At first you might think diaries are something only thirteen year old girls do, but that’s not the case. Diaries are useful for everyone, from 8 to 88, and have many purposes other than puppy love.
Keeping a diary is beneficial to children and adults, alike. There is a plethora of diary entry examples to choose from, along with a variety of formats, writing utensils, and print medium. Depending on your purposes, you may want to keep several diaries at the same time.
From educators to psychologists, most everyone agrees that keeping a diary is a worthwhile and low stakes endeavor. Read on to learn more about starting your own personal diary or diaries, and different diary entries examples you can use.
Table of Contents
What Are Diary Entries?
Merriam-Webster’s definition of diary is “a record of events, transactions, or observations kept daily or at frequent intervals.” A diary in the traditional sense is a book where a person writes down his or her thoughts about life, activities, and so on.
Entries are the individual, independent texts or sections of the diary. Often these are organized by date, but could be feasibly structured another way.
Diary entries are meant to be personal and private, and thus, presumably honest. Since no one else is intended to read them, there is no reason to lie or try to convince anyone of anything.
Although it should be said that just because the diary is honest, that doesn’t mean it is factual. Diaries are written from the perspective of the writer and has all their biases, opinions, and preferences.
From the time I was around 8 and received my first little book with the lock and key clasp, I’ve kept a diary and written entries consistently (though not always daily). During that time, I liked to organize mine by year, or more specifically, by grade level when I was school age. I’d start a new one at the beginning of each school year, keeping a written document of my ‘so-called life’ at the time.
Maybe it was because I was a quiet child or because I was the only girl in a house full of boys (three brothers, to be exact), but I relished the opportunity to write down all my thoughts, ideas, and confessions to ‘dear diary.’
As I grew older, college age, I found less and less time to devote to this passion; probably due to the mountainous pile of college papers, along with part-time work commitments. By the time I met my husband, I still kept a journal (I have it to this day in my cabinet of mementos along with photo boxes and albums), but it was sporadically used.
After becoming a mom to eventually four children and demands of teacher-life increased, my practice of writing diary entries changed from my childish musings, but has continued all the same.
Benefits of Keeping A Diary
Benefits of keeping a diary are obvious, and not so obvious. Some benefits are immediate while others will be recognized much later.
And with the costs of diary keeping so flexible, starting with just a few bucks for a pad and pencil, and the time expense up to you, it really is a low stakes activity.
When you compare the expenditure versus the reward, there’s no reason to not give it a try.
The historical significance of diaries is unquestionable. Diaries and journals have long sense provided first-hand accounts of monumental events in history. Can you imagine the holocaust without the face of Anne Frank appearing in your mind?
Her diary recollection is perhaps the single-most significant artifact from the perspective of someone living during this horrendous time period.
“I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support…” Anne Frank, June 12, 1942
Anne Frank didn’t write in her diary to tell her story to future generations. Her diary, a birthday gift prior to her family’s hiding, provided her an escape from the horrors of her life at the time.
This is not to say we should expect our diary entries to hold the importance of Anne Frank’s, nor should we want to when we think of her poor life. However, in some much smaller way, our diaries are historical references of the time period in which we write them and that holds some value in itself.
I’ve found that my diaries are great resources for records. Whether I wanted to know when we took a certain vacation or a recipe, I could find these in my diaries.
It also served as records when I took up particular hobbies or was involved in clubs. The information would undoubtedly find itself in my diaries.
I can trace back the different doctor appointments, family squabbles, and money concerns more times than I want to count.
The thing about diary entries being used for record-keeping is that most times that isn’t the intention; it just happens organically. And as such, they can serve as reliable sources for reference.
Literacy Builder for Kids
Educators have long included journal writing and diaries in their instruction in order to promote literacy. Reading Rockets calls it a powerful strategy for differentiating reading and writing instruction for all students.
As a public school teacher for 20 plus years, I have included diary-writing in my classroom activities for years and found it quite enjoyable for students and a valid assessment tool.
For my elementary students, I started them with mini notebooks (those spiral bound, 2 x 3 inch kind) and golf pencils I’d connect to the notebook wire with string. I would gift each student with his and her own diary combo ‘for keeps’ and they were instantly hooked!
Students as young as first graders were instructed to carry their diary idea book around, whether in the house, cafeteria, car or somewhere between. I told them they never know when an idea will occur and they want to be ready.
My upper-grade students explored diary writing by writing from the perspective of characters from literature or from real-life historical figures. This was a great way for them to share their character knowledge, as well as to demonstrate their grasp of genre and/or historical moments of civilization.
Utilizing diaries was an indirect way to teach grammar, sentence structure, and paragraph organization. It provided authentic opportunities to reinforce spelling features and complex vocabulary.
Teaching writing is probably one of the most underrated areas of education, but so important for children’s future. To learn more about the importance of writing, you might like to read this other article I wrote on the subject.
Physical, Mental, and Emotional Well-being Diary Therapy
Some of the not so obvious benefits of diary writing are the benefits to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
I think I have always found writing in my diary emotionally cathartic. I believe I naturally gravitated to it -being somewhat nerdy and schastic-in order to have a safe way to express myself without judgment or criticism.
No one taught me this (as it was before the self-help era and inclusion of social/emotional learning in schools) but it is no doubt what I was looking for at the time.
Research supports this, too. One prominent study reported reduced anxiety and other mental/emotional distress when patients kept a diary. It helped participants to recognize triggers but also provided a safe avenue for expression, so much so that some doctors have included diary writing as part of their prescription.
However, a less obvious health benefit of diary writing is that it supports physical well-being. In this study noted by Psychology Today, people with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis were instructed to keep a diary with entries of their symptoms, as well as other feelings such as stresses and what they were doing when they felt the symptoms. Results were quite dramatic!
During this process, it showed that those who kept the diary, in comparison to the control group who did not, experienced a steep decline in physical symptoms related to their diseases, for both those with asthma and those with rheumatoid arthritis.
For these reasons, I’d highly encourage anyone with mental stress or anxiety, or chronic physical illness, to keep a diary.
Formats for Diary Entries
When starting your diary, you should note there are quite of few different formats you can use. It is good to familiarize yourself with several of these in order to pick the one that works best for your personality, as well as purpose. You may even find that you like one format for one type of diary entry and want a different format for another kind of diary.
Traditional Entries for Your Diary
Traditional diary entries is where I started. I’m not sure where I discovered my initial idea of a diary, but I feel like it may have been from a movie or television show.
Traditional starts out with the date. Usually it is written on a line all by itself. After skipping a line or two, the traditional entry will then address the recipient, in this case writing ‘Dear Diary’, although traditional formats could also substitute an actual name for ‘Diary.’
Anne Frank called her diary, ‘Kitty’, after a Dutch book series she had read.
Then, there is the body of the entry. Usually, traditional formats will indent each paragraph, use full sentences, and for the most part, include proper grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling.
The body of the entry is where you, the writer, will organize your thoughts. Often, those who use this format will write about their day or their most prevalent feelings of the moment.
It will most always conclude with a formal ‘closing’ just like in a letter such as ‘yours truly’, ‘sincerely’, or most common, ‘love’ and finally, your name.
Traditional diary entry formats are great for the beginner who probably finds it comfortable. This format is also the favorite of teachers who introduce diary writing to students because it also teaches or reinforces letter structure.
If you or your child are just getting started with diary writing, I suggest selecting this format and then after awhile, trying out other styles.
Creative Design Entries
Diaries don’t need to look like your high school English essay, however. That’s part of the joy you’ll experience with diary writing.
You can certainly veer off the typical path of a page. For example, you can write upside down, in swirls, or include what I used to call with my students, ‘fancy words.’ Fancy words is when you write your words using bubble or puffy letters, or letters that have dots at all the angles. Students really liked using fancy words!
You can include other creative additions to change up the traditional format. You might like to add the time and place of your writing. Or change up the look of the entry, from time to time.
Another characteristic of a creative format is to do free writing entries. This means from one entry to the next, you might switch topics or directions. One entry might be about an argument you had with your sibling and then the next entry might be about the movie you watched or the dinner you had.
Creative diary format might not include the date nor have all the other features of the traditional style, choosing to omit ‘dear diary’, a closing, and so on.
It really has no rules, so someone who wants to go the creative route would be someone who is comfortable with lack of structure and relies more on their current emotions or whims.
It should not be surprising to learn in this modern age of technology that digital options exists for diary entry format.
Digital diaries are generally free- no paper, pens, or other needed. You also never run of writing materials, either.
There are online websites that offer diaries, but if you prefer not being beholden to internet or are concerned about security and privacy for your inner-most thoughts and feelings, you could simply utilize a word doc program from your computer.
Online digital diaries also offer a multitude of personalization. Most have backgrounds, font and color choices, and even clipart or digital stickers and so on.
If you are more accustomed with typing instead of writing, this is probably a good choice for you. It can of course be combined with either the creative or traditional format, too.
In my opinion, I think children are better with non-digital, that is ‘paper’ diaries, as I think they particularly benefit from the handwriting involved writing their diary entries. However, many are instantly engaged if you include a digital option, whether it’s online or not. Therefore, if it comes down to digital or nothing, then digital diary it is!
Audio/Dictation Diary Entries
Physicians have often used dictation notes. One of the main things I remember about my dermatologist when I was a teenager was his use of the small recorder.
It never failed that with each session he’d spend about three minutes talking to me and looking over my skin, and then proceed to spend twice that dictating his notes while I sat there!
As difficult as this would be for me, I know there are some who would enjoy dictating their diary entries instead of hand writing or typing. This is especially appealing to those with special needs or just simply like to talk rather than the other.
If you are like my daughter and send audio texts instead of typing out words, then the audio/dictation diary format may be worth trying for you instead of the others. And like digital, you could combine this format with traditional or creative-style entries.
Types of Diary Entries
As with formatting, there is a wide assortment when it comes to types of diary entries. Now these various entries can certainly be WITHIN a single diary (which may or may not have categories), meaning but most often is compiled within a diary of its own. That is, one diary just about your calendar, your diet, your workout, etc.
Calendar Diary Entries
One of the most common diary entries is the calendar type. Most anyone in a professional field keeps a calendar. It may not be considered a typical diary, but for many, that’s what it becomes.
A calendar diary is one that is divided by dates. Often, the person who keeps this kind of diary writes in it every day. However, a person may just choose to write it in on specific dates where something significant happened (or will happen).
Calendar entries are not usually ‘private’ by nature, but often become so. It’s a good way for someone to jot their thoughts or significant moments without having to expand too much or spend too much time.
Calendar entries are more streamlined and structured. They are not for someone who enjoys embellishments.
Illustrated Diary Entries
Those who enjoy the creative formatting of diaries are aptly suited for illustrated diary entries, but really illustrated entries can be included in all formats.
Illustrated diary entries bring the fun and wow to diaries.
I’ve seen students begin with simple drawings to go along with their diary entries, usually including these at the end of the posts. When they learn it’s permissible, encouraged even, to doodle and to ‘fancy write’ words, they enthusiastically start to accompany their entries with these.
As an adult, I haven’t often drawn images in my diary entries, but I enjoy including my own swirls, flowers, and emojis. Or adding designs around my entries when they are finished.
One of the best parts of illustrated diary entries is the color that is usually a part or the mix of ink and pencil. As well, being able to bold or highlight print, maximize or minimize lettering, and more brings a flair to the page that’s pleasing to most diarist’s eye.
It was just a few years ago when I first learned of travel diary entries. As someone who has traveled extensively and collected a lot of travel odds and ends, I love this concept!
Travel entries are all about your excursion. You can include your itinerary or just focus on one aspect of the day’s journey.
Travel entries give purpose for all those receipts, tickets, brochures and such that are tangible mementos to represent your vacation or get away.
Travel diaries can also include your innermost thoughts and feelings. However, they are all connected to this particular destination.
Travel diary entries can be a fun way to end each day when back at your hotel room, or guest room with family, if that’s the case.
Travel diary entries would be a great way for a family to start diary writing, too. Give each member of your family a little book and explain the purpose (to write a bit each day about your trip). Then, no more rules! Let everyone go their own path with the diary.
At the end, there’ll be several versions of the trip. Now I don’t suggest putting them out for everyone to peruse like a photo album. That could taint the spirit of diary writing, but wouldn’t it be fun to just sit and talk with your family afterwards, discussing the process and maybe sharing little excerpts.
Food Diary Entries
Nutritionists and diet specialists often tout the benefits of keeping a food diary. These entries most likely will be housed in their own diary, but I’ve included my diet in my daily diary too.
Food diaries can be part of a paper diary but there are many apps/digital options for food diaries too. The handy thing about digital food diaries is that they usually have the capability of counting calories, protein, carbs, and other data related to food, if one is looking for that.
Food diaries are useful for those who need to monitor their cholesterol or fat intake. Often older people keep a food diary for this purpose. As well, food diaries might be used for someone to diagnose a food allergy.
Food diaries aren’t just for health purposes.
Food diary entries might also focus on recipe building and planning. Moms like me use food diaries to meal plan for their family. I use a phone app to list out meals weekly in order to buy correct groceries and to add variety to my family’s eating.
Just because food diaries might have a utilitarian nature doesn’t mean they must be boring. You can incorporate creative formatting or add illustration to your entries, too.
Bible Studies (or other ‘study’) Diary Entries
Those who Bible study often keep a special diary for entries related solely for this purpose. These diary entries will have information about the study, but also include your personal thoughts and connections.
I remember growing up and having a special notebook where I wrote about all of the kings and queens of the Old Testament. I diligently went from Genesis to Malachi, documenting what I learned from the Bible and then expounding with my own ideas.
I didn’t think of this as a diary at the time, but I see now that that is what it was. It wasn’t for anyone else; it wasn’t something I wanted others to see. It was my own personal study of this information.
Many stores offer specialty diaries for Bible studies today, but you can use whatever format you prefer for this, just like you can with any diary. But having your own special book devoted for your study, will solidify your understanding and help you connect with the material in a deeper way.
This isn’t true just for Bible studies, either. In can work for any deep study you are doing.
Book Lovers Diary Entries
I really wish I had started a book diary growing up. I think all English teachers should get together and enforce this ‘rule’…but that’s just the teacher in me!
A book lovers diary entry is all about the person’s thoughts, ideas, and feelings on the book.
If you are doing a book club, you should probably have a diary dedicated to just that book.
You don’t need to go ‘all out’; a simply spiral notebook would work just fine. But each club assignment should have its own entry. If you read two chapters, then have an entry focused on those two chapters.
If you aren’t reading a book for a book club, then you probably don’t want a diary just for it. That’s making it too much like a college course-even the teacher in me acknowledges this!
For a typical book lovers diary, each entry should have the date you started and finished (or stopped) the book, a very short synopsis detailing the plot, and your rating for the book. Be sure to include a sentence or two about your personal feelings on the book.
Depending on how much you read (though the connotation of ‘book lovers’ assumes you are an avid reader!), you might find yourself writing book lovers entries weekly. You may even choose to start a new book lovers diary each year.
Writers Diary Entries
Authors often keep a writers diary to collect and organize their thoughts and ideas for books they plan to write (or even are in the midst of writing).
Writers diary entries usually contain the date, maybe a working title, and ideas for plots or characters.
As mentioned earlier, I used this idea with my former students, even as young as 6 years old and just starting to create words. Students would carry around their idea diary wherever they went, so they could jot down inspiration as it hit them.
On a more formal sense, writers might use their diaries to help them organize and draft out their books.
Hobby Diary Entries
Hobby diary entries can be similar to food, Bible, and book lovers diaries as the diary entries center around a topic of particular interest to the diarist.
Like the others, the hobby diary entry often contains the date and then information about your progress related to the hobby.
Hobby diary entries could be about anything: sewing, knitting, baking, skateboarding, swimming and so on. The martial arts lends itself perfectly for a hobby diary.
You could document your journey through the martial arts program, what techniques you’ve learned as well as belts you’ve obtained. Of course there is a lot of emotion that goes into the training of any martial art, so that would aptly be included in your diary entry.
To read about the training of different kinds of martial arts, read this article from my husband, Master Mat Booe.
Diary Materials to Get Started
One of my favorite things about starting a diary is that you can do it with any budget. You can go all out and splurge on leather-bound journals and specialized pens, or you can use a notebook from the Dollar Store.
Notebooks, Folders, and Journals For Entries
I’ve used a lot of different kinds of notebooks over the years for my diaries, and even dabbled with digital diaries. However, one of my favorite notebook options is the half-size, thinnish journal design.
I like these because I prefer to organize my diaries by theme so I usually have 2-3 going on at the same time for different purposes. This style allows for that, plus if I choose, I can collect them all together and bind inside a larger notebook.
For an inexpensive option, try these Small Notebooks from Amazon, which include four colorful, leather style journals that can be used for your different diary purposes or provide back-up when your diary pages are complete.
I have also used this Refillable Binder Style from Amazon if you want something more substantial and customizable. I like that it holds paper, but also has room for other diary type items like embellishments and pens.
Pens, Pencils, Markers, and More For Diary Entries
If you opt for hand writing your diary entries, you will need writing utensils. Now, when you first get started, whatever’s handy and available is just fine. However, investing in some special tools for just your diary will be motivating and won’t break the bank!
These Colorful Gel Pens from Amazon have been fun for my diary use. I like the variety of options and they have made organizing my entries easy.
I also recommend these highlighters from Amazon that are specifically made for Bibles. They don’t bleed through thin pages.
Last, you will certainly need some good old-fashioned pencils! In this case, there is no pencil more beloved by teachers, including myself, than Ticongeroga. I recommend this set of Ticonderoga Pencils from Amazon that is pre-sharpened! For the price, you won’t regret them!
Diary Entry Example Embellishments and Supplies
Embellishments are definitely an ‘extra.’ You don’t need them like you do paper and pencil for your diary entries. But from years of experience, I can tell you they are worth the extra cost.
You don’t have to spend a lot either, in order to make your diary entries stand out.
I have enjoyed using stickers and stamps. I also really like to include overlays and special paper.
For this reason, I recommend purchasing a Book Making Kit like this from Amazon. It allows you to create your own covers to bind your mini-diaries and much more!
Another purchase I’ve found enjoyable for my diaries-that is, when you’re ready to take the next step- is this vintage Scrapbooking set of Materials from Amazon. Something like this can be used for many years and in a variety of your different kinds of entries and diary projects.
Wrapping Up Diary Entries Examples
As this article demonstrates, there is a wide range of diary entries examples you can try. From getting started with a traditional diary entry to going to the next level with embellishments, diary entries are easy to start and maintain, as well as inexpensive and flexible.
This is something your whole family can enjoy, for a lifetime!