How to Pick The Best Bullet Journal Notebook For You

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When was the last time you went to a stationery store to get some Bullet Journal supplies? There are so many planners, notebooks, and journals there; picking a perfect one sounds like an impossible task.

Or at least – a stressful one. That is especially true for Bullet Journal since it will be your companion for a whole year and your greatest help in everything you do.

When I was choosing my first journal, I kind of just bought one at random. Of course, over time, I realized it was not a good pick.

I’m not gonna tell you what notebooks to buy; we all have different necessities and tastes. I am, however, going to tell you some criteria you should check out when choosing a Bullet Journal notebook.

A journal is one of the essential Bullet Journal supplies, so it’s just fair for us to talk more about it.

First, I have to tell you a little secret – you can actually start your Bullet Journal with anything; it can be a simple school notebook and black pen – this is literally enough! Actually, when I decided to give Bullet Journal a try, I started with exactly that.

But if you’re ready to invest in a better journal, o if you’re like me and you know you’ll use it more if it’s a prettier and better quality notebook, here is what I want you to look for when you go stationery shopping.

Even though I wrote this as part of the Bullet Journaling for beginners series, these tips and recommendations can apply to anyone interested in finding a perfect notebook.

And be sure to scroll until the end to get your free Ultimate Guide To Bullet Journal Supplies.

This post may contain affiliate links. They will be of no extra expense for you, but I receive a small credit. Please see my Disclosure for more details. Thank you for supporting Masha Plans!

Notebook Cover

Usually, one journal is enough for about a year (or more like half a year), so you want to make sure the cover is going to survive that.

It depends, of course, on how you use your journal and if you carry it with you at all times (or not). Still, from my own experience – hardcover journals with elastic closure work better.

If you decided to stay with a soft cover and no elastics (like my absolute favorite Nuuna), I would recommend you get a cover since soft covers tend to wear out with time. I personally invested in this handmade cover by Cocoa Paper. So cute!

Here are some of my recommendations.

Best Hard Cover:

Dingbats - Earth Dotted A5 Medium Notebook, Sky Blue Great Barrier Reef - Hardcover - Cream 100gsm Ink-Proof Paper - Numbered Pages, Index & Key Pages
  • A5 NOTEBOOK WITH LOTS O' FEATURES: Dingbats notebooks ooze quality - this hardcover bound leather notebook is crafted with PU vegan leather Cream 100gsm pages, 16 pages of perforated paper, an elastic closure and pen holder. It's complete with a silhouette of the Great Barrier Reef, an infographic spread about the endangered region in the endsheets and an inner pocket for a little added detail - the perfect gifts for loved ones
  • HIGHEST-QUALITY WRITING PAPER: This A5 notebook journal (medium, 16 x 21.5 cm) in a flat lay design, is as aesthetic as it is practical. Our size A5 notebook has 192 pages (96 sheets), of the world's highest quality Cream 100gsm, acid-free fountain-friendly dotted paper. With the index page, numbered pages, keys pages and a future log - it's the perfect recipe, travel, business notepad, or a place to collect your inspirations and thoughts
  • A MULTI-FACETED JOURNAL: Use this stylish notebook as a space to organise your days and thoughts. A cute notebook that can function as both a secret diary and a to do list pad, keeping your days on track and your mind in check. No matter what kind of day or week it is, you'll find something to fill the dotted pages of this medium notebook with! This handy sized Dingbats writing pad is an excellent companion for jotting down your thoughts

Best Soft Cover:

Moleskine Classic Notebook, Soft Cover, Large (5" x 8.25") Dotted, Underwater Blue, 192 pages
  • CLASSIC MOLESKINE NOTEBOOK: Moleskine classic notebooks are perfect notebooks for writing journals, a daily diary, or note taking in college classes or meetings. Moleskine notebooks are beloved by travelers & bullet journalists for their slim design.
  • DURABLE COVER & ELASTIC CLOSURE: Hold writing projects & notes in your Moleskine notebook with an elastic closure band & inner storage folders. Leather-like classic Moleskine cover & thick, ivory paper pages are perfect for writing with fountain pens.
  • GIFT QUALITY NOTEBOOKS: Moleskine planners, journals and notebooks come in hardcover or softcover and colors like black, red, blue, green and brown. The binding and cover have a durable finish, designed for daily journaling, writing and sketching.

Paper Density

Very simple – the lower the density of the paper, the more your markers and brush pens will be seen through or even bleed.

But also, the higher the density, the thicker the paper, so the bigger the notebook and the heavier it is to carry (I’m a tiny little girl, and that’s a big concern for me). So it’s up to you.

I would say the average density for the Bullet Journal is 100 GSM. You can check my Rhodium Mines Dot Grid Notebook Review, which has 100 GSM paper, and see me do a pen test in it.

If you’re looking for the best, that would be 160 GSM density; you can check my post 160 GSM Notebook Showdown to learn what are some of the best 160 GSM journals. My personal, of course, is the Archer and Olive one.

Whatever paper you’ll choose eventually, always be sure to take a pen test first! Also, pay attention to how smooth the paper is because the rougher it is, the higher the chance your ink will be feathering.

Of the notebooks I’ve tried, this one is best with 160 GSM paper:

Archer and Olive Dot Grid Journal, and you can get 10% off with my code MASHA10.

Credit: @archerandolive

Journal Lining

You probably already know it, but I just wanted to mention it again  – the best notebook for Bullet Journal (by now, I would say for EVERYTHING) is dot grid!

Even though the final choice is up to you, trust me, the dot grid is superior. The dot grid is beneficial when creating your page to keep everything straight, yet, it’s almost unnoticeable, so at a simple glance, people just see the writings and drawings.

However, you can actually start your Bullet Journal in a notebook with any kind of lining. If this is something that holds you back – just start in any notebook you have, be it lined or squared. Each type of lining has its own advantages.

Blank pages are great for:

  • Doodles
  • Scribbles
  • Diagrams
  • Sketching ideas

Lined pages are great for:

  • Journaling
  • Note-taking
  • Creating lists

Dot grid pages are perfect for:

  • Habit trackers
  • Monthly logs
  • Graphs
  • Weekly calendars

Paper Color

This is something that wasn’t on my mind when I bought my first journal, and I wish it was! Disregarding all the shades, there are basically two main colors – ivory and white. I picked ivory because I thought it looked awesome! And it did!

But, as time passed, I discovered that paper color changes a bit in the shades of my markers and brush pens. If this doesn’t bother you – go for it.

For me, it was unpleasant, so I was very keen on switching to pure white paper.

Here are some of my recommendations for journals with different paper color.

Best White Paper:

I’d have to again say Archer and Olive, who absolutely wooed me with their beautiful thick white paper.

Best Cream Paper:

Dingbats* Wildlife Dotted Journal A5 - Vegan Leather Hard Cover, Ideal for Work, Travel - Pocket, Elastic Closure, Bookmark
  • A5 NOTEBOOK WITH LOTS O' FEATURES: Dingbats hardcover bound PU vegan leather journal contains micro-perforated cream 100gsm paper, elastic closure, pen holder; complete with animal footprint end sheets, and an inner pocket.
  • HIGHEST-QUALITY WRITING PAPER: Dingbats Grey Elephant Medium A5 Notebook Journal has 192 pages-96 sheets of no bleed, smooth writing, Cream 100gsm, acid-free fountain-pen friendly, perforated dotted paper in a flat lay design.
  • JOURNALING FOR THE PAPER LOVER: From life goals to shopping lists, you'll find something to write in the pages of this animal-themed notebook, super smooth paper that doesn't bleed; Gift one to your favorite Journaler today.

Amount of Pages

Of course, this depends on how much you’ll be using your journal and how many spreads you’ll be making monthly. But usually, around 250 pages last for a year.

If you want to make sure it lasts for that long – a little trick would be to move all your collections to another notebook.

Numbered Pages

One more important thing to consider is if the pages are numbered. If you follow the original method and use Bullet Journa index, having numbered pages will be pretty important.

Having pages numbered will help you to create a proper table of content and make it easier to find any information you need in your journal.

Of course, there is always an option of numbering pages yourself, which isn’t really that big of a deal; you can just number it as long as you go.

However, it might be an annoyance to some, plus it doesn’t always look super clean. So it’s something to take note of when making your choice.

Best With Numbered Pages:

LEUCHTTURM1917 - Notebook Hardcover Medium A5-251 Numbered Pages for Writing and Journaling (Royal Blue, Dotted)
  • The A5 MEDIUM notebooks are the perfect size with a wide range of colors making them ideal companions for all walks of life — this notebook series is perfect for midnight ramblings, daily entries, thoughtful reflection, careful chronicling and illuminating life stories
  • Thread-bound to open flat which helps make reading the contents easy and adds efficiency to note-taking
  • Features 80g/m² acid-free paper with high ink compatibility to help prevent bleed through, an expandable gusseted pocket on the back cover, 2 page markers / bookmarks and an elastic closure band

Bullet Journal Notebook Size

Let your journaling needs to decide what works best for you. I started with an A6 notebook, which was very portable and convenient. But after a while, it was not enough for me; I needed more space to write and draw, so I decided to get something bigger.

A4 is a bit too big to carry around, so I went for an A5, which is actually a standard favorite size among Bullet Journalists. It’s convenient to carry with you, but it also has enough space to write everything down.

There are many more sizes available. I recommend you choose the brand of notebook you want to go with and then decide what size to buy since a lot of companies produce notebooks with the same characteristics but in different sizes.

But there are also several journals that are somewhere in between, so here are my recommendations.

But note that since these are not standard sizes, it might be difficult to buy things like, for example, journal covers.

Best Between A5 and A4 Sizes:

Dingbats* Wildlife Dotted Journal A5 - Vegan Leather Hard Cover, Ideal for Work, Travel - Pocket, Elastic Closure, Bookmark
  • A5 NOTEBOOK WITH LOTS O' FEATURES: Dingbats hardcover bound PU vegan leather journal contains micro-perforated cream 100gsm paper, elastic closure, pen holder; complete with animal footprint end sheets, and an inner pocket.
  • HIGHEST-QUALITY WRITING PAPER: Dingbats Grey Elephant Medium A5 Notebook Journal has 192 pages-96 sheets of no bleed, smooth writing, Cream 100gsm, acid-free fountain-pen friendly, perforated dotted paper in a flat lay design.
  • JOURNALING FOR THE PAPER LOVER: From life goals to shopping lists, you'll find something to write in the pages of this animal-themed notebook, super smooth paper that doesn't bleed; Gift one to your favorite Journaler today.
nuuna Graphic L Design Notebook – Milky Way – Smooth Bonded Leather Coloured Edging, 256 Page Premium Paper DIN A5 Dot Grid Soft Cover – Black
  • Premium soft cover notebook made from soft recycled leather and screen printing motif limited edition.
  • 256 pages of the finest 120 g premium paper with dot grid and coloured edging, perfect for sketching and writing, not transparent.
  • High quality thread stitching and innovative binding technique for a perfect look mark-up behaviour and position.

Back Pocket and Pen Loop

These are a few more characteristics that most of the notebooks for Bullet Journaling share. The back pocket is a very useful thing to have since it allows you to carry with you your favorite stickers or stencils.

Plus, it’s a storage for whatever other items you might need; for example, I used to store their checks for doing my financial tracking at the end of the day.

The pen loop always allows you to have your favorite pen with you, so it’s a pretty useful feature as well. However, if your notebook doesn’t have it – don’t worry; you can always buy them separately and attach them to your journal.

Best Journal With:

Scribbles That Matter A5 Dotted Journal Notebook + Free Pen! Your Bullet Dotted Journal Vegan Hard Cover 160gsm Dotted Notebook Bleedproof thick paper with 150 Pages for Work (5.75 x 8.5), Teal
  • 【𝐃𝐎𝐍'𝐓 𝐑𝐔𝐈𝐍 𝐘𝐎𝐔𝐑 𝐇𝐀𝐑𝐃 𝐖𝐎𝐑𝐊】Scribbles That Matter Dotted Journal Notebook journals with Smooth, Zero bleeding, acid-free helps you plan, organize, and unleash your creativity for a focused, productive, and fulfilling life.
  • 【𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐑𝐓 𝐎𝐑𝐆𝐀𝐍𝐈𝐙𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐑𝐈𝐆𝐇𝐓 𝐀𝐖𝐀𝐘】Journaling should be fun which is why we’ve made STM journals dotted in an overwhelm-free zone. Includes key code page, index pages, dotted numbered pages and 2 color coded bookmarks for optimal organization and stress-free set up
  • 【𝐖𝐎𝐍'𝐓 𝐅𝐀𝐋𝐋 𝐀𝐏𝐀𝐑𝐓】The silky yet sturdy faux leather cover protects your plans and ideas for years to come. Strong binding means even die hard journalists won’t have to worry about pages falling out from avid writing. Lay flat design for smoother writing

Best Journal Without:

Dotted Bullet Notebook Journal Dot Grid BuJo Pages | Hardcover Sewn w Bookmark | Premium Thick Paper | 5x8 Made in USA
  • SIMPLE, YET SOPHISTICATED: Our 5 x 8 inch notebooks are the perfect size for journaling, daily planning, or note taking, either at your desk or on the go. No constraints and no distractions -- just a high-quality notebook you will love. Northbooks are elegant, yet competitively priced. We put function first -- allowing you to bring back the joy of writing by hand.
  • DURABLE, YET ATTRACTIVE: Our elegant vegan leather cover is textured and durable. It features a silky smooth touch and square corners for a sophisticated look. The soft cream color of our pages does not distract from the writing, allowing you to effortlessly read your notes in even direct sunlight. Our hardcover notebooks are able to lie almost completely flat once broken in.
  • ARCHIVAL QUALITY: 192 pages/96 sheets of 60-lb/90 GSM 30% recycled paper that resists feathering, ghosting, and bleeding, without any extra bulk. Our paper is thick, smooth, and acid-free, and makes an elegant backdrop for whatever media you use. Minimal ghosting may occur with very wet inks. Alcohol-based markers are not recommended.

Extra Pages in the Journal

And finally, take a look at the extra features of your journal. Is there a key? Is there an Index page? Are the pages numbered? Give it a thought – what do you want from your journal? I personally love to have numbered pages because it helps with creating an index. As for the key and index page?

I prefer to make them myself, so I don’t want them. For example, Scribbles That Matter have all of the above, Dingbats only have numbered pages, and Rhodium Mines don’t have any of these elements.

So here are my recommendations.

Best With Pre-Made Pages:

LEUCHTTURM1917 - Official Bullet Journal - Medium A5 - Hardcover Dotted Notebook (Black) - 240 Numbered Pages
  • BULLET JOURNAL: Leuchtturm1917 brings to you a journal with all the quality of a Leuchtturm journal formatted with the Bullet journal method, Track the past, order the present, design the future
  • INKPROOF PAPER: Leuchtturm1917 A6 pocket notebooks have 80 gsm paper, which is equatable to 60lb stock, and has 185 numbered pages
  • OPENS FLAT: This thread-bound notebook opens flat so you can write and draw at all angles without compromising the integrity of the spine

I think these are some basic criteria on which you should orient when picking a journal.

But of course, there are many others as well – how bright are the dots? How wide are they? Is there a pen holder? Is there a back pocket? Does it come with special pen test pages?

Now that you know what to look for in a notebook, maybe you’d want to check my post 13 Best Notebooks For Your Next Bullet Journal to decide which one to buy.

Free Stationery Guide

Want to get your perfect journal and other amazing supplies that you’ll love using in your journal? I’ve got you covered.

I condensed all the endless supplies into one guide to all the Bullet Journal supplies you might want to try, from journal recommendations to extra items like stencils to help you add a spark of creativity to your pages.

Sign up in the form below, and once you confirm your subscription, the Ultimate Guide To Bullet Journal Supplies will be on the way to your inbox.

Hope this post was interesting; if you find it so, please share! If you enjoy my content and want to show your appreciation, please consider supporting me with a cup of coffee.

And always remember! Keep Bullet Journaling, and don’t be a Blob! 

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