DIY Ultimate Note-Taking Notebook

For those of us who are picky about what we write on, finding a quality notebook that meets our specific needs can be tricky. Here's how to make your own personalised, customised notebook.

Photo by sunshinecity.

Instead of making compromises and settling for a Mead or Moleskine notebook, we’re going to make our own notebook: The Ultimate University Notebook.


  • The paper must be of a high quality.
  • The paper must be set up for Cornell Notes. Ed. note: We explained how to take study-worthy lecture notes using the Cornell method in the past.
  • The pages must be perforated and three-hole punched.
  • The cover and binding must be made of durable materials.

Step 1: Choose Your Paper

Quality paper is what separates a good notebook from a great notebook. For our Ultimate Notebook we’re using 32lb HP Premium Choice Laser Printer Paper. Although expensive at about $US20 a ream, writing on this buttery smooth, fountain pen friendly paper is an absolute dream. The heavy weight of the paper will ensure that ink won’t seep through the page.

Step 2: Print the Lines

The Cornell Method is a powerful note-taking technique which separates a piece of paper into 3 sections; notes, main points and summary. This forces you to consider the big picture when taking notes without getting caught up in the details. We’ll be printing a lined Cornell Note template onto both sides of our pages. You can grab blank, lined or grid PDF templates here. If you prefer plain old lined or grid paper, a quick search should bring up a bunch of line generators.

Step 3: Perforate and Punch the Pages

Carrying around a notebook with a semester’s worth of notes without some form of redundancy is a scary thought. We’re very diligent when it comes to backing up our computer data, but what about our physical notes? A paper perforator will allow you to tear individual pages out of your notebook so that once you return home you can scan your notes to your computer and file away the originals into a binder. As a bonus, you can import your scanned notes into a service like Evernote so that you’ll have access to them wherever you go.

Step 4: Assemble

Once you’ve prepped all of our pages for binding, it’s time to bind your notebooks. Head to your favourite print shop and pay the extra few bucks for quality binding materials. Stay away from Cerlox binding, it’s inferior to Coil and Wire-O.

Step 5: Enjoy

The Ultimate University Notebook; quality materials and designed to integrate perfectly into your note processing workflow. You can take pride this semester knowing that you’re writing on the best notebook there is.


    All of which I agree with entirely except I'd use the PULSE pen and it's record/playback and locate function everytime - which means you are tied to their range of notebooks BUT there is no reason why you can't still use the Cornell system which I used in court for years.

    Too much hassle! I just use a 4-ring folder and loose leaf papers both can be bought at Officeworks. I also made a customised rule from paper, so I can draw lines quickly to create sections when needed.

    Where can we get the perforations and this type of binding done in Australia (at a decent price)

    Has anyone got a link to the pages to print out? If you click through the links it says the page doesn't exist anymore :(

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