Notebooks are awesome. Not only can some types of notebooks have the most fantastic cover designs (hello cute cats or moody blue landscapes), but they have an amazing superpower as well. They help you bring your deepest, darkest, silliest, and craziest thoughts out into the real world. Don’t want to talk? You don’t have to. Don’t want to fumble for the notetaking app on your phone? We hear you.
When you start looking for different types of notebooks, you might get a bit confused. Different notebooks have different uses and features. What you want to use the notebook for largely decides which type to buy. Let’s review your options, shall we?
A spiral notebook sounds all mystical and otherworldly, but it’s not the notebook that’s spiraled. The spiral refers to the binding that holds the notebook together. It looks like a long corkscrew running from top to bottom. Ring bound notebooks are similar. Instead of one long spiral, the connected rings are more like clips that hold onto the pages.
The spiral binding lets the notebook lie flat so you can flip pages back and forth. Types of spiral notebooks can have anywhere from 70 to 200 or more pages, although 120 pages are most common. Spiral notebooks often have lined paper, but sometimes they’re blank inside. Other ones have graph pages.
Composition notebooks are sometimes called exercise notebooks, but as far as we know they’re not secretly pumping iron. Ever seen a notebook with killer biceps? Neither have we. These notebooks have pages sewn into the cover binding, which can be thin like a paperback cover or semi-hard like paperboard. They’re a versatile bunch.
Composition notebooks have lined pages with a small margin at the top of each page, often suitable for titles or subheads or even random doodles. Students use these notebooks, but so do writers, poets, and others who want a durable journal. Most composition notebooks contain about 80 to 100 pages.
3. Scientific or Lab Notebook
Scientific notebooks look a bit more polished. These notebooks have a section at the top and one at the bottom for recording project numbers, dates, names, and other important data. They’re also a bit larger than other notebooks. Inside, you’ll find lined pages or grid-lined pages with a ¼-inch or quad grid.
Notebooks like these work for everything from chemistry laboratories to engineering departments, wherever you need accuracy and careful observation. They often have thick bookbinding and have anywhere from 100 to 200 pages. Most have numbered pages, because, you gotta be precise. This is science.
Novelty notebooks are as diverse as can be. They can have covers with wacky or sassy sayings, or they can have the polished feel of a hardcover journal. They can have a cover shaped like a pineapple or a violin. They can even come with special paper for disappearing ink. Just think of all the fun messages you could write!
Just like the design, the notebook binding varies. Novelty notebooks can have spiral, ring bound, hardcover, softcover, or any other type of binding. As for their page count, you guessed it. Page count is highly variable. It all depends on who designed the notebook.
5. Business Notebook
Image by @vlada_vlada
Let’s get down to business on these notebooks. Business notebooks help you stay organized with all the tasks, meetings, and goals you have for the day, week, or month. Some people call them daily or monthly planners. Whatever you need to plan, you can plan it in a business notebook.
These notebooks can have calendars, divided sections, and other tools, and they often have thick covers made from leather, cloth, or other high-quality materials. Most business notebooks have weekly sections for recording your appointments and projects due that week. They work for professionals, students, and anyone who needs a little more organization in their life. And don’t we all?
You’ve seen the types of notebooks for school, work, and play. Here are some of the finer details to consider.
Notebooks come in classic sizes. They range in size from 8.5 by 11 inches, which is the most common size for large notebooks, to 6 by 8 inches, 4 by 6 inches, or smaller. Some notebooks come in custom sizes. Others go by category sizes.
Common notebook measurements include:
- Regular notebook size: 4.33 x 8.26 inches
- B6 notebook size: 4.09 x 6.9 inches
- B5 notebook size: 7.48 x 9.84 inches
- Pocket note size: 3.54 x 5.51 inches
- A6 notebook size 4.13 x 5.83 inches
- A5 notebook size: 5.7 x 8.26 inches
- A4 notebook size: 8.3 x 11.7 inches
When choosing your notebook, consider where you’ll store it and whether you want it to be portable. The smaller the notebook, the more mobile it is. You never know when that burst of creativity will strike.
Type of Paper
There are two main types of paper: paper stock and card stock. Paper stock is the go-to choice for notebook paper, and it’s what you see in books too. You might have paper stock with a smooth finish or one with a vellum finish that’s a bit rough to the touch. Card stock, sometimes called cover stock, is a thicker paper that works for covers and inserts. Your paper might be acid-free as well, which means it won’t yellow as much with age.
Image by @ronrolove
Paperweight might go by pounds, points, or density. The universal standard is density, measured in grams per square meter, or gsm. The higher the number, the thicker the paper. Most notebooks have a gsm ranging from 75 to 90, with 90 a lovely quality for all of your notebook scribbles. All notebooks that artists on Redbubble sell have a gsm of 90.
What’s your favorite writing instrument? You can record your secret plans for world domination in graphite pencil, quill pen, fountain pen, standard pen, mechanical pencil, paintbrush, crayon, colored pencil, or whatever you like. The more liquid the material, the thicker the notebook paper should be.
Image by @kathleenkouture