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07/24/2024 05:43 am GMT

There might not be anything more therapeutic (maybe therapy) than writing in a journal.

Whether you’re:

  • Stream of consciousness journaling
  • Following specific writing prompts
  • Setting goals and dreaming
  • Reflecting on your day
  • Setting a budget

…a good journal or notebook makes it better.

Especially if you’ve got a really high-quality one.

Journaling on something you bought from the local pharmacy (I went through a stint where these are the only ones I bought… then I matured) just isn’t the same as cracking open a fresh Moleskine or LEUCHTTURM1917 and putting pen to paper.

Embracing the Blank Page

This is a list of our favorite blank or lined journals for open-ended journaling. Journaling a blank or lined notebook can be daunting – so if you feel that way – check out some of our favorite guided journals with built-in prompts and such.

But if you’re up for the challenge, honing the skill of journaling without prompts will pay off for you. It’s one of the most beneficial things you can do for your mental health.

According to a Harvard study (linked above) open-ended or stream of consciousness journaling can help you become less distracted, decrease anxiety, ease trauma, and so much more.

So if you’re up for the task, let us help you find the perfect blank or lined journal for writing.

What to Look for in a Great Writing Notebook

I’ve used a handful of different ruled (just means that it has lines) journals over the years, and there are a few features that set different journals apart from each other:

  • Page Weight: If you like to use the front and back of each page, you probably need pages that are at least 100 GSM. Anything less will likely bleed through if you’re using high quality pens. You might get lucky and not have any bleed through using a lightweight pen on 80 GSM, but I’d recommend playing it safe and going with 100+.
  • Journal Size: Most journals these days are A5 size, which is 5.83 x 8.27 inches. Some might be a little bit larger and others a little smaller.
  • Pockets: You may or may not need pockets, but I sometimes find that I like to throw other things into my journal to help commemorate certain seasons. Pockets help with that.
  • Number of Pages: Most journals have somewhere between 126 and 150 sheets, which – check my math – means they have between 252 and 300 pages.
  • Cover: Some people are sticklers for true leather covers, but most on this list are faux leather. Occasionally some, like the Keegood below, will use a cork or similar material for the cover.

Our Favorite Journals for Writing

Without further ado, here are seven of our favorite ruled notebooks and journals for writing:

Best All-Around

LEUCHTTURM1917 Ruled Notebook


The Leuchtturm1917 has almost a cult following – and for good reason Their journals are high quality, well designed – and contain more pages than most others. Page numbers and a table of contents help you organized. Its paper is a little thinner than other notebooks (80gsm), but its high enough quality to prevent bleed through.

  • 80 GSM Paper Weight
  • 251 Numbered Pages
  • A Sheet of Labels
07/24/2024 05:43 am GMT
Thickest Paper

Lemome Ruled Hardcover Writing Notebook


This journal boasts an awesome cover, lays flat, premium, & thick paper that doesn’t bleed – great for writing. It has a sturdy pen holder, expandable pocket, elastic closure strap, and a ribbon bookmark. Everything you could need at a reasonable price.

  • 120 GSM Paper Weight
  • Comes with Page Dividers
  • Expandable Pocket
07/24/2024 07:45 am GMT
Best Value

Minimalism Art Premium Hard Cover Journal


This writing journal boasts a smooth faux leather hard cover with elastic closure and bookmark ribbon, along with all the staples of any great journal. And coming in at just around $9, this journal is definitely one of the best values out there for writing journals.

  • 120 GSM Page Weight
  • Table of Contents
  • A Little Smaller than A5
07/24/2024 04:44 am GMT

Moleskine Classic Notebook


The classic Moleskine notebook – loved by travelers and creatives – is great for writing and free journaling. The journal is very high quality, but the paper is some of the thinnest on the market. If you like to use heavy pens, markers, or highlighters, Moleskines probably aren’t the best fit.

  • 70 GSM Paper Weight
  • Leather Cover
  • Expandable Back Pocket
07/24/2024 08:14 am GMT

Jumping Fox Design Linen Fabric Premium Lined Journal


This writing journal has a little bit of everything: neat tweed cover, it lays flat, has a bookmark. But what separates it is the paper – its glossy page edges add a nice extra little something. The cover is also pretty unique – one of the only on our lists not employing faux leather, but tweed.

  • 100 GSM Paper Weight
  • Table of Contents
  • Double Bookmark
07/24/2024 08:02 am GMT

Rhodia Rhodiarama Webnotebook


This is a beautiful journal for writing. It's got a nice, smooth cover along with all the other features you'd expect. It's a little more pricey than some of the other journals on this list, but the quality is definitely there. That said, the pages are a little lighter than the other journals we list here – but still thick enough that there's no bleed-through with most pens.

  • 90 GSM Paper Weight
  • Back Pocket
  • No numbered pages or table of contents
07/24/2024 08:07 am GMT

Keegood Lined Journal Notebook

Keegood makes a solid journal. This cork hardcover writing journal boasts many of the same features as our other journals, but one thing that sets the Keegood dot journal is its multi-colored tabs to help keep you organized and lively corked cover.

  • 100 GSM Paper Weight
  • Corked Cover
  • Comes with Labels and Dividers

How We Evaluated and Chose These Journals

Our criteria for choosing this list of best writing journals is primarily based on first-hand experience. I (Brooks) have spent a lot of time with journals, and have used most of those on the list. For the few that I haven’t, I’ve relied on reviews from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

That said, I’ll admit I have not used every single blank or lined journal / notebook that’s out there on the market. So if there’s a really great journal that I missed, please let me know! Contact info is in the footer!