The 8 Best Work Notebooks of 2020
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. That’s why the unassuming workplace notebook is the champion of 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 paper weight of 70gsm or higher is usually thicker and more durable. Style-wise, most notebooks come with gridded, lined, dotted, or blank sheets. Some feature additional details like the timeline in the daily pages of the Hobonichi planner or the numbering in Leuchtturm1917’s notebooks.
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: 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, include 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.
The notebook costs between $10 to $12, so it’s not the cheapest option. However, its quality materials will ensure longevity.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Rhodia Meeting Notebook
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 80 gsm 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
For under $10, 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. While these are not a dollar a dozen, their quality at their price point makes them our pick for best value.
Best Notepad: Rhodia Dotpad
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 80 gsm 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).
And 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 Bullet Journal: Leuchtturm1917 Medium Size Hardcover A5 Notebook
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. Since the official Bullet Journal costs $25, you’ll be able to save a few bucks by using Leuchturrm1917’s regular notebooks, which cost between $16 to $20.
Best Planner: Hobonichi Techo Planner
If you don't mind the premium price tag, the Hobonichi Techo Planner is a cult favorite that you can use for work and personal notes. The quality and level of detail in the planner is hard to beat. It uses ultra-thin, bleed-resistant Tomoe River paper and devotes a whole page to each day of the year, including details like a daily quote, date, timeline, and moon phase. There is also ample graph paper for planning out your to-dos and jotting down your notes, so the Hobonichi functions as a planner and notebook hybrid. In addition to daily pages, there are also pages for contacts, notes, and miscellaneous information.
While there’s a lot packed inside of it, the Hobonichi Techo Planner is pleasantly portable. It only weighs 3.2 ounces and is smaller than a piece of copy paper folded in half. The durable stitched binding will keep the notebook securely intact while allowing it to lay flat when you write in it.
Best Pocket-Sized: Field Notes Kraft Ruled Memo Book
Pocket notebooks are great for jotting down notes, ideas, or lists on the fly, whether you’re at a meeting or on the subway. Field Notes is a darling in the stationery world when it comes to small notebooks. The paper is 60 lb (90 gsm), which is heavier and more durable than your typical Moleskine notebook paper (which is 47 lb). The line guides on the paper will also help you organize your ideas.
Roughly the dimensions of an index card, each memo notebook includes 48 pages. Together, the three pocket notebooks in this pack weigh 4.8 ounces, so individually they are quite lightweight and portable. The only drawback is that the kraft paper cover is not waterproof so it may be vulnerable to rough weather. Field Notes does make Expedition notebooks with waterproof covers for a few extra dollars.
Best Smart Notebook: Rocketbook Everlast Reusable Smart Notebook
Rocketbook’s Everlast Reusable Smart 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 costs around $30, 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.
Our writers spent 2 hours researching the most popular notebooks for work on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 30 different notebooks overall, screened options from 12 different brands and manufacturers, read over 50 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 7 of the notebooks themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.