When installing clapboard siding, it's important to overlap all joints. Here's a way to get started that will ensure staggered joints every time. Create a pyramid effect by cutting different lengths every 16 inches. We've chosen 16 inches, because we nail directly into wall studs, which are spaced 16 inches on center. This method also makes use of more of your siding material, leaving less waste.
For more on siding, consider:
Wood Siding Options
Guide to Exterior Siding
Installing Clapboard Siding and Cedar Trim (VIDEO)