stay motivated. You finished a small patch of knitting and decided that it would be a new invention called a “toe warmer”. Your toe was warm from wearing it for the rest of the day. Thankfully, your knitting instructor had given you a website to visit for knitting tutorials so you spent about an hour watching online knitting videos. After your initial success, you started planning out much bigger projects. You were so proud of yourself for learning how to knit. Way to go!

Second person viewpoint is a great way to document memories and personally address the reader.


Third Person Point of View

Grammar girl explains that third person is told from an outside narrators point of view and uses pronouns such as “he,” “she,” and “it”: This is the approach most often taken for academic writing and news reporting. Because scrapbookers are also “reporting” the facts and events on their pages, this is another great method to use for journaling. Here’s one of my layouts using the third person point of view:


I used the information from the official Totem Bight website for my journaling on this page. It is like reading an encyclopedia entry about the place with a lot of descriptive details. Journaling borrowed from internet is one of my scrapbooking secrets that help me document the stories and events of our lives! While it is not as personal, it’s a great way to include the specifics that you will want to remember.

Here’s an excerpt from the page:

With the growth of non-Native settlements in Southeast Alaska in the early 1900’s, and the decline of a barter economy, Natives moved to communities where work was available. The villages and totem poles they left behind were soon overgrown by forests and eroded by weather. In 1938 the U.S. Forest Services began a program aimed at salvaging and reconstructing these large cedar monuments. By using Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) funds to hire skilled carvers from among the older Natives, two things took place: young artisans learned the art of carving totem poles, and totems which had been left to rot in the woods were either repaired or duplicated.

You have my permission to mix it up!

Your English professor might not approve, but I think it’s just fine to switch around your point of view from page to page. You aren’t compiling a master’s thesis or writing a novel…you are putting together a collection of personal memories. I think it’s safe to say that the reader will understand that you were the one who created the pages and that you used a variety of storytelling techniques to capture the memories. They will just be happy that you took the time to scrap!


P.S. Congratulations to this week’s reader, Christine Campbell, who has won $10 to ForeverJoy Designs. Thanks for commenting!