You may find yourself doing most of your writing over email, social media or via a text document these days, but that doesn't make the humble notebook any less of an essential item. Whether using it to plan work projects, write to-do lists or to journal, there's simply nothing like putting pen to paper.
The process of writing by hand allows your brain to ponder what you are writing about whilst "aimless" doodling also has mindfulness benefits, too. Read on for our guide to buying the perfect notebook, alongside the ten best picks high-quality stationers such as Moleskine, Leuchtturm and Dingbats*, easily available from Amazon, eBay and John Lewis.
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Table of Contents
Notebooks come in a variety of sizes, making them suitable for different purposes. An A4-size (21 x 29 cm) notebook is a great choice, with plenty of space to thrash out your ideas, they're perfect for work projects, writing notes, journaling and diary-keeping - they also fit nicely into a backpack, too.
If you're pushed for space and often on the go, then A6-sized (10 x 15 cm) pads might be the choice for you. Everyone from on-duty reporters to people doing their weekly shop can benefit from the help of a tiny pad – your note making is sure to be concise and fuss-free!
Some people like the structure of lined paper because it allows you to write in a measured, ordered way whereas others like the freedom of a totally blank page. For work tasks or creative projects that include mind mapping or doodling, a plain notebook is just the thing.
If you're mainly going to be using your notebook for writing and not much else, you might prefer to choose a lined pad. This helps you to maximise the space on the page and make your notes easy to read back and follow.
Bullet journals are also great for jotting down your ideas!
Most notebook paper is somewhere between 70 and 100 gsm, but it can be hard to figure out which is best. If you're going to simply be taking quick notes with a pen or pencil, anywhere upwards of 70 gsm should be fine.
However, if you plan to draw in ink or watercolours, or you want your personal journal to contain luxurious high-quality paper, then consider going for 100 gsm or above.
As well as this, if you're looking for the best, some high-end notebooks are made with acid-free, FSC-certified paper to make the writing experience both more enjoyable and considerate to the environment.
If you want your notes to stay pristine, then a hardcover notebook is the one for you. Other benefits to choosing a hardcover are that it adds a more formal or academic style to your notebook, and is great when you want to write or sketch on a bus or train.
However, if a large pad is what you need, a hardcover could make it too cumbersome to carry around. Instead, a softcover could be more convenient if you don't mind having things getting a little bent and creased.
If you're using your notebook for studying or you just like to be super organised, there are a number of great features that can help. For example, want to find specific notes quickly? Consider a notebook with a contents page and numbered pages. Or, if you want to store your notes elsewhere, perforated or hole-punched pages are really handy.
Aside from what is printed on the pages themselves, there are a few other additions which we think are easy to forget but always worth looking out for. Namely, bookmark ribbons, interior pockets and elastic notebook closures, which are all handy details for a personal diary, journal or writer's notebook.
Love nothing more than stylish new stationary? They also happen to be fun to use and pleasing to the eye, and they come in a variety of colours and vibrant patterns, it all depends on the notebook you choose.
Click to purchase
Extra Large Soft Cover Ruled Notebook
Large 192 Page Notebook for Writing Anywhere
Plain A5 Hardcover Notebook
High Quality Plain A5 Pad for Doodling and Journaling
A6 Pocket Wildlife Portrait Hardcover Notebook
Biodegradable Vegan Leather Notebook
Europa Notemaker A6 Lined Notebooks｜Pack of 10
10 Wirebound A6 Notebooks for Study
Safavid Ultra Journal
An Exquisitely-Bound Doublure-Inspired Journal
New York A5 Initial Notebook, B
A Personalised Notebook With Inside Pocket and Lined Pages
Metallic Jotta Wirebound Notebook｜Pack of 3
Great Value for Students and Writers
Museums & Galleries
Matthew Williamson A5 Jade Peacock Notebook
Designer Notebook With High Quality 100 GSM Pages
Large Fabric Hardcover Notebook
Classic Moleskine Journal for Taking Notes on the Go
A5 Ostriches Notebook
Vibrant Notebook Makes for the Perfect Gift
In at number one we have the classic Extra Large Soft Cover Ruled Notebook by Moleskine. Not only does it tick all of the boxes but it's an exceptionally beautiful product to use, which will make you look forward to writing.
Its cover is made from PU, an artificial, animal-free 'leather' that is both durable and flexible. The acid-free, FSC certified, ivory-coloured lined paper is divine to write on – even if you're just making a shopping list!
The Plain A5 Hardcover Notebook by Leuchtturm1917 proves that German precision and stationery is a brilliant combination. Their slogan 'details make all the difference' tells you all you need to know about the design of their notebooks.
This one has a hardcover, 249 numbered pages and 8 perforated and detachable sheets. The 80 gsm acid-free paper is a dream to scribble on and the elastic closure, two bookmarks and back pocket keep you organised. Wunderbar.
There are so many great things about this notebook that it's hard to know where to start! What surely has to be mentioned first though is that Dingbats* notebooks are made from recyclable, degradable materials (making them FSC certified) and they are also 100% vegan, too, making this notebook an eco-friendly choice.
Their products are handmade by the oldest stationery company in Lebanon (founded in 1800!) who donate 2% of revenue from UK sales to WWF-UK. With a durable faux-leather cover, an inner pocket, bookmark, pen holder and elastic closing, the notebook isn't bad either!
Somewhere between a basic pad and a good-quality journal, the Europa Notemaker from Clairefontaine is a cool and preppy choice. Synonymous with studying, the different coloured notebooks can be used to organise various tasks or subjects.
Coming in a pack of ten A6 notebooks, this affordable set includes brushed vellum 90 gsm paper and wire-bound spines with premium pressboard covers. The compact size and range of colours make these notebooks fun and convenient on the go.
More than just a notebook, Paperblanks Safavid Ultra Journal is a piece of art onto itself! Created in the Persian Safavid style, this journal has many of its hallmarks such as its beautiful gilded jacket, pentagonal envelope closure and elaborately decorated interior covers.
With 144 lined pages, a memento pouch, ribbon bookmark and magnetic closure it's practical as well as luxurious. Its feel and look would also make it the perfect journal for practising gratitude. A great gift choice for a loved one or as a gift from you to you!
There's something that feels special about having a notebook with your own initial on it, particularly when it's as stylishly done. Using a slightly different palette for each letter of the alphabet, the notebooks also feature a leather-like cover, gold foil accents and a gold foil letter on each page.
The satin ribbon bookmark marks your place and it has an interior pocket to hold loose papers, keeping you organised. We also love that the page edges are in a coordinating colour to the cover.
These Metallic Jotta Wirebound Notebooks may be quite basic, but they are a brilliant choice for those of you who regularly need to jot things down for work projects and general life organisation. They would also suit people who go through notebooks quickly.
At A4 size with 200 lined pages, this pack of three is great value and the 80 gsm paper works just fine for everyday notes. The wire-bound spine and hole punched pages also make them ideal for use at school or university, just be careful your highlighters don't bleed through.
Featuring unique cover imagery by Matthew Williamson in his signature style, this notebook is one for art or fashion lovers. With an A5 size and 160 lined pages, it's the perfect style accessory to carry around in your bag for jotting on the go.
The good-quality paper and velvety-soft cover with foil detail throughout (including the paper edges) are lovely touches that make writing a pleasure. Rather bold looking, this notebook would make a fabulous gift for the aesthetically minded. It's a shame it's only available in one size.
Moleskine may be one of the best-known brands when it comes to notebooks but they've tried something a little different with this collection. Still using their signature details, this hardcover notebook is covered in a grey marl fabric, creating an attractive, scholarly look.
With the usual rounded corners, elastic closure and ribbon bookmark, this trusty Moleskine still functions in the same way as the other options. It also includes a handy ruler guide and pouch for papers. However, the fabric cover can start to look tatty over time compared to the classic collection.
This floral hardcover design by Oxford makes a perfect fun and feminine gift! At A5 size, it's small enough to be portable but with 120 pages there's still plenty of room for your notes.
This notebook is wire-bound and contains high-quality paper between two protective hardcovers. There is an option for a single purchase or a 3 pack, which makes it a great choice for keeping your writing organised in style!
Written and researched by Melanie McPhail
No. 1: Moleskine｜Extra Large Soft Cover Ruled Notebook
No. 2: Leuchtturm1917｜Plain A5 Hardcover Notebook
No. 3: Dingbats*｜A6 Pocket Wildlife Portrait Hardcover Notebook
No. 4: Clairefontaine｜Europa Notemaker A6 Lined Notebooks｜Pack of 10
No. 5: Paperblanks｜Safavid Ultra Journal
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