To B6 or Not to B6

This year (2022) has been the year when I feel like I found “my size” notebook. I have wholeheartedly embraced the B6 and B6-ish sized notebooks (approx. 5 x 7″ or 125 x 176 mm). It’s been a very Goldilocks discovery.

For years, I thought I was an A5 lover (closer to 6 x 8″ or 148 x 210mm) but I realized that I wouldn’t take the A5 notebooks with me when I went somewhere. They were too large to fit in a small bag and took up a lot of real estate on my desk when open.

I tried the A6 size (approx. 4 x 6″ or 105 x 148mm) for several years thanks to the wide enthusiasm for all things Hobonichi but I found that size a little too small.

Despite years of notebook nerdery, it took until this year for me to discover the happy medium of the B6 size. I have been regularly using my B6 daily bullet journal/planner and have actually finished TWO notebooks at this size. I can’t tell you when the last was that I finished a notebook.

I have thrown A5 over entirely and I still use the larger size for personal journaling which stays at home and doesn’t travel. But for notebooks that need to be both useful and portable, I am 100% sold on the B6 size.

Midori and Nanami both make B6 Slim size — they shaved about 15mm off the width of the notebooks which fall into that B6-ish category for me. They are close and often provide paper options that are hard to find otherwise like the Midori LIGHT paper or the Nanami Cafe dashed grid.

At the moment though, my favorite B6-ish notebook is the Paperblanks MIDI with 120gsm paper (use the “More filters” drop down to choose paperweight). I purchase the blank unlined versions.

Have you found your go-to notebook size? What is your criteria for picking a notebook size?

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29 comments / Add your comment below

  1. how funny that you write this now. After years of A5 loyalty, my new 2023 planner is a B6 and it’s a lovely size that’s just a tad more portable but still gives me the space i need. I suppose if more stuff was available in this size i would have gotten here sooner. 🙂

      1. It’s the Leuchtturm weekly planner and notebook. I used the A5 this year and got the same one in B6 for 2023. I like the layout that allows me to keep track of my schedule on one side and my notes and to-dos on the other. It actually arrived today and I can already tell I will like this size much better.

  2. I’m still undecided on favourite paper size.

    For journalling I’m using A5+ as it always stays at home.

    For general note-taking I’ve been alternating between pocket size & a6 slim simply for their portability.

    I am going to try a Hobonichi Weeks for next year rather than my personal Filofax – I use a compact personal, but am also so afraid of ruining the leather in my bag – those covers are expensive!

    Whereas for the Weeks, I have a simple leather cover from an Etsy shop in Ukraine, that’ll look nice & take a beating in my bag

    1. Depending on the Filofax, the leather may be more durable than you think. I have an Original Personal in teal that I have had for at least a decade and I am not gentle with my stationery and it looks brand new. For the more supple leathers like a Malden, there are lots of videos on YouTube about conditioning and cleaning the leather to make it last. Good luck and enjoy the Weeks!

      1. Hi Ana
        Alas, I use an Amazona that I lucked out on ebay – £25!
        Unfortunately, I have rubbed a few bits of the leather off, so have to put it in a cover – my Tom Bihn Side Effect has been it’s home for a long while.

  3. I’m right there with you on the B6. Both this and a pocket sized journal are just right. I still use an A5 for other things like research notes and sketching, but I find B6 to be the ideal size for portability and all around usability.

  4. Anna,
    Thank you for your thoughts and comments on B6 size being a good size for you.
    Have you followed Sterling Ink offering a planner for 2023 in B6 size? Check it out.
    Another option in planners for those looking for B6 size.

  5. I very much love B6, and I would sell half my pens (a real threat) for someone to do a 400/500pg B6 with Tomoe River Paper (Sanzen, because let’s be realistic here). Alas, my hunt yielded no results so I’m moving from an A6 Hobonichi to an A5 Odyssey Notebook softcover with 500pgs for 2023. It’s not a move I’m too thrilled with, but I found Staolgy paper, while good, was so sensitive to hand oils, I was getting feathering like mad crazy mid page, and I don’t generally have or like using a blotter sheet. There’s a lot of B6 notebooks cropping up, but I really do wish they had more pages.

    1. Turkish guys from Istanbul galen leather have nice 400 page Tomoe river notebooks. Amazon used to sell another brand forgot the name think it started with K but not available at this moment.

    2. I just received my 2023 Common Planner from Sterling Ink. I ordered in the preorder. It’s a B6, monthly, weekly with 370 blank pages after. Tomoe River paper, grid. Just like the Hobonichi, but no dated dailies. Just the monthly and weeklies are dated. I’m so in love with it!!!

  6. Because I write almost daily, my go-to size has been A5 Rhodia Webbie, lined, hard-cover. Almost all of my leather covers are in various shades and colors of leather in A5 size. When Rhodia came out with their “ex lg” a few years ago (approx 7.5″x10.25″), I toyed with that (more journals, more leather covers), because I am a juicy FP writer in bold strokes, and that size gives me more space to stretch out. But alas, they are exceedingly hard to find!

    I also have a few Nanami A5 Writer and B6 slim, but I only use them for quotes or travel journals.

  7. I second the love of B6 size. My entry to this category was the Hahnemuehle DiaryFlex. Really excellent for a portable option. I still love A5 and traveller’s sizes; I just swap around a bit depending on what paper and size I’m in the mood for at any given time. I also have a few B5 sketchbooks, which seemed like a good idea (because my drawings often seem like they need more room) but their size makes them just that bit harder to integrate into daily use.

  8. I’ve seen the name Paperblanks several times now, but I haven’t tried one. Just at first glimpse, they look like the kind of notebook I used to buy before I knew anything about journal-type notebooks. That is, they look pretty, but like they wouldn’t lay flat when opened. So enlighten me: do they have lay-flat binding?

    1. Yes, they use Smyth-style binding so they do lay flat. The first few times I use them, I do have (gasp!) “crack the spine” but the cover material is durable enough to stand up to the abuse and then it lays absolutely flat. CRACK THAT SPINE! You’ll be glad you did.

  9. Thank you for this article!! I’ve used A5 as a standard for ages, but it’s too big for many things. But I’ve never really looked at the B sizes. I’m going to order B6 something with my next stationery order, looking forward to trying it!

  10. I’m also on the B6 train and a fan of Paperblanks’ (and Peter Pauper Press’) unlined journals. I have journals of other sizes for other purposes (tiny Paperblanks for vocabulary words, for instance), but teh B6s are indeed the just right size for portability and scope.

  11. I’m going through this right now. I’ve been an A5 user for ages but a friend convinced me to try a B6 Stalogy. I didn’t love the paper as much as my beloved 68gsm Tomoe River Paper, but the size has grown in me. I might get a Sterling Ink planner for 2023 as it’s B6 size.

  12. I absolutely love the B6 size but mostly looking for pads. I have resorted to taking my A5 Kokuyo KB paper to FedEx where they cut it to B6 size and pad it. But this of course is additional expense. Any suggestions for B6 pads of fountain pen friendly paper?

  13. For the past 11 years been a devotee to Midori MD B6 notebooks. They handle FP just fine. Glad you are convert to this size too!

  14. B6 does not get enough love, and I wish more planner manufacturers embraced this “Goldilocks-just-right” size. Fortunately, I was able to snag the Common Planner (by Sterling Ink) for 2023. Simply put, it is a Hobonichi reimagined in B6 size.

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