The 9 Best Work Notebooks of 2021
Write down little reminders and big ideas
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Even in the digital age, recording your thoughts and ideas in analog form can be a refreshing change of pace and even help you think more clearly and freely—especially in times of high-stress and anxiety. That being said, work notebooks are a great source for fresh ideas and task completion.
A high-quality notebook lasts longer and helps increase creativity and productivity. When you’re looking for a journal to write down your ideas, pay attention to binding and paperweight. A twin ring or stitched and glued binding helps keep your notebook together longer while a paperweight of 70gsm or higher is usually thicker and more durable. Style-wise, most notebooks come with gridded, lined, dotted, or blank sheets. From a bullet journal to a reusable smart notebook, we’ve rounded up the best notebooks for work that’ll help you get organized and put your ideas into action.
Best Overall: Leuchtturm1917 Medium Hardcover A5
The bullet journaling trend is still going strong, and it’s a smart system for managing your assignments and tasks. There are different ways to form a bullet journal, but the Leuchtturm1917 notebook gives you a decent head start with a table of contents and numbered pages. There are 249 pages of acid-free dotted paper that are bound with a stitched binding and cover elastic. Each journal also comes with a page-marking ribbon and stickers for labeling. Choose from 21 different cover colors, from muted and neutral to eye-catching and bright. Leuchtturm1917 has previously collaborated with Ryder Carroll, the official Bullet Journal founder, to create a specialized notebook.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Rhodia Meeting Book
If your job requires many meetings, having a notebook devoted to organizing notes and objectives helps you capture your main points. Rhodia’s meeting notebook will come in handy whether you’re an assistant or executive who needs to digest workplace brainstorming sessions and discussions. On each of the 80 sheets, you’ll find lined sections for your date, notes, and actions so you can keep your ideas and to-dos fully organized. Complete with tasteful orange details on each page, Rhodia uses its signature acid-free, smooth 80gsm paper that will work nicely even with gel and fountain pens.
In addition to its useful page division and excellent paper quality, the notebook is sturdy. It has twin ring binding that is not only easy to flip through but is also resistant to snagging and falling apart. The cover is also coated and weatherproof so it won’t get damaged easily.
Best Value: Muji B5 Notebooks
At a low price point, you can get five, B5-sized Muji notebooks in this convenient pack. These make excellent notebooks for work because of their affordability, style, and quality. The minimal notebooks come with different-colored bindings and a brown cover. Right off the bat, you might notice that they're a bit smaller than American notebooks and have only 30 lined sheets. But their paper quality is superb, smooth, and bleed-resistant. In fact, you’ll be able to use most fountain pens on this paper without worrying about any transfer to the back side. Their stitched and glued binding will also last you longer than spiral notebooks, which have snag-prone and bendable bindings.
Related: The Best Fountain Pens
Best Leather: Lemome Thick Classic Notebook
A leather hardcover journal makes for a long-lasting, sturdy option, like this Lemome Thick Classic Notebook. The durable cover will ensure your work notes will always be protected, while the elastic pen loop conveniently keeps your writing tool available. With 180 thick, premium pages, the notebook holds up well and can be written on with most pens (except fountain pens). Lay flat the notebook with no issues to take better control of your note-taking. Even more, the large ruled notebook comes with page dividers for organization and an expandable pocket to hold business cards, receipts, and other small notes.
Best for Durability: Campus Twin Ring Notebook
Campus’ Twin Ring Notebook is your typical notebook, but better. It's durable enough that it’ll last through all of your random ideas and meeting notes at work. It has a thick paper cover that won't bend easily and twin ring binding that won’t snag. The notebook, which measures 7.5 x 10 inches, includes 70 sheets of smooth, lined paper with a 70gsm weight, which is thicker than mainstream notebook paper. Each page has printed sections to indicate the number and date of your notes so that staying on top of your notes is easy. The muted cover colors include red, green, blue, and khaki brown.
Related: The Best Pens for Journaling
Best Eco-Friendly: Rocketbook Smart Reusable
Rocketbook’s Smart Reusable Notebook is great for any worker who wants to use a single notebook over and over again while still being able to curate their notes. It has a special polyester paper (which still feels like paper) that you can pair with the heat-sensitive pens and markers from Pilot’s FriXion pen and marker line. Use your notebook with Rocketbook’s app to capture images of your notes and upload them onto a storage service such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Evernote. After you save your notes, reuse the page by wiping it clean with a damp towel.
The Everlast Notebook is on the pricier side, but it’s an investment item for work that you can reuse, whether you need to jot down notes for brainstorms or meetings. You will need to replenish your Pilot FriXion writing tool, but refills and other colors and styles of the pen brand are easy to find online or at your local office supply store.
Related: The Best Spiral Notebooks
Best Notepad: Rhodia Dot Notepad
When you want to jot down notes or ideas, it may be easier to use a notepad to flip the pages as you go. Rhodia creates some of the best paper notepads in the stationery industry, loved by artists and writers alike. Their acid-free 80gsm paper is thick, smooth, and bright, working with even wet inks from fountain pens without bleeding or feathering. The dotted sheets offer structure without being as noticeable as lined or graph print (though you can also get these from Rhodia as well).
Plus, there are a few other quality features: the pre-folded cover allows you to fold back sheets without creating uneven lines. Unlike most legal pads, the perforated sheets won’t come off as you pull them back—they'll only separate from the pad if you deliberately remove them. The stiff cardboard back cover is also a useful feature, as it’s hard enough to write on when you aren't at your desk.
Best Gridded: Miliko Square Grid Spiral
Miliko has a variety of notebook styles, but its square grid notebook offers an alternative to the standard, lined or dotted journal options. Featuring a waterproof, transparent hardcover, the A5 notebook comes with 80g, acid-free recyclable white paper for high-quality construction. Square grid notebooks are another great way to bullet journal, with ruled lines to help align your drawings and notes. This pack comes with two notebooks with 160 pages each.
Related: The Best Bullet Journals
Best Japanese-Style: Midori MD Note
Japanese stationery brands offer some of the highest-quality pens and notebooks, and Midori is no exception. Its MD ruled-line notebook boasts smooth paper and thick lines for comfortable note-taking. The threaded binding and flexible spine also allows you to lay the notebook flat, while each page has a thick line in the center so you can freely organize and section-off your notes. Designed for convenience, this minimalist work notebook doesn't have a cover, making it easier to open. The attached string is also a nice way to keep track of your notes.
For a good quality work notebook that'll help you stay productive, go with one that’s durable and designed for organized list-making. The Leuchtturm1917 Notebook (view on Amazon) is the best choice for managing your workday through bullet journaling. The stickers and colorful cover choices are an added bonus. The Lemome Notebook (view on Amazon) is also a great option, which offers a professional look with its faux leather cover, page dividers, and an elastic band—perfect for taking detailed notes at meetings.
What are the different notebook styles, and which one is the best?
The right style depends on your needs, whether you’re a list maker, a note-taker, or an artist. Here are some of the main ones to consider: gridded, which looks like graph paper (or some variation of tiny squares), is ideal for those who like to design or draw; lined is perfect for writing narrative-style entries; dotted, a popular style for bullet journaling, is great for making your own checklists, calendars, and even headers; and blank sheets are for those who don't want any boundaries or constraints.
What should I know about notebook binding?
The type of bookbinding can affect how durable a notebook is, or if it can open up flat and whether the pages will remain intact or tear out easily. There are two main styles of bookbinding, including stitched and/or glued binding, which typically offers a longer lifespan than a spiral style. It also has smooth edges that make the notebook look more aesthetically appealing. Spiral is another style, which makes it easier to open a notebook and focus on one page at a time. The best spiral notebook is a twin-ring style (versus having one continuous coil), as it's less likely to get caught on other things in your bag or bend and separate like cheaper models.
Is notebook paperweight important?
It's important to consider paperweight in a work notebook to prevent any ink bleeding or ghosting on pages. A useful way of determining paperweight is to see what a notebook’s GSM (grams per square meter) is, which measures paperweight. Considering that copy paper is usually around 75gsm, according to Xerox, you should look for a slightly higher number when choosing your work notebook. The higher you go, the thicker and heavier the paper will be.