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Category: Paper

Binder Paper Chase

Posted in Paper

As I mentioned a few posts back, in purchasing paper for my A5 binder, I found some surprising duds. Jim and I have both used Kokuyo notebooks without encountering any issues. Apparently, however, their loose leaf paper is not the same quality.

I don’t feel the need to babble on about each type of paper I’ve tested so far. Instead, I’ll let my ratings — I’ve included scales this time — and the papers themselves do the speaking for me.

Paper System Changes

Posted in Paper

Last year, I wrote about how I was changing how I manage my pen rotation and my notebook/paper system. While the former is going very well, the latter, well, it’s a work in progress. It’s been about five and a half months since I switch to binders from my previous notebook system. And, unfortunately, it’s been rather rocky.

The short version is that I still don’t have a definitive system figured out. The long version is significantly more complicated. I don’t want to bore anyone, but I do want to share the issues I’ve faced so that anyone trying this switch can plan ahead. I’m tackling this by issue.

Plotter Alternatives, Part 0

Posted in Paper

Some New Information

No, this isn’t a mistake. Melz, a fantastic reader, submitted a comment with so much wonderful information, I asked their permission to post it as an addendum to my Plotter alternatives series. You can find even more information about “system techos” on Melz’s blog.

I have only slightly edited the content below to make it flow well (like adding headers). Where I have edited the text (as opposed to just rearranging something), I’ve placed it [in brackets]. Please don’t grant me credit for this knowledge, it comes from the fantastic brain of Melz.

While Plotter markets itself as a leather binder, it is completely categorized as a “system techo” (システム手帳) in Japan. If you throw that into your preferred search engine, you will start to see more relevant results in terms of matching binder sizes and refills.

Plotter Alternatives, Part 6

Posted in Paper

Bonus Options

Welcome back for the sixth and final part of this series. If you haven’t read part 1, I’m sharing alternatives to the Plotter system. If you want the full explanation, I suggest you read that post. You can also review the A5, Bible and Narrow, Mini, and Mini 5 alternatives.

Welcome to the sixth and final installment of my Plotter alternatives series. While I researched the various binder sizes, I found several interesting binders that didn’t fit in as alternatives. These binders are too interesting not to share. I hope you find these interesting — and in some cases, unique — binders useful.

Some of these are more along the lines of categories, as there are multiple options for the type of binder. I can’t link to all of them, but I’ve added some links to various binders of that type.

PLEASE NOTE: The images included in the post have been taken from the listings I link to. They are not my images. You can click on them to view larger.

That said, let’s get into the bonus options.

Plotter Alternatives, Part 5

Posted in Paper

Mini 5 Alternatives

Welcome back for part 5 of this series. If you haven’t read part 1, I’m sharing alternatives to the Plotter system. If you want the full explanation, I suggest you read that post. You can also review the A5, Bible and Narrow, and Mini alternatives.

This post was harder than expected. I thought it would be easy to find other Mini 5 sized binders. However, the majority of binders around Mini 5 size are 3-ring, not 5 ring. I was, though, able to find some alternatives.

I found that, despite Mini 5 binders and paper not being close to A8 size, , binders labeled A8 are the correct size. So, it’s likely that if you find a 5-ring A8 binder, it will be the right size. I’m including the paper size comparison again, even though we’ve learned by now that “international standard” sizes mean next to nothing in the binder world.

PaperB7A7Mini 5A8 RefillA8

That said, let’s get into the Mini 5 alternatives.

Plotter Alternatives, Part 4

Posted in Paper

Mini Alternatives

Welcome back for part 4 of this series. If you haven’t read part 1, I’m sharing alternatives to the Plotter system. If you want the full explanation, I suggest you read that post. You can also review the A5 and Bible and Narrow alternatives.

While, once again, Plotter Mini size paper doesn’t match any international size papers, it’s closest to B7 paper. And, at 12mm narrower than the Mini binder, B7 paper should fit into it without any problems.

Unfortunately, this is where it gets weird again. Don’t search for B7 refill paper, because it’s virtually impossible to find. However, like I found with A6 refills, A7 refill paper is not A7; it’s much closer to B7.

What is the point of having internationally standard sizes if they aren’t actually used? If a company doesn’t want to make paper in a standard size, fine, don’t; but don’t label it as a standard size!!

Plotter Alternatives, Part 3

Posted in Paper

Bible and Narrow Alternatives

Welcome back for part 3 of this series. If you haven’t read part 1, I’m sharing alternatives to the Plotter system. If you want the full explanation, I suggest you read that post. You can also review the A5 alternatives.

For this post, I’m addressing both Plotter’s Bible and Narrow sized binders because they are so similar in size. There is a 3mm difference in height between them, and an 11mm (0.43in) difference in width. The paper is similarly close in size, with no difference in height, and 15mm (0.59in) difference in width. You can easily use either size’s paper in the other size’s binder without any problems.

To make things even more confusing, the Bible and Narrow sized binders are smaller (both in height and width) than average A6 binders. However, the same sized Plotter papers are significantly taller than A6 — more in line with B6 paper — while narrower than both A6 and B6.

Plotter Alternatives, Part 2

Posted in Paper

A5 Alternatives

Welcome back for part 2 of this series. If you haven’t read part 1, I’m sharing alternatives to the Plotter system. If you want the full explanation, I suggest you read the previous post.

Unlike what I’ve found with other Japanese binder systems, Plotter only goes up to A5 size, rather than B5 or A4. Perhaps because it’s the largest size, the A5 binder size has the most accessories and refills.

There are, of course, MANY A5 binders available — including some well-known brands like Levenger Circa (OK, maybe not quite a binder) and Filofax — so I chose some top picks based on binder depth and compatibility with Plotter paper. That said, let’s get into the A5 alternatives.

Plotter Alternatives, Part 1

Posted in Paper

About Plotter

EDIT: This is part one of a seven-part series. Access the other parts here: Part 2 – A5 | Part 3 – Bible and Narrow | Part 4 – Mini | Part 5 – Mini 5 | Part 6 – Bonus | Part 0 – Additional Info

A few years back when everyone was going nuts for the Traveler’s Notebook, I fell for the hype and got one. Since then, I used it maybe three-four times and ended up selling it. Now, I’ve been hearing more and more about Plotter and their binder system. It’s highly reminiscent of the hype for Traveler’s Notebook.

However, where there weren’t any alternatives — that I knew about — for the Traveler’s Notebooks. There are many alternatives to Plotter, most of which are significantly less expensive. Traveler’s Notebook seemed to be a fairly unique system at the time; Plotter isn’t.

Do you like the idea of Plotter, but object to the price? Are you curious about the Plotter binders but don’t want leather? This series of posts will provide you with some of the alternatives available for each size of Plotter binder.

Fountain Pen Series + Updates

Posted in Fountain Pens, Ink, Paper, Pen Shows, Storage, and Stores

Since I finished my last Fountain Pen 301 post in October of 2018, I’ve written several updates to the different installments. To make life easier for those looking for a “one-stop-shop” I’m collecting all of the posts here. I’m also including some informational posts I’ve since written that aren’t updates to the original series. I hope it serves as a good resource for many.

I plan to keep this page updated if/when I write future updates or related posts. You can also access this page from the Fountain Pen Series link on my Tags by Category page.

My blog is not monetized, nor do I currently have any intention of monetizing it. So, point people here for information. To make it easier for you, I’ve shortened the page link for better sharing: In the various installments, I link to resources from all over, including Goulet Pen Co, Jet Pens, Pentorium,, Vintage Pen, and quite a few more.

Now, enough preamble, time for the round up.

Cocoa Paper: Quality Custom Cover

Posted in Paper

I enjoy color. I know, it can be hard to tell. 😉 Unfortunately for me, my favorite notebooks don’t come with colorful covers. So, in June last year, I made a custom fabric cover. It turned out… alright. It was a bit too big, and the construction wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t too bad for a first try. I used some gorgeous fabrics, and that’s really the only reason I’ve kept it as long as I have.

Switching to a different notebook brand with my current notebook seemed like a good time to abandon that old cover. Unfortunately, while the Rhodia is more colorful than the Firma-Flex, it stains badly.

Back of Rhodia Goalbook showing staining
Look at all that ugly staining. The front and spine are just as bad.

So, I went looking for a new cover. I didn’t think it would be so difficult.

Journey to the Right Layout

Posted in Paper

I always feel a little presumptuous, writing these “here’s how I do things” posts, but you all seem to really enjoy them. So today, I’m sharing my current notebook layout and how it’s evolved into this over the years. I’ve just started a new notebook, and this seemed like the perfect timing for the layout post I’ve been planning.

Note: Please excuse the redactions. Some info I just can’t share with the world.

My current layout.

Unseating the Firma Flex Notebook?

Posted in Paper

Three years ago, I wrote about my favorite notebook at the time, the Franklin-Christoph Firma Flex. It remained my favorite notebook for years, until, sadly, it was out-of-stock for an extended period of time late last year and early this year.

In that time, I went looking for a replacement notebook. This was partially because I wasn’t sure if the Firma Flex would ever be available again and partially because I’ve been looking for a notebook with paper that will better show ink shading.

Unpopular Fountain Pen Opinions

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Paper

Alright, I’ve got a potentially (probably) divisive post for you today. I’m sharing opinions I have that seem to be unpopular based on what I’ve seen and heard in fountain pen groups and gatherings. Let’s jump in, shall we? I’ll start slow, leaving the doozies until the end.

“Rainbow”/”Iridescent” Finish

It’s been on a lot of pens in the past couple of years, and I think it’s ugly and overpriced. From Visconti’s Rainbow Watermark to TWSBI’s Vac 700r Iris and Conklin’s Duragraph Rainbow, pens at all price points are using the colorful finish.

I don’t know what to call it. It’s not a proper rainbow — the colors aren’t in order and there isn’t a good red or purple. It’s not iridescent — the colors don’t change, or even appear to change, at different angles. Regardless, I bought a seven piece cutlery set with the same finish about 3 years ago for $11 thinking it would be super cool and ended up woefully disappointed. I definitely won’t be investing in a pen with it.

Franklin-Christoph Firma Flex Notebook

Posted in Paper

I’ve been searching for my “perfect notebook” almost since I started using fountain pens. Every notebook I tried had at least one problem (in my opinion, I’m sure people would disagree with me). I’d just about given up hope of finding my “perfect notebook” when I stumbled across the Franklin-Christoph Firma-Flex Journal Notebooks.

The Search

When I started using fountain pens, I realized I could no longer just pick up any notebook I wanted to. So began my notebook search. And, of course, the elements that make up my “perfect notebook” have changed over the course of my search.

Fountain Pen 101: Paper

Posted in Paper

Welcome back to Fountain Pen 101. We’re down to the last two issues. This week I’m covering paper.

As a fountain pen user, you’ll have to give thought to what paper you use. You’ll want to make sure you use “good” paper, often referred to as “fountain pen friendly”. This term references paper that “behaves well” with fountain pens, and is, to some degree, personal preference.

In this particular case, it will be easiest to discuss various properties paper is judged on, rather than the paper itself. If you’re only interested in overviews of different paper and notebooks, then feel free to jump ahead to that section below.


Bleedthrough is considered a negative trait. As I mentioned before, this is how much an ink bleeds through paper. Particularly “bad” paper will cause bleed-through with nearly every ink, but some ink will bleed through on nearly every paper. Keep in mind that you can make virtually any paper bleedthrough if you lay down enough ink.

Examples of bleedthrough.
An example of minimal (left) and major (right) bleedthrough.