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.
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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!
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 (you can try famous brands like Leuchtturm1917 or Scribbles That Matter).
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!
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 bullet journal is 100 GSM. You can check my Rhodium Mines Dot Grid Notebook Review, which has 100 GSM paper and see me do 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.
You probably already know it, but I just wanted to mention it again – 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.
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.
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.
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. If you are looking for something between A5 and A4 – check out Nuuna or Dingbats.
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.
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?
To help you out with your choice, I found a video, where Cristina from My Life In A Bullet compares 15 different journals. I think this video will help you make the final decision on the purchase.
Hope this post helped you to make the final choice. Don’t forget to share it and save this Pin to your Bullet Journal | Stationery Pinterest board!
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