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Which journals are best?

With so many thoughts zipping through our heads, it’s nice to compile them into a single place at the beginning or end of the day. This is where a trusty journal comes in: a place where all those thoughts can meet up and get organized.

Journals come in all shapes and sizes and can reflect a person’s style and interior monologue. Whether you want to take notes for future projects and reminders or use it to help you pen the next great American novel, there is a perfect journal for you. 

What to know before you buy journals

What you will use it for

The most important thing to ask yourself when buying a journal is what you intend on using it for. Are you a student looking for a place to jot down class notes? Are you an aspiring writer looking to get your character’s protagonist energy onto the page? Perhaps you are someone who just likes to have their thoughts penned in a single place for reflection and introspection. Regardless of the reason, understanding why you want to purchase a journal is the first step to finding the perfect one.

Prompt journals

Even seasoned writers suffer from the occasional case of writer’s block. Journals have found a way to combat this obstacle: the prompt journals. Prompt journals are great for those looking to dip their toes into the world of journaling for the first time or perhaps those who just want to have inspiration for writing every day. With a prompt journal, you will be given a set of instructions, typically on every page, to help get you started. Before you know it, you’ll have an entire journal full of thoughts and ideas. 

Journal design

Journals come in every style under the sun. There are spiral-bound journals, soft-cover journals, hard-cover journals, leather-bound journals, and many more. Some journals double as calendars and planners, while others are perfect for artists with blank pages or design dots. Deciding on the kind of work and writing you intend on filling your journal with will help you determine the best journal design to utilize. 

What to look for in quality journals


Journal sizes can vary greatly. Most come in standard paper sizes such as A4, A5, and B5. The best journal for you will be one that you can carry comfortably, either in your hand or in your go-to bag. 

Number of pages

Most journals have a range of maximum pages between 120 and 250 pages. This gives you an extensive range to decide how many pages will be ideal for your writing intentions. For example, if you are a student looking to compile all of your class notes, finding a journal with a more considerable number of pages might be ideal for ensuring you don’t run out of room. 

Paper quality and ruling type 

Depending on the journal, both paper quality and ruling type may vary. Paper quality tends to be tied to journal price. The better the quality of the paper, the more expensive the journal. This is not the same for ruling type. Ruling type can vary with journals of the same size. There are wide-ruled, college-ruled, blank and dotted notebooks. It is essential to pay attention to the ruling type so it meets your writing needs. 

How much you can expect to spend on journals

Basic spiral-bound journals can cost just $1. Handcrafted journals with intricate designs and other features, such as specific ruling or page prompts, can cost up to $50. Most journals will fall somewhere in between, with a majority costing between $10-$20. 

Journals FAQ

What makes a journal different from a notebook?

A. The terms are essentially interchangeable. A journal is more likely to describe a higher quality notebook and is used for writing things beyond just notes. 

What is the best kind of journal binding?

A. Journals can have a variety of different bindings, ranging from spiral to stitched. Most higher-end journals will have glued or stitched bindings, which hide the binding within the cover. 

What are the best journals to buy?

Top journal

LEUCHTTURM1917 - Medium A5 Dotted Hardcover Notebook

LEUCHTTURM1917 – Medium A5 Dotted Hardcover Notebook

What you need to know: A hardback notebook with an elastic closure that offers easy, on-the-go use. 

What you’ll love: This notebook features thick, creamy paper that stops ink from bleeding through to the next page. It also has numbered pages to help track writing progress and dates. There is a pocket in the back to help store keepsakes, like stickers and loose slips of paper. 

What you should consider: Some users may not like the dotted paper design. 

Where to buy: Available at Amazon

Top journal for money

Moleskine Classic Notebook, Hard Cover

Moleskine Classic Notebook, Hard Cover

What you need to know: A great and inexpensive pick for travel or basic journaling. 

What you’ll love: This journal has smooth paper and can handle gel rollers. It comes with sturdy, lined paper and a solid cover perfect for taking notes or daily journaling.

What you should consider: This notebook does not come with a pen loop.

Where to buy: Available at Amazon

Honorable mentions

Moonster Vintage Handmade Bound Notepad for Men & Women

Moonster Vintage Handmade Bound Notepad for Men & Women

What you need to know: A handcrafted leather journal that radiates an “old world” feeling. 

What you’ll love: The spine of this journal is hand-bound and made with recycled cotton paper. The thick paper also helps prevent page bleeding. 

What you should consider: Its blank pages can make writing in straight lines an issue. 

Where to buy: Available at Amazon

Lemone Thick Classic Notebook with Pen Loop 

Lemone Thick Classic Notebook with Pen Loop 

What you need to know: An inexpensive journal that has quality paper and extra features. 

What you’ll love: This notebook comes with a 180-degree flat spine to make it easy to write to the end of the page without bending or tearing the spine. A pen and expandible pocket are included with this journal. 

What you should consider: Though the quality of the paper is good, fountain pens will tend to cause bleeding. 

Where to buy: Available at Amazon

Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal

Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal

What you need to know: A journal that offers prompts to help with the journaling journey. 

What you’ll love: This product is perfect for those who are new to journaling, as every page of this journal has a new topic to help with the writing process. 

What you should consider: The journal has a tight binding making it hard to stay open while writing. 

Where to buy: Available at Amazon

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Jared Lindsay writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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