Favorite Notebook

I code with paper beside me. Over the years, this has been a notebook, then loose sheets, then cards, then scraps, and currently loose sheets.

I think I might try a notebook again. Perhaps with a fountain pen. Things I’d like include:
• opaque paper
• quadrille ruled, or (better) dots, or blank pages
• lies flat, or nearly flat
• integrated bookmark or ribbon

What do you use?

I used to buy black moleskine notebooks. Now I use only sheets of paper that I fold in two pieces: one for projects, the other for ideas-on-the-fly. Then, I transcribe the whole in my favorite notebook:



I like Black n’ Red notebooks and the Pilot Vanishing Point.


I swear by these: Notebooks - LEUCHTTURM1917
Size B5. Durable, beautifully coloured covers, numbered pages (important for cross-references!).
I prefer blank pages, but preferences may differ here.


I use a Tomoe River notebook (from Sakae Technical Paper), available from JetPens and other sources in the U.S. I use the hardcover, lay-flat binding, A5, 368 page notebook. It comes in grid, dot, or blank styles. Tomoe River paper loves fountain pens. (My favorite these days is a TWSBI Diamond Mini.)


I’ll second both the Leuchtturm and Tomoe River options. Tomoe River paper is just the coolest. Although it takes a tad longer to dry, which is less fun for lefties like me. The Leuchtturm is like an improved Moleskine.


Definitely rate Leuchtturm over modern Moleskine. Clairfontaine paper is also nice for fountain pens.

I envy my wife’s Pilot Vanishing Point retractable fountain pen (lucky @beck too), but get by happily with a selection of Pelikan, TWISBI (favourites) and Kaweco. Upside of having choice is different ink colour in each: not for semantic meaning, just for the joy of it (mainly inks from Diamine). For anyone wanting to reconnect with a fountain pen, TWISBI are affordable and yet still a pleasure to use (and easy to clean).

My jotting is mostly like short-term memory: interim figures, points I’ll forget whilst waiting in the Zoom-queue, etc. Anything of real note going onto the jotter now goes into a digital file of some form. As a result, much as I love nice paper, my notes go on the blank backs of envelopes from inbound post: free and extra paper re-use. On the road, I take a grid-ruled Leuchtturm (if flying, pencil or Pilot rollerball in place of a pen).


I am much like MarkA where my scratch note get written down “on anything” to get out of my head. These are mainly “jottings”, hunches, impressions most of which I will never use but I need to see it. I used to use moleskine’s for this but I switched over to the Remarkable Tablet a few years ago, on an experiment, and never went back.

Occassionally, I will write on paper but not very often. The Remarkable feels like paper but gives me the affordances of it being stored digitally. Which means it is available on all my devices, allowing me to easily reuse the information. Of course, anything private, I write on paper, but these notes are not private, they would hardly make sense to anyone but me. I also like to sketch out my ideas to better flesh them out. Being digital, I can easily copy and paste them into a map as a great starting point for an incubator thought experiment. Remarkable also gives me the ability to select and move things around on the page which is very nice, especially if you want to change things and structure your page better. I have grown used to my “forever moleskine” that feels like paper. It is instant on, and feels nice for writing. It is very light weight and carries nicely with my ipad, computer or book to the coffee shop. It works for me.
Anything I want to think about deeply gets written down digitally and stored in DEVON. If I want to thought about a curated note in a deeper manner, I pull it into Tinderbox.



Ah, yes, the reMarkable tablet is a great option for “next to computer” writing. I’m two weeks into my second one. It didn’t stick the first time, but so far I’m pretty happy with it this round.

I still use paper for journaling, etc., but for taking notes while in Zoom or meetings or for just jotting stuff down, the reMarkable is great.


Getting a bit off the thread’s topic, but I also use this approach with my reMarkable. When I know that book notes will feed into a Tinderbox document, I often use the reMarkable. Then, I export the pages as SVGs and drag the relevant pages into a Tinderbox map as image adornments. (SVG because size and resolution.)


What a great thread - I am a lifelong unashamed ‘Stationary fetishist’ - makes it easy for family and friends to buy for me at Christmas - It seems there are fellow travellers here too :slight_smile: - I use all the above and for work use the Lechtturn Bullet journal. I have a Remarkable2 which I use less than I thought I would -

However I’m at my happiest when sitting in front of a cold crisp ultrawhite A3 block of paper and using my Conway Stuart Fountain pen ( the big one that Winston Churchill used ) to doodle, mind-map and plot my way through a topic - The A3 is not so big that it doesn’t fit on a desk but big enough so that I don’t have to ‘scroll’ and can see all my emergent messy thoughts - time for a lie down :wink:


Another note-writing fact, perhaps only affecting left-handed folk (e.g. me), is that a fountain pen needs wielding with some care. Much as our impulse when annotating is to speed—gotta get to the next task now!—I find a slightly slower annotation allows a tiny pause to admit a brief amount of reflection on the annotation. Fast writing and my work is smudged and cuffs are stained. If I write with a biro or roller ball, it’s faster but less legible and (re reflection) more terse.


I use a variety of good fountain pen papers; Clairefontaine I think leads, and Rhodia for their inconspicuous grey dots and price. There’s always a few sizes and types around me.

Favourite fountain pens currently are Esterbrooks - vintage and new - and a few cheap Pilots that can (and do) take a beating.

I too use leuchtturm notebooks and find them to be of great quality and value.

I do remember some Tinderbox Weekend meet-ups where there were a lot of Moleskines and Fisher Space Pens. As I write, I still have one of the latter in my pocket. Not so much for writing but for the moment—less common in the digital now—when someone asks “Does anyone have a pen?”

I’ve experiment with lots of “brand” notebooks over the years, including many of the ones nominated by other posters. At the moment I’m using a Blackwing A4 spiral bound A4 ring-bound notebook. I have decided that I will at least stick with spiral bound, because it allows me to lay the book flat on my desk next to my MacBook Air. It has a dot-grid, which is my favourite background, because it allows me to draw lines if I want to. I make notes on a daily basis, but don’t ask me for the rule that I follow in doing that, given that I also make electronic notes. I write with a pencil, although I also have a Pilot Capless Vanishing Point pen and a Mont Blanc fountain pen, but my current pen of choice is a Lazlo from Makers Cabinet. It feels substantial in the hand, uses convenient cartridges and ejects and returns the nib with a short twist of the top. My alternative to the Blackwing notebook, which is quite expensive, is the Whitelines A4 spiral bound. It has a squared rule, which is picked up on the Whitelines app so that each page is turned into an electronic note for virtual storage. I’ve stopped doing that, for reasons I can’t recall, but I think because there is something about manual written notes that is distinctive and satisfying.
Going off-topic, I chose the Blackwing notebook because I have a collection of Blackwing pencils. I’m up to eight boxes and counting at the moment.

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On notebook papers with fountain pens, I concur with those who have found Tomoe River and Clairefontaine/Rhodia papers to work well. Tomoe is fantastic, but is slow to dry. For Rhodia, the 90gsm paper (often marketed as Rhodia R) has seemed to me markedly better than the 80gsm. An excellent and inexpensive paper is the Optik paper marketed under the Oxford brand (in the UK). Also Mnemosyne paper is equal to the best I think, but often expensive.

I have had mixed results with Leuchturm paper and broad, flowing nibs. That’s a shame because the details on Leuchturm notebooks are great.

I particularly like the B5 paper size as the best compromise between portability and writing area. The ringbound Kokuyo notebooks in this size lie flat and have great paper for use with a fountain pen. Rhodia also makes softcover notebooks in this size that just about lie flat. Lying flat is useful since I tend to write thoughts on the recto and then write revisions or comments later on the verso.

I agree on the 90g/m Rhodia - I use Europa A4 Notemakers (Clairefontaine) for serious project notes, and I’ve just discovered the big Blue Rhodia (185 x 250) softcover notebooks for not so serious journalling and prose doodles. Both lovely with my ageing Pilot Capless pen.

I’ve been carrying around a Squire with a space pen clip on it, which fits perfectly inside a Field Notes Wallet. I’m surprised how handy it’s been — at the dog park, say, or in a random conversation — to have it in my pocket.

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@beck I picked up the Pilot Vanishing Point a while back on your recommendation and must say that it provides the smoothest flowing feel of the half-dozen or so fountain tip pens so a belated thank you for this writing experience into my life. I had considered the Black n’ Red notebooks, but they were a bit more difficult to find. Living a few blocks from a Kinokuniya bookstore I visited the Maido shop (attached to Kinokuniya) and discovered the A2 Maruman spiral dot grid notebook from Japan. I like the size (we US residents don’t often enjoy the pleasures of A2)and the texture of the paper pairs well with the Pilot Vanishing point.

I use these analog tools to try my best to move from reading/annotating to pen and paper notes to Tinderbox. I haven’t grown accustomed to notes on the iPad, though I recognize the potential and I’m intrigued by the reMarkable tablet (see others in this thread) but wonder just why I’d want yet another device cluttering my space :smirk: Of course, down the line, I just may find myself with one :laughing:

This is a cool little thread. Thanks for the past tips @beck

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