Bullet Journal 101: Choosing a Notebook

A major component of Bullet Journaling is…well…a notebook of some sort. While I will continue to stress that the notebook you choose does not have to be special in any way, expensive, or look a certain way,  I also understand if you want a good quality notebook so that your bullet journal experience can be documented and kept for years to share. You may choose to start off in an inexpensive notebook to see if the bullet journal system is for you before making an investment in a more expensive notebook.

Whether you choose a $2 notebook from Target or a $30 notebook from a specialty stationery store, here are some things to consider when choosing a notebook:

  • Size of your notebook (A6, A5, A4, B5, etc.)
  • Paper type (lined, grid, dotted, plain)
  • Paper quality or gsm (grams/square meter; the higher the gsm, the thicker the paper)

Size of Notebook

The size of your notebook is based on your personal preference. An A6 or pocket notebook is small and can fit in your pocket. However, if you are wanting to fit a lot of information on one page, it may limit your abilities to create spreads to your liking. An A5 is the most common size. It is small enough to stick in your purse but large enough to give you the room to fit your creative spreads. A4 and B5 are larger, more like the size of printer paper or loose leaf lined paper. This may be good if you want to use your bullet journal for school or you are always carrying a backpack with you. Since they are large in size, they may not be as convenient to carry around and use day in and day out. The balance is to find a size that is large enough for you to fit what you like and small enough that its size won’t hinder you from using it every day or bringing it out.

Type of Paper

Lined, plain, dotted, oh my! There are so many choices. You would think that the easy option would be to go with the most commonly available type of paper, lined. Surprisingly not! Dotted paper is common in the bullet journal community due to its flexibility and invisibility. The dots can be connected to create the shapes and spreads you like and are easy to make straight lines with. The unconnected dots fade into the background and can become unnoticeable. The same can be said about grid paper with the exception of the invisibility factor. If you like structure, lined paper would be your best option. It doesn’t have the flexibility of grid and dotted paper but is still a popular choice among those who like to keep their BuJo designs quite minimal. The only downside is that you will need a ruler if you plan on making spreads that go against the grain of the paper lines. Plain paper is for the creative cats who like to freely create and draw their designs. In many cases, those using plain paper opt for thick sketch paper or watercolor paper so they can use different mediums to decorate their bullet journal. Try them out and see which type of paper is best for your needs!

Paper Quality

Will ghosting or bleeding irritate you? Ghosting is when you can see the previous page’s information but it is not clear enough that the page is deemed unusable. Bleeding is when the pen’s ink has bled to the other side of the page, either disrupting the next spread or making the next spread unusable. If ghosting bothers you, opt for higher gsm paper. The Moleskine is approximately 71 gsm so there is a fair amount of ghosting when using fineliners and darker pen colours. Leuchtturm1917 and Rhodia both have 80+ gsm and have shown to have less ghosting. My personal favourite is the Personal-Planner Notebooks. These are 140 gsm and while mine has a lot of bleeding, it is mostly due to my tendency to press really hard when using more liquid inks.

While there are so many choices and many recommended notebooks out there, it all comes down to your own personal preferences and how much money you are willing to spend on your notebook. Now go forth and experiment!

tiffany sign off

PS. Sorry for missing two weeks of posts 😦 School work finally caught up to me and so my mental health came first…and then I got sick so I had to take care of my physical health as well. I hope everyone is doing well and I will try to go back to posting consistently! Love you all!

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