Bullet Journaling Notebooks | A Review of 10 Journals

I get asked all the time about my opinion of various bullet journal notebooks and their ghosting or bleeding. For this reason, I decided to collect various popular as well as cheaper notebooks to do a comparison. Below you will find 9 different bullet journal notebooks, their specs, images of their ghosting and bleeding, pros, and cons.

Leuchtturm1917

Notebook Specs

  • 249 Numbered pages
  • Blank table of contents
  • 8 Perforated and detachable sheets
  • Expandable pocket
  • 2 Page markers
  • Elastic closure band
  • Thread bound book opens flat
  • Sticker for labeling and archiving
  • Dimensions: 145 x 210 mm (#x# inches)
  • Ink proof paper
  • Acid-free paper

Bleeding & Ghosting Test

Pros

  • 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
  • 2 ribbons make page marking more convenient
  • Pages are numbered, and the notebook comes with a built-in index
  • There are so many color options, it’s impossible to be bored
  • Pages respond well to watercolor paint (still a little wrinkle, but really not bad)
  • The dots are in the same place on every page

Cons

  • Pages aren’t a crisp white (while I do not mind, this can be a turn off for some)
  • The built-in index is a con for those who wish to design their own or does not want an index
  • There is some ghosting and bleeding, but this depends on the pen or ink that is used

Northbooks Dot Notebook

Notebook Specs

  • 5 x 8 inch
  • Vegan leather cover is textured and durable
  • 192 pages/96 sheets
  • 60-lb/90 gsm paper
  • Dots spaced 5mm apart
  • Small us-based company
  • 1 ribbon page marker

Bleeding & Ghosting Test

Pros

  • Mild ghosting and bleeding
  • Ribbon marker
  • US-based company for customers who prefer to buy US only, this doesn’t matter much to me.
  • White pages
  • Hard cover can be a pro for those who like really hard covers

Cons

  • Paper rips fairly easy
  • Cover is rough to the touch
  • No page numbers
  • No pouch
  • Only comes in black
  • Some bleeding

Rhodia Goalbook

Notebook Specs

  • 8 x 8.3 inches
  • 90gsm ivory brushed vellum paper made in Étival-Clairefontaine, France
  • 6-page index or table of contents
  • 4-pages for annual planning
  • 4-pages for monthly planning
  • 240 pages (224 dot grit numbered sheets)
  • Pocket inside the back cover
  • Elastic closure band
  • 2 ribbon markers
  • Flexible binding
  • Softcover (16 available colors!)

Bleeding & Ghosting Test

Pros

  • The flexible soft faux leather cover is excellent. Make using the notebook pleasant
  • Elastic band keeps the notebook from getting damaged and bent
  • Pocket in the back is a great place to store loose notes
  • Beautiful colors to choose from
  • Thick, smooth pages make ink look vibrant and write smooth
  • Pages are numbered

Cons

  • There is a Logo on the cover. This one isn’t a big deal, I just like sleek plan covers.
  • Off-white pages make it difficult to fix mistakes. I generally use white-out to cover my mistakes, but the whiteout makes an error look worse on the off-white pages
  • Orange inside cover and ribbons (but I fixed this DIY style)
  • Some bleeding

Lemome Eco-Friendly Natural Cork Dot Notebook

Notebook Specs

  • 8.4 x 5.7 
  • cork fabric as the cover
  • 100% cruelty-free
  • Thread-bound lay-flat design
  • micro-perforated
  • 180 Pages 
  • 120g high-quality acid-free writing paper
  • Sturdy Sewn Elastic Pen Holder
  • Expandable Pocket
  • Elastic Closure Strap
  • 1 Ribbon Bookmark
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed

Bleeding & Ghosting Test

Pros

  • Perforation is a pro for those who wish to remove their pages easily.
  • Almost no ghosting and bleeding.
  • Includes ribbon, pouch, and pen loop
  • Cruelty-free
  • Renewable resources create the cover
  • Comes in various colors
  • Little bleeding/ghosting

Cons

  • Perforation may make pages rip more for those who do not remove pages.
  • No page numbers
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Graphic Arts Books Dot Grid Journal

Notebook Specs

  • Hardcover notebook that lies flat, with rounded corners
  • Colorfully patterned endpapers
  • 249 numbered pages (100gsm Wood-free)
  • dot grid pattern
  • Customizable key and contents pages
  • Two contrasting color ribbon markers
  • Elastic closure to keep the book closed
  • Gusseted pocket for loose mementos and supplies
  • Designed in the USA

Bleeding & Ghosting Test

Pros

  • Amazing pages
  • Assorted colors
  • The cover feels really nice
  • Pages are numbered
  • Key and contents page for those who prefer it
  • Includes two ribbons and pocket
  • Elastic closure
  • Hardcover

Cons

  • Key and contents pages may be unwanted
  • Fewer pages than most other notebooks

Minimalism Art Classic Dotted Notebook

Notebook Specs

  • Size: 5″X8.3″; A5
  • 192 Pages (96 Sheets)
  • Dotted Grid
  • 100 gsm
  • PU leather Hard Cover
  • elastic closure
  • bookmark ribbon;
  • Internal Accordion Pocket
  • DESIGNED in San Francisco

Bleeding & Ghosting Test

Pros

  • Leather soft to touch cover
  • Comes in many colors
  • Includes ribbon, elastic closure, and pouch

Cons

  • Some ghosting and bleeding
  • Pages are not numbered

Tacuin Large Plain Notebook

Notebook Specs

  • A5 | 14.8 x 21 cm | 5.8″ x 8.3″
  • FSC® certified
  • Manufactured in Germany
  • Hardcover
  • 100% biodegradable
  • 192 plain pages, made from eco-friendly paper
  • Thread bound
  • Marker ribbon

Bleeding & Ghosting Test

Pros

  • Hardcover is soft to touch
  • Comes in various colors
  • Includes ribbon marker
  • Pages are smooth to write on

Cons

  • Soft to touch cover gets dirty easy
  • Comes in only blank and lined pages
  • No page numbers
  • No elastic band or pouch
  • A lot of ghosting and some bleeding

Essentials Dot Matrix Notebook

Notebook Specs

  • 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

Bleeding & Ghosting Test

Pros

  • 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)

Cons

  • 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)

DwellStudio Leatherette Journal

Notebook Specs

  • Embossed rose gold
  • 104 Sheets
  • 6 x 8.5 in
  • Lined Ruled
  • Includes a black ribbon

Bleeding & Ghosting Test

Pros

  • Ribbon marker
  • Very cute stylish cover
  • Almost no bleeding or ghosting
  • Flexible cover
  • Pages are a nice quality

Cons

  • Comes in only lined pages
  • No page numbers
  • No elastic closure or pouch
  • Corners are not rounded

Wordsworth Planner 2019

Notebook Specs

  • Six free ebooks
  • Hardcover
  • 5.25 x 8.25 inches
  • 256 pages
  • 62 note pages
  • 100g of paper weight
  • Expandable inner pocket
  • 3 ribbons
  • echo-friendly resource

Bleeding & Ghosting Test

Pros

  • 3 ribbon markers make the notebook easy to maneuver
  • Beautiful hardcover, durable
  • Focuses on goal-making and goal-achieving, very helpful in goal organization
  • Very detailed
  • Includes black and dot pages in the back
  • Pouch includes stickers

Cons

  • Organized in a way that separates monthly and weekly layouts into different parts of the notebook (ribbons help make this easier to use)
  • Not a blank notebook, has pre-created layouts
  • Monthly and Weekly layouts start on different days of the week
  • Pages are not numbered

>>Want more about bullet journaling tools? CLICK HERE!

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The Perfect Beginner’s Bullet Journal Notebook Review

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 Notebooks 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)
The Perfect Beginner’s Bullet Journal Notebook Review

First Impressions

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!

The Perfect Beginner’s Bullet Journal Notebook Review

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.

Pros:

  • 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)

Cons:

  • 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)

Final Impression

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.

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