How can I Organize a Bookshelf?

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  • Written By: Sarah E. White
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2019
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Organizing a bookshelf seems like a simple enough task, but most people don’t really arrange their books; they just put them on the shelf where they fit. Many people don't take the time to put their bookshelf into logical order. This process does take a little bit of time, especially if you have a lot of books, but it is worth it because you will always be able to find what you are looking for.

Before you begin organizing your bookshelf, you need to take stock of what kinds of books you have. Make a mental or physical list of the different genres or types of books you have, for instance, romance novels, science fiction books, reference books, and so on.

Walk around the house and look at each bookshelf. Make an estimate of how much space each genre of books will occupy. Decide where in your home you want books of certain types to be. You might want your reference books on the bookshelf in the office, for instance, while popular fiction and literature could go on the bookshelf in the den.


The best bookshelf organizing scheme is one that makes sense to you. Books should be where you will use them, though you might want to put your nice-looking books of all subjects on the bookshelf that visitors to your home see. Once you have come up with a basic bookshelf organizing plan, take all the books off one bookshelf and begin to organize them into the categories you came up with, or at least into the different rooms where they will be housed, if you have a bookshelf in more than one room.

As you empty the shelves, move books that don’t belong on that bookshelf elsewhere. Then start to fill the bookshelf with the books you do want there. You can alphabetize books by author or title, or simply group books together by subject or genre. Even without putting the books in alphabetical order, just having an organized system for where things go on your bookshelf will make it much easier to find books when you need them.

If you really want to get fancy, you can arrange your books by subject, in alphabetical order by author, then by title or even chronologically for multiple books by the same author, and finally make a list on your computer of all the books you own and where they are in your home. Print out the list and store it on or near a bookshelf so you will always be able to find exactly where everything is in your home full of books.


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