Tight On Space? How To Organise Your Bookcase Efficiently

A bookcase is a must-have piece of furniture at every house. It can be placed in bedrooms, the home office, the living room, or even the dining room. It also has other uses apart from storing books. For instance, you can use a bookcase to divide a shared kid’s room as soon as you anchor it properly.

A home office with a desk with a laptop and a big bookcase in the background

But, how many of you organise your bookshelves? You may find it easy to organise a stationery cupboard or decorate the shelves, but when it comes to organising your books, things might be tricky. So, instead of placing books on the coffee table or piling tomes of books ruining your overall home decor, you can just check our guide and find out how to organise your bookcase efficiently.

12 ways to organise your bookcase

There are many ways to decorate your bookshelves. You can place photos, small pots, vases, cherished knick-knacks and bookends to make your shelves look more appealing. But, no matter what you do, if you don’t keep your books well organised, your unit will keep looking like a mess. Organising your bookshelves is a DIY task. You don’t have to be an experienced interior designer. The only thing that matters is to know a few tips and tricks. Here are a few easy ways to organise your bulky piece of furniture the perfect way. 

Before sharing the ways, you need to know a few more things to make the best out of your bookshelves.

  1. First and foremost, remove everything off your bookshelves. This way, you’ll create a blank canvas, making it easier to imagine how you want your unit to look afterwards.
  2. Then, divide your shelves into sections. Depending on your unit’s size and the number of shelves, divide them into two ends, a middle section and a top and a bottom section.
  3. Once you are finished organising your shelves, take a step back and give yourself some time to observe the outcome. It would also help you if you took a picture of your bookshelf. If you notice that something is wrong, you may remove an item.

A large bookcase with many books and decorative items

Alphabetically by author

A way to organise your bookcase is to place books by alphabetising by the author’s last name like most public libraries do. This is a rather effective way, especially if you have a lot of books. This will make it easier for you to find what you want to read quickly. But you need to make sure that you leave space on your shelves for the new books

Alphabetically by title

Organising books in alphabetical order based on the book’s title is also a good way to declutter your unit and make it seem neat. It will also let you expand your collection. Again, leave enough space on the shelves for new titles.

By genre

Similar to alphabetical order is the organisation by genre. You group your books based on the theme; mysteries together, art books, non-fiction and fiction books, English literature novels, cookbooks, graphic novels, and the list could go on and on. Organising by genre would make it easier to find a book depending on your mood and interests. Moreover, grouping your books by subject matter is a helpful method for those who can’t remember authors and titles.


This is mostly for bibliophiles who love reading classics and historical fiction. It’s a great system to organise your home library. It’s more effective if you have non-fiction books. Usually, you can’t do this based on the date the book was published, yet by the dates the subject matter covers. Having organised your books this way, you can easily find books on the same subject, but it’s rather time-consuming.

By colour

Have you ever heard of the rainbow bookshelves? It’s a way to organise and style a bookcase. You arrange your collection of books based on the same colour scheme. Interior designers prefer this grouping style to create a sense of order and a more aesthetic result. But, how can you do it? You can simply start from darker to lighter shades from bottom to top. For example, you can start from the top shelf and place all your black, navy and charcoal books and on the bottom shelf, all your white ones, in between shelves all the other colours. The final result is great for a bookstagram shelfie.

a white wooden bookcase filled with books arranged in a rainbow pattern


It’s more rarely organising your books geographically; however, you may want to give it a try. But the million-dollar question is: How do you organise books geographically? Do you do it based on the author’s birthplace or the story’s location? And what about those books that are located in multiple locations? A rule would be to separate your bookshelf into sections and have a shelf for a particular geographical area. However, it’s your call.

In a secret way

If you don’t want the others to know what you are reading, place them with the spines facing the wall. It might be really hard for you to find a book, yet it will give your shelves a minimalist and monochromatic look. As a plus, your guests won’t be able to borrow books from you anymore.


Another interesting idea is not to organise your books at all. It’s a rule many book lovers follow. You just place them anywhere you like, and it’s more convenient for you. You may have a surprisingly nice outcome. 

By height and size

This method will work well if you want a clean, uncluttered look. Keep books of the same size and height together on their own shelves. Place the tallest on the lowest shelf and keep upwards by placing the shorter and smaller ones. What will you achieve if you apply this method? You will create straight and even lines with the top of the books. Or else, you can arrange your books starting from the smallest to the highest.

By separating the hardbacks and the paperbacks

Another way to create a balance in your personal library is to separate your hardbacks and paperbacks. Place the paper covers at the top and the hardcovers on the bottom. This way, you’ll organise your favourite books in a more appealing way creating balance in the room and weighing down evenly.

Separate the read from the unread

A simple way to organise your books is by separating them into the read and unread. Keep those you have read to the bottom and have a To Be Read (TBR) section on the upper shelves for the books you haven’t read yet.  It will be more convenient to reach for a book when you need something new to read.

Place books horizontally and vertically

Who says that books should only be stacked vertically? There isn’t such a rule anywhere written. You can have books sitting both ways, vertically and horizontally. It’s a wonderful way to create a parquet-like effect on the shelf, break up the dull rows of books and make your bookshelves more playful and interesting. Finally, this method gives you extra free space to add trinkets, greenery and other decorative items on top of the stacks to add more texture.

A woman standing in front of a bookcase reaching a book

Having said all that, we hope we give you plenty of ideas to organise your bookcase in such a way that will make your unit more efficient and at the same time upgrade your living room’s decor. Remove everything from your bookshelf, step back and look at your unit. Then, take some time to imagine what you would like to look like and think of the things you have. Choose one of the ways we’ve shared in this article. We can’t tell you which one is the best for you. That depends on the books you have and your likings. We can only assure you that you’ll be surprised by the result.

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