While laptops have grown in popularity over the last few years, the best way to take notes is still with pen and paper. Physically taking notes with a notebook can increase your ability to recall what you write.
A good notebook is an investment that can greatly increase your productivity and enable you to become more organized and efficient.
Our top choice is the Clever Fox Dotted Notebook. College students, possibly more than anyone else, recognize the importance of memory and efficiency.
We’ve curated this list based on our expert opinions of which notebooks provide the best features for college students; features such as goal-setting, affirmations, and extra space were considered.
All of these factors go into making a great notebook or planner. With that in mind, below are our top 10 best paper notebooks for college.
Best Paper Notebooks For College:
1. Clever Fox Dotted Notebook
The Clever Fox dotted notebook is a great overall versatile notebook. It utilizes a dot-grid format, which means that you are free to play with margins and spacing as you like without the restriction of lines. It also allows for drawing and scribbling. The notebook opens completely flat and comes with ribbons and stickers for labels.
It’s also lightweight – it weighs only about half a pound. Customers say that they love this journal, but the dots are a bit closer together than with other durable paper notebooks like the Bullet Journal.
While this journal allows for freedom of space and journaling, it also doesn’t come with as many features as some of the journals on this list. However, it does come with plenty of organizational tools that help you to keep all of your information where it belongs.View at Amazon
2. Mead Spiral Notebooks
While these high-quality paper notebooks are about as basic as they come, sometimes that’s exactly what you need. These notebooks come 6 in the pack, meaning they are extremely economical.
In addition, their low price point means that they are usable and disposable, and get the job done without the added worry of losing or damaging them. The notebooks come with a ring spiral spine, and the pages are 3-hole punched which means that they can be used inside of a binder.
In addition, they come in a variety of bright colors, so they are easily distinguishable from one another. Customers say that the price for the quantity and quality level is great and that they are very durable.
These notebooks are great for their level of quality and durability, but they are certainly not as feature-packed as other notebooks on this list.View at Amazon
3. Field Notes Memo Book (3-pack)
Field notes have grown massively in popularity due to their high-quality construction, attractive design, and simplicity of use. These are great notebooks to throw in a backpack and use for assignment lists or memos.
They are great to slip in your back pocket as well. Most customers are extremely satisfied with the simplicity of the notebooks and their versatility as a notebook for quick note-taking.
However, some customers say that the pages can’t handle heavier ink (the pages are pretty thin.) Overall, these are great and stylish options for people who need a simple solution that can be easily stowed.
Field Notes books are often featured in small boutique stores because of their stylish and attractive designs, so if aesthetics are a high priority on your list, these can be a great option.View at Amazon
4. Leuchtturm 1917 Dot Grid Journal
These are some of the most stylish and well-built paper notebooks for work on the market. These German-made notebooks are some of the best paper notebooks for a workaround. It comes with about 249 bleed-proof pages, which is crucial for those who use a fountain pen or pens with heavier ink.
The hardcover is also made to be cleaned or washed. These notebooks are also made to open completely flat, which is always a huge bonus. They also include a table of contents for easy access to information. These notebooks are filled with plenty of features to allow ease of organization at every level.
Customers say that the grids in the notebooks are spaced perfectly, but some customers have had issues with durability. Overall, these notebooks are a great option for those who need a lot of flexibility and plan on keeping a particular set of notebooks for a while.View at Amazon
5. Five Star Advance Spiral Notebook
The classic academic’s journal, the Five Star notebook is the simple solution for just about any note-taking need. These journals come with a durable and flexible hardcover and have tons of options for organization.
They come with a set of extremely innovative pocket dividers that can be moved throughout the notebook, as well as inserts to place handouts and loose sheets of paper in. The spine is also made to be able to write in for easy organization. The notebook also comes with a handy pen loop so you’ll never be without a writing utensil.
Customers love how sturdy and strong the notebook is, especially for the cost. Overall, reviews seem to state that this notebook is one of the best paper college notebooks around. If you aren’t overly concerned with style and just need a dependable, sturdy, and well-organized notebook, this is the one for you.View at Amazon
6. Rite in the Rain All-Weather Side-Spiral Notebook
This notebook is unique for one reason: It’s completely weatherproof. The front cover, as well as the paper, are weather-resistant to rain and snow. Notebooks are even durable enough to survive a trip in the washing machine.
The wire binding is designed to be durable enough to not bend and retain its shape through wear and tear. The notebook works with the best pencils or pens (as long as the ink isn’t water-based), but the company also makes specific pens to accompany the notebooks.
In addition to being water-resistant, the cover is also durable enough to withstand bends and scratches. Customers say that the notebook is surprisingly durable, but some reviewers who have put the notebook through heavy-duty use complain about the quality.
Overall, these notebooks are a great option for those who are extremely mobile or find themselves entrenched in the great outdoors often.View at Amazon
7. TOPS 1-Subject Notebooks
Another note-taking staple, these notebooks aren’t made to impress, but they are extremely economical and more than get the job accomplished. The books are color-coded, meaning you can easily organize your subjects how you want, and the pages are tear-away and are pre-hole punched for easy organization in a binder.
The notebooks are made to be big enough to fit a single subject. Customers say that the paper is a bit too thin to be practical, but most reviews are overall positive, stating that they are a great value for the price and get the job done more than adequately.
If you are looking for an extremely economical solution and don’t need a ton of organizational features or fancy packaging, these might be the right choice for you.View at Amazon
8. NorthBooks Journal
This environmentally conscious company produces simple notebooks that are easy to use and look great. This journal comes in a 96-page size. The paper is acid-free and is made to be thick enough to withstand heavy inks. This journal is great for journaling, sketching, or simple notes at home or work.
The cover is made with 50% recycled paper and is extra-thick for added durability. The journals come in a blank, dot-grid, graph, or college-ruled. Customers say that these journals have trouble laying completely flat, which could be an issue in some cases. Most reviews are positive overall and state that the notebooks are perfect for their uses.
The notebooks are also easily recycled, which most customers are a fan of. Overall, if you need a cost-effective notebook that is conscious of the environment, these could be a great option for you.View at Amazon
9. Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook
Moleskin Smart Notebook makes excellent-quality notebooks, to begin with, but they are excellent when paired with the genius note-taking platform that is Evernote. This notebook utilizes the iOS feature Page Capture, which allows you to take pictures of your notebook and sync them to Evernote’s digital platform.
Taking a picture of the content of your notebook means that it is instantly digital and able to save and retrieve on a mobile device later. Most customers say that these journals are extremely durable and suit their needs perfectly.
If you need a journal that is easily used with a mobile app (and find yourself losing notes often) this could be a great choice for you. Evernote also comes available as a standalone app.View at Amazon
10. iScholar iQ 5-Subject Poly Cover Wirebound Notebook
This notebook’s main feature is the erasable whiteboard cover that comes with it. This means that you can jot down quick thoughts that don’t need to be permanent and erase them later, without taking up valuable page space.
Otherwise, this journal is a great option all around; it comes with a spiral spine which allows it to lay flat on any surface. Most customers are satisfied with the notebook overall, although there are some complaints about durability.
This can be a great option if you take notes that you don’t need later, or just need an all-around durable notebook with unique features.View at Amazon
Tips on Choosing the Right Notebook
You will probably need to buy many notebooks throughout your college career. The notebooks we have listed here are some of the best paper notebooks for college. It can be a good idea to purchase multiple in order to find out which notebooks work best for you.
You might find that a combination of two works best, such as a cheaper and more economical notebook for everyday use paired with a more expensive notebook for more important subjects. Whatever notebook you decide to use, it’s important to know that you will likely need to purchase multiple it.
Because of this, it might be a good idea to start with one of the more economical options on the list to see if it suits your needs before trying one of the more expensive options.
Overall, when perusing our list of the best paper notebooks for college, you should try and base your decision on your specific needs. For instance, many users find themselves taking notes both on their mobile devices and on paper; the Clever Fox Dotted Notebook can be a great option for people like this.
You also might find that you get stuck in the rain often, or are often frustrated with pages that tear and get wet and lose their integrity over time. If so, The Rite in The Rain notebook will likely be a great option for you. College is a great opportunity to learn, but you can’t do that without a solid method of note-taking.
The impressive thing about many of the journals listed here is that they offer features that guide you through note-taking, especially bullet grid journals. These are likely the most versatile journal option on the list.