Ask The Desk: Spiral Notebooks


Jennifer asks:

I was wondering if you could do a post on the best medium/small spiral notebooks on the market. I would much appreciate it. Thank you.

When you ask “what’s the best” do you mean best quality paper, best ring binding or are you using other criteria to determine what makes a serial notebook better than others (hard covers, pockets, divider tabs,etc)? Do you prefer true serial binding or is twin-ring binding or even plastic ring acceptable? I’ll make my best guesses here and hopefully hit on the best of the best here.


I’m going to focus on paper quality and availability.

Rhodia offers a couple different formats of wire bound notebooks that use the fountain pen friendly Clairefontaine paper. There is the 8.25″ square Reverse Book or a wide range of smaller top-ring notebooks like the medium Wirebound Pad that is 6×8.25″. Rhodia pads use mostly graph paper so if you’re looking for lined paper, you might want to consider the Rhodia Classic Meeting Book (A5). Pretty much any notebook from Rhodia, Clairefontaine, or Quo Vadis will use the much touted Clairefontaine papers which work well with fountain pens. Rhoda notebooks are often the easiest to find in the US and Canada but keep your eyes out for Clairefontaine as well.

Doane Paper offers their Grids + Lines paper in their Idea Journal twin ring notebooks, in a small (5.25″ x 6.875″) and large (8.4″ x 10.8″) size. They also have Flap Jotters (with top ring binding) in large and small (pack of 3/ 2.875″ x 4.75″). And their latest offering is the Moon Camera notebooks with cross marks instead of grid, line or dots. The Doane paper is pretty good with most fountain pens but if fountain pen endurance is a criteria for you, Rhoda will be your top choice.

Field Notes makes The Steno which features heavy-duty chipboard covers and is bound at the top with twin-rings like old school stenographer pads. The paper is not as conducive to fountain pens but the lines are light enough not to distract and the notebook sturdy enough to hold up to everyday abuse.

The Maruman Mnemosyne line of notebooks from Japan offer an array of ruling and size options with paper that is a favorite with a lot of pen bloggers out there. Some of the features they offer in their books are quite unusual and specific to Asian penmanship but can be appealing for tabbed note taking, coding and other functions.

As for big box office supply products, the M by Staples and the ARC by Staples are often recommended as having good quality paper. I don’t have a Staples near me so I haven’t had personal experience with these but there are lots of positive reviews. Try searching Pennaquod for ARC by Staples or M by Staples and reading through those options if you have quick access to a local Staples. The ARC introduces the disc bound system into the equation which is not technically a sprial binding but I thought you might let that slide for good quality paper and flexibility.

For even more reviews and opinions, you might want to check out Office Supply Geek’s lengthy list of Notebook Reviews with Sprial Bindings because he covers a lot of other possibilities as well.

I hope this helped and started you on a path to good quality paper in a spiral notebook.

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6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I would add the wonderful spiral notebooks (in three sizes) from National, which feature green-tinted “eye-ease” paper. I would also highly recommend the classic spiral notebooks from Kyokuto (see Jetpens).

  2. I really like Black n’ Red’s spiral notebooks. The paper is great for fountain pens, and the overall quality is fantastic. They come in a variety of sizes and are widely available & relatively cheap.

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