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Using short phrases and bullet points to create a streamlined log of your days and months, bullet journaling eliminates the hand cramps of journaling and the haphazardness of a to-do list scribbled on scratch paper.
“Bullet journals are a great way to track progress and habits, and they are a great space for you to be creative too,” says Holly Chapman, head of global PR for Papier.
We researched the best options, considering attributes like bleed-resistant pages, durable covers, and handy features (like a hidden inner pocket or a ribbon bookmark). Our top choice was the Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Dotted Hardcover Notebook, due to its professional aesthetic, convenient portability, and durable construction.
Scroll on for the best bullet journals, no matter your scribbling style.
Best Overall: Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Dotted Hardcover Notebook
Paper is a bit thin
Who else recommends it? Bob Vila also picked the Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Dotted Notebook.
What do buyers say? 86% of 28,200+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.
Both new and experienced bullet journalers will fall for this notebook from Leuchtturm. It comes in 24 different colors, so you can go bold with a port red or stay business professional with black. The book measures 5.75 x 8.25 inches, so it is just the right size to throw in your purse when you are on the go.
Each book comes with 251 numbered (writing) pages, eight perforated pages, a blank table of contents, and a folder in the back so you can stay hyper-organized. The pages have a dot grid which makes bullet journaling even easier.
Best Budget: Minimalism Art Premium Dotted Hard Cover Notebook
Dots aren’t evenly printed from page to page
Pages aren’t stark white
This budget-friendly pick closely mirrors much more expensive counterparts. The hardcover leather thread-bound book opens flat to reveal 122 numbered pages of ink bleed-resistant, acid-free ivory paper. Each page is dotted to help keep journal entries clean and organized, too. And despite the price tag, you’ll get desirable extras, like a table of contents for easy reference, a durable elastic strap for fast and secure closure, matching ribbon bookmarks, and an expandable inner pocket to keep loose items and papers organized.
Choose from nine different colors, from a more professional brown or black to more fun and poppy pink or blue. And, if you prefer another format beyond dots, you can get the same great notebook with blank pages, ruled pages, or even squared pages.
Best Hardcover: Paperage Dotted Journal Bullet Notebook
Dot grid is faint
Dots are aligned across pages
Pages are smooth and crisp
Doesn’t lay entirely flat
Slightly smaller than comparable options
Another budget-friendly pick that’s quite comparable to other pricier options, thanks to a quality hard leather cover that houses 160 pages of 100 gsm ivory paper, plus a sturdy expandable inner pocket, a ribbon bookmark, a card holder, and an elastic closure band. All pages are acid-free to ensure your creations will stand the test of time—great for retrospectives.
Also nice: The vegan leather cover is water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about ruining it even if you’re journaling over a cup of tea. The cover is also sturdy enough to use without a tabletop for use on-the-go or in bed.
Choose from 11 different colors, including white, black, turquoise, burgundy, and more. And if you’d prefer, you can get any of these hues with lined or blank pages, too.
Best for Beginners: Scribbles That Matter A5 Dotted Journal
Two ribbon bookmarks
Pen loop doesn’t easily fit pens
Dots are extremely faint
Need some help figuring out how to bullet journal? This journal helps you get started on the right foot, with key code pages, index pages, dotted numbered pages, and two color-coded bookmarks to help you stay organized and stress-free.
It also comes in various colors and features an ethically-sourced, vegan leather cover. It even has a pen test page to test out different pens to make sure they won’t bleed through.
Many customers comment that there is minimal to no ghosting (even with Sharpies), smooth writing, thick paper, and enough pages for over a year's worth of journaling.
Best Set: Feela Bullet Dotted Journal Kit
Binding is a bit loose
Bullet journal novices will appreciate the value of this comprehensive set as they learn the art. For a comparable price to fine notebooks, you’ll receive—yes—a quality hardcover notebook, but also 15 colored pens, five stencils, six sticker sheets, six rolls of washi tape, and a black pen.
Despite the value, there’s no sacrificing quality. The dotted journal is thread-bound with numbered pages, attractive round arc corners, and dots that are aligned and easy to see. The entire book lays flat for convenience while journaling, plus you’ll get extras like an inner pocket, two ribbon bookmarks, a pen holder, and an elastic closure.
Best Premade: CherishbyDesignShop 2022 A5 Pre-Filled Paperback Planner
Great for beginners
Options for customization
Not as much flexibility
If you’re not artistically-inclined, bullet journaling can be intimidating, since it hinges on quality penmanship and basic drawing skills. But that doesn’t render the journaling form unattainable to the masses. Although you’ll be limited to the confines of someone else’s design, you can find plenty of great, quality pre-filled options, especially on sites like Etsy.
This best-selling option includes 12 months’ worth of content not limited to a key/legend page, a table of contents page, a year at a glance page, an important dates page, a goals page, a blank monthly page, a five-week calendar spread, a monthly habit tracker page, and more. If you’d like some element of personalization, that’s possible, too. Choose cover color (10 options), white or cream pages, your starting month, and a 3-, 6-, or 12-month length.
Best Softcover: Lemome Dotted Bullet Grid Journal
Includes an enclosure strap
Grids are extremely faint
If hardcover journals aren’t your jam, no worries—there are tons of great softcover bullet journals out there, too, and this Lemome model is a great place to start. It’s totally budget-friendly and you’ve got a choice between blank, dotted, or squared pages. Because it’s soft, it’s flexible and can be folded to fit in the pocket of a bag, but it’s also durable, so you won’t totally destroy it in the process.
This one also features archival quality paper, meaning it’s 20-50 percent thicker than regular paper. It’ll resist feathering, ghosting, and bleeding, but it won’t add any extra bulk to the journal. The cover is made out of soft suede, so aesthetically, it’s a total win. Once you break it in a bit, it’ll lie completely flat, so don’t worry if it doesn’t the day you start writing in it.
Best Spiral Bound: MILIKO Transparent Hardcover A5 Size Dot Grid Wirebound/Spiral Notebook
Durable enough to use without a tabletop
Pages aren’t numbered
Doesn’t contain extras like bookmarks or a closure
The Miliko spiral notebook can be blank, dotted, ruled, or square, and it’s got a transparent hardcover to keep it protected. Trust us, this isn’t one of those flimsy spiral notebooks you used in high school.
It comes in a choice of two different sizes (A5 or B5), depending on whether you need one small enough to carry around or not. According to online reviewers, this one has a slight advantage over hard or softcovers, thanks to the fact that you can open the notebook all the way and fold back the cover.
The best part is this comes in a pack, so you’ll get two journals for the price of one.
Best for Work: URSUNSHINE Dotted Grid Notebook
Pages aren’t numbered
Maybe you are starting your bullet journaling journey, and you don't want to spend a ton. This dotted grid journal helps you start getting organized without spending a ton and will help you create a routine with ease.
It’s got an extremely durable faux leather cover, so you don’t have to worry too much about beating it up on the go. Maybe the most unique feature of all, though, is the paper. The premium cream-white pages are made with natural material, which helps prevent eye strain. In addition to black, it also comes in blue, white, yellow, and a cactus pattern. It also has lay-flat pages, making journaling easier. Did we mention it features round corners and a ribbon bookmark to help you find your place?
The best bullet journal is manageable in size, filled with quality dotted pages, and designed with a lay-flat binding. The Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Dotted Hardcover Notebook is all of that—and more. There’s a folder in the back for added organization, plus you can choose from over 24 colors. If you’re looking for something that offers a little more guidance for beginners, check out the Scribbles That Matter A5 Dotted Journal. It has key code pages, index pages, dotted numbered pages, and two color-coded bookmarks to help you learn the art of bullet journaling.
What to Look for in a Bullet Journal
As for the cover, select a design you love and will happily gravitate towards every day. Perhaps a plain design that you can monogram or personalize with your own doodles and designs will suit your fancy. When choosing between hardcover or softcover, again, it’s all about personal preference. Hardcover tends to be more durable, but softcovers are generally thinner, making them easier to throw in your purse.
There’s no right or wrong binding style for your bullet journal; it’s all personal preference. Saddle-stitched notebooks allow the booklet to lay flat, while coil or wire binding makes for extra easy page-turning.
While the original bullet journal recommends dot grid pages, choose the page style that works best for you: blank, lined, or dot grid. Blank pages are ideal for sketches, diagrams, and decorative pages. For type-A personalities, opt for lined. Dot grid pages, meanwhile, are best for habit trackers and calendars.
Since users generally rely on colored markers for bullet journaling, it’s important to consider paper quality. Look for thick paper, so the ink from your pen doesn’t leak through, says Chapman.
What are bullet journals used for?
Part planner, part to-do list, part diary, a bullet journal is a bit of everything. Instead of long, meandering sentences, though, a bullet journal, like its name implies, is organized by short phrases and bullet points. The official bullet journaling way is to designate tasks, events, and notes with different signifiers (like a dot, dash, or circle), making for a streamlined log of your day and months. A bullet journal is the user’s choice, so you could use it to track your brilliant ideas, memorable life moments, mundane everyday tasks, or all of the above.
What do you do with old bullet journals?
Once you fill the last page of a bullet journal, whether you keep it or toss it is, of course, up to you. Don’t feel pressured to make the decision immediately. Put it away for a few months and then reevaluate. Whether you decide to keep or toss an old bullet journal comes down to how you’ve used it. Some bullet journal users view theirs as a time capsule; others are less sentimental. If you’ve recalled travel adventures or the first year of your baby’s life in one, you’re more likely to want to keep it, as opposed to one filled with grocery lists and meeting notes. The decision is yours.
How do you bullet journal?
Starting with a blank dotted (not lined) journal, first, you’ll create your key of symbols. The original bullet journal founders recommend a dot for a task, an open circle for an event, and a dash for notes, but choose what works best for you. Next, number the pages and create an index listing for which pages are used for what. Some pages will be for day-to-day; others are to see the next six months at a glance.
Not sure how you want to set yours up? Search Instagram for endless bullet journaling ideas, with templates to copy and organize ideas. Some “bullet journal junkies” go all out design-wise, color coding and illustrating their journals, but you can make yours as simple or elaborate as you’d like.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written and researched by Sierra Livermore, a product reviewer for The Spruce, who covers travel, home decor, fashion, beauty, and toys. Additional research was done by Megan McCarty, a writer for The Spruce and MyDomaine with over 13 years of experience in both print and digital media. She regularly contributes to design-focused outlets such as Architectural Digest, Domino, House & Home, and Hunker. Updates were later made using additional research completed by Brigitt Earley. She’s a writer with more than 12 years of experience writing buying guides and testing productions for digital publications like The Spruce and Good Housekeeping.