The Battle of the Fountain Pen Notebooks

If you want to hear a fountain pen enthusiast scream, hand them a notebook with terrible paper.

If you don't have adequate paper, you will miss out on all the enjoyment of writing with a fountain pen. A common problem with ordinary notebooks is that they tend to have lighter, absorbent paper stock that turns into a messy much once liquid fountain pen ink touches it. Don't blame the notebook manufacturer - they assume that most people if they handwrite at all, write with a ballpoint pen or pencil.

For fountain pen geeks like myself, we have to be persnickety about our paper. Not just because we like to spend the extra money on expensive stationery and writing tools, but because we want our writing experience to be the best. And, believe it or not, the best notebooks for fountain pens aren't going to cost a fortune to obtain.

In this post, I share what makes a notebook great for fountain pens and give you a select list of recommendations for fountain pen-friendly paper notebooks available at Goldspot.

To illustrate the differences in paper types, I inked three pens:

To compare and contrast the notebooks you'd find at Goldspot versus the ones you might pick up at an office supply store, I grabbed a few notebooks from a local Staples.

What Makes The Best Notebook for Fountain Pens?

First, let's talk about what makes an unfriendly notebook for fountain pens.

As the name implies, feathering is when a line of ink absorbs into the page, spreading like the edges of a feather.

Paper shown here: Staples White Ruled Junior Sized Pad (cost: $2.99)

Bleedthrough is when the ink soaks through the entire page and is visible on the other side.

Paper shown here: Moleskine Classic Softcover XL Dotted Notebook (cost approx. $25-$30)

Fountain pen-friendly notebook paper should not have feathering or bleedthrough when writing with most nib sizes and ink choices.

Ghosting, or show-through, is when you can see writing on the other side of the page. This isn't a deal-breaker for most. But, paper that tends to ghost can be difficult to read if you write on both sides of a page. Certain thin papers can handle fountain pen ink well but can only be used on one side due to the high degree of show-through. Even the best fountain pen paper (like Tomoe River shown here) might have showthrough.

Paper shown here: Colorverse Nebula Note Tomoe River 52gsm (cost : $16.50)

Besides not feathering or bleeding through, the best fountain pen paper should also have the following characteristics:

The paper should show the ink color's true brilliance and vibrance. Beautiful ink deserves a canvas that properly displays its extraordinary characteristics.

The paper should show the depth of shading possible with your particular nib and ink combination. When ink pools inside each written letter, the value range should be well-defined.

Paper shown here: Endless Works Recorder with Regalia 80gsm paper (Cost: $23.50)

For saturated inks that tend to show a metallic sheen, the paper should highlight the vibrant contrast between the base color and the reflective parts.

Paper shown here: Itoya Profolio Oasis Notebook (Cost: $6.99 for A6 size)

Last, consider the desired smoothness of your writing experience. Do you prefer a bit of tooth to your writing surface or do you want to write on a buttered, non-stick skillet? We often focus on how smooth a nib is but a change in paper can make a huge difference.

Another personal preference to note is the paper's color. Some notebooks offer variations on bright white, ivory, and cream-colored paper. These slight differences in paper color can change the ink color's appearance.

Since we're discussing the best fountain pen notebooks, much of the focus is on the paper quality. Because, first and foremost, the paper needs to be able to handle the ink. However, we would be remiss in not mentioning other notebook features like page size, binding, ruling, cover material, and other journal accouterments. The value of these aspects depends on how you use your notebook.

That's why I feel that there isn't one best notebook out there for all fountain pen enthusiasts. Just as there isn't one best fountain pen. Because writing is personal and highly dependent on one's workflow and writing preferences.

So, I picked five of the best fountain pen notebooks that we offer on Goldspot.com. See if these might be a great fit for your writing needs.

The Best Fountain Pen Notebooks

Itoya Profolio Oasis

  • Smooth, 75gsm cream-colored paper
  • No feathering, no bleedthrough, medium ghosting
  • Perfect bound with a cardstock cover, lays flat
  • lined, dotted, and easy to divide the page
  • Made in Japan
  • Great for writing short stories, journaling, creating 2-D designs and layouts, daily logging.

Clairefontaine

  • Smooth, 90gsm white paper
  • No feathering, no bleedthrough, low ghosting
  • Several binding options, wire bound, perfect bound, staplebound
  • Several format options available including pocket-sized quick jot notepads
  • Made in France
  • While Clairefontaine doesn't have the bells and whistles of other manufacturers, they have excellent paper and a wide array of designs to best suit your writing needs.

Rhodia Pads

  • Smooth, 80gsm white paper
  • No feathering, no bleedthrough, low ghosting
  • Pads available in several sizes, notebooks & goalbooks
  • blank, lined, dotted, and graph formats
  • Pad of choice for Goldspot's writing samples and demos
  • Made in France
  • Great for jotting notes, first drafts, to-dos, and outlines.

Colorverse Nebula Tomoe River

  • Super-smooth, thin 52gsm cream paper
  • No feathering, no bleedthrough, high show-through
  • Original Tomoe River Paper is becoming harder to get since the company stopped it's machines.
  • Often imitated, never duplicated. Highly regarded as the best paper for fountain pens.
  • If a soft, super smooth writing experience is your idea of writing heaven, then you have to try a Tomoe River paper notebook.

Endless Recorder Notebook with Regalia Paper

  • Toothy textured, 80gsm white paper
  • No feathering, no bleedthrough, low ghosting
  • Blank, lined, dot grid formats
  • More of a traditional journal with an elastic band, inner back pocket, and bookmarks. Use for a commonplace book or a bulletjournal / planner.
  • Displays shading and sheen exceptionally well with minimal ghosting. All-around best notebooks for fountain pens.

To recap, we discussed the traits that make a fountain pen-friendly notebook. We showed what separates good paper from bad. And, now have five tried-and-true notebooks that should be on your wishlist, if not already in use, especially when paired with the best pen for note taking.

Explore all of our friendliest fountain pen notebooks at Goldspot Pens and start a new one today.

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