combo notebook sketch & notes

Hi! I'm looking for a notebook to fit a very particular need and was wanting to know if anyone has any suggestions... I'm planning on getting involved in some projects that will involve sketching out some ideas. I have seen notebooks that have the front of a page with lines on it and the back is completely blank. My idea is sketch out my ideas on the blank side and write about it on the lined side.

Ideally it would be Classic/Junior size: 8.5" x 5.5" but I'm not too picky about it being EXACTLY that size. A tad bigger or smaller would be fine. I like spiral bound so it will stay open to the page I open it to. I would also like it to have a hard cover. And be inexpensive...

I'm pretty sure I saw someone using some such notebook in letter size and it looked like whoever made the notebook printed the lines on the front side and didn't do the back to save money.

The closest I've found was a portfolio/sketchbook combo where the idea was you could do a sketch on the front and then write notes about it on the back. It was around $15. I'm hoping to get something for under $10.

If I can't find a good one, I may just have to pick up another Circa or Rollabind and some nice printer paper & make my own.

Places I've checked so far: Office Max, Dick Blick's Art Supplies, and Hobby Lobby.


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I would go with Circa and HP 32lb paper

Just my circa-obsessed opinion, of course ;)

Circa sketchbook?

I figured someone would say Circa. I can't explain why, but I just feel plan silly printing out lined note paper to Circa punch. Templates, address books, information I want handy in the planner - sure print it out & Circa punch it. But lined pages? Of course, that's likely the easiest route to go given I have everything I need to make it except for some nice, heavy printer paper.

I think the last two places to check before doing that are Half Price Books and Target. Half Price Books often has some nice journals at half price and I've heard rumors of notebooks very similar to Moleskine at Target. They also carry the Pilot Plumix which is a $5.99 fountain pen with an italic nib & it's refillable.



i want to say they have them at Michaels...

If you like the one at Hobby Lobby but didn't care for the price - watch their website - they offer 40% one item nearly every other week :) I use the coupons for things I can't justify buying at full price...

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Ring binding works also, others as well

At the risk of getting lynched, disc binding is not necessarily THE ANSWER.
Ring binders are just as useful.
If you are not as concerned about rearranging the contents, you can use comb binding -- the GBC stuff
Or you can use bookbinding techniques that Innowen has described beautifully in several postings - just search on "bookbinding"
The down side is that all of the binding methods require some sort of specialized hardware, so you need to go with what is comfortable and affordable to you.
"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)

Don't feel silly.


Don't feel silly printing out lined pages for your personal use. I do it all the time.

Personally, I like a really faint grid on my paper, and nobody makes grids that faint, ever. I only print on one side because I generally only use one side of the paper. I don't like using the left side when I'm right-handed, and even though it would be a more efficient use of the paper, it's just not comfortable. So I don't. Later on it will become compost for my garden so at least it's not all bad. :)

Even sillier, the book I print my pages for is just a scratch note book--stuff that I need to jot down throughout the day but rarely need to remember. At most I flip a few days back because I remember I wrote some particular name down that I need later..

I tried using fancier forms and stuff with schedules and dates and stuff, and I've finally given up. It's just not worth the time for me. I spend a lot less time printing and punching my simple grids than I ever did messing around with the 'system'.

Don't feel silly. Make it nice the way you want it, whatever that means. You can try settling for something less than what you want, and you can try working harder to have something prettier, but it'll eventually burn you out.



Anyone ever tried Miquelrius notebooks? I've heard of them before but had quite a time finding any info on them as even Google didn't have any suggestions for how it should be spelled when I tried to spell it.


Miquelrius are great, with

Miquelrius are great, with one big flaw. The paper is great, smooth, resists bleedthrough, smells great, and the cover is solid and soft. However, they do not lie flat. It's a critical flaw for me.


i dont current have any (i have resisted buying the ones at target)... There are some reviews around that might be helpful.

Hope this helps :)

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Try the Bienfang Notesketch.

Try the Bienfang Notesketch. It's an inexpensive, spiral bound journal with lines and sketching area on the same page, and comes in several sizes and formats.

thought of this

while at office depot but the site was down when i came to post...

what about grid index cards (the biggies 5x8 inch) punched and held together with book rings or even circa bound? fronts would be gridded - backs would be blank :)

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Great idea, BUT...

Google is NOT my friend this time. All I can find in grid ruled is 3x5 cards.
Can anyone find BIG grid cards ?
"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)

No luck with my sources, either.

All the larger index cards I've located are plain or ruled. Someone here (don't recall whom nor which strand it was in) described and posted a photo of inserting the ruled index cards short side in and printing lines, which made a grid for half the ink of printing a whole grid.

got em this week

office depot brand - item # 677457 5 x 8 inch 1/4 grid.

so no buts about it ;)

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Bravo !

I could not find them.

"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)

you could print your own grid

Ygor, you dould print your own grid on the 5x8 cards. Check out Free Online Graph Paper site.
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You are correct

However, I was operating on the idea of finding them already done to avoid having to run them thru the printer

For that matter, you can use the Dynamic Templates to make a gridded page of any size
"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)

Sketch/Journal bound books at Borders

As I walk into Borders they have (sometimes just outside or in the vestibule) combination sketch and journal books. They come in various sizes and colors. One side is blank, the other lined.

If that doesn't work or you don't have them in your area, you could always print a lined page from your laser and place it behind a blank page of a blank sketch book. The advantage of this approach is that you can randomly write/sketch on any page. Turning a page into a journal page is just a matter of slipping the lined page from the laser behind and presto it becomes a guide for your writing journal page.

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I use two write/draw notebooks

Hi there, geez I hope I can contribute to helping you. So many people here on DIY, innowen, ygor, jonglass, dougj, sara, nay nay, and also a complete stranger who made a grid for me and posted it in templates, and there are others have helped me often and so kindly (without laughing at

I use two different what are called sometimes draw/diary or sketch/journals.

1. --One is CPP Impressions Note/Sketch Book which is made in Canada. It is large and cheap, about $3.50 per, at of all places, Walgreens.

--Have tried what you mentioned, words on one side, drawings on other, but for my work and way of writing/drawing, drawing and writing on both sides of the pages interferes with each side via cross-impressions on the paper.

--Think one could buy a really expensive paper that wouldnt allow that, but I go through this particular draw/diary (CPP Impressions Note/Sketch Book) like water, so the small price is good.

--It has 50 pages and the bottom is lined bright blue narrow ruled, and the top is blank. The paper has a bit of a tooth to it. The pages are 11x9, slightly oversized. It has 'an extra heavy chopboard back' for 'better support' and it makes the draw/diary not be floppy. It is spiral bound with a good guage silver single spiral. The ends of the wire are tucked well. It says on the sku that is is distrbuted out of North Carolina and mfg in Canada.

--The pages on the CPP are ruled on the bottom half on each side of the page, so you have 100 surfaces, or 50 depending on how you like to work. I like to use only one side most of the time because that way I can cut with an extra sharp knife, many of the pages out of both the books in #1 and 2, trim them true, and circa-cized them. (If I wrote on two sides, the subject/content is often not contiguous, so couldnt put the pages into circa by category.

2. The second diary/draw notebook was mentioned by one of our other good commenters: Bienfang. Such a great name. For a wolf. lol. THis particular notebook I use also, like water. I buy them in bulk at art supply store. I imagine Cheap Joe's and others online would have it also. I bought 20 of them two years ago and they're almost nearly all filled up, so not sure of the current price.

--The Bienfang is smaller, 5.5x8.5, and has 64 sheets, with a nice toothless paper hand. This is what I call 'fast-writing' paper, because it does not have even a teeny fuzz reaction to the pen to slow down the line, and remains 'well ironed' no matter what you do to it... so you can use marker pens, gel, craypah, ink pen with impugnity.

--It has a double black spiral binding that is exceptionally tucked well at each end...eleviating your clothes being caught on the wires, or scratching yourself badly, which the cheap Meads I notice have been doing lately (that is if they are Meads... I suspect bec of poor, poor quality of paper in their little spiral guys and the ripples they show the minute theyre unwrapped that they're made in India or some other damp clime... and could be knockoffs).

--anyway, back to the subject at hand: the beinfangs I have are amazingly, recycled paper. My experience of recycled paper, at least at small prices, is that it is dreck for writing with anything approaching ink... it doesnt just feather. It does the whole bird. lol

hope this helps


postcript to above note


not sure I was clear, the bienfang recycled paper writes like a dream.

from archangel

An Illustrated Life

I've just finished reading Danny Gregory's An Illustrated Life in which illustrators and people who sketchjournal and stuff talk about their journals. I was astounded at how many of them bind their own notebooks and sketchbooks. All claim it's because they can make them exactly like they want them to be (size, paper, cover, etc), many of them because they both want writing paper and drawing paper in them. As I was reading, I kept thinking about your post.

flexible solutions

I may go to Borders this week and check out their sketchbook/notebook combo, but if I can't find that, I'll probably end up just making my own.

Someone mentioned that if you sketch on one side and write on the other, often your sketch will show thru in your writing & vice versa. I'm thinking of going with the Circa option and having half ruled pages and half blank. That way I can have sketch pages & note pages together in any order I want, won't have to worry about the issue of the other side showing thru and hopefully this will be less expensive than some of the sketchbooks I've seen.