The 9 Best Bullet Journals of 2021

Get your creative juices flowing with these picks

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Bullet journaling (also known as BuJo) is a creative organizational system that many people use as an alternative to a traditional monthly or weekly planner. The best bullet journals feature a grid dot format that allows you to easily customize your own page layouts. Still, others prefer blank pages or even ruled pages. When you’re choosing the best bullet journal, it's important to consider the type of cover, binding, and paperweight (because this plays a role in the type of pens/markers you want to use). Read on to find the best bullet journals to buy today.

Best Overall: Poluma Dotted Grid Notebook

A basic, no-frills option, this Poluma Dotted Grid Notebook is ideal for beginners who don't want to shell out a ton of money for a decent bullet journal. It has all the features you'd want in your first dotted journal: a sturdy faux leather hardcover, inner pocket, attached elastic closure, and plenty of note-taking space with 128 pages. The pages are also made of acid-free paper, withstanding damage from light and air for long-lasting performance. The 5 x 8.25-inch notebook is small enough to tuck into and easily reach from your purse or backpack. Get organizing with this budget-friendly, simple bullet journal.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Lemome Cork Hardcover Notebook

Sustainable yet high quality, the Lemome bullet journal is crafted with an eco-friendly soft natural cork cover. It feels as soft as leather, but it’s actually cork fabric. Because there’s less processing involved in creating corkwood, the production of this bullet journal leaves a lower ecological footprint. The corkwood is both recyclable and biodegradable.

Inside the notebook are 180 pages of 120g thick paper. At this weight, the premium paper can withstand ink from most pens and markers with minimal bleedthrough to the other side of the page. The thread-bound pages lay flat for easier note-taking and bullet journaling. Each page of the journal is perforated for easy tearing and archiving. Just be careful with your pages – too much wear may cause them to easily tear out of the journal. The Lemome journal includes elastic closure, bookmark, inner pocket, and even erasable page dividers.

Best Cult Favorite: Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Notebook

Leuchtturm1917 A5 Notebook
 Courtesy of Amazon

The Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Notebook includes numbered pages and a blank table of contents for easy organization and notes. The three, blank table of contents pages allow you to create your own index, so you can quickly and easily reference important pages inside your bullet journal.

The thread-bound opens flat while ensuring the journal pages remain secure inside. The hardcover notebook is made of quality acid-free and ink-proof paper and has an expandable pocket inside back cover, page marker, and elastic closure. The dotted grid pages allow you to create your own bullet designs without the interference of straight lines.

The journal measures 5.57 x 8.25 inches and includes 249 numbered pages and eight perforated pages. The eight perforated pages are perfect for creating tearaway pages to give away or create templates for a journal page. You can tear the pages out without compromising the rest of the bullet journal ​and you can choose from 17 different colors including red, black, orange, yellow, army green, and more.

Related: The Best Work Notebooks

Best Set: Dot Journaling―The Set

If you're completely new to the bullet-journaling world, the Dot Journaling Set is the perfect primer. This set includes a blank dot-grid journal and a how-to guide on starting and keeping a bullet journal. You'll learn how to make symbols for effective lists, spreads for planning your day, week, month, or year, trackers for maintaining your habits and goals, and tips on making your to-do's and to-don'ts. The 208-page journal also features a sturdy cover with an inner back pocket, as well as an elastic closure and ribbon to keep your place.

Best Heavy-Duty: Rhodia A5 Webnotebook

The Rhodia A5 Webnotebook includes 192 smooth, ivory-colored 90-gsm pages. The heavier pages are ideal for fountain pens and felt-tipped pens. Your pen tips will glide across the smooth pages without much bleedthrough to the other side of the page. If you like to use heavier pens and markers for bullet journaling, the quality paper used in the Rhodia Webnotebook will please you.

The dots on the grid pages are darker than most other bullet journals, which makes them easier to see. Keep in mind that this also means the dots won’t “disappear” into your design. The black hardcover bound notebook is well-constructed with excellent binding to hold the pages securely in place. It comes with one black ribbon bookmark and an elastic closure.

Best Spiral Bound: BookFactory Ghost Grid Dot Journal

One of the few spiral bound bullet journals, the BookFactory Ghost Grid Dot Journal is a great alternative to traditional notebooks. Many people are partial to spiral bound notebooks since they easily lay flat and can be folded to reveal only a single page. The journal has 120 pages with dot grid printed on white paper. The built-in index can be used to create your own table of contents, so you can quickly and easily refer to important pages within the bullet journal. It's also created by a veteran-owned firm based in the U.S.

Related: The Best Spiral Notebooks

Best for Artists: Scribbles That Matter A5 Dotted Journal

Aspiring graphic designers, animators, and artists take note—the Scribbles That Matter A5 Dotted Journal is a high-quality, durable option that can handle most pens and makers. Its super-smooth, 160gsm acid-free paper means it's easy to write or draw with, while zero bleeding, ghosting, and feathering ensures clean pages. There's even a pen test page so you're less likely to ruin your pages. With 150+ thick pages, the bullet journal is protected by a vegan leather cover and a strong binding keeps pages from falling out. Have your drawing tools ready with the included pen holder. Plus, a key code page, index pages, back pocket, and two colored bookmarks make it a joy to organize with.

Related: The Best Journaling Pens

Best Budget: Minimalism Art Hard Cover Notebook

A great value, this notebook from Minimalism Art is encased in a leatherette hardcover and comes with 122 pages of ink proof, acid-free 120gsm ivory paper. It even features a table of contents for easy referencing, an elastic strap that secures your pages, and a matching ribbon to bookmark your spot.

The bullet journal also comes in different sizes, including this small, 5 by 8.3-inch option. While its overall design is understated, you can choose from various colors, including Amber, Black, Pink, White, and more.

Best for Travel: Midori Traveler's Notebook

This Midori notebook is an excellent option for those who frequently travel for work. It's thin and lightweight while the paper is bleed-resistant, so you can jot down notes, locations, dates, and other pertinent information with ease.

Protected by a soft leather cover, the bullet journal also has a securable elastic band along the spine to keep pages from falling out. Note that it only comes with 64 pages, though the brand offers refills.

Final Verdict

The Poluma Dotted Grid Notebook (view at Amazon) is the best bullet journal for its compact size, quality construction, and premium paper. Its reasonable price also makes it ideal for beginners. If you need a bit more hand-holding, the Dot Journaling Set (view at Walmart) will help you get started and comes with a lovely, sturdy journal.

FAQs

What do you need to start bullet journaling?

At the very minimum, a notebook and something to write with. But if you want to bullet journal the right way, you'll need, of course, a bullet journal (or any dot grid notebook) and a good set of journaling pens. Pro tip: Choose ones that don’t bleed and splurge on an array of colors. Stickers, washi tape, colored markers, and gel pens are also optional.

Hardcover or softcover, spiral or bound?

The hardcover vs. softcover debate really comes down to personal preference, as well as where and how you journal. If you do all of your bullet journaling at your desk, a softcover will work just fine. But for someone who takes their journal on the go or has it in and out of a backpack, a hardcover will provide more protection.

Spiral or bound is another debate among BuJo enthusiasts. Hardbound journals have a classier look, but you'll want to choose one that opens flat, or else it may be frustrating to write on. That’s a problem that a spiral journal can help avoid. Plus, with a spiral design, you can focus on a single page instead of two at a time. 

What is GSM?

GSM stands for grams per square meter, and it refers to the weight of the paper. The higher the GSM, the heavier, sturdier, and thicker the paper is. For bullet journaling, you don’t want a flimsy paper weight like you might find in a marble notebook as your pen marks will bleed through. Going with a more durable paper weight will let you jot, draw, and scribble with your favorite pens and markers without any ghosting.

As for what a “good” GSM is, 100 or higher is the sweet spot for journaling. For reference, a 75gsm is what you’d find in a piece of copy machine paper, according to Xerox.

Meet the Expert

This roundup was updated by Dawn Papandrea, a personal finance reporter who covers small business topics. She is a full-time freelancer with two decades of writing experience.