How to choose the best notebook for Bullet Journaling

Ryder Carroll created the bullet journal method to enable us all to keep track of our busy lives in a way that works for us.

The first step is choosing your supplies, especially finding the perfect notebook.

How to choose a notebook for bullet journaling

How to choose the best notebook for bullet journaling

Before you choose your notebook, there are lots of questions that you need to ask yourself to ensure that you are getting exactly what you need.

  • Start with your budget: How much can you justify spending? We stock notebooks ranging from £6.95 to £30+
  • Ruling: Lined, squared, dot-grid or plain. Dot grid is the most popular choice as it allows for a mixture of writing, doodling and tables with the dots acting as a guide.
  • Number of pages: do you want to fit a whole year in one notebook or are you happy to work your way through two or three, simply starting a new one when each one is full?
  • Paper size: A5 is by far the most popular size but if you want to carry your journal with you (and have small handwriting) there are many smaller options. If it is going to sit on your desk then B5 or even A4 will give you more space. 
Notebook Size Comparison
  • Paper weight: GSM or grams per square metre, refers to the thickness of the paper. The thicker the paper, the less likely your are to suffer from bleeding or ghosting. Bleeding is when the ink seeps through to the other side. Ghosting is when you can see your writing through the page. Thicker paper is not always better. It depends what sort of pens or other media you plan to use in your journal. If you want to use paints and alcohol markers, you need to look for a sketchbook with a high GSM but if you want to use a fountain pen, the smoothness of the paper is going to be more of a priority.
  • Do you need, or would you prefer not to have additonal features: pen loop, back pocket, bookmark(s), elasticated closure, Index, numbered pages, pen test page, grid helpers (darker dots to show you the midpoint), hard/soft cover, linen, paper or leather cover.
  • Brand Story: how important are the ethics of the manufacturer to you? Think about where it is manufactured, the source of the paper etc.
My top notebook suggestions for bullet journaling
Bullet Journal Edition 2 Blush
Bullet Journal Edition 2

The creator of the Bullet Journal Method, Ryder Carroll has worked with Leuchtthurm 1917 to create the second edition of the Bullet Journal. £21.90 Currently out of stock.

  • 120 g/sqm paper
  • Page divider for quick grouping of pages
  • Detachable Bullet Journal® pocket guide
  • Grid guide in the inside cover
  • Set of stickers featuring days of the week, months and much more …
  • Ruling: Dotted
  • Three ribbon page markers
  • Index, Future Log and 206 numbered pages
  • Elastic enclosure band
  • Gusseted back pocket for small souvenirs, notepads or cards
  • Thread-bound book
  • Cover colour: Black or Blush with blind embossing “Bullet Journal”

Perfect for those of you new to bullet journaling who would like to learn the original method. A little more expensive and medium thickness paper but great for those a little daunted by setting up a journal from scratch.

 

The most well know notebook for bullet journaling is the A5 Hardcover from Leuchtturm 1917. Available in lots of colours (new ones added each year) including metallics and neons. The paper is thinner so you will be able to see your writing through to the other side unless using pencil, however, this means more pages! £16.95

  • 2 ribbon page markers 
  • 251 pages
  • Ruling: dot grid, lined, squared or plain
  • Blank table of contents and numbered pages
  • Gusseted back pocket
  • Elastic enclosure band
  • 8 perforated and detachable sheets
  • Thread-bound book opens flat
  • FSC-certified paper (depending on the format 80 – 100 g/sqm)
  • Slightly chamois coloured paper to improve readability
  • Matching pen loops, pens and pencils available
  • Made in Germany

Perfect for people who are confident setting up their new journal, like lots of pages and don’t mind some ghosting.

 

Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Hardcover Medium Notebook
Smooth Colours Hardcover Notebook
Edition 120G Leuchtturm Notebook
Edition 120G Leuchtturm Notebook Port Red

Leuchtturm 1917 heard your cries for thicker paper and in 2021 launched the 120g Edition. Currently available in Black, Port Red, Sage and Nordic Blue. £20.50

  • 120 gsm paper made in Germany
  • 203 pages
  • Smooth writing surface
  • Very little ghosting
  • Suitable for a wider variety of writing instruments
  • Available as Hardcover in format Medium (A5)
  • 2 ribbon bookmarks
  • Blank table of contents and numbered pages
  • Gusseted back pocket
  • Elastic enclosure band
  • 8 detachable sheets
  • Thread-bound book opens flat

Perfect for someone who is confident in setting up their own journal, likes using a range of pens but prefers more pages.

 

My personal choice for 2022 is the Hummingbird from Yop & Tom. If you have used an Archer & Olive notebook previously, you will find the quality very similar but with some lovely extra features and a lower price! £17.99

  •  A5 Journal –148 x 210mm
  • 160 pages (152 with dot grid)
  • A soft-touch vegan leather cover which is mild stain-resistant
  • Gold debossed emblem
  • Grid guide – darker dots in the centre and half way along the edges to make drawing boxes easier
  • Extra thick 160 GSM uncoated paper – Smooth to write on and thick enough to prevent bleeding and ghosting
  • Lay-flat binding
  • Key, Index and Pen Test pages
  • Gusseted back cover pocket
  • Elastic fastener 
  • Ribbon Bookmark

Yop & Tom is a British company but their journals are manufactured in China to keep costs down. They have already released a range of colours and designs and plan to continue to launch more. They also have a lined journal available. 

I find these journals amazing quality for the price. Perfect for someone who is confident setting up their own journal, likes using a range of pens and is happy to sacrifice number of pages for thicker paper.

 

A5 Dot Grid Notebook Hummingbird
A5 Dot Grid Notebook Cloud
Koala A5 Dot Grid Journal
Scribble & Dot Gift Box

Scribble & Dot are fairly new to Under the Rowan Trees and I’ve not had chance to test one of the notebooks myself yet but Hanna who is one of our Rowan Berry Box Ambassadors is a huge fan. £15.95

  • 160GSM – Thicker paper resistant to bleeding, rough erasing, and shading. 
  • Hardcover 
  • Lay-flat binding to allow for easy and convenient writing.
  • A5+ Medium (16 x 21.5 cm);
  • 160 pages.
  • Dot grid numbered pages.
  • Bound by hand and come gift wrapped in tissue paper in an elegant black box.
  • Reinforced rear pocket
  • Dual ribbon page markers
  • Elasticated closure
  • Pen holder
  • Index, key and pen test pages

Similar to Y&T, Scribble & Dot are based in the UK but their journals are manufactured in China. They have a good range of designs and also make undated planners, budget planners, wedding planners and desk pads.

 

Looking for a little luxury? Modena are new to the market but dressed to impress! Choose from a genuine leather cover with foil details or tactile linen in strong colours. £10.00 – £26.00

  • A5 or A6
  • Dot grid or lined
  • Leather or linen
  • 144 thread-bound, acid-free 100gsm ivory Dot-Matrix pages, with 5mm spacing
  • Sustainably sourced from FSC®-certified forests & other controlled material
  • Two colour-coordinated page marker ribbons
  • Useful expandable inner back pocket
  • Colour-matched elasticated closure / pen clip
  • Shortlisted for 2021 Gift of the Year

These beautiful notebooks are a little bit special. The first thing that stands out is the horizontal rather than vertical elasticated closure which can double as a pen loop. The leather cover journals come with a matching pencil (also available separately).

 

Chronicle Rose Dust Leather Notebook
Modena A6 Classic Linen Hardcover Notebook Ruled Maroon Beret
Bullet Journal - Turquoise - 13 x 21cm
Beginner Bullet Journal Set

Bruynzeel have produced some fantastic but affordable journals which we thought would be ideal for tweens and teens as well as those who are just dipping a toe in the bullet journal ocean. £6.95

  • 128 dot grid pages
  • 140 gsm white paper
  • Tactile vegan leather style hardcover
  • Acid-free paper
  • Ribbon bookmark
  •  Elasticated closure
  • Turquoise or yellow cover

We have put together a starter set which is a great way to encourage beginners to give it a go without spending too much. £20

 

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