Bullet Journal Notebook Comparison
I recently became kind of obsessed with the idea of going back to bullet journaling.
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I’ve missed the simplicity of it. You may have recently seen that I’ve been bullet journaling in my Hobonichi Cousin. There’s just something though about the idea of creating a completely bespoke-to-me planner that you get with a bullet journal and nothing else. Because of this I created my Goal Planning Bullet Journal.
Before I set up that bullet journal I bought a couple of different ones to test and compare. While I had used a Leuchtturm before I’d seen and heard a lot about Nuuna and Muji notebooks and so picked up those to try too.
I’ve put each of these through their paces and compared them all on the things I consider important in a notebook or bullet journal.
- Build quality
- Dot spacing
- Pen test
The first notebook is old faithful, the Leuchtturm 1917 in A5 size. This is a special edition* that I picked up whilst on holiday earlier in the year. Based on my unscientific evidence of the bullet journal community this is the most popular notebook for bujoing in. So much so, that there is an official Bullet Journal version*. I own this version and have used it on and off for years. Despite that not being full, I couldn’t resist this pretty yellow version.
Next up I purchased a Nuuna. I’d heard about these notebooks and how great they are for years. Despite seeing them a few times in Paperchase I never pulled the trigger on purchasing one. Compared to the Leuchtturm, they always felt a little expensive.
However, I managed to find a really nice edition* for an absolute steal from Cult Pens (sadly sold out now). I was excited to finally try one of these!
Finally, a total impulse purchase – the Muji dot notebook.
I’ve seen a few people on Instagram use this notebook and I’ve always loved how simple this notebook looks, with really nice looking pages. For only £4.50 I had to try it.
1. Notebook size
The Nuuna is by far the largest, followed by the Muji (mainly due to the coil), then the LT.
In terms of usable page space (based on where the dots begin and end on the page) it’s a different story.
LT: 18.5cm x 13cm. You miss some valuable space on the top of each page in this due to the margins. This is due to a recent design change in the LT. You can see below the new pages compared to the old ones in my Bullet Journal Edition.
Muji: 20.5cm x 13.5cm. Despite the coil, you actually get a decent amount of writing space in these pages.
Nuuna: 19.6cm x 14cm. Thanks to the absolutely massive margins in this notebook, the actual usable space on these pages is quite disappointing compared the overall size of the notebook – 22cm x 16.7cm.
When it comes to number of pages, the Nuuna wins, coming in at 255 pages, followed by the LT at 215 pages. Given there’s only 40 pages difference, the difference in thickness of the notebook between these two is pretty crazy. The Nuuna is super thick!
The Muji has a few less pages, coming in at 190 in total.
The other thing to note is the colour of the pages. Muji and Nuuna both go for white (ideal for using stickers with) whereas you get off-white in the LT.
If you want a notebook to carry around with you, I’d recommend going for either the Leuchtturm or the Muji. The Nuuna just feels too big to carry around all the time.
2. Build quality
Despite its cheap price, the Muji notebook is incredibly well-built. The plastic covers (though not great from an environmental perspective) are nice and thick and will protect the notebook well. The coil is sturdy and high quality too. There’s a thick cover page both on the front and back so you can’t see through the cover to see what’s written inside. The pages feel smooth, if a little thin.
I love the feel of the Nuuna, and the faint leather scent you get from the recycled leather cover. The coloured edges of the pages are a nice touch. Again this has front and back cover pages. As you’ve probably guessed from the thickness comparison, these pages are thick and smooth.
Neither of these notebooks come with bookmarks or a closure, unlike the LT.
The hardcover on the LT feels nice and sturdy although it does get dirty quite easily.
Just like the others, the LT has cover pages front and back. It has printed edges just like the Nuuna which I really like. It also comes with contents pages and a nice pocket at the back of the notebook. You definitely get quite a few useful extras with the LT.
In terms of general build quality, the Nuuna is my favourite. In terms of the ‘whole package’ the LT does win based on the useful extras you get that add to overall quality feel.
3. Dot spacing
When it comes to dot spacing the LT and the Muji notebooks are exactly the same, coming in at 0.5cm. The Nuuna comes with the smallest dot spacing I’ve seen at 0.34cm. This spacing really bugs me because it’s not an easy number to work with. It seems really awkward.
The pages in the Nuuna also end up looking pretty busy with all those dots on them. If you’ve got big handwriting you probably won’t like using this too much. If you don’t like using the Hobonichi because of the small grid size, you’ll really dislike the Nuuna as it’s even smaller.
For me, the main deal breaker is a notebook laying flat. If it doesn’t lay flat, I really struggle to get on with it. Obviously the Muji lays flat thanks to the coil but you may find the coil gets in the way when writing on the left hand side of the notebook.
The LT lays flat with very little work required on the part of the user thanks to the binding used on the notebook. The Nuuna takes a little more work to lay flat and writing on the left page isn’t always the easiest. Thanks to the thickness of the notebook you will also sometimes struggle to write on the ‘thin’ side of the notebook.
When it comes to leaving out on your desk, the Muji wins for me. Because of the coil you don’t have to have both pages on show, taking up a lot of desk space.
If you’re planning on carrying your bullet journal around, the LT is my favourite. This is mainly due to the closure and the handy little pocket in the back for any papers you need to carry with you. You can add a pen loop to any of these bullet journals, but the fact Leuchtturm sell a matching one* is a nice touch.
5. Pen test
Now for the thing I did first – the pen test!
I created the same page in the back of each notebook with every different type of pen and ink I’d be likely to use.
I don’t know whether the paper has had an upgrade in the past couple of years but this turned out better than expected. I remember when I first purchased a Leuchtturm I was really disappointed about the page quality and felt that I couldn’t write on both sides of the page.
There’s still a decent amount of ghosting. However, there’s no feathering and very little bleed. Only the Pilot fountain pen ink, and highlighters had any bleeding.
Onto the Muji and I had an even better experience.
There was no bleeding or feathering at all. There is ghosting, but I’d say it’s better than the LT.
Given the thickness of the Nuuna paper, I was expecting good things here.
I was disappointed to find feathering with the fountain pen ink.
The highlighters also didn’t seem to play well with the paper. There was a lot less ghosting but there was some bleed with the Pilot fountain pen ink and the highlighters.
It’s not difficult to see why the Leuchtturm is a favourite within the bullet journal community. It ticks a lot of boxes. If you want something that will cope with different pens, is a good size and has finishing touches such as bookmarks and a contents page then this is the notebook for you.
If you want an introductory notebook to see whether bullet journaling is for you, then the Muji notebook is a fantastic purchase. It’s currently on offer so is even cheaper than £4.50. I also like how the design of this planner means you can easily decorate this and really make it your own. I also love the whiteness of the pages, meaning I can use stickers with ease. For a regular bullet journal to be left on my desk (and not carried around) this would actually be my first choice. It’s a great product and fantastic value for money.
I won’t be using the Nuuna as a bullet journal. As nice as it is, there’s too many issues for me to want to use this as a bujo. My main issues are its issues with lying flat, the dots and the massive margins. The notebook could easily have been smaller had the margins been reduced. What this will be used for, is a general notebook. It may eventually replace my Rhodia* that I use as a meeting notebook at work.
I’d love to continue this as a series of reviews, so if there’s any notebooks you’d like me to include let me know in the comments!