4 Types of Notebook Paper

The type of notebook paper you choose can be the difference between a great notebook and one that’s not so good. Consider what you plan on using your notebook for to help you decide.

Notebooks come in many different sizes and styles. They can be ring bound, spiral or hardcover. The way they are bound affects how flat they lay and how sturdy they are.


While notebook paper doesn’t always seem like the most exciting creative material, it can be a great medium to use when students have limited art supplies available. Using traditional lined notebook paper, you can easily create fun drawing and sculptural exploration activities for kids.

Lined paper provides guidance for writing, which makes it easier for students to keep their lines straight and consistent. It’s a popular choice for note-taking papers and school assignments. It’s also available in a variety of formats, including wide-ruled, college-ruled and narrow-ruled.

Narrow lined paper has lines that are closer together, allowing more words to fit on a single page. This is ideal for people who have small handwriting and allows them to write more on a page than they could with wider-ruled paper.

College-ruled paper has a medium line spacing and is the most common format used by college students. Wide-ruled paper has wider lines than college-ruled paper, which helps students who have larger handwriting.

Graph paper has vertical and horizontal lines that intersect to create a grid of squares. It’s often used in science and math classes to help with drafting, drawing and plotting graphs. Quadrille ruled paper has a similar grid but lacks the bolded tenth line of the typical graph paper. Other specialized forms of notebook paper include music manuscript and calligraphy paper.


While not a very common choice for notebooks, plain paper offers an open style which suits someone who is happy to write without any page structure and allows for plenty of room for drawing alongside their writing. It also tends to be lighter weight than ruled and grid paper, which can create issues with showthrough or bleed with certain ink applications such as broad brush and music nib fountain pen.

If you’re looking for more structure than plain paper, there is the option of dotted notebooks. Increasingly popular due to the rise of Bullet Journaling, this type of notebook has evenly spaced dots which allow you to draw or sketch over them while providing structure without being too intrusive. Typically with 5mm spacing, the dots are light and feint enough to allow you to easily read your words over them.

The other major choice here is grid paper, which has horizontal and vertical lines that intersect to create small squares, often with every tenth line bolded for stenography. This is often found in drafting, plotting and graphing notebooks and may also be called quad paper. Some grid notebooks also have a margin running vertically down the left-hand side of the page. Finally there’s dot grid paper which is a little of both – the dotty pattern gives you some structure to work with but isn’t so structured that it can’t be used for drawing and sketching.


Dot grid notebooks have become extremely popular for those who love hand lettering, drawing and bullet journaling. This style of paper offers the perfect balance of structure while also allowing you to be creative with your writing or artwork. The dots are evenly spaced so you can draw a straight line easily which is perfect for calligraphy or handwriting that has a lot of detail. Typically, the dots are spaced 5 mm apart.

Dotted paper is also a great option for those who use their notebooks to make lists. It’s easy to number items and then cross them off as they are accomplished. It’s a clean way to keep track of your to-do list and looks beautiful too!

Engineering lab notebooks are often used with grid or dotted paper. The grids are great for laying out sketches and diagrams as they provide a clear visual guide for the information being recorded. This is helpful when planning projects with multiple team members. You can even color code or label items on the grid to easily organize and find information.

Graph paper is another common type of notebook paper with grids that are useful for many types of calculations and plotting. Some examples include isometric graph paper that has triangular guidelines to allow three-dimensional views, logarithmic paper with columns or arcs in varying widths and polar coordinate paper with concentric circles divided into small pie wedges for plotting in polar coordinates.


Whether you’re taking notes for class, writing your next great novel, or jotting down your thoughts in a more personal way, the right notebook paper is essential. The paper’s thickness, line spacing, and color can make all the difference. It’s also important to consider other factors, such as the type of cover and binding style.

For example, if you’re using a fountain pen, it may be best to choose a paper that is not too thick and can handle wet inks without bleed-through. This is why it’s good to check the paper’s gsm, which is the measure of its weight in grams per square meter. The higher the gsm, the better the paper quality.

There are many different types of specialty notebook papers available. Some have lines and grids, while others are blank. These can be used for a variety of purposes, including writing music, practicing calligraphy, and creating sketches. Other types of specialty notebook papers are designed to be waterproof, which is ideal for people who work outdoors or in wet conditions.

For the ultimate in versatility, choose a refill that contains multiple kinds of notebook paper and different rulings. Traveler’s Notebook refills, for example, come with both lined and plain paper, along with a variety of ruling options. They are also fountain pen friendly, so you can use your favorite pen with ease.

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