I'm looking for a word to describe

a notebook that a person keeps in which other people usually those respected or dear to him like co-workers, classmates, friends, etc sign and/or write a short writing to wish well for the notebook's owner.

This notebook is usually kept because you want to remember different people who have been with in your life.

In my native language, it's called memory notebook. Sometimes you put small photos of them on top of the page they've written on, too.

I've looked up journal/diary and also scrapbook, but I think they are not the words I'm looking for since a journal is written by the person himself and a scrapbook is filled with photographs, printed media, and artwork (no signature or other people's handwriting I suppose).

  1. What do they call this notebook in English?

  2. What do they call the short writings written by others in such a notebook?

In eaither case, if there are informal words, too, please mention them.



8 Answers 8


I put the German (my native language) word for this ("Poesiealbum") into Google Translate and it came back with "autograph book" (which from the linked Wikipedia article seems to match the your question).

  • 1
    Yes, that's it! www.thesaurus.babylon-software.com/autograph book
    – Maulik V
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 9:08
  • Yes, that's the conventional phrase in English. It's a bit of a misnomer as people routinely write more than simply their names. Usually they write at least a short message, ranging from "I'll always remember the time we did such-and-such" to some words of advice or encouragement.
    – Jay
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 6:24

The Latin term album was originally adopted into English in the 18th century (apparently from German) to designate exactly this sort of book for recording memorabilia.

The term has not survived in that sense, because the practise itself has not survived. The closest modern equivalent in the US is the high school annual or yearbook, which students, particularly graduating students, have their friends inscribe with comic or sentimental messages.

But the term has survived in extension to similar uses, such as stamp albums and photograph albums and record albums—which were originally so called, in the pre-LP days, because they were volumes in which sleeves for multiple discs were bound.

  • Very informative. Thanks, though I got the impression from your answer that probably 'autograph book' is not a common today's term since the practice is out-of-date in Western culture. Since we still do such a thing in our country (it's getting old-fashioned here, too), can I use it to describe such notebooks?
    – Yuri
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 10:19
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    My impression is that these days an autograph book in the US is usually a book in which one records the signatures of celebrities (which was another use of the 18th century 'album'). But the term was certainly used here in your sense well into the 20th century, and there's no reason why you shouldn't use it in your own context. Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 10:46
  • We called them autograph books when I was in grade school for both celebrity signatures and classmate signatures. I'll have to ask my niece if they're still around, but they appear to still be currently called autograph books: autographbook.net
    – ColleenV
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 14:08
  • @ColleenV Interesting. I don't remember there being such things when I was a kid, but that may be a regional thing. Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 15:09

Guest Book is the British equivalent, often seen at weddings etc


Several of the other answers here include terms that are correct in their own context. Rather than posting a bunch of comments, let me try to connect them together.

An "autograph book" is a book in which you ask friends and associates to sign their names and, usually, leave some brief message. Usually they either mention some memory the two of you share -- "I'll always remember that day at Pike's Peak" or some such. Or they'll give some advice or encouragement. You can buy books that are intended for this purpose -- just search "autograph book" on Amazon or wherever. Typically such books are just a pretty cover and a bunch of blank pages. Some will have other material, like some pages with pictures or poems or whatever.

A "yearbook" is a book printed for a school or club that is primarily devoted to having pictures of the major events of the year and the people who were students or members or whatever. Here in the U.S., most high school and college students buy a copy of the school yearbook for at least their last year there, sometimes for earlier years. It is common to ask people in the book you actually know -- friends, teachers, coaches, etc -- to sign their name near their picture. Again, people will often add a note about some shared experience, or some bit of advice. These books also often contain a number of blank pages for such signatures.

A "guest book" is a book set out at a wedding, funeral, graduation party, maybe other similar milestone events in your life, where guests are encouraged to sign their names so you can keep it and remember who was there. Sometimes these books have a place for additional comments.

Tourist attractions and small inns sometimes also have such guest books. Mostly, I think, this is for other guests to browse through so they can say, "Oh look, someone else from our home town was here" and that sort of thing.

It's been years since I've seen an autograph book, but as I mentioned, I just checked Amazon and they have many varieties for sale, so apparently the custom is not dead. I see that many are obviously geared to children -- pictures of cartoon characters on the cover -- so it's not just the old dying generation.

Yearbooks are very common at schools. You'd be hard pressed to find a high school or college that does not arrange to have a yearbook printed every year.

Companies occasionally produce yearbooks for special occasions. Like I briefly worked for the company that made the Lunar Module, the vehicle that landed on the moon. On the 10th anniversary of the first moon landing they produced a yearbook with pictures of people involved in the project, etc. But I've never heard of a company having a regular yearbook printed.


In school we called it autograph book

By the time I reached college the term "slam book" was more popular


In the case of school specifically, I think the most widely understood word would be yearbook;

(US) A publication compiled by the graduating class of a high school or college, recording the year's events and containing photographs of students and faculty


Frequently, these will have blank pages in them for people to scribble on, and the contents would usually be called signatures or messages. I might ask you to sign my yearbook, but you might write me a message with your signature.

Anecdotally, when I was leaving school in the UK, we had people sign our leavers' books, though I don't know how well-understood this would be. These were just plain old blank notebooks which weren't supplied by the school. They were usually decorated by the owner, and we'd pass them around to be filled in with kind thoughts and bad jokes. This is widespread enough to throw up some Google search results, but not enough for me to find any authoritative reference for it.

You may also be interested to know that 16 year olds leaving secondary school in the UK also often wear blank shirts and carry marker pens, so that the shirts can be signed. I don't think that these shirts really have a name, though, other than "signed shirt".

As for co-workers, I don't know that this practice is widespread in the UK. People leaving a company will often be given a greeting card filled with their colleagues' signatures, but nobody would call this a book; it's a card.


Guest book, I would go with. It is an old term for people to post on it when they visited your website, if wanted.


In French will call it a "livre d'or", which means a golden book and there is no words for the text you write into it.

I typed it in word reference and it gave me: visitors' book, guest book and comments book.

  • I am thinking this is a comment?
    – shin
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 13:55
  • Doesn't it answer the first point of his question?
    – DRz
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 13:57
  • I think you didn't read my full answer and you got led in error by the first words "just for information" that were just concerning the first paragraph, explaining how I found the words.
    – DRz
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 14:01
  • 1
    I deleted the "just for information" part. I agree that it was misleading. Is it better now? Downvoting is not a problem as long as you provide an explanation. Any input about what to add to support those words?
    – DRz
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 14:11
  • 1
    My grandparents, who were German, had such a thing.  All visitors to their home were requested to write something.  It was called a "guest book". Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 19:57

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