The Best Journals for Bullet Journaling

June 14, #40 blog post

Lessons from…On the Wings of My Pen

Now we will look at the best journals for bullet journaling…

What is the all the fuss about?

Journal paper quality…

The main contenders on my list are…

Moleskine, Leuchtturm 1917, Rhodia Goalbook, UNNI Classic Notebook, Scribbles that matter, and Essentials

Hello my Journaling Lovelies! (Dudes & Dolls) 😉


Worth my hard earned bucks?

There has been so much discussion within the bullet journal community the last couple of years about what kind of notebook to purchase for journaling.


Some choose to start with a simple 88 cent composition notebook from Walmart or the Dollar store, just to see if the investment in something of higher quality would really be worth it.  Am I gonna stick with it…or is this just a passing fancy? Should I spend more for a special journal that’s going to stand the test of time or am I just as happy with the less than a dollar cheap notebook? (I am not knocking your choice of notebook here, if cheaper is okay for you…then by all means, go with it.)


These surely are questions to ask yourself, when considering what notebook to purchase. There is no written rule that you HAVE to have an expensive journal/pen, in order to journal. It’s simply up to the user, individually. All you need is some form of notebook and a pen. That’s it!! Well maybe a bit of creativity, if you’re like me. 😉


Quality vs Quantity

But to some, quality, not quantity is important. That is the purpose of this review. We will be reviewing the highest quality notebooks available to make the best use of your money for tools that will stand up and give you the best bang for your hard-earned buck.


My TAKE on it…

Current bullet journals 2016 and 2017
Two Moleskines/Three Leuchtturm 1917’s

Personally, my standard is…you get what you pay for. Cheap might mean savings now, but spending more in the long run. Also a possible do-over. But that’s up to you. For me,  I appreciate quality in a fine notebook and set of pens/fineliners. Something that will stand the test of time. Something that will archive well, simply because my notebook is  an extension of who I am. I take it with me everywhere. It’s my personal history, GO-TO book.


You must decide…

…what purpose your notebook will serve. Everyone you meet in the bullet journal community will have a different answer of why something, whether it be notebook or pen, is important or not important to them. We are all very different in our likes, dislikes, tastes, and what triggers us to buy or desire a certain kind of notebook or pen.


Two Check-Lists

Black Hardcover, Squared, A5 sized, Moleskine
Teal Softcover, Dotted, A5 sized, Moleskine
Purple Hardcover, Dotted, A5 sized, LT1917
Very Berry Hardcover, Squared, A5 sized, LT1917

So…I’ve come up with two check-lists of things to consider before purchasing your new notebook.

⦁ Does the pen/marker bleed through the paper?

⦁ Does it ghost from the other side of the page?

⦁ What is gsm anyway?

⦁ Does it have dot or squared grid, or is it ruled or plain?

⦁ Does it have numbered pages and an index, or do I have to add that in myself?

⦁ How many pages does it have?

⦁ Will it hold up to years of sitting on my shelf or will the ink fade with time?

⦁ Will it hold a pen for ‘on the go’ journeys?

⦁ Will it be soft cover or hard cover?

⦁ Are there various colors or am I stuck with basic black?


The following…

Happy Birthday Wheel Tracker

…are questions you must ask yourself personally. Each person will have a different answer according to their individual needs/likes & desires:

⦁ Is the notebook of ample size for my purposes?

⦁ Does it do what I want it to do?

⦁ Will it be large enough to use for a year? (Mine generally lasts me 5 months @ 249 pages)

⦁ Will it stand up to abuse or mistreatment?


These are all questions we will be examining. Then, when we have all the basic data to answer these questions, we’ll also rely on some bullet journal bloggers as good back-up to our arguments and validity. READY?


What does gsm mean anyway?

GSM is an acronym standing for ‘Grams per Square Meter’. Quite simply, it allows print buyers and print suppliers to know exactly about the quality of paper that is being ordered. The higher the GSM number, the heavier the paper.


Various Features of our Main Contenders

Bullet Journals
January 2016 to June 2017


⦁ 70 gsm/47 lb.; FSC Certified Paper; Acid-Free (pH Neutral), some bleed through and ghosting due to paper thickness or lack thereof.

⦁ Thread bound book, opens flat

⦁ Layout: Comes in Squared, dotted, ruled, and plain styles.

⦁ Dimensions:  5″ X 8 -1/4″ A5 sized, other sizes available

⦁ Hard cover/soft cover, rounded corners, with one book mark ribbon and elastic closure

⦁ Color : Basic black, other new colors are available in both hardcover and soft cover mediums as of 2017

⦁ Pages: 192

⦁ Internal accordion back pocket

⦁ No index or page numbers so you can create them where you want them, name/address page included


Leuchtturm 1917

⦁ 80 gsm Inkproof, acid free paper, some bleed through and ghosting due to paper thickness or lack thereof

⦁ Thread bound book, opens flat

⦁ Layout: Comes in Squared, dotted, ruled, and plain styles

⦁ Dimensions: A5 size (5 -3/4″ X 8 -1/4″

⦁ Hardcover, rounded corners, with 2 book mark ribbons, and elastic closure

⦁ Color: 18 different colors available; Anthracite, Army Green, Azure, Very Berry, Black, Chocolate, Emerald, Lemon, Light Blue, Lime, Navy, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Royal Blue, Taupe, and white.

⦁ Pages: 249, with 8 perforated/detachable pages at the back

⦁ Internal accordion back pocket, with archival label stickers included

⦁ Index, page dates, numbered pages, and name/address page included

⦁ Pen loop attachment available for separate purchase


UNNI Classic Notebook

⦁ Size: 5″ x 8-1/4″, A5

⦁ 240 Pages (120 Sheets)

⦁ Premium Smooth PU leather Hard Cover with elastic closure and bookmark ribbon; Internal Accordion Pocket; Sturdy design ensures your journal will last for years to come

⦁ Quality Paper – 80gsm (comparable to the Leuchtturm 1917) Excellent for fountains pens and ink. No feathering or bleeding. Thick paper, Strong Binding: The pages don’t get peeled away from the cover. Rounded case binding holds the pages tight

⦁ Thread bound book, opens flat

⦁ Available in Ruled, Plain, Dotted and Squared version, A4, A5, and A6 Size, Soft and Hard Leather Covers

⦁ Colors: Black, Blue, Green, Red, Yellow

⦁ Similar to the Moleskine, yet same gsm as the Leuchtturm 1917, more pages, and nearly half the cost. Higher quality at an affordable price.


Rhodia Goalbook

⦁ Leatherette soft cover with embossed Rhodia logo

⦁ Glued flexible spine

⦁ Two orange ribbon markers and elastic closure

⦁ Expanding inner pocket

⦁ Premium 90gsm ivory vellum paper, super smooth, acid-free, pH neutral

⦁ 240 pages, 224 numbered dot grid pages, 6-page table of contents, undated annual calendar, undated monthly calendar

⦁ One size: A5 (5 1/2 ” X 8 1/4″)

⦁ 16 Vibrant Colors: Silver, Black, Chocolate, Taupe, Beige, Anise, Turquoise, Sapphire, Iris, Purple, Lilac, Raspberry, Poppy, Tangerine, Orange & Yellow


Scribbles That Matter

⦁ 201 pre-numbered pages

⦁ Premium 100GSM Ivory, dotted paper

⦁ A5 size (approx 5″ X 8 1/4″)

⦁ Three index pages, key (including space for color-coding) at the front, and a pen test page at the back

⦁ Lay flat design

⦁ Back pocket has ribbon sides for durability

⦁ Two different colored ribbon bookmarks

⦁ The covers are solid with a suede-like texture to them. There are doodles not just printed on the cover, but etched into the front and back covers for drawing inspiration.

⦁ Come in a variety of bright colors/opposing colored pen loops & elastic closures. Coordinating journal/elastic & Pen loop colors are: Black/red, Cubbie blue/yellow, Emerald/lime green, Grey/yellow, Pink/cobalt blue, Purple/lime green, Teal/yellow, White/black, Yellow/cobalt blue

⦁ Personalization page for name, address, and when you began your notebook

⦁ At the back of the book are cute doodles printed on the pages just inside the back cover and over the inside pocket.


Essentials notebook

⦁ With 25 percent heavier paper stock than Moleskine brand notebooks, bleed-through/ghosting is a thing of the past.

⦁ Durable hardcover looks great and resists scuff marks and scratches.

⦁ Notebook is the classic A5 size (21.0 cm x 14.8 cm, 5-1/2 inches x 8 inches).

⦁ 192 squared grid-lined pages

⦁ Elastic band closure

⦁ One ribbon bookmark

⦁ 100-gsm acid-free/archival paper

⦁ Binding lies flat for ease of use

⦁ Inside back cover pocket holds notes, receipts, business cards, etc


This is my list of Go-Tos…

Current bullet journals 2016 and 2017
Two Moleskines/Three Leuchtturm 1917s

My personal collection includes:

⦁ Moleskine, black, hard-cover, squared, A5 sized notebook (Jan 2016 thru May 2016)

⦁ Moleskine, teal, soft-cover, dotted, A5 sized notebook (June 2016 thru Aug 2016)

⦁ Leuchtturm 1917, Purple, hard-cover, dotted, A5 sized notebook (Sept 2016 thru Jan 2017)

⦁ Leuchtturm 1917, Very Berry, hard-cover, squared, A5 sized notebook (Feb 2017 thru June 2017)

⦁ Leuchtturm 1917, Chocolate, hard-cover, A5 sized notebook (July 2017 thru Nov 2017?)

⦁ UNNI Classic Notebook, Green, hard leather-like cover, A5 (ordered for Dec 2017  thru April 2018?)


After these are filled,

I plan to try the Rhodia Goalbook, Scribbles that Matter, and Essentials notebooks and give a new review on how these compare with my current filled notebooks. Stay tuned…


Here are what my fellow Bullet Journal bloggers are saying about various notebooks in the bullet journaling community…

Bullet journal reviews


NOW what’s your choice?

⦁ Moleskine

⦁ Leuchtturm 1917

⦁ UNNI Classic Notebook

⦁ Rhodia Goalbook (or any of the others by Rhodia)

⦁ Scribbles that Matter

⦁ Essentials Notebook

⦁ Other________________?


And Please! 🙂  Let us know (in the comments below) why you chose the one you use? Would like to know which notebook keeps you a happy camper and there may be others looking to doing some happy camping in their journals too. 😉

Stay tuned for more reviews/recommendations coming soon, and as always…
Happy journaling…and come back soon and see us! 🙂


~Evon Robinson

Barefoot Journaling Chronicles (closed FB group)

On the Wings of my Pen dot com

2 thoughts on “The Best Journals for Bullet Journaling

  1. Evon, I love your checklists. I never thought about asking all those questions before I picked up a journal. Usually I just go to the store and see one with a cute cover that’s about the same size as what I’ve always used and then see if it’s on sale or in my price range. If so, I buy it.

    Sometime I want to look into these journals that you are talking about. I learned from experience, that I think a grid-lined journal would make my bullet journaling much easier. I get tired of drawing the grids when I want to do a health tracker. But, I’ll finish out my inexpensive one before I buy a new one with the grid lines.

    I love the colors of the journals you have used.

    I think most of mine are the classic size, but my bullet journal is larger. I could probably do just fine with the classic A5 size thought, lots of extra unused space in the one I have now.

    I look forward to hearing how the new journals hold up to your old standby’s.

    1. Thank you for your comment and your kindness Terri!

      I have enjoyed using both the Moleskine Classic and Leuchtturm 1917 Squared grid journals, especially (A5 sized). The LT1917 are about an inch larger than the Moleskines and the paper is just a tad thicker, but I have had some bleed through and ghosting on both with my Staedtler and Stablio fineliners. Not that that really bothers me too much. It really doesn’t. However, I’d like to try several and see if I will feel differently, or stick with my original bullet journal treasures. 😉

      I am a bit of a detail junky. All my former employers loved that about me…not much gets by me. And when something slips thru the cracks, I feel a GRRR rising up in me. Ha ha 😀 YEP! Lists are definitely ‘My thing’.

      Yes…the squared and dot grid are really nice for trackers, doodling, drawing lines, fine detail, keeping things neat and organized, hand lettering practice, and so much more!! I’ve found that sometimes the print of the grid or dots is too light, so hard to see sometimes. Could be my lack of lighting in this early 1900’s house too, idk. I have heard that some of the other journals have darker lines/dots, so will be reviewing more as I move forward. I will start my Green UNNI squared A5 sized notebook in December. I just started my LT1917 chocolate squared A5 size one now in July. I love all my notebooks thus far. Looking forward to trying the others out tho. Will keep you posted. All the journals I’ve listed here come in a variety of beautiful colors. Some have more of a leather-like feel, some not. I love the ‘feel’ of the leather-like ones. My teal Moleskine is the only softcover one I have…the others are all hardcover.

      My journals all run about $20 + shipping from Amazon, except for the UNNI which was about $9 cheaper. All are good quality. LT1917 are the only ones with archival stickers to label them when finished. But I’m not worried about the price as much as the quality. I want them to archive well.

      I will be placing links here on my reviews so fellow journalers can see what I love and purchase if they want, so please check back, if you need one. Would be glad to help you decide.

      Happy Journaling, and if you have any questions, please leave me another comment and I’ll get back to you. 🙂

      Thank you for stopping by Terri.

      ~Evon 🙂

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