The notebook is the basis for Bullet Journaling. The notebooks usually differ in hard and soft cover, paper texture, grid lines and size. Here the market offers thousands of possibilities. If you always want to keep your Bullet Journal with you, then I recommend a hardcover in A5. There is not much difference in weight than soft cover notebooks.
The dotted version is the most popular for Bullet Journaling. You can write straight without the annoying lines in these types of notebooks. Try not to choose a notebook with too thin paper. It can annoy if you write or draw something and then it bleeds. Too thick paper can make your Bullet Journal heavier.
What is the Best Notebook to Start Bullet Journaling?
There is no clear answer to that, because, as always, it depends on how you want to design your Bullet Journal. Which kind of BuJo notebook is ideal for you depends on how creative you think you are or how much time you want to invest in the design and customization.
You may create a minimalist Bullet Journal, e.g. only with a black fine liner, or you use a creative technique such as illustrations, doodles, scrapbooking, Washi tape or water coloring to embellish it. I am convinced that you do not need an expensive notebook to work productively with your planner. For a long time, I was using a low-priced notebook. Of course, the pages in such a notebook are not the thickest.
There are also notebooks that are specially designed for Bullet Journaling or to do justice to the watercolor technique. They come with thick paper to prevent any bleeding or ghosting.
The empty notebook is the most common variant. There are notebooks with white, checkered, lined, and dotted pages. Professionals prefer notebooks with a dot grid, but a blank notebook will also be suitable for the job.
The pattern is very subtle and hardly noticeable and has all the advantages of other types of paper. You can think of the dots as lines or boxes, so it’s easy to write just like on lined paper and also simple to draw freehand rectangles for tables. It is also easier to paint pictures and draw sketches with the help of the dotted markings.
The dot matrix has the advantage over a classic line marking or a checkered layout. It leaves enough room for writing and drawing, and it offers useful orientation for texts and tables, for example, as opposed to a blank style.
Just decide what you like best visually! The advantage of an empty notebook is that you alone decide what it will look like. You have every freedom and are not bound to a particular layout. However, that can also be a disadvantage, because you have to design everything yourself, which takes a lot of time and imagination.
But do not feel restricted and try out what you like best!
For those who are overwhelmed with empty notebooks, there is an alternative – entry level Bullet Journaling notebooks that already contain various ready-made pages and you only need to fill. You can start faster, but it also binds you to the specifications. These are very helpful for beginner journalers.
Some of My Favorite Notebooks
Leuchtturm 1917 Dotted A5
The basis of every Bullet Journal is a dot-marked notebook. Theoretically, a blank or grid notebook is also suitable; The only important thing is that you do not use a calendar or something similar that gives you a structure.
For creating a Bullet Journal, one should not be forced into any planning structure but develop one’s own personal system. A dot-grid notebook is ideal for this, as the dots allow you to draw straight lines or boxes without a ruler. In addition, you can easily write straight without being guided by solid lines. The latter could hinder your creativity, which is why you should use an unruled notebook for mind maps.
Among Bullet Journal disciples, the A5 notebook by Leuchtturm1917 with a dotted grid pattern has apparently become popular. This is mainly because the inventor of the Bullet Journal, Ryder Carrol, has perfected his system with a notebook from Leuchtturm and uses these notebooks.
They are of good quality, robust and available in many colors. In addition, the medium A5 format is a good size. It is a pleasant experience to write on this notebook and the fibers absorb the ink well.
Since the paper is not thick at 80gsm, your lettering may show on the other side depending on the pen or marker used. Personally, I don’t mind that. In daily use, I write on both sides anyway, so the translucent writing is almost covered and gives the whole notebook a certain charm.
Leuchtturm1917 even released a Bullet Journal edition of its standard notebook, which is a great entry-level option. This differs from the original product of Leuchtturm1917. It has three instead of two bookmark tapes, the embossing “Bullet Journal” on the cover, a pre-built key, an expanded index and a small Bullet Journal guide in English.
Moleskine Soft Cover Dot Grid Notebook
The Moleskine notebook is already a classic among the notebooks. Similar to Leuchtturm, the Moleskine comes with blank, lined, graph and dotted versions. It is available in many colors and variations.
It has a soft cover with rounded corners. In addition, the notebook has an outer elastic enclosure band, a bookmark, and an internal pocket.
The Moleskine is sturdy and goes a long way. The paper is, however, the same as in the “typical” notebook and with 70gsm is still somewhat thinner than that of the Leuchtturm. Already while writing, it is noticeable that the ink from some pens partly runs off. In addition, the highlighters do not give off a nice, rich color on this paper.
Leuchtturm vs. Moleskine – Quick Differences
The Moleskine comes with 192 pages, the Leuchtturm with 249. That is a clear difference!
Leuchtturm already offers an index on the first few pages. Again, something I find practical!
The pages of the Moleskine notebooks are not numbered. Since an index is not present, I find this a small disadvantage. I think it is very nice that the pages in the Leuchtturm are already numbered. Especially if you keep a Bullet Journal with a table of contents, these page numbers are damn practical and save you the somewhat stupid work of entering the numbers by hand.
While the paper in the Moleskine is 70gsm strong, the lighthouse with 80gsm comes with a somewhat thicker paper. Thicker paper protects better against the writing shining through to the other side.
Leuchtturm attaches a sheet of stickers to its notebook to label the book cover and the spine. That is a big plus.
Here I am equally satisfied with both brands. You can see the font easily. Both manufacturers have placed a paper bag in the back cover that is super handy for bills, tickets, and whatever other loose slips of paper are flying around!
Both notebooks can be held together with a rubber closure.
Both manufacturers offer both hardcover and softcover as covers, and you get both notebooks in different sizes or colors.