10 best notebooks

Jot down thoughts and keep on top of your to-do list

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The Independent Online

As National Stationery Week comes around (24-30 April), we check out one of the cornerstones of the stationery kingdom: the notebook. Most people can agree, using a brand new notebook for the first time is bewilderingly satisfying. The list below is a mix of the best notebooks currently on the market, some of them great accessories and all perfect for jotting down your thoughts. Any birthdays coming up? Or maybe just fancy refreshing yourself going into spring? You can’t go wrong with any of these. 

Firstly though, there are a few different things that notebook aficionados tend to consider before splashing the cash. The weight of the notebook’s paper is important as the thicker it is the less likely it is the pen will show through to the other side. If you use a fountain pen, the thicker the paper the better. Size is essential: whether you choose A4, A5, or A6; don’t buy a notebook that’s too big to fit in your bag. Paper weight ranges from 80 to 170 Grams per Square Meter (GSM): generally, the heavier the paper the thicker and more durable it is, which means ink is less likely to seep through to the next page.The binding type is also important as it can determine whether the notebook will stay open on a desk or not, as well as how sturdy it is. Spiral binding allows for notebooks to be opened easily on a desk; thread binding can accommodate more pages; some glue binding allows pages to be easily removable; a thread and glue bind means the notebook isn’t limited in how many pages it can contain. 

These 10 notebooks were handpicked from stationery specialists and subsequently hand-tested by us at the IndyBest office. We even wrote in them to ensure the quality of the paper was up to scratch. 

1. Choosing Keeping Black A5 Notebook: £8, Choosing Keeping

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Attractive and classical-looking: the cover on this is embossed with leatherette paper. Available in both lined and plain cream paper, this traditional notebook is suitable for the scrawlers as well as the more considered writers. Red stained edges are a running theme throughout this year’s top 10. Perfect for use with a fountain pen. 

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2. Present & Correct Corner Rind Bound Book: £5, Present & Correct

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Spiral bound on its tapered edge, which stops the binding from encroaching on the page, this A5 notebook has a simple yet sleek design. The paper is blank and textured. For those who like to doodle, the heavier weight of the pages makes this notebook good for both sketching and writing. 

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3. Miquelrius Black and White Marbled Composition Notebook: £10, Choosing Keeping 

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Miquelrius started printing accountancy books in 1839. Available in either A5 or as a pocket version in A6, the stylish black-edged pages with attractive marble design are far removed from the Catalonian notebook makers’ humble beginnings. Thread and glue bound, the pages are lined and fountain pen-friendly. 

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4. Muji Natural B5 Double Ring Notebook: £3.50, Muji 

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In its typically minimal style, Muji delivers the goods again with a simple and affordable notebook. A tasteful brown card cover and an uncomplicated grey spiral ring bind - this notebook, which is a slightly smaller size than A4, is perfect for those off-the-top-of-your-head musings. It contains 80 pages of blank paper, leaving you plenty of room to scribble away to your heart’s content. The thinness of the paper means that ink bleeds through the page. 

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5. Moleskine Beatles Notebook: £19.95, Moleskine

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Know any Beatles fans who are into their stationery? You’ve found the perfect present. Inspired by the Yellow Submarine movie, this Moleskine 13x21cm notebook pays homage to one of the great British bands. Thread and glue bound, all pages are lined. For those prone to losing things, the notebook is handily prefaced with an “In case of loss” page. If you’d rather something simpler, Moleskine has a range of notebooks of different block colours.

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6. Kikki.K A5 Leather Spiral Notebook: £18, Kikki.K

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This spiral-bound A5 notebook by the Australian company Kikki.K would be a smart addition to anybody’s stationery arsenal. Leather bound with a smart red cover, the notebook has a stylish aesthetic and is pleasant to the touch. Subtle dotted lines adorn the book’s 240 pages. You can also personalise it by adding your initials to the cover either in store or online. Available in blue. 

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7. Happy Jackson Great Ideas Notebook: £10, Selfridges 

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Looking to plan your next dastardly deal? Happy Jackson’s Great Ideas A5 notebook is the ideal receptacle. The  pages are lined and decorated with red edges: everything is kept in check with a black elasticated band. Thread and glue bound, the hardback cover protects the pages from any wear and tear. 

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8. Studio Sweet & Sour: £9.50, Selfridges 

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The Dutch design studio has crafted a notebook with a  stylish mesh front.The unorthodox design doesn’t end at the cover - the pages are crossed grid, a common characteristic of European-made notebooks. Writing in it may take getting used to, but it’s worth it for the sleek design. Slightly smaller than A5, it’s bound with glue. 

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9. Present & Correct Reporters’ Notebook: £6.50, Present and Correct 

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Seventy years ago, Stationers Inc founder Landon Edwards cut a normal A4 notebook in half and in doing so invented the original reporters’ notebook. It’s been in print ever since. Perfect for anyone who might need to quickly draw for their pad. The paper is lined and the spiral bind at the top allows for the pages to be flipped over in a hurry. An obvious buy for any budding reporters. 

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10. Liberty Leather Ianthe Medium Notebook: £45, Liberty

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With an intricate print embossed onto its leather cover, this is an elegant notebook. The pages are lined with gilt edges, and a blue, silk bookmark is attached so you don’t lose your place. Available in eight different colours, it also comes in an A5 version. 

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The Verdict: Notebooks

The Black Choosing Keeping A5 Notebook is one of the more unassuming notebooks we reviewed but its smooth leatherette exterior and red-edged pages make it the most stylish, and our favourite. The Corner Ring Bound Book is also recommended. Its unique yet simple design and thick, textured paper make it stand out from the crowd. With its stylish perforated cover, The Studio Sweet & Sour is a great accessory. Another recommended.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing

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