When I first started my journey on fountain pens, I was still a student. And being a student, I tend to write a lot and would need to stock up on paper and notebooks, however I was shocked at how much fountain pen friendly paper cost! When I was still using rollerball and gel pens, I would normally get cheap paper that cost less than $7 for 5 – 70 Sheets A4 pads. But they are not fountain pen friendly and have massive bleedthrough and feathering, and thus i started my quest on searching for cheap, affordable paper and notebooks for everyday use.
Many people recommend getting Rhodia pads, however they are not very cheap here in Singapore. As I can write up to as much as 20 pages a day, Rhodia is just not an option for a poor student like me.
The search for affordable paper, started my craze over paper! Unknowingly I have accumulated over 1000 sheets of B5 paper and notebooks, and at least 400 sheets of A5 paper and notebooks. And thus, today, I would like to share about paper and notebooks which are student- and also fountain pen-friendly!
All notebooks and papers are tested with the following pens and inks (with affiliate links to Amazon):
Sailor Procolor – Fine. De Atramentis Archive Ink
Platinum Standard – Extra Fine. Iroshizuku Asa-gao
First up, I would like to recommend two A5 lined notebooks. Made in Japan, Tsubame A5 7mm ruled notebook (100 Sheets) and also the Made in Germany, Durable – Duranote A5 7mm ruled spiral bound notebook (80 Sheets).
Cost: Duranote – 2 SGD, Tsubame – 7 SGD
Bleed Through: Duranote – None, Tsubame – None
Feathering – Duranote – Slight, Tsubame – None
Dry Time – Duranote – Fast, Tsubame – Average
Texture – Duranote – Slightly Rough, Tsubame – Very Smooth
Colour – Duranote – White, Tsubame – Slightly Yellow
For quick notetaking during lectures, I would recommend the Duranote, as it has a very short drying time and also the cost is much lower compared to Tsubame. However the paper used in Tsubame notebook is of much higher quality and is still fairly affordable. Prolonged writing with Duranote can result in arm and wrist getting tired due to the rougher texture of the paper used.
Next up are two B5 lined notebooks from Daiso. Made in Japan, Daiso D-98 6.5mm ruled Notebook (60 Sheets) and also Made in Japan, Daiso Combine Notebook 6mm Ruled (40 Sheets, Pack of 2 notebooks).
Cost: Daiso D-98 Notebook – $2 SGD, Daiso Combine Notebook – $7 SGD
Bleed Through: Daiso D-98 Notebook – None, Daiso Combine Notebook – None
Feathering – Daiso D-98 Notebook – None, Daiso Combine Notebook – None
Dry Time – Daiso D-98 Notebook – Average, Daiso Combine Notebook – Quick
Texture – Daiso D-98 Notebook- Smooth, Daiso Combine Notebook – Smooth
Colour – Daiso D-98 Notebook – Slightly Yellow, Daiso Combine Notebook – Slightly Yellow
The Daiso B5 Combine Notebook is my go-to notebook, as they are very cheap and perform remarkably well. Drying time is fast, which is very important when taking note, however they are thinner compared to the D-98 and also the Tsubame notebooks, thus there might be some show through. When used with a very very wet nib, there might be bleedthrough when there are pauses during writing which results in ink pooling. However they work very well for daily note taking and tutorial work. The D-98 notebook sits just in between the Tsubame and Combine notebook in terms of performance. It is thicker then the Combine notebook and thinner then the Tsubame notebook, same goes for drying time as well. They both perform very well, however you get a pack of 2 Combine Notebooks for just $2 which is a steal!
Lastly, I would like to recommend two types of B5 Loose Leaf Paper. As a student, you would need to hand up your assignment at times, therefore loose leaf paper would come in handy. You guys must be wondering why do I not get A5-sized paper instead, since we have been using A4-sized foolscap paper since younger. The reason is simply cost benefit, A4 size paper usually cost twice or more as compare to B5 size paper, however they are not twice the size in comparison, hence I converted to using B5 paper instead! As pictured above, Kokuyo Campus B5 6mm Ruled Loose Leaf Paper (100 Sheets) and Maruman B5 6mm Ruled Loose Leaf Paper (100 Sheets).
Cost: Kokuyo Campus Loose Leaf – 5 SGD, Maruman Loose Leaf – $4.80 SGD
Bleed Through: Kokuyo Campus Loose Leaf – None, Maruman Loose Leaf – None
Feathering – Kokuyo Campus Loose Leaf – None, Maruman Loose Leaf – None
Dry Time – Kokuyo Campus Loose Leaf- Average, Maruman Loose Leaf – Quick
Texture – Kokuyo Campus Loose Leaf- Smooth, Maruman Loose Leaf – Very Smooth
Colour – Kokuyo Campus Loose Leaf – VerySlightly Yellow, Maruman Loose Leaf – Very Slightly Yellow
Both the Campus and Maruman Loose Leaf paper are excellent papers! Dry times are similar to Tsubame Notebook, however I feel that the Maruman paper is just a tad smoother when tested with the above pens and paper. They are also pretty affordable and can be easily obtained. I always have either of them in my bag whenever I travel to school!
For me, my everyday carry papers and notebooks include either 15-20 sheets of Campus or Maruman Loose Leaf in a Campus loose leaf folder, Combine Notebooks for every different modules I am taking for the day, and also a Black n Red perforated A5 spiral bound notebook. I hope the above recommendations are beneficial to students out there who are looking for cheap, affordable paper and notebooks!