Best Journals

Updated November 2023
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Best of the Best
PAPERAGE Lined Journal Notebook
Lined Journal Notebook
Check Price
Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

In addition to numerous useful features, this simple yet stylish notebook journal comes in a choice of 20 colors to fit your writing style.


Contains 160 lined pages for precise writing. The faux leather cover is durable and protective. The thread-bound design stays flat when it's open. Its size is suitable for travel. Includes a pocket and bookmark/closure band.


A few customers didn't receive the stickers that were supposed to come with it. Fountain pen ink may soak through the pages.

Best Bang for the Buck
Potter Gift Q&a A Day: 5-year Journal
Potter Gift
Q&A a Day: 5-year Journal
Check Price
Best for Beginners
Bottom Line

The journal for people who don't usually journal, with prompts to guide one's daily entries.


Gives a topic when you don't know what to write about. Fun to watch answers change over time to track your personal growth. Five years' worth of pages.


Tight binding means you have to hold it open while writing.

Moleskine Classic Notebook
Classic Notebook
Check Price
Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

We recommend the Moleskine as an inexpensive pick for travel or basic journaling.


The paper feels smooth and can handle gel rollers. We like the elastic band to keep everything tight. It's a good basic lined journal with a strong cover for writing on the go.


There's no pen loop or pocket in the back for extra storage, and some pens will bleed through.

Moonster Leather Journal
Leather Journal
Check Price
Old-school Pick
Bottom Line

A handcrafted leather cover and strap give this multi-use journal an old-world feel.


Hand-bound spine with recycled cotton paper, making it tree-free and acid-free. Thick pages to prevent bleeding. Can be used for sketching, journaling, bullet journaling, or a mixture of all three.


Blank pages can make it difficult to write in a straight line.

The Maniscripting Journal Maniscripting Life Design Journal & Ritual Guidebook
The Maniscripting Journal
Maniscripting Life Design Journal & Ritual Guidebook
Check Price
Best for Everyday Use
Bottom Line

While it's expensive, this journal is designed to assist users in making the most of their journaling endeavors.


Inscribed w/guided prompts to assist writers in putting their thoughts into words. Includes affirmations, inspirational quotes, and more. Undated, so you can begin journaling at your leisure. Quality paper with durable binding.


This feature-packed journal is much more expensive than others we included on our list.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

Category cover

Buying guide for Best journals

A journal may be a repository into which you spill your innermost secrets, or it might just be the place where you write down your gardening notes, grocery lists, random musings, or band name ideas.

Whatever you intend to use your journal for, the first step is to get one – but which is the right journal to fit your needs? Consider if you would prefer ruled, plain, or dot grid paper and if you like a stapled, stitched, or spiral-bound journal.

A young woman with curly hair is wearing a black and white striped shirt and sitting at a wooden table writing in a journal.
You can find journals that are designed to lie flat when open, a feature that some users find very useful.

Questions to ask when selecting a journal

First of all, you need to consider what you want out of a journal. Ask the following questions of yourself. Your answers will help you select the ideal journal to suit your requirements.

What will you put in your journal?

Will you be writing a classic diary, filling your journal with to-do lists, or using the book as a mini sketchbook? The purpose of your journal might dictate the kind that you choose to buy. For instance, if you'll mostly be writing in it, you'll probably want ruled pages, whereas plain pages are better for drawing. If you want to keep track of the day each page was written, you may want to choose a journal with a line for the date at the top of the pages.

Do you want a journal with prompts?

Some journals offer daily, weekly, or monthly writing prompts for inspiration. These can be useful if you're new to journaling and aren't quite sure what to write – or if you've tried writing a journal in the past but haven't been successful at keeping it up.  

"Not all journals are fountain pen-friendly. If you want to write with a fountain pen, be sure to check first that your chosen journal is up to the task. "

Does journal design matter to you?

Journals range from simple, plain-covered, spiral-bound books – the sort that you might find in a grocery store – to beautiful, highly decorated, hand-crafted pads. The question to ask yourself is, does design matter to you? If you want a journal in which to document something special (for instance, a round-the-world trip or the first years of your child's life) and you plan to keep it for years to come, you'll probably care more about design than if you simply want a book in which to track grocery needs and appointments.

How much do you want to spend?

You could spend a little or a lot on a journal, but you do tend to get what you pay for. Basic spiral-bound journals can cost as little as $1. Large, handcrafted journals can cost as much as $50. As a rule, however, you can find journals of excellent quality between the $10 and $20 mark.

Content Image
Did you know?
Paper thickness is measured in grams per square meter, or GSM. We recommend a GSM of at least 80 to 100 to avoid bleeding.

Journal features

  • Size: Most journals come in standard paper sizes (A4, A5, B5, A6, etc.), but you may want to check the measurements if you're unsure. We recommend selecting a journal that's small enough to carry with you, but not so small as to be inconvenient.

  • Number of pages: Most journals contain between 120 and 250 pages, but you'll also find plenty journals with more or fewer pages.

  • Paper quality: Not all paper is created equally. If your journal has thin, poor-quality paper, your writing is likely to bleed through onto the next page.

  • Ruling type: The most common page layouts/ruling types are line-ruled, plain, grid-ruled, and dot grid. You can also find journals with a mixture of ruling types. For example, some pages might be plain and others might be line-ruled.

  • Cover type: Decide between a hardcover and softcover journal. The former are more durable, whereas the latter are more compact and lightweight.
Content Image
Acid-free paper is free from bleaching agents that cause ink to fade over time. It's the best page material for a journal you'll want to keep well into the future.


Q. How does a journal differ from a notebook?
A journal and a notebook are essentially the same thing, but the term "journal" is more likely be used to describe higher-quality notebooks or those that contain journaling prompts.

Q. What's the best kind of binding for a journal?
The main types of journal binding are glue, stitching, staples, and spiral wire. Each has its pros and cons, but high-end journals usually have stitched binding.

Q. Should I get a journal with an elastic closure?
While an elastic closure isn't essential, it can help keep the pages together and avoid damage, particularly if you often carry your journal with you.

Our Top Picks