Hello Planning Mashers!

When was the last time you went to a stationery store? 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 be checking out when choosing a Bullet Journal notebook.

How to Pick The Best Bullet Journal Notebook For You | Masha Plans

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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. In a month or two, after I realized I was absolutely in love with the system, I decided to upgrade to proper gear.

So yeah, once you get serious about your Bullet Journal you want to have a proper notebook. The first journal I bought was mnoke and allowed me to do all the planning. But at some point I realized the paper color distorts the colors of my brush pens, the ink was feathering and after a few months, it kinda started falling apart. It was very tragic.

Of course, I still could use it as a Bullet Journal, but it actually bothered me a lot and made me want to use it a bit less. I definitely don’t want you to have a similar experience! So here are the specs you need to keep in mind when choosing your perfect notebook!

Bullet Journal Review: Archer and Olive Dot Grid Notebook | Masha Plans

Notebook Cover

Usually, one journal is enough for about 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 to get a cover, since soft covers tend to wear out with time. I personally invested in this handmade cover by Cocoa Paper. So cute!

Best Hard Cover:

Dingbats Earth Dotted Medium A5+ Hardcover Journal - PU Leather, FP Proof 100gsm Coated Cream Paper, Numbered Pages, Inner Pocket, Elastic Closure, Pen Holder, 2 Bookmarks (Sky Blue GBR)
  • LOTS O' FEATURES: Durable hardcover bound with PU faux leather, round corners, non-perforated 100gsm cream pages, inner pocket, 2 bookmarks, 192 pages with a lay flat design and elastic closure. Also includes a pen holder - perfect.
  • FOR BULLET JOURNALING: Bonus features include numbered pages, 3 index pages, 2 key pages and 16 micro-perforated pages. The endsheets of each notebook are also finely printed with an infographic spread of the endangered region. Size: Medium A5+ (16 x 21.5 cm); Sheets: 96 (192 pages)
  • MULTIPURPOSE JOURNAL: Can be used as a bullet journal, travel notebook, journal, diary, business / executive / office notebook, gift, workout journal, travel journal, school journal, recipe journal etc.

Best Soft Cover:

Moleskine Classic Notebook, Soft Cover, Large (5" x 8.25") Dotted, Underwater Blue
  • 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. Whatever paper you’ll choose eventually, always be sure to make 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.

Best Paper:

Dotted Journal by Scribbles That Matter - Create Your Perfect Bullet Journal with Ultra Thick 160gsm No Bleed Paper - A5 Hardcover Notebook - Fountain Pens Friendly Paper - Iconic Version - Teal
  • DONT RUIN YOUR HARD WORK: Pens and markers glide across the ultra smooth ink proof 160gsm acid-free paper. Zero bleeding, ghosting and feathering for beautifully clean double-sided musings. Our journals have a Pen Test page so you don’t ruin all your hard work
  • START ORGANIZING RIGHT AWAY: Bullet journaling should be fun which is why we’ve made our journal 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
  • WONT FALL APART: The silky yet sturdy faux leather cover protects your plans and ideas for years to come. Strong binding means even die hard journalers won’t have to worry about pages falling out from avid writing. Lay flat design for smoother writing

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) are dot grid! Even though the final choice is up to you, trust me dot grid it superior. The dot grid is very helpful 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 actually can 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 times passed, I discovered, that paper color changes a bit 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 the white paper.

Best White Paper:

Dotted Journal by Scribbles That Matter - Create Your Perfect Bullet Journal with Ultra Thick 160gsm No Bleed Paper - A5 Hardcover Notebook - Fountain Pens Friendly Paper - Iconic Version - Teal
  • DONT RUIN YOUR HARD WORK: Pens and markers glide across the ultra smooth ink proof 160gsm acid-free paper. Zero bleeding, ghosting and feathering for beautifully clean double-sided musings. Our journals have a Pen Test page so you don’t ruin all your hard work
  • START ORGANIZING RIGHT AWAY: Bullet journaling should be fun which is why we’ve made our journal 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
  • WONT FALL APART: The silky yet sturdy faux leather cover protects your plans and ideas for years to come. Strong binding means even die hard journalers won’t have to worry about pages falling out from avid writing. Lay flat design for smoother writing

Best Cream Paper:

Dotted Bullet Grid Journal - Lemome A5 Hardcover Dot Grid Notebook with Pen Loop - Premium Thick Paper - Page Dividers Gifts
  • DURABLE HARDCOVER JOURNAL - Touched comfortably, sturdy hard cover protects your art for years. The elastic pen loop is always available for your pen and kept well.
  • LAY-FLAT 180° LARGECLASSIC NOTEBOOK - Let you reading more easy and note-taking efficiency. The tight band of journal keeps it securely closed. And firm binding ensures pages don't get peeled away from the cover. Enjoy your writing by hand with no distractions.
  • 180 PAGES DOTTED BULLET JOURNAL - Thicker paper resistant to passionate artist. Dotted grid notebook helps guide your writings, stand out very clearly. Perfect for bullet journaling, compiling recipes, creative writing, planning a holiday, keeping track of your workouts, or just doodling and drawing.

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 Bullet Journal method and use Index, having numbered pages will be pretty important.

Having pages numbered will help you to create a proper table of content and easier 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 Medium A5 Dotted Hardcover Notebook (Royal Blue) - 249 Numbered Pages
  • INKPROOF PAPER: Medium (A5) notebooks have 80 gsm paper, which is equatable to 60lb stock, and has 249 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
  • ELASTIC CLOSURE BAND: Secure your content with the elastic enclosure band and inner gusseted pocket. Page marker is included for easy access to a specific page

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 me, but it also has enough space to write everything down.

Best Between A5 and A4 Sizes:

Dingbats Wildlife Dotted Hardcover Notebook - PU Leather, Perforated 100gsm Ink-Proof Paper, Pocket, Elastic Closure, Pen Holder, Bookmark (Gray Elephant, Medium A5+ (6.3 x 8.5))
  • LOTS O' FEATURES: Durable hardcover bound with PU faux leather, round corners, animal footprint endsheets, micro-perforated 100gsm cream pages, inner pocket, bookmark, a lay flat design and elastic closure. Also includes a pen holder - perfect.
  • HIGHEST QUALITY COATED 100GSM WRITING PAPER: Size: A5+ Medium (16 x 21.5 cm); Sheets: 96 (192 pages). Lined (Ruled), Plain (Unlined), Dotted (Dot Grid), or Squared (Grid) in the world's highest quality 100gsm (thick) acid free fountain-friendly paper
  • MULTIPURPOSE JOURNAL: Can be used as a bullet journal, travel notebook, journal, diary, business / executive / office notebook, gift, workout journal, travel journal, school journal, recipe journal etc.
Sale
Nuuna Milky Way Graphic Notebook
  • COVER : Smooth Bonded Leather
  • PAGES : Contains 256 pages
  • PAPER: 120g Minken Paper

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 there 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 it to your journal.

Best With:

Dotted Journal by Scribbles That Matter - Create Your Perfect Bullet Journal with Ultra Thick 160gsm No Bleed Paper - A5 Hardcover Notebook - Fountain Pens Friendly Paper - Iconic Version - Teal
  • DONT RUIN YOUR HARD WORK: Pens and markers glide across the ultra smooth ink proof 160gsm acid-free paper. Zero bleeding, ghosting and feathering for beautifully clean double-sided musings. Our journals have a Pen Test page so you don’t ruin all your hard work
  • START ORGANIZING RIGHT AWAY: Bullet journaling should be fun which is why we’ve made our journal 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
  • WONT FALL APART: The silky yet sturdy faux leather cover protects your plans and ideas for years to come. Strong binding means even die hard journalers won’t have to worry about pages falling out from avid writing. Lay flat design for smoother writing

Best Without:

Sale
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 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 really 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.

Best With Pre-Made Pages:

Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Notebook- Bullet Journal Special Edition- 240 Numbered Pages, Black
  • 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 this is 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?

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! 

How to Pick The Best Bullet Journal Notebook For You | Masha Plans

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