How to Make a Book Cover from a Paper Bag (student example of instructions)

Amanda Zarate gives instructions on her blog without resorting to a Google embed in a clear and colorful way. You can read her User Test Report of her first draft of these Instructions here.


Date          04/23/2016

To              Sandy Brown Jensen

From        Amanda Zarate

Subject     Final Revision of Instructions

How to Make a Book Cover

from a Paper Bag


Today, we are going to use my instructions on how to take a simple, paper grocery bag, and turn it into a protective book cover. As college students, we all have textbooks we buy every term. I don’t know about you, but selling back textbooks can be challenging if they aren’t kept in great shape. Why not cover that textbook to protect it, and to get a little more of your hard-earned dollars back into your pocket? If you don’t want to cover a textbook, you can use your favorite book or any book of your choosing. Whichever book you pick, a paper bag book cover is an easy way to keep your book clean and the original cover undamaged.

Equipment and Supplies

In order to make a paper bag book cover, you need just a few supplies. Most likely, you already have them at home! The tools you will need for this are scissors, and tape (if you choose). See below for full supply list.

Required Materials
Supplies Needed
 Required Materials
  • Paper bag
  • Scissors
  • Tape (optional)
  • Book of choice (this book cover works best with a hardback book)

*WARNING: Sharp scissors are best to use for this project. Always be careful when using sharp objects. Also, be sure to take your time to prevent paper cuts. 


Unfold your paper bag, and cut off handles, if any. Begin your first cut DOWN THE MIDDLE of your bag, ON THE SIDE of the bag. Only cut one side of the bag.
STEP 1 continued:

Now, we need to cut the bottom of the bag away. To do this, cut the perimeter of the bottom of the bag until the bottom is completely separated from the rest of the bag.  *Make sure you only cut the bottom away and keep the rest of the bag, in one long piece.
Step 2
This should be what your bag looks like now. Next, with the printed side of the paper bag facing upwards, place your book in the center of the paper bag. *If you like the print on your bag, and want it on the cover of your book, place the printed side of the bag facing down.
Step 3
Fold the bottom length of the bag upwards about 2-3 inches, whatever you prefer, to give a clean, folded edge for your book cover.

Step 4
Now we need to make the top fold. I like to do this by making a crease against your book, as shown above. Remove your book once you have your crease, and fold down your top flap of the bag.
STEP 4 continued:
Step 4 cont.
To make sure you have the top fold right where you want it, line up the bottom of the book with the bottom edge of the paper bag (see the image above). Make any adjustments to the paper bag, if needed, so the edges of the bag and the book, line up nicely.
Step 5:
This step is optional. If you don’t have clean cuts on the right and left side of the bag, you can do this now. Only cut just enough off to get rid of any jagged areas.
Step 6
Now it’s time to make sure your book is in the center of your bag. Open the front cover of your book. You should have enough paper bag to fold over the front book cover, as shown above. Make a crease in the bag where the front book cover flap ends.
Step 7
Next, insert your front book cover, into the paper bag cover. To do this, make sure the front book cover is all the way open, then slide the book cover, into the paper bag as shown above.
STEP 7 continued:
Step 7 cont.
Now you should have the front cover of your book, securely inside your paper bag book cover. Repeat steps 6-7 to complete the back of the book cover. When making the fold for your back cover, allow some extra space to include the width of the spine of the book. If you don’t, you won’t be able to fully close your book!

Step 7 continued:Step 7 cont
Here is the back cover of the book, being inserted into the back flap of the paper bag cover. *To fit the flap of your book into the paper bag cover, you might need to open the back flap of your book quite a bit.
STEP 7 continued:
Step 7 cont.
Here, I have completed Step 7. The book cover is securely inside the paper bag cover. Make sure your book fits snug in the paper bag book cover, and that it closes correctly.

This is where you may want to tape your new book cover, it is optional. If you choose to do so, open the front of your book and tape at the bottom of the book flap, as well as the top.  Tape from the outside of the book cover, folding in, to the inside of the book cover. This holds your paper bag book cover on a little better. Repeat taping process for the back cover as well. *The tape does not need to go onto the actual book, just the paper bag cover.
Step 9:
Ta Da!
Viola! You should have a paper bag book cover, ready to protect your favorite book! Enjoy!









If you run into some trouble, make sure you are making the correct cuts on your bag. Here are a few tips:
  • When you are making your first cut, your cut should be down the SIDE of your bag, in the middle. If you are using a regular paper shopping bag, there should be a center line from the fold of the paper bag that you can use as a guideline.
  • Keep everything intact, except for the bottom of the bag. What you want is one long piece of paper bag, without the bottom connected to it.
  • If you have a small book, a standard grocery bag might be too big. You will need to cut some of the top, bottom, and side edges off of the bag once the bottom has been removed.
If you feel that you need to see the instructions in action, below is a troubleshooting video that might make it easier for you! This bag was a little large for my book. If you find yourself with too much paper on each end of your bag, watch the video below!

If you are still having trouble, email me at: for more help

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