Review: M by Staples™ Arc Customizable Poly Notebooks

For a long time I have heard about disc bound notebooks. Circa, Rollabind, and Myndology were the brands I have heard about. I was impressed by the number of people who seemed to love disc bound notebooks, planners, and journals. I found these systems to be either expensive or hard to find. I found the M by Staples Arc Customizable Notebook to be both easy to find and in a price range I could afford.
I purchased the 6-3/8”x8-3/4” notebook with a vinyl cover. My cover is plain blue. I also purchased graph paper and a set of 5 dividers. The discs are 3/4” in diameter, and black.
I use this notebook to track my projects and goals as well as recording writing ideas. I enjoy the ability of the notebook to fold around, like a spiral bound notebook. I like the firmness of the notebook. The paper that is provided with the system I feel is good quality. The vinyl the covers are made from is thick. The dividers are holding up well, and the discs are doing well. Accessories for the system are priced reasonably.
I have been using Pilot G2 pens, and some ballpoint pens with this notebook. The pens I have used have not bled through. I do not see shadows on the back of the pages. I am impressed with the quality of the paper Staples created for these notebooks.
I have four notebooks from various manufactures they are all Moleskin style. Notebooks, except for this one. It has become my favorite notebook.

  • Affordable
  • Good quality
  • Punch for the system is affordable
  • Easy to find
  • Lots of accessories


  • Bound to buying paper from Staples, or punching your own.

I rate this a 10 out of 10.

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Incredibly affordable

The ease of finding the Arc system versus the amount of discussion is simply because it is new. Staples has really set a new standard for price and quality with the Arc line, which appears to be true across all of their affordable but higher quality "M" branding. I have the Circa punch, which was (if I remember right) around $80. The Staples one is $35 and has a lever action making it superior in daily use, although the beefy steel of the Circa punch still has a "can survive the apocalypse" feel.

The letter size leather covers for Circa are $100, while I picked up a nice, wonderful smelling set at Staples for a mere $20. It was wonderful: I moved over everything from my plastic cover and replaced the discs for larger ones (which ran a couple dollars). I am now tracking my publication schedule for 2012 in a binder that appeals to the senses and costs less than the plastic one from Levenger.

I carry a Moleskine daily journal for quickly jotting thoughts in a chronological stream. My disc notebooks (I use two) are my compiled project notes and status. They compliment each other nicely.

Arc from Staples

I agree 100% with your comments about the Arc from Staples. It is easy to use, pricing will fit my pocket book, and Staples is everywhere especially the internet. I personall went with the Jr size in the leather. I am even able to use my left over Rolo paper in it. The pages are an 1/8th of an inch shorter both on the top and the bottom, however they fit nicely. I have transerfered just about all my personal daily and financals to it and will soon transfer my school notes to it. It fits in my purse and I can easily retreive my gas card from the front of the book without having to withdraw it from my purse. If there was a wallet accessory I would be able to leave my current wallet at home. Maybe I will work something up.

Available in UK

Last time someone mentioned this Staples' range it wasn't available in the UK. I asked their local operation an they said there was no intention of bringing it over here. Well it seems they have had a change of mind because their web site is now showing elements of the range as available. (I happened to be visiting a client earlier today whose offices are close to a Staples shop but there were no Arc items for sale.) Available in A4 and A5 size covers with paper.

As to the "cons" being punch your own paper is that really a con? Those of us with Rollabind punches do this all the time anyway. Buying pre-punched paper from Staples is a con.

UK Stocks

I happened to be visiting a client earlier today whose offices are close to a Staples shop but there were no Arc items for sale.

I happened to be visiting the same customer earlier this week so out of curiosity popped in to that store and almost fainted. Right in the middle of the shop was a large display of M Arc items; no punches but everything else including 1" discs. The discs are packaged in 11s that being the number of holes punched in the Staples paper -- different from European Rollabind punches which do 12.

So anyone who wants to look at the Staples products before purchasing them find your closest shop and go see for yourself.

11 vs 12 Smurfs

A4 paper is 297 mm on the long side.
Smurf spacing is 25 mm.
11 smurfs would be 250mm from the center of the first to the center of the last.
12 smurfs would be 275mm
So, 11 discs leaves 23.5mm from paper top/bottom to center of the first disc and 12 discs leaves 11mm.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson) ***

The Staples Arc line is awesome!

I haven't been to DIYPlanner in a while, and when I saw this review of the Staples Arc line I just had to check it out. I purchased a junior size leather notebook in green and a few accessories (folders, dividers, etc). All I can say is WOW! I've been a Circa addict for years - usually just punching my own paper and covers these days since Levenger is so expensive and Rollabind customer service blows. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised with the paper quality in this notebook! I haven't written much on the paper yet, but I have tried several fountain pens, as well as my Sakura Micron pens and a few brush pens, and none bleed through. I wish they had plain paper available instead of just lined, but I will gladly use their lined paper for my writing notebooks. I hope they keep this line of products - I'm in love!