Serendipity is an interesting thing. Last year, an unexpected project introduced me to a wide-format clipboard, and a little research into that novelty turned into a revelation about the option of landscape-oriented office supplies. At the time, I mentioned the relative rarity of landscape-formatted writing pads, sourced one, and promptly left behind about them.
Then, just this week, while attempting to solve the conundrum of my dearest (and abruptly unavailable) purple legal pads. two different blogs would prove to be the inspiration for this post. But not because they were profiling pastels — because they talking about writing pads with landscape orientation .
All of a sudden, that previously discovered line of landscape-orientation, Roaring Springs Broad LandscapePads , have become this week’s must-have office supply. They come in four varieties:
- 11″ x 9.Five″, WHITE, college-ruled. Each pad includes 40 sheets of 20-pound, 30% post-consumer recycled paper per pad, with left-side margins. Micro-perforations at the top yield an 11″ x 8.Five″ sheet. (Available singly or in two-pad packs.)
- 11″ x 9.Five″, CANARY (yellow), college-ruled. Each pad includes 40 sheets of 20-pound, 30% post-consumer recycled paper per pad, with left-side margins. Mirco-perforations at the top yield an 11″ x 8.Five″ sheet. (Available singly or in two-pad packs.)
- 11″ x 9.Five″, ASSORTED* PASTELS (orchid, pink and blue), college-ruled. Each pad includes 40 sheets of 15-pound 30% post-consumer recycled paper per pad, consumer recycled paper, with left-side margins. Micro-perforations at the top yield an 11″ x 8.Five″ sheet. (Available in three-pad packs .)
Punched (for effortless storage in traditional three-ring binders)
*Note: Assorted pastel pads are listed on the website as 50 sheets/pad, but specifications and packaging verify they are 40 sheets/pad.
Roaring Springs Broad Landscape Pads are sold in office supply stores and on Amazon, and range from $Five.28 for single pads to $13 for three-packs.
Thanks to Office Supply Geek for reminding me that these pads exist, and The Well-Appointed Desk. for inspiring me to dig more deeply.
At very first glance, landscape notepads may look a little funny to us — one client said she thought if legal pads were business suits, these landscape pads were more like crop tops. The question, however, is what can you do with them? In fact, Office Supply Geek ‘s Brian Greene actually stated, «To be totally fair, after having them in my palms I still don’t indeed know what I’d do with them that I wouldn’t do with a regular legal pad.»
Well, Brian, that’s why Paper Doll is here!
Most of the time, when we hand-write, we are in portrait mode, and it usually makes sense. However, I can think of a sampling of reasons why we might want to have some side-to-side breathing room.
1) Notetaking — When we’re taking notes in a committee meeting or for class, we’re often creating a linear, outline-style set of notes. But, as we discussed when we reviewed the exceptional Cornell Notetaking Method. we need to make room for cues or other special attention-getting markings on the left side.
With traditional 8.Five″ broad paper, that either reduces our notetaking space or compels us to write in the narrow margin, making it more likely that we’ll get inky smudges on that all-important cue-section. Landscape orientation provides more breathing room.
Two) Ergonomics — Look at the available space on and around your desk. If your computer is in front of you, your keyboard is most likely somewhere inbetween elbow-and-wrist distance away, not leaving you very much space for alternating typed notes and handwritten notes. Because of that limited space, you may find you’re turning your traditional (portrait-orientation) notepad sideways, with the top to your left (unless you’re a southpaw). This lets you take written notes, but you’re most likely twisting at the mid-body to do so. This is not sustainable or ergonomically friendly.
Three) Expansive thought — When we take notes, journal, free-write, or craft letters, we’re often thinking linearly. It’s effortless to go after a unidirectional flow of ideas, or paths, with a narrower chunk of paper. When we’re on the computer, using Microsoft Word or any other word processing program, unless we’re using design features for creating signs or brochures, we echo that same tall/narrow format.
But what happens when we want to think more broadly (no pun intended)? When we’re on the computer, using a spreadsheet like Excel, we create numerous columns so that we can visualize information best seen side-by-side, like numerous fields in a record. But what’s the paper version? I can think of a number of times when I’ve been working with a client to brainstorm ideas in parallel (like how different departments will treat particular situations), and we end up turning a notepad sideways. The lines go the wrong way, and the content gets messy ; it suffices, but it’s not optimum.
Four) Mind mapping — Paper Doll is a fairly linear thinker, but when I’m attempting to mind-map, or showcase the relationship inbetween different processes, or do anything that’s more visual, I need more space. With some clients, we may choose mind mapping software or apps like MindNode or XMind. but we often find that an analog solution is swifter and more instant. Most often, we end up using numerous Post-It! Notes on a wall or window. That’s excellent when we’re in a house or office, but not so optimal when we’re in the field (even in a field), in a warehouse, or going mobile. That’s where these landscape notepads (and the aforementioned landscape clipboards) indeed come into their own.
Five) Flow Charts — It might not be instantaneously apparent, but a number of law students have posted online comments regarding how landscape writing pads make it lighter to visualize case-law timelines, precedents and conceptual flow. Scientists have also reported that wide-format paper helps conceptualize scientific reactions more clearly.
6) Computer/TV Screen Dimensions — Tablets and phones aside, we spend a lot of time looking at screens in landscape orientation, and sometimes we still need to make our analog notes approximate what we’re observing, or make our digital notes approximate what we’d like to be watching on the screen. Writing pads that parallel those dimensions are helpful.
Granted, web designers are more likely to use paper prototyping implements like the kind we discussed in Tech Planning on Paper: From Old-Fashioned to Cutting Edge. but the rest of us just need a good lump of paper that’s broader than it is tall.
Oh, but you ARE a web designer (or you play one on television)? Well, then, UI Stencils’ landscape-orientation Responsive Sketchpad may be just what you want.
Printed on both sides, the landscape-orientation, letter-sized pad is dot-gridded (150 PPI), includes fields for a project’s name, screen, date of work, and notes, as well as two device silhouettes on the front and three on the switch sides.
The Responsive Sketchpad comes 50 sheets/pad, with a cardboard backing and rounded bottom corners. It runs $12.95/pad and is available at discounted rates in three-packs, five-packs and with other UI Stencils’ sketchpads.
Upgrading the Landscape
The Roaring Springs Broad LandscapePads, as well as the more tech oriented UI Stencils’ Responsive Sketchpads, aren’t the haute couture of office supplies. You’ve got something to say, and you can get it down. Function is generally prioritized over form. The Roaring Springs pads are made of recycled paper, and the concentrate for all is in on utility rather than beauty.
As Ana Reinert pointed out in this week’s The Well-Appointed Desk’s «Ask the Desk» feature. there’s an assumption among notebook/notepad makers that landscape orientation is for the visual artists and not for the scribblers, writers, note-takers and wordsmiths. I think that’s short-sighted, and a bit of frustration.
Ana’s post suggested up some options for the individual who asked «the Desk» about finding attractive, non-black, fountain-pen-friendly landscape-oriented notebooks. Tall order! The Well-Appointed Desk covered a nice multitude of these, but most of the options were for unlined sketchbook-type pages. For those of us looking for a broad spot in the road to make our (written) mark, the choices are limited. There are handmade options, of course, but whether we’re talking bespoke Etsy creations or fin Italian handcrafted leather bindings, veering from the ordinary is not inexpensive .
How limited are the choices? One of the only mid-range lined landscape-orientation notebooks I found was an intriguingly named Duller Croquis Note. It’s manufactured in Japan by I.D.E.A. Internationals, with a German name, as part of the Schreibwaren Kollektion. The website is only written in Japanese (the English-language URL yields an error), and the only English-language sales information I could find was through AAREVALO Ltd. in London!
The notebook contains recycled paper and a mysteriously unexplained «specially textured writing surface.» There’s a «practical pocket» on the back cover, and the notebook also comes in black or light grey.
So, a Japanese company, selling a notebook described in German, is most lightly accessed through a British stationery company’s online catalog. It shouldn’t have to be so hard!
It’s a little bit shocking that the go-to journal purveyor for hipsters, scholars, soccer moms and pundits, Moleskine, doesn’t have a single lined landscape-orientation journal or notebook. There indeed should be other widely available options aside from the Rhodia lined landscape Webnotebooks . with orange or black covers.
Paper Doll will be on the lookout (across the landscape, and over the horizon). Until then, I welcome your ideas for how you’d use landscape notepads and notebooks. and hope you will share your resources for finding lined landscape-orientation journals, notebooks and otherwise upscale writing pads.