21 October 2013

Which Paper?

We all use a variety of paper in our planners and notebooks, no matter if they are bound or ring bound organisers.

The quality of the paper is important to us, this might be because you want to archive your notes, or if you are fountain pen user you want to ensure that what you write in your preferred brand and colour of ink looks sharp and not blurred, that the paper isn't like blotting paper and the ink soaks through the pages to the other side.

The choice of paper and ink is sometimes a difficult one, if the paper doesn't absorb the ink another problem can occur, the ink can be smudged if it doesn't dry quickly enough and it just sits on the surface of the paper rather than adhering to the paper.

However, let us think for a moment that you have found the perfect paper, the perfect ink in a colour of your choice, a pen that is a delight to use, it is. The perfect weight in your fingers and it is a delight to use. It allows you to transfer those thoughts and ideas to paper and after a writing session you can sit back and relax as you review you page of writing.

Going back to your choice of paper, one thing I want to discuss is do you choose plain paper, lined paper, quadrille (squared), or dot grid paper?

Each one has its merits, it's good and bad points. Some types seem to be more popular than others. For instance here in France or at least in my local stores most notepads are nearly always quadrille format, it is quite difficult to buy lined or plain paper pads or notebooks, they do exist, but not available in the same sort of quantities as the quadrille ones! I will be adding lined and plain paper varieties to my 'Bring back from UK' list!!

I was quite pleased when Helen Fennel one of our readers sent me the Writing Guide page to try out. I printed it out and put it behind my Filofax plain page and instantly I have visible lines to guide me across the page. I remember these sort of lined sheets from old letter writing pads, I am not sure if they still sell these or not, but they are very useful.

So me being me, I have adapted the idea and produced some similar writing guide pages in A4, A5 as well as the Personal size.
Filofax of course sell plain paper and lined paper in all sizes. But if you want some dot grid pages you can print your own fairly easily.

Dot-grid format is very useful for doing drawings and sketches, but. You can easily use the dots to help you keep your writing from deviating from a straight line. Another advantage I have found, if you need to scan or copy your pages the dots are often ignored by the scanner, so the copy appears with just your writing and drawing and no dots.

Ray has come to our assistance with some dot-grid formatted files which we can use. Look here for Personal size and here for A4/A5 size

So what is your preferred format?


  1. This is definitely a 'don't get me started' issue for me, so I'll make a special effort to keep it brief.

    Suffice to say that paper quality (and an unwillingness to spend hours guillotining and punching) is the one key issue that may lead to me leaving the Filofax 'fold'. I currently use Skandinavian cream diary inserts (Wo2P and occasionally DPP), with cotton cream throughout the rest of the system. I use plan and lined only, with the exception of diary and contacts (I don't keep many contacts in my FF), although I'm currently using up old stock of cotton cream To Do sheets as well.

    I could easily get into rant mode here, but I'll leave it there........

  2. Just last night I had a reboot of my GTD system on gridded paper. This after switching to a Moleskine notebook for a bit and remembering how much I love squared paper.

    But actually the squared paper sold by Filofax is too... I don't know what the word is here. The lines are too dark, they're Right There in your face, unlike the Moleskine grids which are less intrusive. I may have to resort to printing my own dot grid paper (thanks for the link!) although I have to say I'm getting tired of always having to print everything because nothing in the stores does what I want...

    Bizarrely I've realised that I find lined paper too restricting, I look at it and tense up at the idea of my writing going wobbly or putting a hand-drawn line down the middle of the page. Quadrille paper feels so much more freeing to me!

  3. I love using gridded paper, but as above, Filofax's grids are too dark. Both Daytimer (white) and raikausa.com (cream) make a much lighter version. It's also dead easy to make your own with any color grid you want, especially if you have either Daytimer or Filofax prepunched computer paper.
    If anyone is curious, I'd be glad you to send a couple of sheets of the Daytimer version (enabling is so much fun!)

  4. I don't do a diary as such in my Filofax, but I do use a lot of different types of paper, and as I use A5 most of the time it's not too arduous in terms of punching and cutting. Most of it is Rhodia ivory paper (R by Rhodia A5 pad - microperforated sheets which come out slightly shorter than A5); there's also the classic Rhodia bright white paper with grids (again from an A5 pad). There's a stash of Rhodia A5 Meeting Book pages (spiral bound with microperfed edges, tear out and punch) which are great for meeting notes and actions. I also regularly grab a sheet or two of boggo A4 printer paper, fold it in half, write on it then tear it down the fold and punch the results. Having just started using a pocket filo as a capture device if I don't have my full planner with me (such as when I'm 'off the clock' and e.g. going to a yoga class or on a day off where I don't have anything planned) I've got some standard A4 cut and punched to fit that which then gets interleaved into the main A5 planner as necessary. And finally I have some US-sized letter paper of indeterminate origin, which is lovely to write on so I cut that down to fit whichever planner needs it. All of this lot gets interleaved in whatever order seems appropriate - my filofax has pages of all sorts of different sizes and looks a bit higgledy-piggledy as a result, but as the system ain't broke I won't be trying to fix it! Function over form...

  5. My dream would be Filofax using Clairefontaine or Rhodia quality paper. I prefer things lined, but I'm going to use that faint dot grid in the Rhodia and see if that works too. So far, I've been alright with my Pilot Cavalier F fountain pen, it appears more as an EF and just a bit of ghosting on the FF paper. For my A5, I am going to try and make Rhodia lined paper for it because I want to eventually use that as a proper journal.

    1. I agree with you, Athena. Clairfontaine or Rhodia paper inserts for a Filofax planner would be the ultimate writing pleasure for me.

    2. Your wish is granted! Quo Vadis inserts use Clairefontaine paper and are available for worldwide shipping from Quovadis-diaries.co.uk and in the US http://quovadisplanners.com/catalog/exatime

    3. Beware of the Quo Vadis diary inserts, they are 4mm wider than Filofax. I found this out to my cost when I ordered a 2014 Wo2P set....lovely paper, but unusable if you care about not having the tabs underneath obscured......

  6. Thank you for the writing guide!! Mostly I use plain paper, but lined is second. I found my favorite paper by accident and haven't change for a couple years. Xerox multipurpose paper which I got from Sam's club. It works well with all my pen stash, although my pen of choice are Uniball's.

  7. Graph paper. I kept trying lined and unlined paper... I kept coming back to graph paper, so that's what I use for everything. I make my own diary, to do lists, project organizers, all of it on graph paper.

    1. I'm curious, would you mind giving some details about what size grid, is every 10th line a bit thicker, what colours are the paper and the lines? I did think about graph paper but I'm finding it surprisingly difficult to source a regular old A4 pad of 5mm squared paper without punched holes down one side (because when I cut the pages in half to be A5 size the holes would be at the top/bottom of the sheet or else if I cut them off then the page is shorter). I have seen unpunched graph paper, but they were 1mm grid and again I thought a bit dark for using just pencil on top.

      Anyway, any details would be great please!

  8. in case anyone comes to this quite-old post via Google, as I did:

    If you're willing to spend a pretty penny, Life Noble makes some v. v. fountain pen friendly inserts in blank, lined, and graph.

  9. Came to this blog post via Google as I have just bought a second hand empty Filofax Pocket Hamilton in a charity shop. I needed refills and never thought how useful dotted paper could be especially as you mention they often don't show on a copy. Thanks - bought dotted and lined and my Fisher Space Pen with clip fits the pen loop just fine and is suitable short.

    1. Hi Andy
      We have some templates for dot grid paper on here:


      Should be easy enough to adapt to personal size if need be.