The most important scrapbooking supply is the album itself, which can be permanently bound, or allow for insertion of pages. There are other formats, such as mini albums and accordion-style fold-out albums. Some of these are adhered to various containers, such as matchbooks, CD cases, or other small holders. When scrap artists started moving away from the "page" and onto alternative surfaces and objectives, they termed these creations "altered items". This movement circles back to the history of art from the 1960s when Louise Nevelson was doing "Assemblages" with found objects and recycled parts.
Modern scrapbooking is done largely on 12 inch (30 cm) square or A4 (210 by 297 mm)) pages. More recently, smaller albums have become popular. The most common new formats are 6, 7, or 8-inch (15, 17.5, or 20 cm) square. It is important to many scrappers to protect their pages with clear page protectors.
Basic materials include background papers (including printed and cardstock paper), photo corner mounts (or other means of mounting photos such as adhesive dots, photo mounting tape, or acid-free glue), scissors, a paper trimmer, art pens, archival pens for journaling, and mounting glues (like thermo-tac). More elaborate designs require more specialized tools such as die cut templates, rubber stamps, craft punches, stencils, inking tools, eyelet setters, heat embossing tools and personal die cut machines such as Cricut.
Various accessories, referred to as "embellishments", are used to decorate scrapbook pages. Embellishments include stickers, rub-ons, stamps, eyelets, brads, chipboard elements in various shapes, alphabet letters, lace, wire, fabric, beads, sequins, and ribbon. The use of die cut machines is also increasingly popular; in recent years a number of electronic die-cutting machines resembling a plotter with a drag knife have hit the market, enabling scrappers to use their computer to create die cuts out of any shape or font with the use of free or third party software.
One of the key components of modern scrapbooking is the archival quality of the supplies. Designed to preserve photographs and journaling in their original state, materials encouraged by most serious scrapbookers are of a higher quality than those of many typical photo albums commercially available. Scrappers insist on acid-free, lignin-free papers, stamp ink, and embossing powder. They also use pigment-based inks, which are fade resistant, colorfast, and often waterproof. Many scrappers use buffered paper, which will protect photos from acid in memorabilia used in the scrapbook. Older "magnetic" albums are not acid-free and thus cause damage to the photos and memorabilia included in them. Gloves, too, are used to protect photos from the oil on hands.
The designation of 'archival quality' of paper does not always mean acid-free. Additionally, if a paper is acid-free at the time of production it might not stay that way due to contamination with other elements on the page. Storage is critically important as pollutants and airborne chemicals can alter the acid/base balance of any paper left exposed. Temperature and humidity can also impact the archival quality of paper, and of embellishments.
Another concern for scrap-bookers is adhesive migration. Double-sided tape, rubber cement and some material-specific adhesives migrate into the paper and can contaminate photos, newsprint and embellishments. Tape, double-sided or not, is not removable without damaging the item affixed with the tape. When some tape gets old, it cracks, browns and stains the underlying document. The best solutions for adhering items are synthetic, acrylic-based adhesive or wheat-starch or rice-starch paste, available at craft stores or bookbinding outlets.
An international standard, ISO 18902, provides specific guidelines on materials that are safe for scrapbooking through its requirements for albums, framing, and storage materials. ISO 18902 includes requirements for photo-safety and a specific pH range for acid-free materials. ISO 18902 prohibits the use of harmful materials, including Polyvinyl chloride(PVC) and Cellulose nitrate.