Design Notebook help

Hello, this is my 4th year doing VRC and this year my team wants to put more effort into our design notebook. At the moment we have all of our entries on a word document that we are planning to copy down when we have a clearer idea of the format. The pages will then get put into plastic sleeves that will go in a ring binder (we got this idea from a team that won the national design award for Turning Point in NZ). We thought that by doing this we would only lose 5 points according to the design rubric because it’s not bounded from the start. However, we were told by a judge at a local scrimmage that this would get us disqualified entirely because the pages are removable. He said this was because of a secret rulebook that we don’t see. this topic states that a typed design book is fine, it’s just harder to judge. This is a bit old but I couldn’t find anything stating otherwise. Is our format ok or is it entirely flawed? Thanks for helping.

I do not advise anything other than bound/written for notebooks. On the Turning point rubric you were not penalized as long as you included anything bound but now it is a must. I have been doing notebook for a long time and my best suggestion is to really adhere to the rubric, and if possible good handwriting/organization will help.

If you are trying to be truly competitive, do something unique.


I’ll strongly suggest using a bound notebook. Obviously you can easily get you 5 points on the rubric, which is quite a lot of points.

In fact, an engineering notebook is actually a legal document which you can bring to court for patent activities .It’s intent is to provide an unaltered record of the engineering design process, so it’s probably a good idea to start writing in a bound notebook to get a grasp on how it feels like in real life industries


Will we get disqualified if its not bound though? It seems kinda silly for there to be a secret rule book that we don’t know about. In our case the -5 points are worth it because otherwise we won’t have the motivation to make it decent. We’re all really busy with other activities and having it in this format allows us to sort out the layout when we have more time in the holidays.

I have judged at the local, state and worlds level. There is no secret rule book.

However, even though you lose only 5 points for not having a bound notebook, you are at a further disadvantage when you do not have a bound notebook and that could impact other scores. It is very hard to demonstrate that you have not gone back and changed or editted entries with loose sheets. Some judges are predisposed to dislking non-bound notebooks. Remember, the juding process is subjective so this could impact the overall assessment the judges give you. This is the start of the season, start it off on the right foot. If you are going to put the effort into your EN with hopes of winning awards, please make the effort to figure out how to make a bound notebook work for you.


Everything you could ever want to know about how judging works is in this publicly-available PDF, the “Judge Guide”. Pay particular attention to the rubrics on pages 43 and 44.


Fact of the matter is, every judge is different. If you encounter the same judge next year I would expect them to act the same way even if it isn’t true. Some judges like different things in noteoobks, for an example sometimes prettier notebooks will get favored over a more traditional all blue/black ink model (and vise versa).

Like I said in my previous post I highly recommend that you use a bound notebook, without one you will have lots of trouble getting judged awards and your time may as well be wasted.

I don’t know for sure but some judges will likely consider your notebook bound if you print and paste all your entries into a regular paper notebook with name/date. This would be a better option if you absolute cannot write the notebook.


Yes, the rubrics are an amazing help. My team writes everything that could be useful and sticks it in the notebook.
Any other questions?

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I am gonna do a bound notebook but then some printed code in the back of our binder, would the printed code make use loose the 5 points?

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Possibly. Why not just glue code into the bound notebook?

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I mean I could but it would look kinda better just hole punch in .

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