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Currently I store LEGO set manuals and instructions in hanging file folders in a file box, grouped by set type. This makes it hard to dig through and find the one I need, and manuals tend to get tangled up and damaged.

Is there any storage method that protects the instructions better and makes them easier to find the one I need?

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For physical manuals, I personally like to use clear presentation sheet protectors similar to the ones that @BradC mentioned. Regarding organization, I place the ones that I refer to frequently in some binders, sorted by theme, while sets that I don't use as much go into a set of hanging file folders.

If you don't mind electronic storage, you could download all of your manuals, either from Lego's site (for sets since 2002), or from other fan sites as noted in this Squidoo page:

Still no joy? Let's try another site. Go to Worldbricks, choose Instructions Number and pick a number range from the dropdown list at the top of the screen, or Instructions Theme and pick a starting letter from the dropdown list.

Without knowing the number or name, you can still find the set. Several sites provide databases of lego sets which you can search by theme, or using a single word you remember from the set name, or even just something related. Try LUGNET or Peeron, which will link you to instructions once you find the set.

Electronic viewing keeps my manuals in pretty good condition - I minimize touching and only pull them out when I build now, while if I just want to browse, I can fire up my computer.

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What about clear sheet protectors like these inside a 3-ring binder? I imagine most are designed to hold a single page, and not an entire booklet, but these heavy-duty acid-free ones could be up to the task:

Avery Heavyweight Sheet Protectors

You could have separate binders for different product lines, and sort by set number or name, and the cover of each would be visible as you browse through. Anyone ever try something like this?

(I'm imagining sliding the entire booklet into a single protector, not slicing it up into individual pages. Would these comic book inserts work better, with a fold over top, or is 7-1/4 x 10-3/8" too small for the larger instructions?)

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My wife found some magazine holders to keep her magazines organized in a 3 ring binder. Those might be helpful for some of the larger manuals.

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Storing them in order by set number or alphabetically by set name and including an index sheet could help you find the sets easier.

  • I've tried this for my collection of 37 or so instruction booklets and it doesn't work for me. About 30 instruction booklets make up the size and weight of a phone book. This leads to the pouches sagging. – Ambo100 Nov 7 '11 at 16:50
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If I could motivate myself, I'd be tempted to use scanned PDFs and would put the paper originals in a box, in plastic bags, like precious comic books. I'd use the model numbers to refer to them, plus collection folder names (both for physical and digital documents)

My kids are currently in the process of shredding my 20-30 years old instructions manuals (which admittedly, don`t really need any help for falling apart).

Side note, I'm generally against late ideas I'm hearing about providing instruction via computer support only.

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