Hi All, 

What notebook should I use?

I used to use a plain black Moleskine lined notebook however recently moved over to the Midori Traveler's Notebook as I wanted something a little different.

I'm starting to wonder if I made the wrong choice.... which one do you prefer?

hashbrown's picture

  To be honest Gareth I think as long as you look professional with your notebook and it fits with your work wear, it'll be OK :)

Personally I like to keep it safe for all occasion by having a plain black leather A6 notebook


kpugh's picture
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Admittedly I am a notebook junky.  I love good quality paper and notebooks that are not too bulky.  I recently came across "Action books" which are not only high quality but they have a good format for organizing your notes.  Check them out ( and you can even download a sample page to see if it will work for you.


Ruby5907's picture

 A dear friend of mine who was a retired Air Force Colonel, in conversations prior to his  death, advised me to carry a steno notebook everywhere.  We didn't go into great detail about it but he was emphatic that it be a steno notebook.  

After he passed away I mentioned it to his son who confirmed that his father used these notebooks for most of his life.  He kept notes down one side and went back at a later time to write reflections and changes in the other column. 

He was an amazingly creative and gifted leader who was active in the national programs of my Church until a few months prior to his death at 95.  Needless to say, I now carry a steno notebook where ever I go!

rhsanborn's picture

I'm a fan of Levenger's Circa. Staples also has a fully compatible version as well. I print my own Cornell style notes on heavier weight paper. The key to the Circa for me is that I can take out and rearrange the pages. I move one-on-one notes into a dedicated area sorted by direct. When notes become stale and my notebook is getting full I pull out the old notes and put them in my desk and put more filler paper in, etc. It's really flexible and there are several sizes.

phil griffiths's picture

When it comes to choosing my notebook, my selection criteria is: 

  • As I use a fountain pen (Mont Blanc & Waterman - both fine nib), the ink must not feather or bleed on the page (show though is fine e.g. Smythson)
  • The notebook must be accessible at all times for information capture (i.e. GTD) in a variety of locations - office, meetings, car, "shopfloor", home & leisure.
  • How does the notebook enable me to make the actions/deliverables stand out?
  • The cover must be durable and discreet
  • The option to accessorise is an added bonus

If I could afford it, I'd choose the large Smythson time and again for the office and meetings specifically, and then a smaller Smythson for all other times. However as I cannot, I've decided upon a Midori Traveller and I'm thrilled with it. It is the first notebook I've found that meets all my needs, and after what has been a lengthy period of consciously searching for the past couple of years - believe me, I've tried many brands/sizes.

With the Midori now fully integrated into my professional and personal life, I'm also finding myself incorporating Evernote to ensure my actions/deliverables don't get lost in the pages.

Stick with the Midori Gareth - you made a good choice!




vjlyons's picture

I have recently started using the Evernote Moleskine notebook (   The paper is optimized to be copied with the iPhone / Android app so that they go into Evernote and become searchable.  I don't photograph every page, but when I go to a meeting or a training that I know I will want to review, I make sure to capture it. 

Mark's picture
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GlennR's picture

I'm a long time Moleskine evangelist, so to answer the original poster's question, I prefer the look of the Moleskine in the picture to that of the Midori.

Ultimately, there is no one right notebook. Our needs and cultures differ, so it's which style gives you the best ROI.

I echo Mark H's point about Cross pens in the thread he lists above. I'm an even  longer time Cross Pen evangelist also using a gold-colored roller ball pen. I sometimes use a TWSBI fountain pen and I have several Parker Pens from the 1980's then I occasionally use.

Years ago, before the advent of color printers, I switched to blue ink so that when I signed business letters, the recipients would know that they were originals. I have continued to use blue ink, frankly, just to set me apart from the crowd. Plus, I like the look of a handwritten thank you note in blue ink written using a fountain pen following the MT formula.




pjean's picture

I also like Moleskine and found a cheaper alternative at Barnes and Noble. This article talks through the comparison of the two. 

Another notebook I noticed recently was the Moleskine Professional notebook.

This adds some things missing in the classic Moleskine like page numbers and margins similar to the Cornell note taking template.


donm's picture
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After reading here, I looked online, then finally went to Staples to get the subject notebook. They are listed as "m by Staples," but everyone in the store knows them as the "arc system" and that's how the manufacturers promote themselves.

I bought one notebook, a set of dividers, some extra discs (more on these follows), and then went back later for two more notebooks, more discs and the punch. The following is my take on the notebooks:

They lay flat. Yep. Completely, gloriously, flat. The cover can also be "wrapped around" to open the notebook fully to rest on your lap.

They come in many different colors, all in leather. They look good, and I can "file" my notes by color. My boss book is the red one. Projects is black. O3s is tan.

The disc size can be increased to include more pages in a book. The removable-replaceable part is great, but even better is making them bigger or smaller by just changing discs.

With the punch, I eliminated all the "fluff" on the O3 form. I know I scored a zero on C, breaking the system that won't go below a 1, but I don't need hints and reminders on EVERY page on my O3s. Plus, I put all the stuff on an A5 paper, which fits just fine in my 5.5 x 8 notebooks.

They're small and easy to carry. I carry all three of them home every night.

Bad: The punch only does 8 sheets at a time. They aren't lying. Eight is about the maximum. Maybe 10 if you want to try to force matters. I'd sure like a 20 or even 50 page capacity for my custom forms.

A big "Thanks" goes to RHSanborn for suggesting these gems. They are the best notebook I've used in over 20 years. I'm probably going to get every color leather the next time I'm in the US.

dannywalker's picture

Be brandwise, however, try to find the best product or business and company name that your trusted more. That was the idea that I have gained from reading the books of

jlinmaloney's picture

Do you find it necessary to carry two notebooks? One for meetings and one for personal notes to self or things that come up during the day (like writing down voicemail messages and "to do" items?

I noticed the Rhodia Meetings notebook which had the Cornell note taking format, which looked nice. But I'm afraid I may end up preferring one notebook for everything - one that lays flat, hardcover and spiral - and end up wasting money on a separate meetings notebook. 

Any opinions?



tlhausmann's picture
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] Do you find it necessary to carry two notebooks?

I for the desk and one for meetings. The meeting notes are reviewed for action items which are transferred to my "desk" book. You may have electronic to do lists. So, is it "necessary?" No. For my personal effectiveness, I maintain a desk book. The meeting folio is cleared out at the end of the day.

TNoxtort's picture

I have a Thinkpad Yoga with a touch screen and stylus, and take notes on it with Microsoft One Note (by hand) and then export the PDF to save the notes. It doesn't do the Cornell template very well, but I have something that is workable.

wuuwlife's picture

Most notebooks will do the job since it comes down to paper.  I receieved a very nice gift from my wife. It's a real marble notebook from MIKOL that also has my name engraved on it.

Stands out, looks professional, and because of the looks, it makes me want to use it more.

It is pricer though

jazzlover's picture

Have you considered going to a tablet and stylus? Pros: searchable, ability to embed files within your notes, ability to annotate pdf files, ability to draw shapes, various stroke thicknesses and colours without having to carry those different writing instruments, backed up to the cloud. Cons: cost, it's slower to open a virtual notebook than a paper one, you have to remember to back it up, if the software provider goes out of business you're hooped unless you've saved your notes to a non-proprietary format. 

I've tried a number of solutions, and settled on GoodNotes on an iPad.

rickbeley's picture

Anyone know if writing notes on the tablet has the same effects of writing on paper (better recall)?  I would imagine its the best of both worlds?