Five Best Paper Notebooks

Five Best Paper Notebooks

Sometimes a glowing screen can’t replace the feel and flexibility of old-fashioned pen and paper. When you need a good notebook to jot down your thoughts or doodles in, you have plenty to choose from. This week, we’re going to check out some the best paper notebooks money can buy, based on your nominations.

Photo by waferboard.

You can score a cheap notebook at any office supply store (or $2 shop), but if you want something with a hardback cover, premium paper and an overall feeling of quality, you’ll pay a little more. The brand we’re featuring here come from around the world, and a little judicious online shopping can save you money if you can’t find these choices in a local stationer. If you want an Australian one-stop shop for most of the notebooks featured here, check out Notemaker (which offers $6.50 flat-rate shipping and free postage if you spend more than $65).


Five Best Paper Notebooks

Leuchtturm1917 has been making high quality notebooks for close to 100 years, and offers a range of sizes, from pocket-sized notebooks to full-sized journals and reporter’s note pads that flip upwards rather than right-to-left. Other unusual options include the Jottbookand a five year memory book.


Five Best Paper Notebooks

Whitelines makes a number of different notebooks, including traditional hard and soft-bound organizational notebooks, but is particularly notable for its high-quality spiral notebooks that lay perfectly flat on either side, and its wire and glue flip-up notebooks that can be used from any direction. As the name suggests, their notebooks feature white lines (on grey paper) rather than the traditional black or blue.


Five Best Paper Notebooks

Rhodia is arguably best known for its classic black-and-orange writing pads, but offers a broader range including leather-bound dot-grid notebooks and flip-up notepads. One of its key selling points is the quality of the paper used in those books. Rhodia is in the same parent company as Clairefontaine, another well-regarded notebook producer.

Field Notes

Five Best Paper Notebooks

As the name suggests, Field Notes notebooks are designed to be carried and used in a range of situations and environments. Field Notes notebook come in ruled, graph, or plain varieties, and you can order them in mixed batches . The Expedition Edition line of Field Notes notebooks are especially rugged, and the company claims they’re “virtually indestructable”.


Five Best Paper Notebooks

Ah, Moleskine notebooks. Love them or hate them, treasure them forever or consider them the “hipster notebook” and a mark of pretentiousness, there’s no doubt that Moleskine notebooks are everywhere. We’ve even interviewed the co-founder and current VP of Moleskine here at Lifehacker. Moleskine makes notebooks of almost every shape and size, for every writing type and style, and with so many different types of paper (blank, perforated, dot-grid, lined-grid, ruled, wide-ruled, calendar) that it’s difficult to keep up. Moleskine even has “city notebooks,” complete with maps of the town you’re planning to visit, and plenty of space to make notes. We also have to mention the Moleskine Smart Notebook, that connects with Evernote.

Those were the five most popular choices, but that doesn’t mean the writing is on the wall. Tell us about your own favourite brand of paper notebook in the coments.


  • Supplementary question:

    Which is the best kind of pen (or pencil) for writing in a really nice notebook? I hate ruining the feel of a Moleskine with nasty ball points and fountain pens are no longer practical for day-to-day writing (try flying with one in your pocket).

    • Try a Lamy Safari – I carry one around in my backpack all day long, riding motorbikes, flying in aeroplanes, or just in the car. I also sit in an office, but that doesn’t sound as cool.

      Are you actually flying the plane? That’s kind of why ball points were invented in the first place…

    • I’m a huge fan of Mitsubishi rollerball micro and Staedtler 0.1-0.7 fine tip felt.

    • Ooh! I have a bunch of computer documents, all formatted for A5. If I print them out in “book format” I can try to bind them into a “real” book. This could get messy…
      If I’m binding myself, what paper should I use?
      Alternatively, is there a printer that writes into pre-bound notebooks? The closest I’ve seen is XY plotters, writing cursive script onto single flat sheets.

      • @sa_penguin Thanks for the questions.

        Looks like you’re trying to print a & hand-bind a book – interesting idea, very achievable.
        [If you are looking to do this as a once off and it’s an original with several hundred pages, you may want to save yourself the time and effort and get it printed, there are plenty of online services which will do short runs (1) of publications like this this for you.]

        You don’t need to worry about how your documents are formatted (A5 or otherwise), as long as your printer’s software (or the drivers, or the app you are printing from) has sufficient flexibility to allow you to do the following;
        – Print in landscape.
        – Set the boarders (you will need extra space towards the spine.
        – Print multiple pages.
        – Print front & back.
        – Collate (sometimes referred to as ‘booklet’)

        Hand-bound (note)books are compiled from booklets. Without too much detail, you want to break your book up into sections (booklets), then print them, bind, then combine them, following the tutorials on Instructables. The length (page count) of these will depend on the materials you use to make your book, and the overall length of the book.

        Trial and error will play a large part – paper type doesn’t matter, though consider the durability (archival quality) of the paper, other materials (including glue and any coloured materials) and finally, the ink you print with.

        Finally, get onto YouTube and watch a few tutorials to see the work involved to see if you feel it’s worth the effort, and also, look up some book restoration videos to gain a real appreciation for the love people put into this rapidly dying craft.

        • Thank you – that’s [roughly] what I’m doing now.
          I was just hoping to find a way to print into an actual moleskine book – their assembly and final product is far better than anything I create.
          Allows me to append / start over too, at a cheaper cost than having a limited edition run-off of 1 book.

  • Good choices. I would replace the Moleskine with the Quo Vaids Habana, though – MUCH better paper!

  • I’d like to add Miquelrius ( notebooks to the list – pre-perforated an hole-punched for filing, title bar, fine ruled, hard plastic and a spiral binding that doesn’t bend, fold, spindle or mutilate. I’ve been using them for 10 years, and wouldn’t use anything else. The Agatha Ruiz de la Prada branded ones also come in a selection of new designs each season, so I can use a new notebook cover each time if I want. The plain MR branded ones have five designs for different purposes.

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