15 requirements for a perfect BujoScrap and Bullet Journal notebook… Is Leuchtturm1917 the best?

Aggiornato il: gen 16

Hello friends!

No better way to start a work week, and start feeding my blog with contents, than doing so with a post that has to do with BEGINNINGS 😊

And if we talk about the first step when starting a Bullet Journal or BujoScrap we need to discuss the very choice of a notebook!

As you can imagine, there are hundreds of notebooks available on the market that could work, that are different in each country. I have personally used already many of them which gives me a very clear idea of ​​what my PERFECT BujoScrap notebook would be like.

These days I am working on a beautiful Leuchtturm1917 that the German company itself gave me during Creative World 2020 in Frankfurt this January. It is a copy of their latest mute-colors line in a beautiful apple green, with my name engraved in gold on the cover, and they gave me a matching pencil and pen holder (seeing it all together cannot be cuter ♥). They approached me at the booth where I was working, and offered me this notebook so I could test it with my BujoScrap system, and since then I owe them (other than a sincere and public "Thank you") a detailed feedback on how my experiments went with it.

That is why I have two goals for this post:

  1. To ennumerate the requirements that my perfect BujoScrap notebook should meet, with my reasons behind them.

  2. Evaluate how many and to what extent, the Leuchtturm1917 dotted notebooks fulfill them.

For this second purpose, it is fair for me to state that Leuchtturm1917 is one of the undisputed leaders in the world of notebooks, planners, and stationery in general. We are talking about more than 100 years of experience in the field, and yes, you're right… the year of its foundation is part of its name… Brilliant deduction! 😉

But I don't think that's the only reason why Ryder Caroll himself, inventor of Bullet Journaling, chose them to produce the “Official” notebook for his system; it had to be more than “just” history behind his choice... and in this post I show you there is!

Let's see then ...

What features should the BEST BujoScrap notebook have?

1- "Abuse-proof" quality

For a Bullet Journal or BujoScrap notebook to serve its purpose, we carry it everywhere, we manipulate it all day, we open and close it a thousand times (many of them forgetting the pen inside, just there! Right in the center of the seams ... Ouch!) and believe when I say it is exactly then when we realize and appreciate the difference between a quality notebook and a cheaper one. It is simply not enough for it to be cute... endurance to a harsh environment is really a must!

And in my case even more so, since once complete, my notebooks must serve an additional purpose which often includes passing it from hand to hand... (yes! OTHER PEOPLE'S hands!). This is so because I take them with me to the shows where I work for brands like Chameleon Art Products, in events ranging from small in-store demonstrations to the largest international tradeshows, such as Creative World in Frankfurt, where literally thousands of people pass by the booth each day... (picture me like an octopus trying to save my BujoScrap notebooks from curious people who, after seeing the applications of the products, also want to pry the most personal pages of my notebooks… 😰)

But back on topic... question is, Leuchtturmn1917 is up to such a battle???

My answer, after having used it intensively for a few months now, is a BIG FAT “YES”. Faithful to the end, and beyond!

Therefore: ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 hearts rating! - the maximum, and I would give it even more)

2- Hard cover

My ideal BujoScrap notebook should have a hard cover, not only to be more resistant (for the reasons explained in point 1, but also because I love to use stamps on my pages.

- "What do stamps have to do with this?" (reading the minds of some of you 😉).

Well, quite a bit...

Having a hard cover ensures that I always have a firm and perfectly even base on which to stamp (main secret for a perfect ink transfer), without having to worry about whether the table is perfectly smooth or not. In fact, it even allows me to apply stamps to my pages while holding the notebook up in the air, which means I can work on my BujoScraps from where ever I want... a park, the beach, a spa... well, you get the idea 😉

A flexible cover would never give me such freedom.

Now, Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journals' verdict: ♥♥♥♥♥ (= they come in hardcover)

3- An array of cover colors, including a white version

The reason for this is very simple: I like to vary.

Ok, ok. Not true, I always end up falling for my dear old turquoise one, and the only reason why I am using a light green instead is because, as I told you above, my current Leuchtturm1917 was a gift from the brand, and well... it would have been rude to refuse it just because it is not my favorite color, right? (they hit it very close though, it's such a beautiful green 😉).

But let's go back to cover colors... having a variety to choose from allows us to change (if we wanted to) so we don't get bored, which can also help us to better identify each notebook. This is particularly helpful for those who use different Bujos simultaneously with different purposes (one for work, another for personal life, etc.). In these cases, choosing a different colored notebook for each goal or task, makes things much easier.

Now... the reason behind the need of a pure white version in addition to the colored ones is because every so often I like to personalize the covers, intervene them, draw on them, color them... and if we're talking about coloring, as said before when talking about the color of paper, the perfect canvas for me is always going to be white 😊

Leuchtturm1917 verdict then? = ♥♥♥♥♥

Besides white, it comes in a wide range of colors.

I think this photo says it all (and it only includes some of the available ones):

4- Stitched binding (not glued) that allows flat opening at any part of the notebook without falling apart.

A good BujoScrap notebook should not only be sturdy as we mentioned in point 1, but it should also allow for a flat opening at any point of the notebook… and to stay flat open on its own!

Both these aspects are only possible if the binding is stitched and not glued, otherwise it would fall apart when pressing the notebook to keep it open (it won’t on its own), and it would be a disaster.

Many ask me why I don't just use a spiral notebook, or even those that come with what I believe they call a “discs-binding system” (really popular these days) which allow you also to add, remove or reorder the pages to your liking… Any such notebooks would let me open them and even turn the pages at 360 degrees! The reason why I still prefer stitched notebooks instead is because, especially for my simplified scrapbooking pages, I love to work on spreads (taking a double open page as one) and I don't like them being cut off half way by disks or a spiral... I love to glue, for example, decorated A4 landscape-oriented papers to the background of a spread, or even a big A4 photo in the same fashion, and work over them… those spreads look amazing! It is just not the same with disturbing disks or a spiral halfway through. I might need to give them a better try but, at least for now, I am happy to stick with the traditional stitched-bound notebooks 😊

So… Does Leuchtturm1917 have a high-quality stitched binding? Yes!

Does it stay flat open on its own on all pages? Yes, that too.

My rating = ♥♥♥♥…

Why not 5?

Well, Leuchtturm1917 (as any good notebook company would do) reinforces their binding by gluing the seams very well to give it greater resistance, and I found that sometimes (really very occasionally) the pages do not open 100% to the very center of the seam and it might complicate me a bit if I want to, for instance, glue an A4 sheet as background to one of my spreads. But it's a minor issue that serves a bigger cause, so I am still happy with the way it is.

5- Have 200 pages or more

When you use a notebook every day, not just to get organized but also to document your life, it is inevitable: you become so fond of it to the point that you don't want it to finish… That, and the fact that starting a new notebook is always time consuming, there are many things that need to be migrated from one to the other to make it functional and it usually happens in your busiest days (Murphy's law!)...

So: the more pages, the less notebook migration needs, therefore: much better, right?

My Leuchtturm1917 comes with 251 pages (although it is commercially presented as having 249, not sure why)... either way, the most voluminous of its kind.

My rating, therefore… = ♥♥♥♥♥

6- Paper quality, acid free

With my BujoScrap system, I always alternate simplified Scrapbooking pages in between my Bullet Journal spreads, so as to document my days, while I get organized, and I just love to have everything in one place.

Now, if we think about the resulting treasure (because these notebooks become true life books, worth keeping!), having high-quality, acid-free paper is essential to avoid (or at least delay) their yellowing and cracking of the paper over time, thus allowing us to keep them as a family legacy, even to pass them from generation to generation, if we wish so.

Of course, if we seek conservation, we also need to think about using photos, inks, adhesives, etc., that are also of a neutral pH (= acid free), which luckily in Europe is very easy, since manufacturing paper in old traditional ways is now forbidden due to environmental reasons. As a result, all paper made here is now acid-free (or should be, at least). In Argentina, however (as well as in many other countries in Latin America) most paper is still manufactured in more polluting ways and the resulting product is usually not acid-free, so we have to be extra careful there if we are serious about conservation in the very long term.

Fortunately, Leuchtturm1917's notebooks are acid-free, so my rating for them is = ♥♥♥♥♥

7- Numbered pages

It is essential for any good Bullet Journal notebook to come with pages that are properly numbered, so you can easily enter and organize all the contents that you create in an index. This way, it is much easier and faster to access the information you need, when you need it, without wasting time flipping through all the pages of your notebook for it.

Leuchtturm1917 has its pages numbered in an elegant, non-disturbing font that does the trick, and so here are my ♥♥♥♥♥

8- Three or four pages for the Index

Every good Bullet Journal (and therefore BujoScrap) notebook needs to have a space at the beginning to enter the index. Personally, a single spread (two pages) for the index is not enough... there is a lot that must be entered here for it to be really functional.

My ideal BujoScrap notebook should have at least 3 pages for the index, with 1 or 2 extra pages dedicated to trackers and collections, so I can find them and access them faster.

Also, in my perfect notebook the index should consist of a column for the topic, followed by another, equal in size or even wider, to indicate the number of pages where that topic is addressed and repeated throughout the notebook. This way you only have to enter each topic once, and then just add on that same entry, all the page numbers where you address it again as you feed your notebook. This greatly speeds up the organization and search for content in the index.

Don't worry that in future posts I will show you all this in detail. For now, what matters is that most notebooks come with these spaces in the exact opposite order. A small initial column for the page numbers, followed by a much wider one for the description or topic, and I always end up inverting or modifying them to improve their functionality.

Leuchtturm1917 is no exception, in addition to having only two pages (1 spread) for the index, which only meets part of my expectations.

Rating for Leuchtturm's Bullet Journal, hence: ♥♥♥

9- All pages printed with a 5 mm dotted grid, that is not disturbing!

Although we can use any notebook as Bullet Journal or BujoScrap, it is much easier if it is one with dotted pages in it.

There are several reasons behind this, here are my top 3:

  • A dotted grid helps us write in straight lines, either vertically or horizontally, since the dots visually work as reference lines in any orientation.

  • It helps us draw quick freehand lines in any direction, and more or less straight without the need for a ruler (depending a bit on your pulse 😉)

  • They are much less disturbing than the typical line grids which only reminds me of my high school math notebooks.

Now, having dotted-grid pages for me is not enough. These grids must also be made of:

  • Very small dots and preferably in a very, very light gray, enough to be seen and serve as a guide for my organization pages (Bujo), but without disturbing and affecting the aesthetics of my more artsy pages (especially my art journaling and scrapbooking ones).

  • Dots separated 5mm from each other, which not only gives enough space to write in without problems, but also serves as a quick measurement reference, since for all of us who use the metric system, by counting alternating dots we can measure centimeters, and thus organize our spaces very quickly and easily, without the need of a ruler (yes, you got it right... the ruler and I are not the greatest friends 🤭)

Now, Leuchtturm1917's rating considering all this: ♥♥♥♥

  • It has a dotted grid, and the dots are the smallest of all the notebooks I've seen.

  • The grid is duly spaced at 5mm.

  • The color of the dots is a bit dark for my taste and that is the only reason why I am not giving all 5 hearts to them in this category.

10- Paper color in my perfect BujoScrap notebook must be white or ivory, not cream

While cream (yellowy) papers are proven to help relax eyesight, my perfect BujoScrap notebook should have white pages (not cream, not yellow, ... WHITE).

Colors stand out much more on white papers, simplified Scrapbooking and art creations are always more attractive on a white background, greater contrasts are achieved with any medium on a white background, you can play with the white of the paper to give better lights to an image if you actually use a WHITE paper, in short... it is a 100% personal choice but I think that most of those who love coloring have at least a slight inclination towards notebooks with white over yellowy paper. After all, the perfect white canvas is always white.

Unfortunately, Leuchtturm1917 notebooks use cream paper instead of white and it is actually a quite yellowish cream... If I could change only one thing in them it would be this. I think that the perfect balance between pure white (ideal canvas but that tires the eyes) and the cream color they use, would be an Ivory paper, white enough to make the colors look better, but muted enough as not to leave us short-sighted 😉

Verdict then for Leuchtturm1917 in this regard: ♥♥ 🤔

11- The paper of my ideal BujoScrap notebook should be 100g or more

The grammage (or simply “weight”) of a type of paper is defined by the weight of a square meter of it, which depends on several factors: thickness, composition, compression when manufacturing it, but that is topic for another post 😉. What it matters for now, is that it is measured in grams per square meter (I'll just use "g" for the purposes of this post, although it should be g/m2), and that standard notebooks are usually made with 80g paper.

If paper is of good quality, this grammage is usually more than enough to tolerate normal writing with ordinary pens, therefore, for those who use the traditional and minimalist Bullet Journaling system, an 80g paper is sufficient, as long as you are not bothered by the fact that you will see through some of the writing from the back of the page… This is known as "ghosting" and it's almost inevitable at this weight.

Now, if you are like me and ghosting does bother you, if you like playing with different types of pens and markers, if you like to color, draw, use stamps and all those things that I know most of my followers love as well, then we'll all agree that 80g is not really enough because our works or art on one side of the page would be ruined when we write or create something else on the back of that page, even if it is a simple Daily log (not to mention if we get carried away adding stamped or drawn decorations to it! )

Increasing the grammage of a good quality paper from 80g to just 100g, will not only eliminate most of the ghosting, but will also greatly minimize the bleeding (ink not only visible but actually passing through to the other side of the page). If you like to write with traditional calligraphy pen and ink, with fountain pens or other means containing more fluid inks, you must also make sure to test the “feathering” (ink running through the porous of paper, in a way the resulting traces are no longer sharp as you intended them to be). Generally, ordinary paper production reduces the compression level when increasing the thickness and weight of the resulting paper, therefore, the risks of feathering tend to increase...

But going back to the paper weight of my ideal BujoScrap, it would be 100 to 120g, always talking about high quality paper with a good compression to avoid or minimize the risks of ghosting, bleeding and feathering, and to allow for some use of wet mediums, such as watercolor (in moderation, we are still talking about a notebook here! 😅) or even some adhesives that end up wrinkling the pages in thinner weights.

So how about Leuchtturm1917 in this case?

This brand has always been characterized by the quality of the paper in its notebooks, which, despite its mere 80g, there’s minimal to non-existent bleeding or feathering. Ghosting is inevitable at this grammage but being so thin it also allows for notebooks with a large number of sheets (which is one of my requirements) without being too bulky or heavy. This, added to the high quality of the paper that offers a very fluid writing experience, has made them the first choice of most Bujo lovers... if it only they offered these same benefits in a paper weight of at least 100g it would be perfect also for us, the "BujoScrapers".

Until then, my verdict in this regard is: ♥♥♥

12- Have a high-quality gusseted back envelope, of good capacity

Most Bullet Journal notebooks include a back envelope to store stickers, tickets, etc. This is even more necessary for those of us who do BujoScrap “on the go” (who like to carry our notebooks everywhere to document those fun or important things, right after they happened).

Now, several of the brands that I have tested come with envelopes but without gussets (they do not expand), limiting their capacity and practicality, and increasing the risks of tearing it, or damaging it with use.

For an envelope to be of quality and functional it must be:

  • As large as possible (occupying the entire back cover of the notebook)

  • It must have a bellows, so that it expands, and it is easy to put or remove things from it

  • The part of the bellows should be made of a synthetic material instead of paper to make it more durable and unbreakable.

  • The bellows must be firmly glued to the envelope, as well as the envelope to the notebook, so that it will not get detached over time and use.

They seem like basic things, but many brands do not pay enough attention to these details and believe me that for the envelope to really serve its purpose and justify its existence, it must meet at least those features.

Leuchtturm1917 notebooks do, and for that I give them my ♥♥♥♥♥

13- A good pencil holder, if colored to match, even better! 😍

If you want to take your notebook with you everywhere you go (mine is), then it must include a good pen loop. It has to be of a very good elastic to firmly hold any type of pen or marker that we choose: if it is thick it has to fit comfortably, if it is thin it doesn’t have to be loose or we’ll run the risk of losing it along the way (or worse, that it disappears in the darkness of the "Bermuda triangle" of our handbags!).

And if we are talking about perfection, in addition to this, it has to match the color of the notebook 😊

Leuchtturm1917, in this sense, went even further.

Although their notebooks do not come with an incorporated pen loop, they offer them separately in the whole range of colors identical to those of the notebooks, so you can match them or mix and match if you want! They come with a very strong adhesive that allows you to position them firmly to the back cover of your notebook, at the height that you prefer, and allowing you add more than one if you use several markers at the same time (in my case at least a good brush pen + a black pen are essential 😉).

Still not good enough? How about drawing pencils matching those colors too? Oh do they look cute together!

For all these, and only in this case, I dare breaking all rules and give Leuchtturm1917 a rating of 6 little hearts -of the 5 available 😉: ♥♥♥♥♥ ¡♥! (cute things in matching colors are my weakness, what can I say!).

14- At least three ribbon bookmarks, of different colors

When you are in a hurry, it is very important to be able to quickly open your notebook in the most critical sections of our Bujos without having to search or refer to the index for them. That's when you realize the importance of ribbon bookmarks.

My ideal BujoScrap notebook should have three of them: one for the current day, one for the monthly or weekly log of reference, and one for the collection, project, or tracker that is most important to the organization or documentation of that moment.

Bookmarks must be firmly attached to the structure of the notebook (the strong pulling they suffer all the time is considerable!). They must be of different colors so you can allot each to a different task and identify them easily (and of course, they must be of beautiful colors matching the style of the notebook 😉).

But this is not all, they must also be very thin, both in width and thickness, so that they generate the least possible volume, minimizing the risks of distorted writing when we pass over them on neighboring pages. On another note, their ends must be properly sealed so that they do not fray (which I consider an unforgivable overlook of some brands 🤨)

Let's see where our dear-old Leuchtturm1917 is standing in this aspect ...

  • It comes with 2 bookmarks (many have only one, but still not enough)

  • Very firmly attached to the structure of the notebook. Super!

  • They are a bit too thick and wide, affecting my writing over neighboring pages.

  • They are well sealed at the ends; they do not fray 👏 👏 👏

  • Colors matching the covers, I love that detail...

My verdict then: ♥♥♥ (they are ok but could be better).

15- Have perforated pages at the end (to detach them easily without damaging the structure of the notebook)

We never know when we are going to need to leave a written message to someone and the only thing we have at hand at that moment is our BujoScrap and pen... having some perforated sheets at the end of our notebook that we can tear off without compromising its binding, can be very handy.

I have seen notebooks that, in addition to this, have also some additional pages that are die cut in a way you can tear off parts of those pages, as if they were die-cut cards, which is a very neat so you don’t waste an entire page if you just need a portion of it.

My ideal BujoScrap notebook should have both, some perforated pages that you can tear off as a whole, and some that can also be partitioned in smaller fractions… I image a couple of those pages divided in four, and a couple more divided in eight parts (ideal to just give your number to someone, …no need to waste the whole page for that 😉).

Leuchtturm1917, to my surprise, does have perforated pages at the end! The last 4 sheets (8 pages) are pre-cut to detach them without compromising the structure of the notebook. They would only need to add some additional diecuts to divide some of them into smaller sections in order to be perfect, and that is why I sacrifice one of the 5 little hearts, rating them ♥♥♥♥in this category.

As you can see, the sole act of choosing the right notebook to enter the incredible world of BujoScrap is not a task to be taken lightly 😉

Luckily for those who are just starting out, in this list you will find a long-detailed list of factors to consider, which I only discovered through trial and error over time.

My goal with this post is to reduce your chances of wasting money or time on alternatives that do not suit your needs, in the hope of tempting you into this initiative of organizing your life in a notebook, improving your productivity while allowing yourself to do something creative in the process. And if I get you into documenting at least a little piece of your story every so often, then my mission will be fully accomplished (and eventually you’ll get to thank me for it 😉).

If you already have your preferred Bullet Journal or BujoScrap notebook, dust it off! because in the following posts we get down to work!

Those who still need to buy a new notebook, and wonder if the famous Leuchtturm1917 is the right one to start with, my answer is: YES!

Although there are details that I would change in them to make it even more suitable for my BujoScrap system and creative uses, it is still for me the safest choice weighing all aspects together: quality, aesthetics and functionality.

Who knows? Just as I designed that special edition of my BujoScrap notebooks in co-branding with Chameleon Art Products for the launch of their incredible color-changing fineliners, maybe one day I get to launch a special line for my BujoScraps with Leuchtturm1917! ♥ (leave me a message if you like the idea 😉).

Until then, here’s the dotted version of Leuchtturm1917 that I recommend, followed by its matching self-adhesive pen loops and pencils.

Stay tuned that I will be updating this post shortly with some alternatives of notebooks of greater paper weight, or with other features for those who are not entirely convinced that this particular Leuchtturm1917 suits all your needs.

Each product is followed by links to external sites where you can buy them in different countries. If I don't mention yours, leave me a message and I'll try to find out!

Click here to buy Leuchtturm1917 notebooks on Amazon from:

Note: These are affiliate links to external websites. Prices and availability may vary and do not depend on me. If you follow one of my links and they are not in stock, let me know in the comments and I look for alternatives.

Do you sell or distribute them in your city or country, and would like me to mention you instead of Amazon? Email me at info@carolinaghelfi.com and I'll tell you how!

Click here to buy Leuchtturm1917 Pen loops on Amazon from:

Note: These are affiliate links to external websites. Prices and availability may vary and do not depend on me. If you follow one of my links and they are not in stock, let me know in the comments and I look for alternatives.

Do you sell or distribute them in your city or country, and would like me to mention you instead of Amazon? Email me at info@carolinaghelfi.com and I'll tell you how!

Click here to buy Leuchtturm1917 pencils on Amazon from:

Note: These are affiliate links to external websites. Prices and availability may vary and do not depend on me. If you follow one of my links and they are not in stock, let me know in the comments and I look for alternatives.

Do you sell or distribute them in your city or country, and would like me to mention you instead of Amazon? Email me at info@carolinaghelfi.com and I'll tell you how!

I will be adding more products as soon as I test them to give you more options and alternatives... in the meantime, if you liked this post and find it useful, please like and share it on your networks so we can help others save time on their searches for the perfect notebook.


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Tell me in your comments which notebook you are using or plan to use, and your reasons for choosing it, so we enrich this post even more and learn from each other.

Until the next post!

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