What Type of Page Ruling Should You Use?

The ruling of notebooks is a serious choice for any stationery addict. And by ruling, I mean the printed guides on paper that keep your handwriting straight. For some people, if a notebook doesn’t come with their favorite ruling, they won’t buy it! I used to be a “lines only” person, after using it my whole life. I didn’t know there were other rulings out there! Now I use a mixture of lined, dot grid and blank paper. Though I still like lined paper for long note-taking, I used a dot grid Baron Fig notebook for my last story journal. And I always carry a grid Field Notes in my backpack!


This is the classic ruling, the one you use in school and work and likely everywhere. It comes in many sizes, from 5mm to 8mm. It’s the most common type of ruling. It can be boring or constricting to some, but for me, I appreciate its structure. It keeps my handwriting from tilting and looking sloppy. However, some brands have too-dark lines or have too wide or too narrow ruling. Lines are harder to ignore and if they are dark they can distract from your words. If you like structure, tradition or easy accessibility, you should use lined paper.

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Nanami Seven Seas Writer

Examples: Lined ruling can be found in almost any notebook. I enjoy paper with light, easily ignored lines, like Clairefontaine My Essentials and the Nanami Seven Seas Writer (currently out of stock)

Dot Grid

Many stationery users love dot grid. It has become massively popular because of bullet journaling . It consists of small dots, usually spaced 5mm from each other. Dot grid is flexible and is easy to make diagrams or doodles with. The dots are usually light and inconspicuous, letting the words stand out. They stop new writers from fearing the blank page or feel smothered by lines.  If you like doodling, are interested in bullet-journaling, or appreciate a minimal aesthetic, dot grid is fun to try out.

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Leuchtturm1917 Dot Grid

Examples: Since dot grid is becoming so popular, it’s becoming easier to find it. The Baron Fig Confidant, Rhodia Webbie and Leuchtturm1917 have dotted paper.


I used to use graph/grid paper only for math homework, but then found out they were perfect for making lists and charts. I carry around a Field Notes in my backpack to jot down notes, ideas, to-do lists, songs I heard, etc. They are too busy-looking for me to use in my larger notebooks, but other people appreciate this ruling in A5. It’s usually in 5mm, but Write Notepads used 4mm in its latest limited edition, Sakura. If you like precise lines, order, and making lists and diagrams then you should try out grid.

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Field Notes Campfire

Examples: Most of my Field Notes are gridded and are good for jotting down to-do lists. I don’t use them in larger notebooks. The paper here is from the Field Notes Campfire, not available anymore. But the Original Kraft Field Notes come in grid and many of the limited editions have grids too.


This is an unusual ruling, one I haven’t seen very often. It is more substantial than dot grid, with tiny crosses each spaced at 5mm. It’s basically the same as dot grid, to be honest. I like it for the aesthetics, mostly. 😉

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Nanami Seven Seas Crossfield

Examples: The paper shown here is from the Nanami Seven Seas Crossfield notebook (just went out of stock, sadly). I haven’t seen many reticle grid paper besides that, except for Field Notes Lunacy and the recent Coastal edition. I hope creators make more notebooks with reticle grid!


Blank paper is a canvas for you to put anything onto, whether its writing or doodles or full illustrations. It is fun to use but can be intimidating if your handwriting tilts down like mine. I use blank only in my sketchbooks because I like having a line of some sort. However, Ana at the Well-Appointed desk, made wonderful templates for any ruling you could imagine. Just print out the template size you want and slip the paper behind your page to give it the allusion of lines.

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Baron Fig Vanguard

Examples: Baron Fig Vanguard has creamy thick paper perfect for both fountain pens and pencils. I like sketching with it because the Vanguard is light and portable. Story Supply Co. also has fountain pen friendly paper with less tooth than BF. Or any old sketchbook will do!


Don’t be afraid to try a different type of ruling! I never thought I’d like dot grid until I tried a Baron Fig notebook. What is your favorite paper ruling? Are there any you like that I haven’t posted here?

Notebooks from bottom to top: Nanami Seven Seas Writer, Nanami Seven Seas Crossfield, Leuchtturm1917 Dot Grid, Baron Fig Vanguard, Field Notes

10 thoughts on “What Type of Page Ruling Should You Use?

  1. I have recently discovered Kokuyo 6mm dot lined Campus paper. It is light weight but very much fountain pen friendly. While I do not normally like lined paper the addition of the dots makes it feel so much better. It’s sort of halfway between a graph and a dot grid.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really prefer graph / grid but I have learned to embrace dot grid in my Enigma notebook from Taroko Design. 68 gsm Tooe River paper! And >380 pages!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For the last eight years or so, I’ve been using a special line pattern. It’s two lines, 4.5mm apart, a 1.5mm space, and then the “writing” lines, again. So, it’s sort of like 6mm spacing with an extra base line. Oh, and the lines are actually a fine dot pattern which doesn’t quite photocopy. I’ve heard comments about how it looks more refined than the “college ruled” paper in common use.

    Oh, dear, I’ve just put myself out of business; somebody’s going to put this into production… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like an interesting pattern! I’m curious on how you use it? Is it just more neat to you than regular lines? Someone should make this, I’m always willing to try new formats.


      1. And, two days later, someone buys that notebook. If you’d like to try some paper with my special lining (or something of your own preference), drop me a reply, and it’ll show up in my email.

        Liked by 1 person

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