Notebook Showdown

In a previous post I wrote about my switch from preprinted planners to a notebook-based system.

For several years I used Moleskine classic notebooks with grid pages (like graph paper) and 240 pages. The notebooks worked well for my needs, but I noticed that I only used about two-thirds of the pages.

Notes in a Moleskine Classic Squared Notebook

I decided to look at different options. For two years I used the Moleskine Art notebook – 104 pages with a 165 gsm paper weight. However, 104 pages were insufficient.

Notes in a Moleskine Art Sketchbook, Large

I decided to buy several different notebooks and compare them. My conclusions are below.

Notebook Sourcing

Below is a brief explanation of how I became familiar with each brand of notebook. I’ve also include a few photos of each and a unique feature.

MOLESKINE. I don’t recall how I first learned about Moleskine notebooks – most likely I came across the Moleskine kiosk where a variety of notebooks are available.

Moleskine – Art Sketchbook, Large
Inside front cover with the Notes For Learning pocket

ARCHER & OLIVE. Several bullet journal aficionados I follow using Archer & Olive. I used one of these notebooks for about six months of 2021. I tried aligning my planner with my company’s fiscal year (October to September), but decided in June to return to the traditional calendar year (January to December).

Archer & Olive – 192 Page Dot Grid Notebook
Gift Box

SKETCHNOTE IDEABOOK. Mike Rohde, considered one of the founders of sketchnoting, wrote the The Sketchnote Handbook, an excellent book to begin sketchnoting, a visual form of note taking. Mike designed the Sketchnote Ideabook to meet his own sketchnoting needs.

Sketchnote Ideabook
Sketchnoting Reference and Patterns

SHOP AMANDA RACH LEE. Amanda Rach Lee has over two million followers on YouTube and 725,000 followers on Instagram. She has been on YouTube since 2013 and has over 375 videos. Each month Amanda draws a theme and then creates weekly spreads using the theme. She recently launched her own line of custom notebooks and planners.

ShopAmandaRachLee – Slate Grey Dotted Notebook
Numbered Pages

LEUCHTTURM1917. The Leuchtturm notebooks are designed for bullet journaling. While they appeared attractive in the bookstore, the paper was too thin – 70 gsm – for me. However, recently I discovered the version below with 120 gsm paper.

Leuchtturm1917 – Paper 120g Dotted Notebook
Planning Stickers


To help me evaluate the notebooks I created a basic scoring system with different elements. Each preferred element earned a score of 1. This particular scale is specifically for preferences. For example, I like thicker paper and smooth covers.


Below are my scores for each notebook. Elements in the bold reddish font met the scoring criteria.

The printed numbers feature on pages it so significant that it earned two points, one in “Numbered Pages” and one in “Unique Features.”


The top three had scores of 12, 11 and 10. As a planning notebook, the notebooks by Shop AmandaRachLee and Leuchtturm1917 were the winners. While it may be a stretch to use the Moleskine and Sketchnote Idea Book for planning, they are excellent for their true purposes – sketching and sketchnotes. The Archer & Olive worked well for me this year, but placed third in this evaluation.

Soon I will be sharing another comparison of the best notebooks for sketchnoting.

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