A few weeks ago we were contacted by Staples e-commerce team to see if we were interested in reviewing the TRU RED line of notebooks and pens. TRU RED is a brand developed and carried by Staples.com, but you can also find TRU RED products at Target and Walmart.
The TRU RED Expert Notetaking Collection was designed to expand and enhance the process of note taking. Studies of all ages have shown that taking notes with pen and paper is often more effective than taking notes digitally. For some reason your brain seems to remember and retain more through the process of physically writing. Taking notes by hand also allows you to doodle, sketch and add a little more creativity to the process. When developing the TRU RED line, the development team spent two years studying note taking techniques used by thinkers like Leonard da Vinci, Charles Darwin and Richard Branson to incorporate the best practices into the notebooks. The result is a line including Pocket, Starter, Explore and Mastery options to help you map, chart, and take great notes. They’ve also added some rollerball and gel pens to help you in the process (and add a little color coding).
I was sent quite a few products to review, and some duplicates for giveaways, so away we go!
The Mastery Journal has been designed for the “experienced notetaker.” The notebook is a simple black canvas hard cover journal, measuring 8.5″ x 10.25″ (the paper is 8″ x 10″), has approximately 96 sheets/192 pages of narrow ruled white paper. The front inside cover has an envelope for holding loose leaf notes. The first full page outlines the features of the book including: elastic closure, room between the pages and the edges of the journal for a pen, and three different colored ribbons for marking your place (red, black and white). Pages in the journal are numbered and include an index at the front, highlighted top corners for easy bookmarking, small tick marks to aid in adding lines to a page (for creating easy columns), and handy reminder tips at the bottom of the pages. The last pages of the book include a wrap-up section to summarize the contents of the book and highlight anything you might want to explore further.
This package also included a small pocket journal, measuring 3.5″ x 5.5″. The pocket journal has a soft red canvas cover, and contains approximately 24 pages of the same white paper.
The verdict: This is a reasonably priced journal with lots of freedom for note taking, journaling and recording your ideas. If you’re interested in keeping your notebooks longer term (as opposed to taking notes and tossing when you’re done), this is a nice choice. The slim line will be easy to store on shelves and keep things neat and tidy. I do like the metal reinforcements where the elastic loop fits and think they add a nice design touch, as well as a way to keep the edges of the notebook from getting bent with use. The paper is these notebooks is not bad (no specifics – just labeled as white premium paper). The rollerballs and gel pens that are part of the collection worked well, as expected. The paper did handle some fountain pen inks as well though I noticed some feathering of the Colorverse ink. Overall not much bleed through on any of the options. I’d say if you’re a fine to medium nib user and have a light hand (which I do not), you’ll get away with using your fountain pens with this one.
TRU RED Starter Journal ($17.99)
The TRU RED Starter Journal is designed for the notetaker who wants to accomplish their goals. This is a textured grey hard cover journal, measuring 8.25″ x 10.25″ (the paper is 8″ x 10″), and has approximately 96 sheets/192 pages of narrow ruled white paper. The front inside cover has an envelope for holding loose leaf notes as well as some tips on how to best use the book for note taking. Other features include an elastic closure at the bottom right corner and an elastic pen loop at the spine. Pages in the journal are numbered and come in a variety of formats: plain, narrow-ruled pages for note taking, and every 5 pages a perforated edge for to-do lists, or blank pages for idea sketching.
The verdict: This journal is kind of a mixed bag in terms of what you could use it for. If you find yourself needing to take notes, make to-do lists and occasionally sketching out creative ideas this book might be a good fit for you. The paper in this journal is the same as that up above, albeit with slightly different formatting. Rollerballs and gels work just fine, use some caution with your fountain pens.
TRU RED Graphed Journal ($13.99)
The TRU RED Graphed Journal is a journal for those who love graph paper! The synthetic leather cover is a cross between a soft and hard cover – it has definite form, but it doesn’t feel like there is a harder bit of cardboard inside. The inside front and back pages are a grey and black graph design, and the remainder of the pages are ivory. The book contains 128 sheets/256 pages. There is also an elastic loop for closure, and there are two ribbon bookmarks in black and grey.
The verdict: This is probably the best format for me, mostly because of size and flexibility in taking notes, although of course I’m a dot grid girl. To me this is the perfect book to throw into a purse or a bag; large enough to take decent notes and sketch a design idea, and small enough to be portable. The paper in this book is slightly different, and I found a lot of bleed through with both the Rollerballs and the fountain pen inks. This book might be best for gel pens and ball points.
TRU RED RollerBall Pen (Assorted Colors, 3-pack, $5.99)
These are pretty standard RollerBall pens with a 0.5mm tip, available in Red, Blue and Black. I got one of each in a three pack. The pens are marketed as airplane safe, and have a black matte finish with a steel clip. One bonus is that they do have a small ink window so you can see when you’re running out of ink!
TRU RED Gel Pen (Assorted Colors, 5-pack, $7.29)
These might have been my favorite part of the package because I’m a sucker for a gel pen in fun colors! All of these were 0.7mm and are available in the standard red/blue/black as well as assorted color packs. My 5 colors were red, orange, lime green, teal blue and purple. The green is a bit light, and I didn’t feel like it showed up as well on the ivory paper, but I enjoyed these and will definitely keep using them! They were included as part of this collection so you can color code your notes (I’m totally nerdy enough to love that).
Keep reading for the Giveaway!
So if you’ve read through the reviews, now it’s time for the giveaways. Staples.com was generous enough to send us extras for two prize packages which are:
Prize Package 1 (above):
Prize Package 2 (above):
THE DETAILS: Two lucky winners will be selected from the comments on this post to win their choice of either of the above prize packages.
TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and tell us which prize you’d prefer to win and which journals/pens you find the most interesting in this review! Play along and type in something. It makes reading through entries more interesting for me, okay? One entry per person.
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FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by midnight CST on Friday, May 21, 2021. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Saturday. Winners will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your actual email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 7 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US and APO/AFO only, sorry.