Lined, Blank, or Dotted Notebooks: Choose the Best One for You

Choosing the right notebook for your custom needs can be overwhelming. In this article, let's compare the lined, blank, and dotted notebooks to help you find the best fit for your writing, sketching, or journaling needs.

The Comparison: Lined vs. Blank vs. Dotted

lined notebook

Lined Notebook


  • Ideal for writing.
  • Structured note-taking.
  • Supports organized thoughts.


  • Restricts creativity.
  • Lines visible in drawings.
  • Not suitable for varying handwriting sizes.


  • Perfect for note taking
blank notebook

Blank Notebook


  • Encourages creativity.
  • Unrestricted movement between sections.
  • Useful as an instant scrapbook.


  • Lack of direction or organization.
  • Challenging to create precise patterns.
  • Inconsistent letter size in writing.


  • Perfect for sketching
dotted notebook

Dotted Notebook


  • Flexible for writing or drawing.
  • Offers direction and organization.
  • It Simplifies drawing straight lines.


  • Dots can be distracting.
  • Inconvenient spacing for large handwriting.
  • Highlights sloppy writing.


  • Ideal for writing and sketching

What is a lined (ruled) notebook?

Lined notebooks, also known as ruled paper or feint-ruled paper, are popular choices for writing purposes due to the printed lines that guide the writer's hand. These lines are typically narrow and faint.

Before purchasing a lined or ruled notebook, consider the line spacing to ensure it meets your requirements. A simple lined notebook can be an effective tool for note-taking at work.

lined notebook

Pros of Lined (Ruled) Notebooks

  • Ideal for writing.
  • Guided note-taking.

Cons of Lined (Ruled) Notebooks

  • Encourages a left-to-right writing flow.
  • Lines visible when drawing
  • Not suitable for very large or small handwriting

Lined Notebooks for Note Taking

Ruled pages are recommended for note-taking purposes. With their structured layout, lined notebooks are often regarded as the best notebook for writing, making them a popular choice among writers and students.

Blank Notebook Overview

Blank notebooks are less common than lined ones but offer unique advantages. They provide an open canvas for writing or drawing without the constraint of lines.

Drawbacks include a need for more guidance for handwriting, which some may find essential for maintaining order. However, others appreciate the freedom of having no lines in a notebook.

Using a blank notebook, often considered the best notebook for sketching, allows you to take notes creatively and at your own pace. Doodling, for example, has cognitive benefits, such as enhancing memory recall, reducing anxiety, and fostering original thinking.

A blank notebook might be the perfect choice to stimulate your imagination. While writing without lines may feel unusual initially, it offers flexibility in using the page. You can create mind maps, emphasize points by writing vertically, or use doodles to communicate.

Blank Notebook
plain notebook features

Pros of Blank Notebooks

  • Encourages creativity
  • Flexible note-taking
  • Serves as an instant scrapbook

Cons of Blank Notebooks

  • Lacks direction and organization
  • Challenging to create precise geometric patterns
  • Inconsistent letter size in typography

Blank Notebook for Sketching

Ideal for sketching, a blank notepad offers an unlined surface. When selecting a sketchbook, consider the paper's thickness and texture, and check if pens or markers will bleed through the pages.

Explore Blank Notebooks

Dotted Notebooks

Dotted notebooks offer a balanced compromise between lined and blank, providing freeform customization while organizing content into manageable sections.

Dotted notebook pages feature subtle, evenly spaced dots, often arranged in a grid that will stay relevant to imaginative patterns or designs.

The bullet journaling method's popularity in recent years has sparked renewed interest in dotted notebooks. Bullet journaling is a quick logging method for tracking past, present, and future events, managing tasks, and prioritizing them using a grid layout. One advantage of the bullet journal system is its flexibility, allowing users to tailor it to their needs.

Dotted notebooks encourage creativity and originality in bullet journal spreads, making them the best notebook for journaling and planning. They can be used for various purposes, from recording emotions to planning trips or tracking daily meals.

The dot grid offers a blank canvas for experimenting with color, images, and themes, creating the perfect layout to suit individual preferences.

Dotted Journals
dotted notebook

Pros of Dotted Notebooks

  • Freedom to write or draw in any manner.
  • Provides direction and organization.
  • It Simplifies drawing straight lines with dot guides.

Cons of Dotted Notebooks

  • Dots may be distracting when sketching.
  • Empty spaces can frustrate those with large handwriting, creating indecision between single or double spacing.
  • Messy handwriting may appear more noticeable.

Dotted Notebooks for Writing and Sketching

Using a dotted notebook for bullet journaling is essential, as the grid pattern helps lay out spreads in a personalized planning system. Choose a journal with light, non-prominent dots and non-bleeding pages, ensuring the usability of both sides without ink transferring through.

Dotted notebooks enable free-flowing creativity while providing structure to keep thoughts and ideas organized, making them a popular choice for planners.

Explore Dotted Notebooks

Final Tips

  • Lined notebooks held the largest market share.
  • The popularity of bullet journaling has increased the demand for dotted notebooks in recent years.
  • A5 size (5.8 x 8.3 inches or 148 x 210 mm) is the most popular choice for lined, blank, and dotted notebooks.
Su - Interwell Founder
Hi, I'm Su, the author of this post. I founded Interwell Stationery and have served over 1000+ clients since 2003. Feel free to contact us for custom stationery supplies, manufacturing support, and the latest trends in the industry.

View all notebook types we can customize today

Explore Now