Most Pagan traditions have a personal book with things you have learned written into that book. Some paths have strict guidelines as to what goes into the book, who can read the entries, yadda yadda.
This is what I think.
It does not have to be called a Book of Shadows. However, it may be easier to relate what the item is to someone else if you use the same terminology. Call it “My Magical Book of Sparkling Unicorns”. Call it “The Fonz”. It doesn’t matter!
I don’t feel that every single thing you’ve learned/read/heard should be put in your personal book. Things you feel are important that you may forget should certainly be put into your book. You don’t need a big 4 chapters to explain (essentially to yourself) what your path is and what you believe.
I feel that a 3 ring binder with printed pages is just fine. Its easy to replace pages – and it is sometimes easier to read than your own handwriting! Some people are not very artistically gifted and would therefore prefer to print out pretty pages to make their personal book feel more elegant. Should they feel bad for this? No!
My first book was a leather-bound journal. The 200 or so pages in it could not be replaced. I could not add to the book. I decided that I wanted to decorate some pages – but was then unhappy with the outcome. Then came the gut wrenching activity of tearing pages out. That was so painful! I had probably 5 of these journals in a book shelf and thought “Wow what a waste.” All that time I could have combined everything into one big binder and have been able to add or subtract as time went on.
When actually doing spells I feel those should be hand written. But your book? I don’t feel that is necessary. Mostly because it is only meant to be used for reference and possibly teaching someone else. However – if they only learned from a book what would they need you for?
Where should you begin?
Begin by having an idea what you want your book to look like. Craft stores have come a long way – so get creative! And if in a couple years’ time you don’t like how it looks don’t worry! You can get a new binder and start all over! That is the great thing about using a binder as your personal book rather than a bound journal. As people we grow all the time. Our tastes in all thins change. My first book looked more like a weird interpretation of a Necronomicon than anything else! Why? Because I was about 15 and I thought that was how it should look.
Here is a video done by a British Lady with quite a posh accent. She shows her Book of Shadows done in a binder form. Maybe it will give you ideas.