It has been coming to my attention recently that a good portion of my viewership is bullet journal beginners and I get a lot of questions regarding my notebook recommendations. While I will always recommend a Leuchtturm 1917 or a Rhodia Goalbook, for the first 3 or 4 years of my bullet journaling journey I used an Essentials Gridline A5 Notebook. Here I will be reviewing the Essentials A5 Notebook for bullet journal beginners! This post may include affiliate links.
While I used the gridline, Essentials A5 notebooks (made by Peter Pauper Press Inc.) also have dot matrix, blank, and lined page types! I will only be discussing the gridline and dot matrix.
Essentials Notebooks Specs (A5 Gridline & Dot Matrix)
- 100-gsm acid-free/archival paper preserves your work
- Inside back cover, pocket holds notes, business cards, etc
- Elastic band attached to back cover keeps journal closed
- Ribbon bookmark keeps your place
- Durable hardcover binding
- Classic A5 size (5-3/4 inches by 8-1/4 inches)
- 192 dot-grid pages
- Available on Amazon: Dot Matrix & Grid)
I started using this notebook so long ago that I do not even remember my first impression, though I have always been impressed with the notebook. I just happened to be lucky, and the essentials notebooks were the first I happened across when I went out to actually search for a bullet journal. My first journal was different, but I had not bought that notebook for bullet journaling originally.
I would love to hear what your first impressions of the essentials notebook are! Submit them in the comments below, and I might add them to this post!
Pros & Cons of the Essentials Notebooks
Like any other notebook or product, there are pros and cons. This section will focus on my personal pros and cons for the Essentials notebook after years of use.
- Hardcover is durable
- Elastic band keeps the notebook from getting damaged and bent
- Pocket in the back is a great place to store loose notes
- Thick, smooth pages make ink look vibrant and write smooth
- White pages (this could be a con if you prefer off-white)
- Great price for the quality (generally around $9-$12; equivalent notebooks can run as high as $30)
- Only one color choice - black
- Pages are not numbered (this can be a pain if you like to have an index)
- Only one ribbon, some people prefer two (you can easily add a second ribbon DIY style)
Do I recommend this notebook? YES, 100% yes. I particularly recommend this notebook for beginners because it’s a great quality notebook to learn in without being worried about ruining an expensive notebook. I used this notebook for the first 4ish years of bullet journaling, it's perfect. The most significant and really only issues I have with the Essentials notebooks is the lack of page numbers and color options. However, if you are into a plain black journal, don’t mind adding your own page numbers (or don’t use them) then there should be no issue! I create all my gifted notebooks using the essentials notebooks, and everyone always raves about them.
Would you like to hear about more notebooks we recommend and have tested? Check out our complete list and review of over 8 notebooks for bullet journaling!