Find the Perfect Bullet Journal Notebook

I’ll be honest, guys, when I made my first bullet journal, I had no idea what notebook to choose. I hadn’t heard much about the idea, learned most of what I knew from Ryder Carroll’s official site, and then drove to Walmart to find my BuJo. Some of you might not be in the same situation. If you’ve been looking at bullet journals on Pinterest, Instagram, or Tumblr, you might have pretty high standards for your notebook… And a lot of questions about what the “pros” are using. That’s where I come in – I’ll break down some popular choices and help you find the perfect bullet journal notebook!

Find the Perfect Bullet Journal Notebook

find the perfect bullet journal notebook

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Function > Form

I promise I’ll list out some of the big-name brands for bullet journals to help you find your perfect notebook, but bear with me for a second.

Before you settle on a brand because you love the colors, or your favorite Instagrammer uses it, or whatever, do me a favor and spend a few minutes thinking about what you want from your bullet journal notebook. Consider things like:

  • Size
  • Paper weight
  • Paper pattern
  • Binding

If you carry a big purse, you can accommodate a larger bullet journal. If you want to use really wet-ink calligraphy markers, you’ll want nice, thick paper to avoid bleed. A lot of bujo junkies swear by dot grid paper, but regular grid and unlined are popular choices, too. Most of the notebooks I list are journal-bound, but if a spiral-bound notebook fits your needs better, go for it!

Basically, the #1 thing to keep in mind when choosing a bullet journal notebook is functionality. If a notebook is gorgeous but doesn’t work for your life, you won’t use it and it won’t help you.

Alright, PSA over. On to the good stuff.

The Notebooks

Like I said, I bought my first bullet journal notebook on a whim at Walmart. It cost less than three bucks – a little green notebook, probably 3.5″ x 5″, with lined pages and elastic to hold it shut. I grabbed a random pen from my house’s junk drawer, and got to work.

You can see all sorts of photos of it in my first bullet journal post. It was perfect… Until it wasn’t. About a month in, the elastic band snapped, and I realized the tiny, portable size was really cramping my handwriting. So I upgraded to a popular choice:

The Moleskine

Maybe it’s just me, but growing up running around Borders bookstores, I always wanted a Moleskine notebook. There was a whole wall of them outside the café, but I could never bring myself to spend my whole $20 of Borders birthday money on just one notebook. Childhood was rough, man.

That said, there’s a reason I lusted over Moleskines. Their variety of sizes, paper patterns, and covers is hard to beat. With unlined, ruled, and gridded options, tons of sizes, soft- and hard-covered versions, elastic closures, inner pocket, and built-in bookmarks, Moleskines are a super-functional bullet journal notebook. As one of the premier stationary brands (in America, at least), they often cut deals with entertainment franchises, as well, meaning you can pick up a BB-8 bullet journal, if your heart desires.

Pros:

  • Paper quality
  • Range of sizes
  • Easy to find/buy

Cons:

  • No dot-grid paper option (for hardcover)
  • No place for pens
  • Off-white paper (a personal pet peeve)

Like the Moleskine, but not the price tag? Picadilly notebooks seem really similar to me. I picked one up intending to do a giveaway and ended up keeping it for myself. I can vouch for the good paper quality, and I actually prefer their cover color options to Moleskine’s – and I think they lie flatter when opened. Of course, the notebook isn’t quite as high of quality, and the cover is susceptible to bending, but for the price, they’re hard to beat.

Bullet Journal – the Brand

I really hope Ryder Carroll, who invented the bullet journal system, is making an absolute killing off his idea. If you want to contribute to all that – or buy a notebook made specifically to bullet journal in – then the “official” notebook of bullet journaling could be the right choice for you.

The Bullet Journal notebook is very specifically designed. Its dot-grid paper supports the bullet journal method well, and it has dedicated spaces for the things we as journalers need, like index pages and bullet keys. It’s honestly a beautiful notebook, with “Bullet Journal” embossed on the cover (in case you forget) and attractive proportions.

But surprisingly, I don’t know of a lot of people actually using this notebook. It’s been hard to find accounts of people’s actual experiences, and I can kind of see why. If the design of the Bullet Journal brand notebook fits your needs, I’ll bet it’s perfect. But it comes in one size, one color, one paper type.

Pros:

  • Specifically made for bullet journaling
  • High quality dot grid paper
  • Dedicated Index space

Cons:

  • No color options
  • No size options

Leuchtturm1917

Hello, gorgeous! The Leuchtturm1917 has a doozy of a name, but these are seriously pretty bullet journal notebooks that a lot (and I mean a lot) of bullet journalers seem to swear by.

These babies come locked and loaded. We’re talking prenumbered pages, index spaces at the beginning, high quality paper, lots of sizes, and plenty of colors. Think bright orange, rich berry, and pale green. And of course everything is secured with a handy elastic band, and the notebooks appear to lie flat when in use.

I say “appear” because, despite haunting every office supply and stationery store I come across, I’ve never seen a Leuchtturm1917 in the wild. Maybe it’s because I live in the Midwest and only cool people on the coasts get good notebooks. I went off in search of the official website, and let me tell you – their SEO is pretty bad. Once I found it, I realized I could only buy direct in British pounds. Post-Brexit, this might be a decent deal, but I’m not feeling the currency exchange. Luckily, Amazon has plenty – but different colors vary in price, meaning you might spend as little as $20 or as much as $40 – yikes.

Pros:

  • Variety of sizes and colors
  • Dot-grid, high quality paper
  • Numbered pages and index space

Cons:

  • Hard to buy in-store (if you’re me)
  • No single online marketplace for Americans
  • Can get pricey

Muji

If you’re seeing super-minimalist stationary photos, Muji is a safe brand bet. I’ve noticed that this Japanese brand is especially popular on Tumblr – go figure. But with clean, elegant designs and strong functionality, Muji’s huge variety of journals remains a popular choice.

There’s no single, iconic Muji notebook. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, and often sport kraft paper binding, perfect for doodlers looking to customize their covers. American buyers hoping to understand sizing should brush up on their lingo – knowing the difference between and A5 and A6 notebook is essential when buying Muji.

Oh, and about the “buying” part – Muji supplies are incredibly cost-conscious… As long as you’re near a Muji store. There are like three in the US. Ordering online, prices are still absolutely reasonable, but keep an eye on shipping costs when buying from offshores retailers. They tend to have fewer pages than more expensive brands, as well. Luckily, the notebooks tend to come in packs of three or five.

Pros:

  • Variety of sizes
  • Price
  • Simplicity

Cons:

  • Availability
  • Color options
  • Size – low page counts

Baron Fig

This may not be a brand you’ve heard of, but honestly? Your loss. Baron Fig makes a couple products, but for a bullet journal notebook, the Confidant is your best bet.

Baron Fig basically sat down and said “What do you want from a notebook?” and went from there. My Baron Fig is, hands down, the flattest notebook I’ve ever used. When you open it, it’s one smooth plane, all the way across, with high quality paper and dot grid pattern – although blank and ruled paper is also available. I also like that my Baron Fig is shorter, but slightly wider than most notebooks, giving me more space to write where I need it.

A photo posted by Isabella Lo (@iis.bella) on

Baron Fig notebooks are pretty no-frills. They have two shades of grey covers, a single ribbon bookmark, and, disappointingly, no elastic band to hold the notebook closed. Still, the minimalist approach pays off, since you can buy and ship the Confidant for $16 in the US. Not bad at all, considering the quality.

Pros:

  • Super flat
  • High quality, well-patterned paper
  • Wider dimensions

Cons:

  • Few color options
  • No size options
  • No elastic band

Still not satisfied?

Other brands I’ve heard of, but don’t have much personal experience with, include Rhodia, which I’ve seen some discussion of in my bullet journal Facebook groups, and Midori, which is an excellent traveler’s notebook you could bullet journal in. And if you have bullet journal notebook recommendations, I’m all ears! Seriously, one of the best things about bullet journaling is the amazing, supportive community of fellow journalers, so if you’ve used one of these notebooks and can vouch for it, let me know! I’m always looking for my next one.

 

  • Anh Thu Do Truong

    Search Mnemosyne notebooks on Amazon. Great double spiral notebook for fountain pen and heavy ink pens!

  • Jessica Pitts

    Any time!

  • Those sound amazing, I’ll have to check them out! Thanks for the rec!

  • Jessica Pitts

    I’m a huge fan of Shinola’s medium-sized notebooks. They’re made in Detroit and buying their products helps the revitalization efforts for a hugely important American city 🙂 Plus, the paper is lovely, well-patterned, and as heavy as the Leuchtturm1917. I’ve never seen anyone talk about it so far, but it’s definitely worth it!! https://www.shinola.com/journals/journal-size/medium.html

  • Thanks a on, I’ll check it out!!

  • I don’t have any personal experience with this brand, but Dotgrid seems like it might be a good bet, if you don’t mind buying online! http://dotgrid.co/

  • I am so new to bullet journaling and am totally pumped by it! I love the concept and freedom it gives to create things the way that works for you. I am having a hard time finding a journal that I love though. I prefer spiral bound notebooks, only because I love being able to fold it around and not have it completely open. I don’t like the book bound notebooks because the pages always flipped closed on me. But I always prefer having the grid-lined pages (the dots not the graphs). But finding this combination is so difficult!!! Anyone have suggestions of spiral bound notebooks with the “dot-lined” pages for this particular lady??

  • I’m in the US, but I should check out local retailers. It’s a good system, though, I hope it works out for you!

  • TheLegoJedi

    I just wanted to say that I work for Chapters book store in Canada (silillar to Barnes and Noble, but WAY better) and we sell the Leuchtturm1917 note books for $24 CAD. You can probably order them from our web-site. I was checking out this page because they are so popular I wanted to know what all the fuss was about and now I may have to try it…

  • I always worry that pages will tear out of spiral bound notebooks, so I haven’t looked into them, personally. That said, maybe look into spiral bound sketchbooks? Those might have the weight of paper you’re looking for to hold up to Stabilos. I’m pretty sure you can find grid or dot-grid sketchbooks, too. Might be worth a shot!

  • That sounds like a very dangerous place for my bank account!

  • Angelica Velosa

    What about some spiral bound notebooks?
    i made a purchase just like yours but it was in office depot and I thought the notebook would be good for journaling because it said cambridge on it. But i was wrong, the paper is very thin and the cover is soft so it will not do well in my book bag. The stabilo pens bleed straight through the paper. And i want one that can handle the stabilo pens

  • Morgan

    Notebooks are the best things! There is an entire Moleskin store here in New York and it might just be my happy place.

  • Katie

    Exactly! I always carry one in my purse for random note-taking. They’re pretty durable too! I’m probably their number one fan haha

  • Thanks so much! Happy to help 🙂

  • I feel that. I have an unhealthy addiction to stationary – so many pretty notebooks, so little time!

  • I just looked them up and I’m. In. Love. I honestly might edit them into the post – they’re so affordable! Perfect for the college budget!

  • Molly O’Connor

    I didn’t even realize there were specific types of journals for this!! These pictures are making me swoon and I want to go buy them all haha!

    http://www.mollyonthemoveblog.com

  • Katie

    You HAVE to check out Word Notebooks! They’re my favorite! They’ve got a bullet system built-in and their covers are cool.

    Katie // thosebakergirls.com

  • Great tips!