I’ve reviewed many dot grid notebooks and by now one thing is clear – the paper is usually the main thing that lets the notebook down. These are my top 7 recommendations for dot grid notebooks that have good paper.
A note about paper quality
What’s considered ‘good’ paper is very subjective depending on personal preference, but in my opinion it means:
- Bright white
- Thick enough that there is minimal ghosting and bleed through
- Smooth and easy to write on
If you’re shopping for a bullet journal notebook (or a planner) and aren’t sure what paper weight is ‘good’ – my rule of thumb is:
- Anything less than 100GSM = I probably won’t buy unless the rest of the notebook is pretty / has extra features (or is super cheap)
- Anything more than 100GSM = ok, expect some indenting for ballpoint pens and minor ghosting
- 120GSM = good, there shouldn’t be much ghosting
- 120GSM or more * = great, there shouldn’t be any ghosting
* Just because a notebook has 120 GSM or thicker paper doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be any ghosting. I’ve purchased notebooks where 140 GSM paper had less ghosting than another notebook with thicker 160 GSM paper. That’s why I always do a pen test when I review a dot grid notebook. You never really know how the paper is going to go unless you actually try it out.
A few things to consider:
- Thicker paper usually means less ghosting and bleed through… but you’ll have a fatter notebook, or the company will include less pages
- Usually, the better the quality of the paper, the more expensive the price tag
- Some paper feels rough when you touch it and can be scratchy if you use erasable pens
- The color from highlighter ink can look dull against yellowish paper
- Since most dot grid journals are very alike, broadening your search to custom coil bound and discbound will give yourself more options
Notebooks with the best dot grid paper
This post contains affiliate links.
In no particular order (I like all of these notebooks for different reasons so there’s no one perfect bullet journal notebook):
1. Buke Stationery
I have 2 versions – the 160 GSM and the 180GSM. The 160 GSM is good and will be thick enough for most people’s needs but if you want paper that has no bleed through or ghosting for anything, invest in the 180 GSM version.
Pen testing results for the 160 GSM:
Some minor ghosting but nothing bled through except one of the MAMBI stamps.
Pen testing for the 180 GSM thick version:
No ghosting or bleed through at all!
So I thought I’d really test the paper out with some brush pens…
Now that is good paper!!!
Let’s compare this to the 160 GSM Buke Stationery notebooks paper:
This notebook (180 GSM) is on the left, the 160 GSM is on the right. As you can see the paper color is completely different, and there’s a bit of ghosting for the 160 GSM notebook.
For there being only 20 GSM difference in paperweights, there’s a huge difference in the paper quality!
One thing I do feel the need to point out. Yes the paper is great in terms of no ghosting or bleed through, but because 180 GSM is so thick (feels like thin cardstock), erasable pens don’t erase very well and the paper is not as smooth to write on as the other notebooks on this list. There is always a shadow left when I use the Frixion pens in the 180 GSM notebook – they never cleanly erase 100%. So I tend to only use this notebook with watercolors and color heavy spreads with lots of highlighters.
This notebook has 160 GSM thick paper. It’s pricey ranging between $30 – $35 USD (depending on if you want gold edges on the pages).
Shipping for 1 notebook to Australia is $7 USD. So if you’re a fellow Aussie, expect to pay around $55 – $60 for this notebook – super expensive 🙁
For the expensive price tag you do get decent paper that feels really thick and smooth to write on. After doing a pen testing and turning the page… I understood the hype around this notebook. No ghosting or bleed through for any of the pens or highlighters.
A similar cover to the Archer and Olive but at a cheaper price point.
The 160 GSM paper is almost as good as Archer and Olive (which has the same paper thickness). There’s a little bleed through for one of the MAMBI stamps.
Read more: Tekukor dot grid notebook review
4. Inkwell Press
Love the disc binding. The leather covers are an investment but you can use them year after year. They’re a similar quality to my ARC notebook which I’ve had for 7 years and is still in perfect condition (well worth the investment!)
They have dot grid refill pages (they’re a bit expensive) and the page size is larger than the typical A5 page size that most sewn bound dot grid notebooks come in.
If bullet journaling is something you’ve been doing for a while and know you’re going to stick with long term, I’d invest in the Inkwell Press.
The 140 GSM bright white paper has no pen or highlighter ghosting or bleed through.
The MAMBI stamps which almost always bleed through did have some bleed but much less than most dot grid notebooks.
Popular for a reason! Not only does Happy Planner have so many planners, notebooks, accessories, etc. to choose from, their paper quality is great too. And affordable. I do wish they’d bring out more dot grid refill paper. I’ve seen some really nice patterns on the notes pages of their planners, but they don’t sell those inserts on their own.
If I could only have one Happy Planner Product, the Happy Notes dot grid notebook would be it. They do have another version called the Dot Journal (which I did a review of here) but the only difference is some pre-printed pages. I much prefer the Happy Notes so you can choose exactly how you want to use the pages.
This is the classic size Happy Notes but they also have classic half sheet, mini and big page sizes. I did a comparison in this post.
Only light ghosting for pens, stamps & highlighters.
My sister stocks all things Happy Planner in her shop, Carefully Crafted.
Another notebook on the cheaper end with surprisingly good paper quality is the Vivid Scribbles Notebook.
The 140 GSM thick paper had only some ghostng from the MAMBI stamps. No ghosting or bleed through for any of the pens and highlighters.
You can get this notebook on Amazon (affiliate link).
7. Clever Fox
The Clever Fox dot grid notebook is only $10 USD!
Apart from the Leuchtturm, they have one of the biggest range of cover colors to choose from.
The paper is 120 GSM which isn’t actually that thick, and yet there was only some ghosting for marker pens and stamps.
Read more: Clever Fox Dotted Journal Notebook
You can get this notebook on Amazon (affiliate link).
What about other dot grid notebooks?
There are plenty of other dot grid notebooks I use and recommend (coil bound, ones with pretty covers, wide page size, smooth paper etc.), but if we’re just considering paper quality and no other elements, the notebooks on this list are my go to.
There is another notebook – the SEQES – which has 160 GSM thick paper so would most likely make it to this list as well, but I haven’t purchased a copy yet.
Still trying to choose a bullet journal? Click here to download my comparison of 30 dot grid notebooks
Bullet journal ideas
- How to resize any printable for any size bullet journal
- 50 Reminders to Put in Your Planner or Bullet Journal
- 12 Planner Layout Ideas for Monthly Habit Tracking in Your Bullet Journal
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