I can't tell you how many times over the past five decades I needed a bookmark when none were around. Bookmarks are designed to reside most comfortably between the pages of a book, which makes them awkward to keep in your pocket, wallet, or purse, which is really where you want them when you suddenly need one.
This results in lots of corners being torn off magazines and newspapers to use in a pinch. But the bookmark you get from tearing off a corner is small and often slides either out of the book or down between the pages. And don't mention folding the corner of the page over – don't go there. Book publishers (that's me) don't like to hear that.
Of course, origami will solve your problem. Before you give up and think, "I can never get those damn paper folds right," let me soothe your anxiety by explaining that making one of these cute and clever origami bookmarks is easy as pie and takes about a minute.
The Origami Resource Center online teaches oodles of methods for simple square origami bookmarks, or more decorative versions including pandas, penguins, peacocks, and Santas. From that website is a simple square fold that you can make even if you've never folded a piece of paper before. I've simplified it a bit more, making it (hopefully) even easier.
First, you need a piece of paper, exactly square – anywhere from 4 to 8 inches will do. And I'll use a piece of origami paper in the photos so it's easier for you to keep track of which side is which (commonly found origami paper is colored on one side and white on the other). Once you understand how to do the folding, be creative and use some other kind of pretty paper—even an interesting page from a magazine, when folded, can have great character.
Watch this video first, then read the steps below and try to follow them, pausing your second pass-through of the video step by step. You should get it after a few tries because it's pretty simple.
Step 1: Put the square paper on the table in front of you with the white side upward. Note that it's in, let's say, the diamond orientation. Remember to crease each fold as you make it!
Step 2: Grasp the innermost corner and fold it over and onto the outermost corner to create a triangle, red side outward. Crease the bottom fold (okay, won't say that after each fold).
Step 3: Grip the very tip of the upper layer of the outermost corner and fold it inward (so the white side shows), over and onto the bottom portion of the triangle. You'll find that it's pretty easy to make the tip perfectly even with the horizontal inner side of the red triangle.
Step 4: Grasp the extreme right corner of the triangle and fold it diagonally to the left and upward until its tip meets the tip at the top. Crease.
Step 5: This is the one tricky little fold, the pebble on which you might stub your toe, so follow closely. A moment ago you folded the right corner over and onto the center portion. Now grasp the extreme tip (at the top) between your right thumb and first finger.
Step 6: Use your left thumb and first finger to grasp the horizontal crease on the white side just to the left of the center fold.
Step 7: Your right thumb and first finger begin to fold the tip they hold away from you. The main body of the paper is steadied by your left thumb and first finger, which also pull open the horizontal fold they're holding.
Step 8: Continue to use your right first finger to push the tip downward into the pocket.
Step 9: Note that your right thumb has moved onto the lower portion of the piece that your first finger is folding, and is now beside your left thumb.
Step 10: Once your right first finger has pushed the corner all the way downward and into the pocket, its tip should nestle perfectly against the tip of the inner end of the folded paper. Press it flat.
Step 11: Repeat exactly the same steps (4 to 10) with the corner that's sticking out to the left. Fold it over and onto the base piece.
Step 12: Then use your left first finger to fold the tip down inside the pocket.
Tuck it in all the way and press the whole thing flat. You've created a nice pocket.
To use it as a bookmark, you can keep either side upward, but it's easier if the pocket side remains in view as you slide the outer corner of a group of pages neatly into it.
And there you are.