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Looking for the best notebook for bullet journaling? Here’s my review and complete beginner’s guide on what to look for when choosing your dotted grid notebook.

Finding the right notebook when starting bullet journaling can be challenging. Which one to buy? What notebook doesn’t ghost and bleed through? What size to choose? There are so may questions, so I put together a review on the best and most popular notebooks for bullet journaling for beginners. 

I hope it’ll help you choose the right dotted grid notebook that meets your needs.

My top picks

THE “ALMOST OFFICIAL”

BASIC & AFFORDABLE

THE HIDDEN GEM

Best notebooks for bullet journaling - my review + ultimate buyer's guide

Best notebooks for bullet journaling & all you need to know when buying your next bullet journal

When I first tried the bullet journal method years ago all you needed was a notebook (even a used one) and a pen. That’s it.

And just to be clear. Those will still do! 

You don’t need all fancy supplies to start a bullet journal, but if you want to make yours a pretty and not just productive one and you want it to be something you enjoy using then there are a few supplies you might like to add to your shopping list.

And a pretty and practical dotted grid notebook is one of those. 

What is a dot grid journal/notebook?

A dot grid (or dotted grid) journal is a notebook that instead of having blank, lined or grid papers, it has papers with dots in it.

The dots are usually 5mm apart (but can be also further or closer)  both horizontally and vertically and they create small grids on the paper without having lines from one dot to another. 

Can you start a bullet journal in the middle of the year?

One of the best things about bullet journal compared to regular planner is that you can start it at any time. You can start it in the middle of the year, in the middle of the month and even in the middle of the week. 

How long does a bullet journal last?

How long your bullet journal lasts it’s up to how you use your journal. If you buy a 200 page dot grid notebook and you have monthly spreads, weekly spreads, trackers for each month and a few other pages and spreads, then that notebook can last about 6 months. 

But if you do more spreads and use daily logs then it might last less time. And again if you do less spreads it might last longer. 

Can you use a regular notebook for bullet journaling?

This is important: you don’t need a dot grid notebook for bullet journaling, because you can bullet journal with any notebook – lined notebook, blank notebook – even a used one!

The original bullet journal method had nothing to do with dot grid journals.

But if you want to prettify your bullet journal and use gorgeous hand lettering, make boxes and grids and draw beautiful images then the dots can guide you and they make it so much easier to create the spreads you want.

Plus the dots are usually quite light color, so when you look at the pages after they’re finished the dots make the pages appear like they would have been originally blank.  

What size bullet journal notebooks is the best for beginners? 

There are different sizes of notebooks sold and when buying a dotted grid notebook it’s important to check out that you’re buying the right size for your needs.

  • A5 – 5.8 x 8.3 in (148 x 210 mm)

A5 is the “standard” size of the popular dot grid notebooks. You can’t go wrong with this size.

The other ones you might find are:

  • B5 – 6.9 x 9.8 in (176 x 250 mm)
  • Basic notebooks ranging from 5 x 8.25-8.5 to 5.7 x 8

TIP #1:

Be sure to check out the size of the dot grid notebook before buying. You can’t go wrong if you go with an A5. 

Here’s an example of the A5 (5.8 x 8.3 in) notebook.

And here’s another very popular one. 

How many pages should a bullet journal have?

Page count is important factor when you look at the price of the notebook. Some notebooks might be more expensive than others, but they usually also have more pages in them (plus they have other great qualities that you might like!). 

If you’re just starting out and you’re not sure if bullet journaling is for you, go with the very basic dotted grid notebook with less pages and try it out and see if you like it. 

And if you do fall in love with bullet journaling then upgrade!

TIP #2:

Don’t just choose the notebook because the price is cheaper. It might be that you’re getting half of the pages in it.  

What paper color is the best for bullet journal?

I absolutely love bright white paper in my bullet journal and I wouldn’t go with off-white or cream color pages myself. But we all like different things, so I’d recommend for you to really think about which color paper you like but also how the color of your pens, markers and highlighters will be influenced.

If you take pictures of your bullet journal spreads then even when using filters the color of the paper might change the look of your photos.

TIP #3:

Choose the paper color that will compliment the pens and markers you use.

How thick should bullet journal paper be?

When it comes to bullet journaling the thicker the paper the better. And I don’t mean to go with cardboard, but thick enough paper so that your writing won’t show (aka ghost) and the colored markers you might use won’t bleed through on the othe side of the paper. 

If you choose 100-120 gsm paper you’re on the safer side. But it doesn’t hurt if you go even higher. 

I love the 140 gsm paper on my bullet journal (Vivid Scribbles Dotted Journal.)

TIP #4:

Go with the thicker paper (at least 100-120 gsm) so that the writing won’t ghost or bleed through on the other side of the paper. 

What is ghosting? What is bleeding?

What is “Ghosting”?

When you write on the page of your bullet journal notebook and the writing shows on the other side of the paper, that is ghosting. 

So when choosing the dotted grid notebook look for words: ghostfree or inkproof. 

Choose a ghostfree or inkproof notebook

The thicker the paper is, less ghosting will happen. Of course a lot has to do with the pens you use as well, so reading the reviews will help you a lot. 

What is “Bleeding”?

When you use colored markers and highlighters on your notebook so of the colors my bleed through the pages and show on the other side of the page. 

Choose a bleedproof notebook 

The thickness of the paper will help you with the “bleeding” as well as it helps you with the “ghosting”. But the same as with the ghosting, some of the markers and highlighters will bleed through no matter what. So to avoid the “bleeding” you need to use a good combo of thicker paper with the right markers and highlighters. 

Pen test page:

It’s usual to use one of the pages in the back of your notebook to test the pens and markers you’d like to use. That way you can check if they ghost or bleed through on the other side of the paper. 

Note:

The pen test page this will only help you after you’ve already gotten your notebook. So check out the reviews and the paper thickness and look for the words like inkproof, bleedproof and ghostfree when choosing your bullet journal notebook.

TIP #5:

Look for words like inkproof, bleedproof and ghostfree when choosing your bullet journal notebook.

Why is it important for the notebook to open flat?

You know those cheap notebooks that when you open them you can almost hear them breaking and see the pages falling out. You don’t want that to happen with your bullet journal. 

When the notebook has a flat design, meaning that it lays flat when opened, it’s easier to use the middle part of the notebook without having to worry about the notebook coming apart at its seams. 

You also want to be able to use the whole page when bullet journaling and to be able to open the notebook the way that it stays flat is super important. This way you can use also the middle part of the pages to design your spreads.

So look for the words like flat lay design, lays flat when opened and opens flat.  

TIP #6:

When choosing your dotted grid notebook, look for words like flat lay desing, lays flat when opened and/or opens flat.

Are there any pre-printed pages or page numbers on a dot grid journal and how many dots are on each page?

Pre-printed pages:

Some of the dotted grid notebooks have pre-printed pages in them. Not too many, but some of the pre-printed pages might be:

  • Key
  • Index
  • Pen test

You’ll still need to add the needed info on them, but those pages won’t usually come with dots and there are grids or lines on them instead. 

Pre-printed page numbers:

Some of the dotted grid notebooks come with pre-printed page numbers on them. 

For some it’s a must-have feature, because numbering 150 to 200 pages is a lot of work. 

But some like to number their own pages because they want to make them look different or if they make a mistake and need to clue the pages together then it’s easy to just skip those pages and continue numbering the following pages without adding the page numbers on those “mistake” pages.

Pre-printed bullet planners: 

There are even BuJo notebooks on the market that have pre-printed undated daily, weekly and monthly spreads in them. These are not the right fit for everyone, but if you’re busy or you don’t want to make your own spreads from the scratch then you might like to try these pre-printed ones. They’re still very customizable and you can prettify them with drawings and stickers. 

This bullet planner is one of those that has the pre-printed weekly and monthly spreads in them.  

Dot count: 

The dots are usually 0.5mm apart, but they could be closer or further. 

And depending on the notebook there might be different amount of dots. Some notebooks have 27 x 40 dots on each page and some have less or more. 

The reason this might be important to you is that when you create your spreads and you draw boxes and grids on the page depending on how many dots there are will influence the grids and boxes you make. 

This might not be a big deal, but if you buy some stencils or other accessories for your bullet journal the dot count might interest you. 

TIP #7:

If you don’t want to number the pages yourself look for a bullet journal notebook that has pre-printed page numbers on it. 

What other features can a good dotted grid notebook for bullet journaling have?

The other things that might be important for you when choosing the bullet journal notebook are:

  • Elastic closure band
  • Bookmarks/ribbons
  • Pen holder
  • Inner pockets to store stickers etc.
  • Rounded corners
  • Acid-free paper
  • Vegan leather cover

These might not be the deal breakers when choosing the right notebook for your needs, but it’s better to think about them and see if the one that you’re consider buying has those before you make your purchase. 

TIP #8:

Before buying your notebook check if the one you’re considering the all the features that are important to you. 

The best notebooks for bullet journaling – my review

So are you ready to find the perfect dotted grid journal? Super! Here’s my review of 4 amazing notebooks for bullet journaling. 

When choosing a notebook it’s important to know what’s important to you when it comes to bullet journaling.

For me, important things are:

  • the size of the notebook
  • the color of the paper
  • paper thickness
  • and the look of the cover. 

For you they might be different – like on top of those you might value the pre-printed page numbers, elastic closure band and the page count.

I’m reviewing here 4 different bullet journal notebooks. 

  • Basic & affordable
  • Popular brand
  • The “almost official” 
  • Hidden gem (my favorite!)

All the notebooks presented here are dot grid notebooks. 

I hope these will help you find the right fit for your needs. 

The best basic & affordable notebook for bullet journaling

Size: 5 x 8.5 inches – not an A5

Number of Pages: 128 pages/64 sheets

Cover color: Multiple color options

Page color: Cream white

Paper thickness: 120gsm

PROS

  • Affordable price
  • Amazing reviews on Amazon
  • Opens flat 
  • Good option for trying out bullet journaling

CONS

  • Paper is off-white. 
  • No index. No page numbers.
  • According to reviews, the Sharpies bleed through. (Tombows and Microns shoudn’t.) 

When to choose this Basic Dotted Grid notebook?

If you just want to try it out and your not sure if bullet journaling is for you, don’t go wasting money on something expensive that after writing two pages you won’t ever use again.

When NOT to choose this notebook?

If you want bright white pages that are numbered or if you’re looking to upgrade your bullet journaling game. 

Dotted journal from a popular brand

Size: B5 – 6.9 x 9.8 in – bigger than A5

Number of Pages: 200 pages/100 sheets

Cover color: A few different color options

Page color: White / light ivory

Paper thickness: 160 gsm

PROS

  • Ultra thick paper to prevent ghosting and bleeding
  • Pre-printed pages (key, index, pen test) + page numbers 
  • Opens flat
  • Bigger size (B5) – more room to write

CONS

  • Only one cover color option
  • Some (but not too many) reviews state that the paper used in the notebook might cause the ink to smear and that the ink needs longer time to dry

When to choose this Scribbles That Matter B5 notebook?

If you’re looking for a bigger notebook that has more room then this might be a right fit for you. 

When NOT to choose this notebook?

If you’re worried about the smearing, then maybe it’s good to go with a different notebook.   

The “almost Official” Bullet Journal Notebook

Size: A5 – 5.8 x 8.3 in

Number of Pages: 249 pages/125 sheets

Cover color: Multiple color options

Page color: White

Paper thickness: 80 gsm

PROS

  • Multiple cover colors to choose from
  • 249 numbered pages with 8 perforated and detachable sheets
  • Opens flat
  • More pages (note that the paper is thinner)

CONS

  • Thinner pages than the other ones have – possible ghosting and bleeding depending on the pens/markers used

Why are you calling this the “almost official” bullet journal notebook?

I call this notebook the “almost official” because Leutchtturm1917 has the official official bullet journal notebook as well (with less cover options). Want to see the official one?

Check out the official Bullet Journal Leutchtturm1917 notebook from Amazon. 

When to choose this Leutchtturm1917 notebook?

If you’re looking for a basic notebook for bullet journaling that has more pages in it and a lot of cover color options to choose from then you might like this one.

When NOT to choose this notebook?

If you won’t tolerate any ghosting or bleeding then these pages might be too thin for your needs.    

The hidden gem of the dotted grid notebooks for bullet journaling (My favorite!)

Size: A5 – 5.8 x 8.3 in

Number of Pages: 200 pages/100 sheets

Cover color: A few different color options

Page color: Crisp white

Paper thickness: 140 gsm

PROS

  • Awesome paper that prevents ghosting and bleeding
  • Pre-printed pages (key, index, pen test) + page numbers 
  • Vegan friendly
  • Opens flat
  • Has a lot of extra features like inner back pocket, 3 ribbon book marks and an elastic pen holder

CONS

  • Only a few cover color option
  • The cover is thick and high quality so it makes the notebook a bit heavier side

When to choose this Vivid Scribbles notebook?

If you’re looking for a quality dotted grid notebook that won’t disappoint you with ghosting and bleeding you might have just found your new favorite!

When NOT to choose this notebook?

If you’re just starting out and want to see if you like bullet journaling, it might be intimidating to start using this gorgeous notebook. You can go first with the basic notebook and then upgrade. Or do as I did: a few tests with printed dot grid paper and then I changed to this one. 

Conclusion

So here is everything you need to know as a beginner about the best notebooks for bullet journaling.

If you’re ready to start your bullet journal journey or you’re looking to find a new dotted grid notebook, I hope this post gave you some insights on what to look for when choosing the right one for your needs. 

And if you’re ready to find your new favorite dotted grid bullet journal, I highly recommend choosing the Vivid Scribbles Bullet Dotted Journal, because when I opened that beautiful box that it came in, and held the notebook in my hands, I think I fell in love a little. 

Didn’t find your favorite from the ones reviewed here? No worries! 

Check out highly rated bullet journal notebooks from Amazon

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Best notebooks for bullet journaling - my review + ultimate buyer's guide
Best notebooks for bullet journaling - my review + ultimate buyer's guide