Before snagging your 2020 bullet journal notebook, check out this huge comparison and review of 10 dot grid notebooks.
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After a year of switching notebooks more times than I prefer, I don’t want others to go through the same thing in 2020. So, I purchased a few notebooks on Amazon and rounded up some older notebooks I had lying around to compare in today’s post.
I’ve also created a video version of this bullet journal notebook comparison. In each notebook, I do a pen test with multiple pens and markers and list the sats for each as well. You can watch it on YouTube, here.
While price does not always dictate quality, which you will see in this post, I needed a way to organize these ten notebooks. So, these notebooks are listed from cheapest to most expensive (at the time this post is written – prices do occasionally fluctuate).
This is also based on the price of the standard A5 journal. Some of these come in B5 or larger sizes. Please take this into consideration when looking at prices and deciding which journal is right for you.
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Bullet Journal Notebook Comparison
This is a spiral-bound, dot grid journal with 200 pages of 80gsm paper. I really liked the feel of the paper and the fact that it came with plastic page dividers. You can easily remove them if you don’t like them, or move the placement.
I like the idea of a spiral-bound notebook, as every other notebook on this list is thread bound. Spiral binding is great if you have a small space to work and need to fold your notebook in half. It’s also great for journaling or doodling on the couch.
Overall, the paper holds up fairly well to multiple pens, including Tombow Dual Brush Pens. There is some slight ghosting, but it’s not overly noticeable.
The one downfall of this notebook is that the dots are very dark and may interfere with creating bullet journal spreads, doodles, or lettering.
The Scrivwell dot grid notebook is the next on the list. This notebook is hardcover and comes in 12 different colors on Amazon. It also has 120gsm, lightly coated paper, and 208 pages. The paper is ivory.
This notebook includes some of the features that the other, higher-priced notebooks on the list have, including an interior pocket, two ribbon bookmarks, and an elastic closure. However, this notebook does not have page numbers.
With the pen test, there is some slight ghosting in this notebook with everything from an Inkjoy Gel Pen to the Zebra Mildliners. However, none of them bled through during the test.
For the price point, this is a good journal with a lot of pages and good paper. And if you want to have a choice in color, the Scrivwell does offer a nice variety.
Minimalism Art $14
First impressions of this notebook are 10 out of 10. It comes in a nice keepsake gift box. I bought the pink one, but this bullet journal notebook comes in a few different colors including gray, yellow, tan, and white.
The cover is a very soft leatherette (faux leather) with a slight metallic sheen. On top of the aesthetic, this journal also has 234 numbered pages and 120gsm ivory paper.
It does include a built-in index, interior pocket, elastic closure, and two ribbon bookmarks.
Of all the notebooks under $20, this is by far my favorite. From the nice aesthetic touches to bleed-proof pages and larger size, I love this notebook. It comes in both A5 and B5 size, so you can find your perfect fit. And overall, I don’t have anything to complain about.
Like the Minimalism Art journal above, this notebook also comes in a box. The box is not as nice and may not be a keepsake, but it does help keep the notebook safe during transit.
If I had to pick a notebook I liked least from this comparison, it would be the Lemome. But, first, let me be fair and share the good specs about it.
This is the only notebook under $20 with a built-in pen loop. The pen loop on the Lemome is on the binding, which I actually really like. It also has 120gsm paper and 180 pages. The paper in the Lemome are a bit more cream-colored than the notebooks mentioned above.
The paper holds up well to different pens and markers. However, during the pen test, the Zebra Mildliner did leave a small darker spot on the backside. This leads me to believe that any blending or heavy coloring with wet markers may result in bleed-through.
Now, here’s what I was not impressed with and what ultimately turned me off from these notebooks. The lines across the pages did not match up. If you are creating a calendar that spans two pages, this could be very obnoxious. Also, many of the pages had not been fully cut and needed to be pulled apart.
Baron Fig $18
The notebook shown in the pictures is the Baron Fig Confidant Plus, which is much like B5 size. However, they have a Flagship version that is comparable to A5. The Flagship price is reflected in the title above.
This notebook has a canvas cover and 90gsm paper. The Flagship version has 192 pages, while the Confidant Plus has 208 pages.
These notebooks come in light gray, charcoal, blue slate, fig wine, and yellowgold.
The paper in these is definitely more on the side of cream than ivory. And overall, I am not obsessed with the paper quality, but it isn’t bad. There is minimal ghosting with a single application of Tombow Dual Brush Pens. But, it’s nothing that would completely scare me away from this notebook.
However, this bullet journal notebook does lack an elastic closure, only has a single bookmark, and doesn’t have a built-in index or back pocket. And if you decide you like this notebook, you will have to order it from Baron Fig’s website and pay shipping on anything under $30.
Last year, around October, I received the Dingbats Earth Collection A5+ notebook complementary from Dingbats. I never ended up using the notebook as the paper was too creamy colored for my liking. But, don’t let that stop you; this notebook has some great specs.
This notebook comes in a few different varieties of faux leather covers with different animals imprints and colors. The A5+ size 6.3″x8.46″, so slightly bigger than standard A5.
It has 100gsm coated cream paper and 192 numbered pages. The notebook also includes a built-in index, key, and future log page. The future log pages are just dot grid but have light gray lines to section out each month perfectly. It also comes with a back pocket, pen loop, and two ribbon bookmarks.
*Note that the Earth Collection is different from the Wildlife collection. I mistakenly noted this as the Wildlife collection in the video, but the two are different and offer different features.
The Leuchtturm1917 is probably one of the most recognized bullet journal notebooks of all time. They are known for having vibrant beautiful covers and fountain pen friendly pages.
Here are some specs on the Leuchtturm1917. It has 249 numbered pages of 80gsm cream-colored paper. It has a built-in index, an elastic closure, two ribbon bookmarks, an interior pocket, and flat-lay design. And did I mention that they have over 20 different colors, including their new muted line?
Overall these notebooks are great. But in comparison to the other notebooks on the list, the ghosting is more prominent in these, likely due to the thinner paper. I did not experience any bleeding through, but with every marker and pen, you could see it faintly on the other side of the page.
Scribbles That Matter $22
The notebook I received was not as it was listed on Amazon. When I ordered, it said I was ordering the newer B5 Pro version with 160gsm paper. However, upon receiving my Scribbles That Matter B5 journal, it is not the Pro version.
So, this snippet review is based on the journal I received and not the new Pro version, as I cannot speak to the quality of the paper.
This journal has 115gsm ivory paper. It also has 200 numbered pages plus a key code page, pen test pages, and three index pages. Also, at the back, there is a mindfulness page to reflect on your time in this journal.
It also includes an elastic closure, two ribbon bookmarks, an interior pocket, and a pen loop.
Overall, the paper held up very nicely to the pens tested. There was some very faint ghosting but not bleed through. It seems like a good notebook, but I am still a bit disappointed that the listing did not match up with the journal I received. As far as I could find, Scribbles That Matter has not made a B5 Pro version with the 160gsm paper.
Archer & Olive $31
The Archer & Olive is likely the fastest-growing bullet journal notebook popularity-wise. It’s used by some of the most prominent bullet journal artists and has nothing but raving reviews.
The specs on this notebook are as follows. They have a canvas cover with a minimalistic foiled design. To follow the aesthetic, it also has gilded edges. The traditional A5 notebook has 160 pages and Archer & Olive recently released a version with 192 pages.
The paper is bright white and 160gsm. However, the pages are not numbered. And one thing I noticed with this notebook is that the dots are more prominent than they are in the Scribbles That Matter or other notebooks.
It does come with an elastic closure, two ribbon bookmarks, and an interior pocket.
The paper is by far superior to any of the other notebooks on this list. None of the pens or markers ghosted through. I could not tell that there was any writing on the backside of the page once I flipped it.
Overall, I think this notebook is incredible and of the best quality. But, I also think it’s quite expensive with the traditional version being just over $30 and having to pay shipping on anything under $70.
At this time, I have six different Nuuna notebooks. Previously, I endorsed Nuuna as the best bullet journal notebook on the market. However, things have changed over the last year or so.
These notebooks have 256 pages in the Large version, which is slightly bigger than A5, but not quite B5. The paper is 120gsm Munken paper and bright white. The dot grid in the Nuuna is 3mm compared to any of the other notebooks on the list that have 5mm. The older versions don’t have page numbers, but the newer versions do.
Nuuna’s claim to fame and the reason so many people lust after them is their unique and absolutely stunning cover designs. They have a very large variety and all are works of art and feel buttery soft.
However, with my last Nuuna, the paper quality has decreased to a point of having to limit which pens I use. Tombows and Zebra Mildliners are almost guaranteed to bleed through.
For the very high price point, this is unacceptable to me. Especially since the notebooks don’t have any additional features. They are softcover, they have no bookmarks, no elastic closure, and no interior pocket. So, it’s really just a very pretty journal with poor quality pages.
These might be good for strictly writing or as a doodle book or sketchbook, but if you plan to use markers or wet pens, they don’t hold up well.
I hope this bullet journal notebook comparison helped you in your decision making. But, also know there are tons of other notebook options if none of these seem fitting.
Also, many of the pros and cons in any review are based solely on personal preference. What bothers one person may not bother someone else.
Do not buy a specific notebook just to fit in or because an influencer tells you to. Do your research and decide what is important to you so you can make your own decision.
If you have decided which notebook you are going to use in 2020, let me know in the comments below.
PJ Randklev says
Erin, I have the Dingbats Serengeti journal. I was very pleased with all the features you mentioned. However, when I added color from Sharpies there was so much bleed thru that it ruined the back page! Deal breaker for me. It’s frustrating to have so much time and energy invested only to find out I am limited to color pencils for color pops.
Hi PJ, that’s a bummer, for sure! Unfortunately, most notebooks that aren’t art journals with mixed media paper are going to bleed through with Sharpies because they are alcohol-based. You could use Tombows or Crayola Super Tips. Any marker that is water-based should be fine in that journal. And if you need a quick fix and don’t want to look at the page that it ruined, you could use a glue stick and stick the two back pages together. Hope this helps.
I’ve been using the Scribe Sword bullet journal for nearly two years now, and have been VERY pleased with the quality. The dot grid isn’t obtrusive, and the page weight means that almost nothing bleeds through (I write almost exclusively with Sharpies and Mildliners and Tombows). The notebook lays flat nicely, has page numbers, a pen loop, a folder in the back, a ribbon bookmark, and an elastic to hold it all closed.
Hi Kate, I hand’t heard of that notebook until your comment. I looked at it one Amazon and it looks like a very nice journal. May I ask if you are using Sharpie Pens, like fineliners, or the alcohol-based markers? I have yet to find a notebook unless it’s an art journal with really thick mix media paper to hold up to any alcohol-based inks. Either way, I am always excited for someone when they find a journal that speaks to their soul. It’s a very comforting feeling.