The perfect notebook

Jan van den Berg
Jan 2 · 3 min read

I keep a daily journal. And journaling daily make pocket planners usable as journal notebooks.

I tend to be particular about certain things. So when searching for a new notebook — one that I will carry around for a year — I decided the following things are important.

The cover looks nice. But is this the perfect notebook?

Must haves

  • A5 format. Everything else is too big or too small.
  • Hardcover. No flappy stuff.
  • Lined paper (but not too wide). I need to see where I’m writing. No dots or blank paper.
  • Rounded corners. I pull the notebook out of my bag a lot. I don’t like dented corners.
  • Elastic band. When I throw the notebook in my bag, it shouldn’t open and wrinkle the paper.
  • Bound bookmark. So I can start where I stopped last time.
  • Pen loop. So I don’t have to look for a pen. And this makes sure I always use the same pen.
  • Bound. No rings.
  • Soft paper. There is probably a technical term for this that I don’t know, but I know good paper when I see/feel it. So no hard print paper (paper that is made for printers and not for writing).
A5 format ✔️ Hardcover ✔️ Rounded corners ✔️ Bookmark ✔️ Bound ✔️ Elastic band ❌

Nice to haves

These things are pluses:

  • Printed dates. So I don’t have to write them down every time.
  • Max. 100 pages. One week or multiple days per two pages is fine (7D/2P they seem to call that). One page per day would of course give more room: but this makes the journal at least 365/2 pages which is too big.
  • The above only works if there is also room for notes. I tend to take a few notes specific to a day (usually short) and the really important stuff I write down in one place (i.e. the blank left page, or in the notes section). Things I want to return to often.

Not important

  • Cover color/look/style. I don’t think I actually care too much about this.


  • Tear-off corners. Just don’t.

Did I find it?

Not really. It is surprisingly difficult selecting a notebook that checks all the boxes. And, trust me, I spend way too much time looking for one — online and in bookshops. Moleskine has one and Baron Fig also, that come close (though both have no pen loop) . But there are many more — like this one (too big) — that come close. And I think this one probably checks most boxes.

But I had already settled on one: the new year was starting! It doesn’t check all the boxes (I ordered a pen loop from eBay). And I do think I will miss the elastic band. And to be honest (it’s day 2 of the year) I am not too thrilled about the paper as of yet. It’s a bit too hard, the pen doesn’t glide. But we’ll see and maybe I’ll switch pens.

One week per two pages. ✔️ Pen loop ❌
Lined pages✔️Room for notes. ✔️

Now, about the perfect pen….

Originally published at Jan van den Berg.

    Jan van den Berg

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