Bullet diary on lined paper: how and why it works for you

fpfcorp 01/11/2021 1299

There are many ways to start a bullet journal, and there are many forms of it too. If you’ve done a quick search, you’ll find that most of them use blank or dotted notebooks. Which begs the question, can you bullet journal on lined paper? Here’s what I found around the web.

The bullet journal is never just one style. You can customize the contents to however you want, and sometimes that means using different kinds of paper. This means you can use lined paper or any other kind, as long as it suits your needs. As long as it works for you, go for it.

But is bullet journaling on lined paper for you? There are many benefits and, conversely, drawbacks to using lined paper for your bullet journal. Let’s explore the factors below.



Why Use Lined Paper For Bullet Journaling?


Who Is The Lined Bullet Journal For?


Why Not Use A Lined Bullet Journal?


Additional Resources

Why Use Lined Paper For Bullet Journaling?

No doubt you’ve seen the bullet journals going around the web that are almost museum quality. If you look closely, almost none of them are made on lined paper, and there’s a good reason for that. Lined paper wasn’t for their style of bullet journaling.

Which begs the question: Why use lined paper in the first place?

Here are some good reasons:

Good for lists

Good for journaling/diaries



Less tools

Fit List

– Although there are a large number of well-designed bullet journals in the community, their core purpose is to increase productivity and accessibility.

Lists are a good tool for that, and having a lined notebook will let you focus on writing down the actual list rather than lining the page perfectly for aesthetic reasons.

Good for journaling/diaries

– If you’re a recent convert from the journaling/diary community and you’re seeking to merge it with the bullet journal, then a lined notebook may be for you.

This will allow you to write your journal and reflect on your day without having to worry about writing on a straight line, or setting up the page before actually writing. The lines make it easier for you to focus on yourself rather than the notebook.

If you’ve visited bullet journaling communities, a good number have suggested a lined notebook when adding your journaling practice to your bullet journal.

Easier Columns

– Like lists, columns are a good tool for productivity, in fact, whether your notebook is lined, dotted, or blank, you will have to use columns to make optimal use of your bullet journal.

The advantage a lined notebook has is that you only need to focus on making vertical lines. And if you do not have an obsession with straight lines, unlike me, then just write the vertical lines with your unfeeling, devil-may-care attitude.

If you are a sane person, though, I would recommend a ruler for the vertical lines.

Cheaper notebooks

– If, like the greater population in general, you have a blank lined notebook laying around your home, then you’re in luck. Now, you only have to dig it out of the deep and dark recess of which you have banished it too.

Once that’s done, congratulations, you have a bullet journal.

Lined notebooks are also easier to find, and a lot cheaper too – depending on its quality. You can just go to your local store, grab a cheap notebook and pen, and you’re good.. As long as you pay for it before you leave. Otherwise, the only lined thing you’ll have is the vertical iron bars of a jail cell.

Less Tools

– With a lined notebook, you will have a more minimalistic approach when using your bullet journal. More often than not, the beautiful spreads you see online will not be available to you by virtue of the kind of paper you have to work with.

Like I mentioned before this, if you are sane, the only tool you really need is a ruler for the vertical lines.

However, as with the nature of the bullet journal system, there is no wrong, only what works for the individual.

Who Is The Lined Bullet Journal For?

Now that you know some of the advantages of a lined bullet journal, you may ask who is it for?

Here’s a short list of who it’ll be perfect for:


Those with little time


Those who keep a diary/journal


– There are two reasons the lined notebook is perfect for beginners:

The notebook is easily accessible

. Starting would be as simple a getting a blank notebook around the house, or in your local store, and any cheap pen laying around. There are less reasons not to procrastinate and less pressure to begin.

The notebook is cheap

. Let’s face it. The notebooks out there are a bit pricey. Starting with a cheap and accessible notebook will have less pressure on making it “perfect”.

You don’t have to worry about messing it up and making it look ugly, you can just focus on learning to stick to the system. When you’re confident in your abilities to take care of a notebook, by all means get a more expensive and better one.

Those with little time

– Parents and professionals will resonate with this. One of the things that prevent people from starting bullet journaling is the impression that it will too much time.

With a lined notebook, they can focus on the tools of productivity instead of the creative outlet aspect of bullet journaling. They won’t have to worry about making it look perfect, they just need the system to keep things in order.

This would greatly impact, let’s say, a mom juggling work and house chores, just struggling to keep up. Or say, a professional running around the place with his boss or clients dumping their load onto him.


– If you are a minimalist, or just someone who’s trying to incorporate the practice a little bit more into their lives, then a lined notebook would do just fine.

It will let you focus on the things that matter to you, if a creative outlet is not part of it.

You will only need a simple pen and notebook, and nothing more.

Those who keep a diary/journal

– If you were the recent convert from journaling I mentioned above, then consider starting with this instead of a blank or dotted notebook.

You will have more space for journal entries, and it will be easier to log in to your index in the beginning. Space management in your journal will be so much easier with this.

If you want to learn more about journaling and it similarities to bullet journaling,

check this article out


Why Not Use A Lined Bullet Journal?

Now that we’ve explored the “why”, let’s delve into the “why not”.

Here are some of the reasons:

The paper is thin

Harder to customize

Less tools available to you

The paper is thin

– While not all thin paper is bad, when it comes to a cheap notebook this may be an issue.

Aside from using it with a cheap ballpoint pen, if you use pens with thicker and heavier ink, it will bleed or “ghost” through the page. As you can imagine, this can mess up your notebook real quick.

There are solutions to the problem like:

Just use a cheap pen

– A cheap pen would be great for a cheap notebook. Its thinner and lighter ink will most likely not bleed through the pages.

Skip a page

– If you have a favorite pen, that you notice bleeds ir ghosts, then an option would be to skip pages to avoid letting the ink mess up your writing. It will make you go through your notebook at an immensely fast rate, but it’s all up to you if you prefer it that way.

Harder To Customize

– If your goal for the journal is to have the picture perfect, pinterest spread, then I’ve got news for you: a cheap notebook won’t do.

It’s thin pages will not allow you to use paint, or any of the other tools than comes in a bullet journal artist’s arsenal.

Furthermore, the lines will limit your designs aesthetically. Of course,

there are many ways around this like using stickers

, but it would be easier just to use another kind of notebook.

Less tool available to you

– The one tool that would be best here would be the ruler. Anything else? I’m afraid you’ll have to use a different notebook to use them optimally.

Of course, like I said, it’s up to the individual to discern what’s right for their notebook. However, really intricate spreads using more than a simple pen and paper will be difficult to do here.

The paper may break or tear, and if you have important information logged in there, you may lose it completely.

Additional Resources

If you want to start a simple bullet journal, feel free to swipe left or right to find out how. You can also follow the link for guide on how to make your own simple bullet journal

Beginner Bullet Journal Supplies For Minimalists

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Next: Simple tips for starting a diary with any notebook

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