Paper Review: Other Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook Options (Part 1 of 3: Whitelines Link)

Originally, my plan was too include THREE different Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks in one post but it was going to be way too much for one post.  So, this will be part one of three.

Most pen enthusiasts are familiar with Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks. Leuchtturm 1917 is often considered the step-up from a Moleskine and a favorite with Bullet Journalers since the light dot grid lends itself to building page spreads. What might be surprising is that there are other options available from Leuchtturm other than the standard (AKA classic) paper/dot design. Of course, Leuchtturm offers lined and blank papers as well as their beloved dot grid and they even have a sketchbook option now. But I’m not covering those in this series. No, I am going to be talking about the Whitelines notebooks, the Bauhaus Edition and the new 120gsm editions.

To start, I am going to review the Leuchtturm 1917 Whitelines Link edition (A6 Pocket, $13.46USD). Whitelines Link was originally created to be Leuchtturm’s answer to an analog-digital solution, the paper is pale grey with white dots. While the notebook came with instructions for using the digital syncing options, I was more interested in the potential of the subtle grey paper with white dots.

The Whitelines Link notebook comes with all the same features that other Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks feature: back gusseted pocket, ribbon bookmark with finished ends, stickers to use for archiving your notebook, elastic band, perforated pages in the back and assorted promotional sheets. The A6-sized notebook only had one bookmark compared with the two ribbon bookmarks included in the A5-sized notebooks.

In the corners of the pages are QR-style icons which help to align and square pages when scanning or photographing them to use with a digital app like Dropbox or Evernote.

The notebook came with a booklet explaining the process and development of the analog-to-digital system.

But like I said earlier, I was more interested in the paper and the grey with white dots design and how it might perform in a strictly analog method.

The short answer to this question is: not well. What I didn’t realize was that the process for making the paper grey was to print the entire sheet and leave the white of the paper exposed. As a result, there is an inky coating over the whole page. Most printing inks are oil- or plastic-based making water-based inks like fountain pen and rollerball inks resist the surface.

(Think or those drawings you might have done as a kid where you drew with crayon and then went over the page with a watercolor paint. Same theory applies here except the whole page is covered with a waxy film.)

The paper seems to also be a slightly different texture to the standard Leuchtturm paper or the process of printing on the entirety of each sheet altered the paper. Fountain pen inks bled and showed through in ways I haven’t experienced before with Leuchtturm.

In testing other non-fountain pens, some of that some resist behavior I experienced with the fountain pens was apparent with felt tip and brush pens. I also had a run of dead or dried up pens. Honestly, I started to wonder if this post was cursed!

There was less showthrough and bleedthrough with the non-fountain pens which was somewhat heartening. Because of the toothier quality of the paper, pencils performed particularly well and, of course, if you prefer a ballpoint pen, this paper would be just fine.

I extended my fountain pen tests to verify that the results were not specific to one particular ink. There is clearly evidence of the ink resisting the paper and makes the ink look lighter, and kind of blotted. I can;t think of any other way to describe the subtle voids in the strokes.

Further non-fountain pen tests revealed that most water-based inks like rollerball pens could bleedthrough.

All-in-all, I would not recommend the Whitelines Link to fountain pen enthusiasts. Even if you are looking for a method to digitize your notebooks, I believe there is probably other methods that can be used that would allow use of good paper and pens and STILL be able to digitize your notebooks. This initial foray into the Leuchtturm 1917 “other notebooks” was a huge disappointment. I’m glad I didn’t invest in the larger, more expensive A5 version of the Whitelines Link. Let’s hope Part 2 & 3 of this review series will be a little brighter.

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4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thanks for the review! If people are looking for another option, the Oxford Optik paper, as used in the Oxford Black n’ Red notebooks are good! I’ve used them with fountain pens to good success, and they have a digital option. I haven’t really made use of it, but I’ve been pleased with their performance. 🙂

  2. I’m interested to see how the two other Leuchtturm notebooks fare. I love their sketchbooks and sort of surprised that they got such a low score from that post, but they work wonderfully for what I do. And I do love the fact that they make A6 sized sketchbooks–good ones in that size are not easy to find. Unfortunately it seems that they are discontinuing that size.

    But I never got on with Leuchtturm notebooks. I had one that I tried to use for work, and realized that ink would smudge MONTHS after writing in it! This was no good. I’ve just been sticking with Rhodia because of that. So maybe these two other notebooks will be better?

  3. Thank you so much for this review. I’ve wondered about these Leuchtturms given my mad love for the regular A5 line. One of the things I’ve been curious about is whether the dots are invisible or easily removed when notebook pages are scanned. I need guidelines for writing, but sometimes would like it to look like I don’t.

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