Albeit most of us spend our days hammering away at a keyboard and clicking our mouse furiously, there’s something to be said for going back to our roots with pen, pencil, and paper. It’s the tactile feel of a writing implement sliding across quality paper that helps bring ideas to life in a clean and ordinary way. And sure, you could grab some printer paper out of the drawer and use that, but wouldn’t you like something clean and ordinary designed for what you do?
With that in mind, we found 20 notebooks made for designers. These are the best ones on the market today that work for you and what you do, and they range from the inexpensive to the pricey, so there’s one for every budget.
If you’re looking for a notebook with a mouthhole of a name, commence with the Moleskine Wise Notebook, Creative Cloud connected. And what makes a Brainy Notebook so wise? Draw anything on the book’s blank pages, then, using the Moleskine, a Creative Cloud connected app wfquytrfdxcdabttbzarctwzauvadx for your iPhone, take a picture of the page. The app processes the pics as a JPG and SVG, and syncs them with your Creative Cloud account so you can edit them in Illustrator or Photoshop. It may sound like magic, but it’s not, it’s just super cool.
Leuchtturm1917 makes quality notebooks for sure, but the Whitelines Link system takes them up to the next level. The paper is a light gray color with white lines, and you draw or write on it like any other notebook. When you’re done, open up the Whitelines Link app on your iPhone or Android device, take a picture, and the resulting photo is free of all grays and lines. It’s like you’ve captured your text from a notebook without having any distracting black lines in your way. Plus, you can send your sketches to Evernote, Dropbox, or your email quickly by either using the app, or checking off a box on the bottom of the page before you take your picture.
I will loosely admit that the Leuchtturm1917 line of notebooks are my individual favorites for a few reasons. Very first, they’re paginated and include a table of contents, which makes it effortless to refer to find your stuff later on. You can buy them in numerous colors and four standard page types: lined, blank, grid, and dots. Plus, the paper feels sleek to write or sketch on, which always makes using it a joy. But the real kicker? You can buy a Pen Loop for your notebook, too, ensuring that your dearest writing implement is always handy.
Look, there’s nothing about these particular Moleskine notebooks that make them better for designers. Yes, they use the same quality paper as traditional Moleskine notebooks, and they’re available in blank or ruled, but … COME ON, this is BATMAN we’re talking about here, right? Each book’s cover features art from either Jim Lee or Frank Miller, both of whom are legendary Batman artists. And then on the inwards, there are special pictures as well, plus you get some Batman stickers. Plus, like any comic book related item, it’s a limited edition, so make sure to order yours soon. And you can’t have #2767 because that one’s mine.
If you want a notebook made for a designer, consider getting ones made by a designer. Aaron Draplin. uber-fan of Futura Bold, built Field Notes because no one else made the style of classic book that fellows used to carry in the 20th century. They’re lightly pocketable at Three.Five X Five.Five inches, and feature 48 graphed, ruled, or plain pages. You buy them in three packs for $9.95, but the real kicker are the limited editions. For the same price, you can get your three pack in variations that switch over the seasons, and will never come back again. These become collector’s items, which is why they’re suggested with a subscription, too.
If you use a Livescribe pen. then it’s likely you’ll want (or already have) a Livescribe notebook by Moleskine. These books are just like any other Moleskine notebook, but on the bottom of each page are three controls for Livescribe+ features. Need to know what those controls are? Just look on the two bookmarks included with the book, and you’re on your way. For $30 plus the price of the pen it’s not a cheap way to jot down your thoughts, but if you’re a fan of the system, it’s arguably your best way.
I very first found these notebooks a few years back while looking for something elementary that I could use for my to-do lists. See, they use this interesting system for jotting things down, which makes it clear when things are done, in progress, or need to be done. They’re built and sold just like Field Notes brand, but those little circles on the side of each page do make things fairly efficient.
So … this one is kind of self explanatory, right? It’s a notebook that says, as noisy and proud as it can, that you have a to-do list and you’ve got stuff to accomplish. I’ve got a pair of these myself, and they’re just clean, plain notebooks with a basic cover. There’s nothing fancy about them but the cover — and yet, that’s enough, right?
You might have heard of the Baron Fig notebook from their successful Kickstarter campaign, or maybe just because it’s a cool notebook. You can buy it in blank, ruled, or dot grid, it opens plane, and it clocks in at 192 pages. Plus, it’s a good looking notebook, with a clean cover and quality paper.
A lot of these notebooks go after the same basic format, and the Piccadilly is no different in that respect. However, it does come in a multitude of different colors that most don’t have available, like a sweet Mint and a nice looking Coral. But they also sell other interesting lumps like Inspiration Journals and sketchbooks, too.
If you work with UX design all the time, here’s a handy idea to get things treated. The EDC UX Kit comes with a Pocket Stencil that’s packed with cool symbols and gestures. Then there’s the 48-page notebook (a three-pack, no less) that has iPhone designs laid out in the background. And, of course, there’s a Zebra Pencil and a pair of stickers, because everybody loves stickers.
The Web Design Sketchbook violates the norm by providing you a lightly gridded paper with a glossy cover that stands out from the rest. Inwards you can pack the pages with tons of ideas for your next big website, or whatever other cool things you want to do. If you want your notebook to be a step above the opposition, you might want to begin here very first.
Alright, now this one is fancy. The Rhoda Webnotebook line comes in both A5 and A6 sizes, but here’s the twist: A5 comes in both portrait and landscape orientation. That’s right, layout your website on 96 sheets of pH neutral, acid-free, ivory paper, at 8 1/Four inches broad. That’s better than turning your old notebook on its side, right?
Ever want to do some work outside? Maybe get inspired by nature? The Trussed Book by Rite in the Rain may look like other notebooks, but this one was created to be durable in outdoor conditions. That means that if the cover gets raw, no worries, you’re fine. Paper on the inwards get raw? No worries, keep on working, it’ll hold up to your pencil. It may have been designed for the logging industry, but if you want durable, this is your huckleberry.
So now this one is an interesting concept. The Mod Notebook is like most of the others on here, in that it has a rubber band closure, opens plane and all that. But when you’re done with it, ship it off to Mod and they’ll scan and digitize the entire thing in Five days. Then, all of your notes are stored in the Mod app (albeit you can also sync them with Evernote, Dropbox and OneNote), ready for you to access anytime you have your computer, phone or tablet on forearm.
Dotgrid.co makes notebooks that feature pages using a dot grid system, which is one of my private favorites. This particular book is spiral strapped, and features a quote from Steve Jobs circa 1982/7 (depending on where you cite your sources) — “It’s more joy to be a pirate than to join the navy.” Why not be inspired by one of the best while you put down your best work?
Albeit tied books claim to lay plane, not all of them acutally do. That’s part of why I like this Web Book by Gridbooks. It’s spiral trussed, so of course it lays plane, which comes in handy since you’ll likely be using it as you sit at your computer. It consists of 32 pages with a dot grid that you can divide into columns, and since it’s spiral trussed, you can lay it sideways to plan in landscape mode.
The CIAK line is sold by Florentina, which sells leather products and accessories, so you’ve likely got a good idea of where we’re going with this one. It’s go a soft feel outer cover, sits at 5X7, and also has a rubber band to keep it shut, but this one is horizontal. Fancy, right? Yup, sure is. And it’s also expensive, since not only do they not list a price, but the minimum opening order at Florentina is $300. But if you want your ideas to be in the most luxurious place, this is your book.
Here’s another pricey entry, but not fairly as high end as the CIAK. Made with a lambskin cover and featuring 128 gilt-edged, Featherweight paper, this is a nice notebook to have. But better yet, it’s the stuff on the cover that makes you feel special, as it reads, “Make it happen.” Oh, and if you’re not a fan of pink, it’s also suggested in blue and yellow.
We’ll end this list with yet another Moleskine, but this one is different. If you use Evernote — and lots of people do — then this is your notebook. Write what you want, then use one of the included stickers to tag your page. Take a picture of the page with the Evernote app on your iPhone or Android device, and the content goes right into your Evernote account. It’s pretty magical stuff, particularly if you’re an Evernote user. And if you want something that will fit in your pocket, they do sell smaller sizes as well.