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Best notebook 2023: Scribble your heart out from just £4

Turn your thoughts into written wisdom with our pick of the best notebooks

No matter how many note-taking apps grace our phones, there’s simply no replacement for putting pen to paper.

But finding the best notebook is often a matter of personal preference. Handmade paper may be beautiful to look at, but it absorbs ink at an alarming rate. For left-handed writers, a spiral-bound notebook can press uncomfortably into their hand and shiny paper means ink will smudge long after writing. Then there are the pages themselves: ruled, blank, dotted or graphed? And in terms of covers, do you like flipping a spiral notebook like a reporter or is a hardcover more your style?

Whether you love writing between the lines or prefer a blank page to pour your thoughts onto, we’ve found the best notebooks for any would-be writer. Simply scroll on to find your next perfect notebook.

Best notebook: At a glance

How to choose the best notebook for you

What size notebook should I get?

Size matters when choosing a notebook. If it’s only used in the house and you like masses of space to write in, opt for an A4 notebook. Downsizing to A5 and the smaller size means less weight and less page volume, but there’s still room for full sentences. A6 feels like the perfect pocket size and is a great choice for note-taking on the go and keeping track of your ever-growing to-do lists.

Hardcover or softcover?

Hardcover notebooks are durable and drop-proof. They slide easily into bags without dog-earing the corners or damaging pages and act as their own backing surface to write on when there’s no desk nearby. Hardcovers are usually the best choice for the kinds of writing you want to preserve.

Softcover notebooks are light, take up minimal space in bags and on shelves, and are flexible enough to be manoeuvred into small pockets. They’re typically cheaper too, and designs are more plentiful.

What other features should I consider?

The plainest of plain notebooks will offer blank pages, but there’s a myriad of options available. Ruled lines are typically favoured by writers, whereas graph pages are great for the artistic or design-minded. Dotted pages provide a middle ground between the two: the flexibility of blank paper with the unobtrusive option for drawing lines and boxes. Dots are loved by those who create planners or bullet journals in their notebooks. If you can’t decide what you prefer, some notebooks come with alternating ruled and blank pages too.

Other useful notebook features can include a card envelope at the back to store receipts and assorted slips of paper, a ribbon bookmark to keep your place, a pen holder, perforated pages, and a magnetic flap closure or thin band of elastic attached to the cover to hold the notebook securely closed.

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The best notebooks to buy in 2023

1. Kraft A5 Exercise Book: The best budget notebook

Price: £4 | Buy now from Paperchase

This Kraft A5 exercise book from Paperchase is an ideal notebook for your shopping lists, daily errands and random scribblings. It’s nice and thin with a neutral cardboard cover (a great choice if you’re not a fan of cheesy slogans), but it also allows for personalisation with doodles or stickers. Inside are 96 pages of ruled paper bound together with a stitched black binding. The notebook is made from recycled materials and uses soy-based ink so you can feel a bit better about filling it and then binning it – hopefully into the recycling bin!

Key features – Size: 147 x 210mm (A5); Paper: 192 ruled sheets (96 pages); Cover: Cardboard; Binding: Stitched fabric

Buy now from Paperchase

2. Paperblanks Grolier Ornamentali Journal: The best luxury notebook

Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon

A special occasion deserves a special notebook and Paperblanks is the perfect place to look. The brand works with museums and art collections around the world to create seriously stunning notebook covers. This gorgeous Grolier Ornamentali notebook is inspired by the library of Jean Grolier, a French book collector in the 1500s.

The cover has a soft faded leather finish inlaid with a complex floral design and an ornamental closure to fasten it closed. Inside, you’ll find 120 pages of ruled matte acid-free paper with coloured edges that create a beautiful vintage look when the notebook is shut. Like all of the Paperblanks range, this notebook is perfect as a gift, for commemorative occasions or simply for sitting on the bookshelf to look beautiful.

Key features – Size: 184 x 133mm; Paper: 240 ruled sheets (120 pages); Features: Metal clasp closure, ribbon bookmark, interior pocket, coloured edge-pages; Cover: Hard; Binding: Stitched

3. Moleskine Classic Pocket Notebook: The best all-round notebook

Price: £9.49 | Buy now from Ryman

It’s impossible not to mention Moleskine when it comes to notebooks. Although they’re on the pricier side, the iconic Italian brand is famed for high-quality compact and elegant notebooks that are perfect for all types of writer.

We love the classic pocket notebook for its all-rounder capabilities: the durable hardback cover means you don’t have to worry about finding a surface to rest it on, while the sheets sewn directly into the spine mean the notebook always lies completely flat. The elastic closure keeps a pen firmly inside, along with any other slips of paper you tuck in, and the matte ivory paper is easy on the eyes and feels really smooth to write on. In our opinion, they’re a great balance of price and performance.

Key features – Size: 140 x 90mm; Paper: 96 ruled sheets (192 pages); Features: Elastic closure, ribbon bookmark, interior pocket; Cover: Hard; Binding: Stitched

Buy now from Ryman

4. Paperchase A4 Translucent 10 Subject Notebook: The best notebook for organisation

Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon

If your various project categories are getting away from you, take back control with this ten-subject notebook from Paperchase. The spiral wire binding means the notebook can either lie flat or be folded over itself, and there are 150 ruled sheets of A4 paper inside, separated by ten subject dividers made from flexible translucent plastic in a variety of colours. You can’t move the dividers around, but they’re sectioned off into sets of 30 pages (15 sheets) of paper, which should be more than enough to get yourself organised.

Key features – Size: 225 x 300mm (A4); Paper: 150 ruled sheets (300 pages); Features: 10 plastic dividers; Cover: Plastic cover; Binding: Spiral

5. Filofax A5 Refillable Notebook: The best refillable notebook

Price: From £14 | Buy now from Filofax

For those who love the reliable familiarity of one notebook but get through pages at super speed, the Filofax Refillable Notebook is ideal: just pick up replacement pages and swap them in when your first set is full. The soft faux-leather cover extends further than the paper in order to protect page edges, and it has a spiral wire binding – although, unlike most spiral notebooks, this one doesn’t click open. Instead, the ruled paper sheets have tiny slits where they meet the binding so you can move pages around without them tearing. This refillable notebook also has a thick elastic closure with a satisfying snap to it, a removable rule-marked divider made from flexible plastic, and four page-sized grey dividers with tabs for easy organisation. You can even personalise it on the Filofax site from £7.75 extra, by choosing one of five coloured foils and between 1-18 characters of text.

Key features – Size: 214 x 163mm (A5); Paper: 56 ruled sheets (112 pages); Features: Elastic closure, four plastic dividers, moveable ruler; Cover: Faux-leather; Binding: Spiral

Buy now from Filofax

6. Rocketbook Everlast Smart Reusable Notebook: The best smart notebook

Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re keen to save paper and still write by hand, the Rocketbook is your notebook of the future. Touted as the world’s first endlessly reusable journal, it employs a somewhat bewildering array of technology to send your handwritten notes rocketing online. Write on the synthetically blended waterproof pages with a Frixion erasable pen, then snap a photo with your phone. The Rocketbook app backs up a scan of your work to your selection of cloud-based services, leaving you free to wipe the page clean with a damp cloth and start again.

Although there are a number of pocket scanner apps available, the beauty of Rocketbook is environmental as you only need to buy a single notebook for all your digital note needs. Happy customers say there’s a sense of liberation each time they erase a page and start from a clean slate – although there are also mentions of Frixion ink taking a while to dry, so be careful with smudges and pressing pages together.

Key features – Size: 224 x 153mm (A5); Paper: 16 ruled water-resistant dotted sheets (32 pages); Features: Pilot Frixion pen, microfiber cloth; Cover: Synthetic water-resistant; Binding: Spiral

7. Habitat Another Eden A5: The best vegan leather notebook

Price: £8 | Buy now from Argos

If you have a favourite writing pen that you always manage to misplace, why not opt for a notebook with a pen pocket already attached? This gorgeous olive green A5 notebook from Argos is the perfect stationery set package: a pen slots neatly into a secure pocket stitched into its front cover. The soft faux-leather cover is entirely vegan and reads ‘inspire’ in lower case letters in the top centre.

While we’re not entirely sure about the pocket’s placement, as it could potentially make the cover somewhat bulky, it does avoid having that all-too-familiar divot in the notebook’s centre – and there’s no denying the relief of knowing you always have a pen when inspiration strikes. With a full 192 lined pages to fill, and a black ballpoint pen included, we think this notebook is a steal at just £8.

Key features – Size: 214 x 163mm (A5); Paper: 96 ruled sheets (192 pages); Features: Ribbon bookmark, exterior pen pocket, black ballpoint pen; Cover: Soft leather-look; Binding: Spiral

Buy now from Argos

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