Notebook Review: Midori A5 Cotton & Light Paper Notebooks

Midori MD Cotton Notebook with Anniversary Cover

I have been collecting Midori MD notebooks for some time but I haven’t written a review about them. I got the 10th Anniversary Dark Brown Paper Cover (no longer available) and the A5 Cotton Notebook and a set of three Light Notebooks. I purchased my notebooks from my favorite local shop, Wonder Fair. But you can purchase them from JetPens.

Midori MD Light Notebook

On the cover of each book, the words “MD Paper” and “Made in Japan” are blind embossed into the cover halfway down, along the righthand side. The Cotton Notebook has the word “cotton” under the  word “paper”. The notebook includes a ribbon bookmark too.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

All Midori MD notebooks come with cardstock covers. Hence, the paper ($13) or clear plastic covers ($3.80) that they sell. Or, the luxury goat leather covers ($84).  Any A5 notebook cover would work though.

Inside the front of each book, there is a space for personal information. The Midori MDs don’t have  any storage pockets. This is where the covers come in handy as they add a flap front and back for storing miscellaneous papers while also adding additional support and protection.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the Midori MD Cotton notebook comes wrapped in glassine paper and has a small sheet of stickers to label and archive your notebook.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

I like blank paper. I prefer not to be constricted by lines, or dots, or grids. Sometimes I want to draw and sometimes I want to write. So, blank paper is my preference. If I want lines, I put guides behind the paper to keep my lines straight. Or I go freeform. That said, the Midori MD books are available in other formats.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

I tested the cotton paper notebooks, which I know a lot of artists like to draw and sketch on. I follow Fran Meneses who often sketches in one. She uses Copic markers and a gel pen and protects the following pages from any bleeding from the Copics with a sheet of cardstock.

The cotton paper is actually very translucent. But the paper doesn’t feather at all. There is show through, of course, but no bleed through with most tools I tested. I didn’t test any Copic (or other alcohol) markers since I had seen Fran’s results.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

The Cotton paper notebook has 88 sheets which is 176 pages though I feel I would really only use one side of the paper. It’s a warm ivory color with a bit of tooth which is good for drawing.  I do prefer paper with a little texture. It keeps me from writing or drawing too fast. It’s good for felt tip, rollerball and pencil too.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

I did a few close-up shots to show how clean the writing was. I guess, to me, it seems that it’s unusual for a paper to be thin and resistant to bleeding at the same time.

I have been stockpiling the A5 Cotton Notebooks because Midori has changed the dimensions of the Cotton Notebook line-up as of February of this year. As a result, the new size format has been slowly making its way to the US and Europe. The new sizes, are F0 size (180x140mm/7×5.5″), F2 size (240x190mm/9.5×7.4″) and an F3 variant (273x210mm/10.75×8.25″). According to the Midori MD web site, these sizes were selected because “the F stands for “figure” – this French standard is based on the golden ratio for portraits and other pictures”. I’m a bit skeptical about this new sizing and their logic as I have yet to find any other company using these measurements. Yes, there is lots of information around the golden ratio but nothing specifically linked to paper sizing at these dimensions. If you have more information about this, please leave a comment about it. In the meantime, I’ll continue to stockpile the more common A5 size.

Midori MD A5 Light Notebooks

Midori MD Light Notebook

The 3-pack of Light Paper notebooks were an unusual discovery. Each notebook contains 24 pages (48 sheets).

I had been recommended the paper as an alternative to Tomoe River. In the pen community, that’s pretty much all anyone has to say to get me to try something.

Midori MD Light Notebook

Interestingly enough, the Light paper is not as translucent as the Cotton paper yet it still has a bit of tooth to it. I used the plain paper in the past, which is quite smooth so this more texture-y paper was a pleasant surprise. (Which reminds me… One Book July AND World Watercolor Month is just days away!!!)

The next page can be seen a bit through the writing but its not as apparent as with the cotton paper.

Midori MD Light Notebook

I forgot to actually erase my eraser tests but the paper withstood pens and pencils with equal aplomb.  I erased after the photo and results were as expected. Graphite erases fine. Erasable pencils are okay and colored pencils really don’t erase.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

In close-up, there is no feathering in the fountain pen writing. Again, with this soft, textured paper, I would have expected more squidge. Instead, all that is visible is the texture of the paper.

The small booklet formats of the Light Notebooks make it good for small projects or as add-in notebooks to a Traveler’s Notebook or other multi-notebook system, especially in this larger format where I feel the notebook would need protection.

I definitely like the Light paper. It’s worth seeking it out and trying it out. I wish it was available in the larger notebook format rather than the booklets but I’m willing to make it work for this unique paper.


I created a good deal of fervor with the announcement of the discontinuation of the A5-sized MD Cotton notebooks and the arrival of the new F-sized notebooks. As a result, I thought I’d provide a visual graphic to show the size difference between the A5 and A6 notebooks and the new F0 and F2 notebooks. There is only a 2mm difference in the A4 and F3 books so if you like the large sheet size, you will be largely unaffected by the change.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook A5 A6 and F0 F2 size comparison

I hope this helps visualize the difference in the size and shape of the new notebooks. It’s only affecting the MD Cotton, not the regular line of MD notebooks.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thanks Ana. I can count on learning something new from you and have never heard of the F series of paper. Like you, I fail to see any logic to doing this especially when the actual sizes are not appreciably different to what is already widely available. Great review tho and better performance than I would have expected from cotton paper.

    1. The pen is a Ranga bamboo from Peyton Street Pens. I believe this is the smaller, slender model. I love it to bits. It’s all ebonite.

  2. Well, I had a bit of a heart-flutter too when I read about the new sizes. The Midori Diary A5 is my morning update journal, and I love the size and of course their paper. I am glad the regular will continue in A5, and now I know to grab a cotton next time I see one. Thanks for the chart! That was helpful to understand.

    1. AH! I searched through paper sizes on printing web sites, art paper sites, wikipedia, etc but I didn’t look for canvas sizes. Much appreciated!

  3. I thought the paper in the light notebooks is just the same as the paper in the regular (thicker, because more pages) MD notebooks. (Though not the same as that in the cotton notebooks.) Is that not right?

      1. Very interesting! I’m pretty confident that the lined light notebooks and lined regular notebooks that I have (A5 and B6slim) have the same paper or very similar. In any case, I’ve never met a Midori I haven’t liked!

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