Want to try bullet journalling but not sure what notebook to use? I’ve got you. Here are all the things you need to think about when purchasing, and a few options for the best bullet journal to choose. Hope it helps!
Do you often lose track of appointments, birthdays and important events?
Have you tried numerous diaries and journals but found them to be confusing, tiresome to do, or just not exactly what you need?
If so, then maybe it’s time to try a bullet journal.
What Is A Bullet Journal?
Bullet journals are a mix of diary/journal/tracker – personalised to your needs – and started from a blank notebook that usually has dotted grids on each page.
The dots make it easy to create any layouts you want – from lines, tables, drawings, to any shape you can imagine really!
They can be a highly effective way of keeping your life on track and organised – especially if you like having flexibility that doesn’t always exist in other forms of organising on paper.
Bullet journals can be customised to suit your needs – and you can be as creative or minimal as you like.
The shorthand term for a Bullet Journal is a BuJo.
The 5 Best Bullet Journal Notepads
The first step to creating your bullet journal is to buy a blank notebook ready to get started.
There are a few things to think about when choosing what’s right for you (which I’ll go into detail about in the next section), but for now – let’s go through the best bullet journals available.
I’ll give you some ideas of what you should look for before you make a purchase, and that way you’re much more likely to get something that works for you and how you want to use your very own bullet journal.
Here’s a quick chart to make comparison of my top picks easier – hope it helps:
|Bullet Journal||Number Of Pages||Page Colour||Paper Weight|
|#1 – Scribbles That Matter – A5 Dotted Journal||160||Ivory||120gsm or 160gsm|
|#2 – Leuchtturm1917 Medium Notebook||247||Ivory||80gsm|
|#3 – Yop & Tom Dotted Journal Notebook||160||White||160gsm|
|#4 – Dingbats Earth Dotted A5 Medium Notebook||192||Cream||100gsm|
|#5 – Feela Bullet Journal Kit||225||Unsure||Unsure|
#1 – Scribbles That Matter – A5 Dotted Journal
Best for: Quality Look and Feel – Thickness of pages
The colourful journals from Scribbles That Matter are a brilliant choice for bullet journals.
They come in a variety of colours (the yellow is my favourite!), and have an attractive hard back embossed vegan leather cover which lays flat, and I prefer this because you can easily write in them without needing to find a flat hard surface to lean on.
Another feature that I love (and if you like notebooks as much as me, you’re sure to as well!) – is that they have a hard slip cover included – so you can keep them looking as-new for longer (they also look great on a bookcase – a lot more substantial than a lot of other options).
In terms of the paper inside – this is really important with bullet journalling because you’re likely to use lots of different pens and they could have a tendency to bleed through the page if too thin or not great quality.
With these, you get a choice of 120gsm or 160gsm and for bullet journalling I’d use the thicker one for it’s quality and ability to keep ink from seeping into another page.
Other things worth mentioning for these notebooks are:
- Back pocket
- Elastic closure
- Numbered pages
Although I love these journals, due to the thickness of the paper, each journal only has around 160 pages and this means you may well need more than one each year.
This may or may not be an issue – as I like to use one each quarter and start afresh more often than once a year.
Also – the paper is ivory rather than white, which can be a good or bad thing depending on what you need to create in it.
#2 – Leuchtturm1917 Medium Notebook
Best For: Choice Of Styles
Leuchtturm1917 is one of the most popular brands when it comes to bullet journals.
The company produces a wide range of journals in all colours, sizes and page styles (dots, lines, plain) so there is bound to be one for you. If you want a journal in a size other than A5, Leuchtturm1917 will have it – which can be a real selling point if you want more space per page to write all your stuff down.
They have 247 pages so could be OK for longer time frames than others (including the previous option).
Other great things are:
- Hard cover
- Numbered pages
- Index page
- Back pocket (great for receipts, stickers etc…)
- 2 Bookmarks – handy to mark both the current day AND something else you use a lot and want to flick to quickly
- Tearable pages – so you don’t mess up the look of the book should you make a mistake or need to give a page to someone.
The downside of these journals is the paper used.
If you want a bright white, then stay away from these as they are more ivory – and the paper thickness isn’t big so you may have trouble with ink seepage (although these have pretty good reviews in this regard, so could be work trying with your specific pens).
With this journal, you’re exchanging page thickness for additional pages – so you need to weigh up which is most important to you.
#3 – Yop & Tom Dotted Journal Notebook
Best For: White Pages
Similar to the Scribbles That Matter journals in terms of page thickness and number of pages – but the Tom & Yom Notebook has a gorgeous (and quite simple) moon and stars design on the front which I love.
Another great feature is that it has both an index page AND a key page – so you have more options for tracking things easily.
Other things worth mentioning:
- Acid Free Paper
- Numbered pages
- Pure White Pages
- Back pocket
- Elastic closure band
The only real downsides to this option are that there are less pages because of their thickness, and it only has one bookmark which gives less options for quick access to more than one page.
#4 – Dingbats Earth Dotted A5 Medium Notebook
Best For: Gives Percentage To Charity (WWF)
Lots of colour options to choose from with these Dingbats notebooks – and a nice touch (given the nature charity overarching theme) is that each colour has a different animal on the front. You could pick your favourite!
Other things to note are:
- Cream paper – not bright white or ivory – so a good mid choice
- 192 pages so will last a while
- Some perforated pages for easy removal
- Numbered pages
- Index and key pages
- 2 bookmarks
This has 100gsm paper which is lower than some – but you get more pages – so again, work out what’s most important to you.
#5 – Feela Bullet Journal Kit
Best For: Setting You Up With The Full Kit
The Feela kit is a great way to get started, with everything you need in one package.
It comes with a great 225 page dotted notepad that has all these included:
- Pen holder
- Numbered pages
- Index page
- Back pocket
But it ALSO comes with all of the following:
- 15 Fineliner Pens
- Washi Tape
- Black Pen
The only thing I am not sure about is the thickness of the paper – so this would need to be a purchase to try if you aren’t bothered as much by the possibility of ink bleeding through (or if you’re going to use it with just pencils and ballpoint pens that won’t bleed).
6 Key Things To Look For When Buying A Bullet Journal – Beginners Buying Guide
As you can see from the selection above – there are lots of things that are similar about each of them, but also things that are very different.
Knowing what your priorities are about each of these things will make it easier to decide what notebook will be right for your bullet journal.
In this buying guide, I’ll tell you about the important details you need to know to make the best choice for you.
#1 – Page Style
You can make a bullet journal out of any notebook and use any page style, whether it be plain, lined, or grid.
However, the most common page style you’ll see used for bullet journals is dotted pages, and this is the style most bullet journal creators prefer.
These pages have light, regularly-spaced dots that are easy to write over and act as guidelines for whatever layout you want to use.
You can easily make perfectly even and divided tables without the need for measuring, they’ll keep your writing straight, and the dots are light enough that they shouldn’t detract from any art you draw.
#2 – Paper Type
Many bullet journals have pages made from acid-free paper. Paper that is classed as acid-free is made using alkaline paper-making technology and has a pH considered neutral or above.
The benefit of using acid-free paper is that it doesn’t age as quickly as regular paper does.
Regular paper can deteriorate when exposed to light and air, which means that whenever you open and use your bullet journal, you’re contributing to the degradation of your paper.
If you like to keep your bullet journals for years to come as mementoes of your life, look for journals that have acid-free paper as these will last for longer.
#3 – Page Thickness
Page thickness is an important consideration when choosing a bullet journal.
If you plan on using felt-tip pens or markers to decorate your journal, then you will need to be wary of bleed through.
This happens when the paper is too thin and absorbent and results in the ink bleeding through to the other side of the page. If this happens, in the worst cases, it can make the reverse of the page unusable.
The thickness of paper is measured using grams per square metre, or gsm. When you look at any bullet journal, you should be able to find the gsm of the paper in the product description.
As a general rule, journals that are 120gsm should be suitable for felt-tip pens but if you’re going to be using particularly dark colours or ink-heavy pens, you can choose a 160 or 180gsm notebook to be on the safe side.
You will often find that journals with thicker pages have a smaller number of pages to reduce the thickness of the journal, however. This is a trade-off that you will have to consider.
#4 – Notebook Size
What size bullet Journal is best?
The common size for bullet journals is A5, as the pages are large enough to contain lots of information but the journal is still a manageable size and can fit in most backpacks or large handbags. However, you can choose a journal that is larger or smaller depending on your needs. If you don’t need to travel with your bullet journal and want more space, then look for an A4 journal.
This will give you all the space you need for your layouts and can be very useful if you have large handwriting. If you want something that can fit in your pocket and space isn’t as important, opt for an A6 journal instead.
#5 – Extras
Many bullet journals come with some extra items to help you make the most of your blank new book.
Some to look for are:
- Pen holder
- Back pocket
#6 – Other Types Of Pages
There are several other features you can look out for when choosing a bullet journal that will make your life easier.
- Index page – as your bullet journal grows, you will soon find it difficult to track down specific pages. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have an index page at the front of your journal and some bullet journals have one already in place for you to fill out.
- Numbered pages – an index isn’t much use if your pages aren’t numbered! Manually numbering pages can be a tedious process so I prefer bullet journals that already have their pages numbered.
- Pen Testing Page – as I said earlier, bleed-through can be a big problem when using coloured pens in a notebook. Many bullet journals have a page reserved at the back of the journal to be used as a testing page, so you can try out a pen to see if it bleeds through before using it on any layouts. Although for me I’d just use the back page of my journal for this anyway…
- Key page – bullet journalling uses a system of symbols to make the organisation of tasks easier. When you’re using different symbols in this way, it can be easy to forget them or get them mixed up, especially if you’re new to the method. Many journals have a key page at the beginning of the journal so you can note down all of the symbols you’ll use and always have an easy reference.
- Perforated pages – bullet journals are great for writing notes to yourself, but if you need to write a note for someone else, a bullet journal with perforated pages is very useful. With these, you can write whatever you need and then quickly pull out the page to give them without damaging your bullet journal.
Bullet journaling can be a great way to organise your thoughts and your life. A bullet journal can be customised to suit you and your lifestyle and can be as complicated or simple as you need.
I’d always look for a notebook with dotted and numbered pages, using a thicker quality paper that’s white or slightly off white (rather than cream or ivory) and a colour/design I like. The rest of the options are less of a priority for my needs.
What about you? I hope that this post has helped you decide what’s important for your next Bullet Journal – and that you enjoy using it to get more organised!