20 Best Daily Personal Journals and Notebooks for 2021

20 Best Daily Personal Journals and Notebooks for 2021

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If you’re in a hurry and just want to know what the best daily personal journal and notebook is, then we recommend BestSelf Co. The SELF Journal – Daily Planner as the best choice.

Are you looking to make positive changes in 2021? Most of us like to begin each new year with a few goals in mind that can enrich our lives. Unfortunately, for many of us, the motivation we feel in January begins to fizzle as time goes on, and we lose sight of those goals.

You may be surprised to hear it, but journal writing provides a simple way to stay on track and achieve success in different aspects of your life. To get started, all you need is a journal notebook and your favorite pen or pencil.

A good journal will keep you motivated and encourage your personal growth journey. So with that in mind, here are the 20 best daily journals and journaling notebooks on the market.

What You Will Learn

Our Picks for Best Journal Notebooks

Don't have time to read the entire journal notebook review? Then check out this table for a quick review…

Best Overall ChoiceBest Overall ChoiceThe SELF Journal – Daily Planner CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Runner-Up OptionRunner-Up OptionMoleskine Classic Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Value for the MoneyBest Value for the MoneyC.R. Gibson Brown Bonded Leather Journal CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Most Budget-FriendlyMost Budget-FriendlyAmazonBasics Classic Lined Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Journal for WomenBest Journal for WomenErin Condren's Dot Grid Journal CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Small-Sized JournalBest Small-Sized JournalPassport Travelers Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Planner to Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 DaysBest Planner to Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 DaysThe Freedom Journal CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Most Stylish NotebookMost Stylish NotebookErin Condren's Coiled Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Digital Reusable NotebookBest Digital Reusable NotebookRocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Journal for Your TravelsBest Journal for Your TravelsThe Wanderings Grande Refillable Travel Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best for Bullet JournalingBest for Bullet JournalingEssentials Dot Matrix Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Journal with Refillable PagesBest Journal with Refillable PagesPoromo's Refillable Leather Journal Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Vintage JournalBest Vintage JournalHandmade Leather Journal with Thick Vintage CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Journal for Self ImprovementBest Journal for Self ImprovementThe Five Minute Journal CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Journal with PromptsBest Journal with PromptsQ&A a Day: 5-Year Journal CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best for Creative and Visual thinkersBest for Creative and Visual thinkersLemome Sketchbook With Premium Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Genuine Leather JournalBest Genuine Leather JournalMoonster LEATHER JOURNAL Writing Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best for Classroom Note-TakingBest for Classroom Note-TakingMead Spiral Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Notebook for Laboratory WorkBest Notebook for Laboratory WorkNational Laboratory Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best for Heavy-Duty, All-Weather UseBest for Heavy-Duty, All-Weather UseRite in the Rain Weatherproof Top-Spiral Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE

The Benefits of Journal Writing

At first, jotting down our thoughts, goals, and challenges to overcome may seem like a trivial endeavor. But studies have shown that journal writing is beneficial for our brains and overall well-being. Journal writing is a proven stress reducer, as the simple act of laying out our fears and perceived hurdles can free our minds from negative thoughts.

In that same vein, writing down our successes and achievements encourages positivity and fosters personal development. Many people find that putting their goals and aspirations on paper provides a more tangible, attainable goal when compared to simple thoughts, which are much easier to ignore than permanent ink.

(Side bar: If you're unsure about “what” to journal about, then here are 33 journaling ideas to get you started.)

Making Time for the Journaling Process

For many of us, having a set schedule is crucial to getting things done. Journal writing is no exception. You'll find it easier to write—and to remember to do so—if you adhere to a journal writing schedule. For instance, making time in the morning to lay out the day's agenda can make goals more attainable.

Conversely, you may find it easier to do your journal writing at the end of the day. As you lay out your daily accomplishments, it can give you a sense of pride, seeing tangible evidence of your successes of the day.

Finally, just as the choice of journal notebook is a highly personal one, so is your writing schedule. You can write daily, or less often if you find the idea of daily writing to be daunting.

Once you get into the habit of journal writing, the process will become easier.  You'll find that the habit becomes ingrained—part of your daily routine.

The right type of journal can help you foster discipline and be a stepping stone to other healthy habits that can improve your life.

What Should I Look for in a Journal?

Any notebook can be used as a journal. Getting specialized journals like the ones on this page are more about having guidance to prompt your daily writing.

Journaling is a personal endeavor. Some people prefer the freedom that comes from a blank journal but others need guidance or writing prompts.

Many people find it difficult to achieve the discipline needed to journal regularly. So those who have trouble focusing or remembering to write may find success with pre-formatted journals, rather than blank notebooks.

Even a simple motivational quote can provide an extra boost of inspiration and help you develop a habit of writing. Some journal notebooks feature quotes followed by a section where you can respond to the daily message, and this is a feature I find immensely beneficial.

Above all, you'll find the most success with a journal notebook that inspires you and nudges you towards writing down your thoughts every day. As you sort through the plethora of available notebook options in order to find the perfect tool for your needs, you'll discover that journal notebooks come in every color of the rainbow and every size imaginable.

Types and Features of Journal Notebooks

Journals and notebooks come in myriad sizes to meet a variety of user needs.

Some are small enough to fit in your pocket, while others are the perfect size for a backpack or purse.

If portability isn't a concern, you can opt for a large, hardcover journal. These can be constructed of letter-size paper, about 8 by 11 inches, and some are even larger.

Journals can be constructed with soft or hard covers, and are available in a variety of page counts, but most journal notebooks average around 200 pages.

Many journals are outfitted with integrated elastic straps or fabric ribbons you can use to mark your page, giving you quick access without rifling through the notebook.

Keep your ideal journal features and goals in mind as you search for the perfect one. The following twenty journals are very different, but each one is designed to improve your life and lead you toward positive life choices and healthy habits.

20 Best Journal Notebooks for Personal Development

1. Best Overall Choice: BestSelf Co. The SELF Journal – Daily Planner

Best Journal Notebooks | BestSelf Co. The SELF Journal - Daily Planner
BestSelf Co. The SELF Journal Daily Planner

This is the best overall journal for men. It offers the perfect balance between allowing users to keep track of goals, time management, and gratitude. This journal offers a 13-week program that is backed by science and developed by entrepreneurs and is ideal for men who aren’t quite sure where to start when it comes to journaling or have a hard time sticking with the practice.

The scientific structure of this journal includes space to record your morning and evening gratitude, your goals for the day, a 6am-9pm hourly schedule for each day and lots of clean space for notes.

This journal is a great tool for success because it presents men with an outline to simply fill in the details. It is especially helpful for those who are looking to improve their accountability, track their progress toward both short and long-term goals, and who want to see their results.

This journal offers spreads that are daily, weekly, and monthly to help men organize their lives with as much detail as needed. And, because this journal is not dated, it isn’t necessary to write in it every day. The hard cover is wrapped in canvas and includes thick paper that’s durable enough for fountain pens. It also comes with a durable fabric bookmark.

PROS

  • Undated, so can be started at any time
  • The layout is backed by science to be effective in helping people achieve goals
  • Durable

CONS

  • Created to be used for 13 weeks, which is the amount of time one typically needs to achieve a goal–but some users may need longer, depending on the goal
  • Some find this journal to be geared toward business goals only
  • The lines in this journal are too light for some to see clearly

2. Runner-Up Option: Moleskine Classic Notebook

If your ideal journal is one that gives you free rein and flexibility, then the classic Moleskine Journal Notebook is a no-brainer. No matter the subject matter or length of your written reflection, this journal notebook can accommodate you. Consisting of 240 blank, lined pages and measuring 8.2 x 5.2 x 1 inches, the large Moleskine Journal Notebook is conveniently portable.

The Moleskine Journal Notebook helps you foster your creativity in a way that many other journal notebooks cannot. The notebook's blank pages are an open canvas where you can free write, draw, make goal lists, and reflect on disappointments—the choice is yours!

The Moleskine company boasts a rich history, crafting durable and attractive notebooks since 1997. The quintessential “little black book,” today's Moleskines are designed with a timeless look, harking back centuries, which makes these journal notebooks a staple among writers from all walks of life, from novelists to journal writers.

A top seller, the basic Large Ruled Moleskine Journal Notebook features a cardboard-bound cover with rounded corners, an elastic closure, an attached dark violet ribbon bookmark, and an expandable inner pocket. The notebook's thick, acid-free pages stand up to most types of ink with no bleeding through.

PROS

  • Well-constructed with a classic look
  • Fits easily in your purse, messenger bag, or even large pockets
  • Allows for writing freedom and flexibility
  • Warm page color is relaxing and inviting

CONS

  • Cover is cardboard bound and less durable than its hardcover counterparts
  • Not designed for specific goal-setting

3. Best Value for the Money: C.R. Gibson Brown Bonded Leather Journal

This beautiful journal has a cover made from genuine European bonded leather, a matching ribbon marker, and a gusseted storage pocket, giving it the look of a luxury journal that costs twice as much. With a generous number of lined pages, Smyth sewn binding, and an elastic closure, this journal is a great value for the money.

The C.R. Gibson Brown Bonded Leather Journal measures 5 x 8.2 inches, so it's the perfect size for a purse or laptop bag. It has 240 lined pages, with 32 lines per page. The cover is made of brown bonded leather, with an elastic strap to hold the journal closed.

The journal has Smyth sewn binding, so it lays flat as you write. The ribbon marker helps you stay organized, and it also has a gusseted pocket on the rear cover to hold notes and cards.

PROS

  • Bonded leather cover
  • Good size for convenience and portability
  • Matching ribbon marker and elastic band look attractive
  • Rear pocket holds loose items
  • 240 pages lasts for a while
  • Lined pages for organization and lists

CONS

  • Pages are thin and some inks may bleed through
  • No pen loop

4. Most Budget-Friendly: AmazonBasics Classic Lined Notebook

AmazonBasics is known for their functional, affordable products, and this notebook is no exception. It's a simple, useful, compact notebook with a generous 240 pages, gusseted pocket, and convenient elastic band. The cover is a classic black, suitable for any work or school environment, and it's offered at an extremely reasonable price. What more could you ask for?

The AmazonBasics Classic Lined Notebook measures 5 x 8.25 inches, so it's compact and portable. It has 240 lined pages, with 30 light grey lines per page. Pages are made from acid-fee, archival quality paper, and resist damage from light and air. The notebook has a rigid, cardboard cover so you can use it as a writing surface, thread-bound binding, and an expandable inner pocket for notes and cards. It has a sewn-in full length ribbon marker, and an elastic band for closure.

PROS

  • Classic black cover goes anywhere
  • Compact size perfect for portability and travel
  • 240 acid-free lined pages
  • Ribbon marker and elastic closure for convenience
  • Inner pocket stores loose notes
  • Affordable price

CONS

  • Not very durable
  • Cover may rub color onto other items

5. Best Journal for Women: Erin Condren's Dot Grid Journal

Best Journal notebook for Women | Erin Condren's Dot Grid Journal

If you are looking for a good women’s journal, a diary, or something to serve as a day planner, or even as a contact book, the Erin Condren's Dot Grid Journal is an ideal option to consider. This is a dot grid journal, which comes in handy for making quick bullet points, whether they be daily events or just quick reminders.

That said, if you choose, you can also go with lined pages. You could choose to use the dotted pages as a way to draw some really cool geometric art pieces.

The pages are all 5 x 8 inches, with the cover being just a bit larger, making it an ideal size to fit in a small purse or in a small drawer, but large enough to write down all of your most important thoughts and reminders.  

Keep in mind that the type of paper used in the Erin Condren's Dot Grid Journal is 80# (120 GSM), which means that it is fairly thick and durable.

The pages feature stitched binding to ensure that they stay in place. They won’t easily tear out of the journal, always a big factor as many notepads and journals often feature weak binding.

What’s also pretty neat about Erin Condren's Dot Grid Journal is that you can choose to have the cover personalized; you can choose to have your name written in foil on it, thus really making it yours, although this will cost a little extra. The journal itself comes in at around $20.

PROS

  • Compact size
  • Good binding
  • Tough pages
  • Choose from lined or dotted pages
  • Optional cover personalization
  • Reasonable price

CONS

  • Not ideal for writing large journal entries

6. Best Small-Sized Journal: Passport Travelers Notebook

There's just something about travel that inspires the writer and diarist in all of us. It's irresistible to want to record the day's sights, thoughts, activities, and impressions, so that you can relive them later. But travel requires a journal that is small, light, and rugged, so that it can keep you company on all your adventures, without weighing you down. This traveler's notebook from Sovereign-Gear is perfect, with a rugged cover made of real leather, a classic design, and a size that is perfectly portable.

The Passport Travelers Notebook measures just 5.4 x 4.3 inches, the size of a passport. The cover is made of real leather, treated to allow scuffs to be rubbed away. This cover will last a lifetime, and, to be honest, a few scuffs might only increase the rugged charm of the notebook.

The notebook stays securely closed with a durable leather tie, and it has a PVC storage pocket for keeping loose items safe and secure. It also has beautiful decorative toggles and a bookmark that shows your love of travel and adventure.

The notebook comes with a handsome pen and has a hidden pen loop to keep your pen safe at hand no matter where you are. This notebook is refillable, so it really will last a lifetime. It comes with three quality paper packs, including cream-colored unlined paper, cream-colored lined paper, and brown plain craft paper. This journal takes Midori-style refills and accessories, so it can be customized and expanded as needed.

Sovereign-Gear makes journals that are ethically sourced and fairly traded. They donate a portion of their profits to Afrinspire, to help support communities in East Africa.

PROS

  • Makes an excellent gift for a travel-lover or for yourself
  • Genuine crazy horse leather cover will last a lifetime
  • Cover is treated to reduce scuffs
  • Refillable and reusable
  • Compact size perfect for travel
  • Has a clear PVC pocket for storage of loose items
  • Cover ties closed for secure travel and storage
  • Handsome toggles and bookmark
  • Comes with an attractive pen
  • Comes with three types of page inserts
  • Sustainably sourced and fairly traded
  • Profits benefit families in Africa

CONS

  • Pen loop is small if you prefer thicker pens
  • Included pen is not refillable

7. Best Planner to Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 Days: The Freedom Journal

If you struggle with productivity and time management, then The Freedom Journal may be the ideal tool for your needs. You can get your life back on track using the simple and clear prompts laid out in The Freedom Journal. Perfect for anyone with a single large goal they would like to accomplish in the immediate future, The Freedom Journal doubles as a self-help book.

Whether you're working for a promotion, seeking to achieve greater financial stability, or want to improve your social life, The Freedom Journal can help you accomplish your goals. It comes with a money-back guarantee and guides you towards your goal from day one while helping you learn how to avoid distractions and stop procrastinating.

The principles of The Freedom Journal are based on science, and you'll learn how to set and achieve goals according to the SMART system. Using the prompts laid out in this journal notebook, you're encouraged to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. The SMART system is designed to put your goals in a simple, digestible format that seems almost easy rather than daunting.

Along with writing prompts, advice, and motivational text designed to lead you to your number one goal, The Freedom Journal also includes 10-day sprints so that you can accomplish micro-goals. You'll also be able to identify problem areas in your life that may need adjustment thanks to the journal's quarterly reviews.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but writing down your goals is the first step towards accomplishing them. You can think more deeply and analyze your moves in an objective manner with help from The Freedom Journal. This journal notebook measures 10 x 7 x 1 inches, and you can use the attached elastic straps to mark your place.

In addition, The Freedom Journal is perfect for your modern, mobile lifestyle. Every journal purchased comes with access to a private Facebook group where you can connect with your peers. An audiobook, mobile app, and PDF are also included with The Freedom Journal.

PROS

  • Hardcover, and non-dated, so you can begin it at any time
  • Well-constructed and durable
  • Encourages accountability and focus
  • Keeps you motivated and helps you set a realistic time-frame for achievement
  • Simple layout, with separate sections for day and night goal review
  • Smartphone integration with the corresponding app and fillable PDF

CONS

  • Contains a large amount of text as opposed to blank writing pages
  • Rigid format
  • Has a $39 price tag, which is on the high end for journal notebooks

8. Most Stylish and Customizable Notebook: Erin Condren's Coiled Notebook

Best Journal Notebooks | Most Stylish Notebook
Erin Condren's Coiled Notebook

If you can't rest until you have The Perfect Notebook, and none of them are just right, you can always create your own perfect notebook with Erin Condren's coiled notebooks. These notebooks allow you to choose your own cover from dozens of existing designs and themes, or make your own. You can choose the layout, choose the coil, even add accessories and make it your own. It's the perfect choice for your own notebook, or for a thoughtful gift for the hard-to-please diarist in your life.

Erin Condren's Coiled Notebooks come in two sizes, and allow you to choose from a huge range of beautiful cover designs with different cover options, or upload your own artwork to make your own custom cover. You could also upgrade to a re-usable cover, and even build a cover collection for all your notebook needs.

The notebooks have rich, 80# paper that is beautiful to write on, and you can choose from classic college-ruled lined pages, a productivity layout with college ruled lines and a functional checklist, a blank sketchbook layout, or a dot grid layout.

The pages are micro-perforated, so it's easy to cleanly remove used pages. You can also choose to customize the color of your coil, making it platinum (included), or gold, rose, or black for an additional charge. Every notebook comes with a free sticker sheet, with fun matching sticky notes and tabs to help you stay organized.

Erin Condren also includes a wide range of notebook accessories, including re-usable and swappable covers, a range of sticker sheets, and even snap-in “dashboards.”

These snap-in dashboards can be added to any Erin Condren coiled notebook, and are designed to add more functionality to your notebook, with to-do list and checkbox list dashboards, planner dashboards, and even dashboards specifically designed to help you track your wellness, plan for travel, or manage busy life as a teacher.

Stickers, dashboards, and other accessories are all coordinated to match your notebook cover or theme, and fit into any Erin Condren notebook or planner.

The coiled notebook from Erin Condren gives you endless options for customization and personalization, so you can finally find the perfect notebook that has everything you need, and nothing you don't.

PROS

  • Huge range of existing covers or make your own
  • Optional accessory of re-usable covers that can be transferred to new notebooks
  • Choose different page layouts for your needs
  • Comes with an included sticker sheet
  • Can customize your coil color if you choose
  • Add optional accessories like sticker sheets, dashboards, planner bags, reusable covers, and more
  • High-quality paper

CONS

  • If you choose a lot of accessories and customization, the costs can add up quickly

9. Best Digital Reusable Notebook: Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook

Best Smart Reusable Notebooks | Best Overall Choice | Rocketbook Core

Rocketbook Core

Rocketbook is the leading name in digital reusable notebooks, because not only do their notebooks have a smooth, intuitive, paper-like writing experience, but their innovative technologies bring notebooks into a whole new generation.

With the companion Rocketbook app, you can not only scan your pages and store them in a huge range of cloud storage options, but you can also add them to popular apps like Evernote and Trello, or share them as pdfs or jpgs. OCR allows Rocketbook to read your handwriting, so you can search for text within your digitized notes and stay organized.

With Rocketbook Beacon technology, you can even live-stream your pages to share with others, making remote collaboration and brainstorming a snap. Rocketbook is a fantastic digital notebook for students, artists, diarists, or anyone who wants to share their ideas visually without sacrificing the convenience of natural, pen-to-paper writing, sketching, and drawing.

There are several different Rocketbook notebooks to choose from. The core of Rocketbook technology is that these notebooks have a classic pen and paper experience, and when you write on them with a Pilot Frixion pen, your writing adheres just like regular paper.

When your page is done, use the Rocketbook app to capture, store, share, or edit your pages. Then use water to erase your notebook, and the writing disappears like magic. Here's a quick overview of Rocketbook notebook versions:

Rocketbook Core

Comes in letter or executive size, with cover color options. It has 32-36 reusable pages, and you can choose lined pages or dot grid pages. It's infinitely reusable, and comes with a pen and microfiber cloth for erasing.

Rocketbook Fusion

Comes in letter or executive size with cover color options. It has 42 infinitely reusable pages, with a layout that has task lists, weekly planners, monthly calendars, OKR goal templates, idea lists, lined pages, and dot-grid pages. It comes with a pen.

Rocketbook Mini

Comes in a compact size with cover color options. 48 infinitely reusable pages have a dot grid pattern. It comes with a pen and a microfiber cloth.

Rocketbook Wave

Comes in standard or executive sizes with a wave cover design. Has 80 pages with a dot-grid pattern. The acid-free, fine-grained paper is designed for a real paper feel, perfect for drawing and sketching, and the pages are erasable and reusable up to 5 times. This notebook “erases” when microwaved, so it can be erased and reused all at once, rather than page by page.

Rocketbook One

Comes in  letter and executive sizes with a soft-touch imperial purple cover and stylish pewter binding. It has 140 acid-free, fine-grained dot grid pages. This notebook is not reusable, so it works with any pen. It's designed to allow you to have a traditional, non-reusable notebook with the convenience of the Rocketbook app storage and sharing features.

Rocketbook Color

Measures 20.3 x 24.1 cm, with a colorful cover. It has 12 pages total: 8 bland pages designed for drawing and coloring, 2 dot-grid pages, and 2 lined pages. This Rocketbook is compatible with Crayola dry-erase products (and some other brands of dry-erase markers).

Rocketbooks are an incredible way to have the convenience and natural writing and drawing experience of a paper notebook, with the advanced ability to store, share, and collaborate offered by digital apps and tools.

The wide range of Rocketbook notebooks allows you to choose the perfect one for you or a friend. Their compatibility with the Pilot Frixion line is incredibly helpful, rather than developing a proprietary pen technology.

Frixion pens have all the versatility of standard pens, with a huge range of colors, inks, and point sizes. You can get Frixion highlighters, Frixion refillable pens, erasable markers, and any other features you expect in a pen.

PROS

  • Wide range of reusable notebooks for different purposes
  • Rocketbook app scans, reads, stores, edits, and shares your pages
  • Can be used to live-stream and collaborate remotely
  • Erases cleanly
  • Huge range of compatible pens with different colors and tips
  • Stylish and professional notebooks
  • More affordable than you might expect

CONS

  • OCR technology can be a bit unpredictable, and may not be able to “read” your handwriting if you have unusual handwriting or don't press hard on the page

10. Best Journal for Your Travels: The Wanderings Grande Refillable Travel Notebook

This full grain 100% leather journal is ideal for those who are looking for the best quality journal. It looks and smells beautiful in addition to its authentic and expected leather feel. This notebook can be purchased once and used for a lifetime due to its durability and the available refill paper that can be purchased online.

The blank, unlined paper is 120 gsm, making it thick enough to handle fountain pens or paint without bleeding. It comes with 90 double sided sheets, giving you 180 pages to begin journaling with. However, these journals are very customizable, as there are refills available that are blank, lined, and dotted.

Unlike other notebooks or journals, these won’t fall apart, as they are carefully made to ensure quality. They are available in both small and medium sizes, so users can choose whichever size fits their journaling lifestyle best. These journals are described as being classic, antique vintage, and rustic, making them something that will be in style for years to come.

This is a great high-quality notebook to be used for a variety of reasons, including recording your personal thoughts, writing down ideas, drawing, planning, creating to-do lists, writing poetry, or as a blank slate for anything else you could want.

PROS:

  • The dark brown genuine full-grain leather ages just like high-quality leather should
  • Comes with an elastic closure that doubles as a pen holder
  • Paper can withhold ink-heavy pens

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Some find the leather to be too flimsy
  • Paper is too thick for some users

11. Best for Bullet Journaling: Essentials Dot Matrix Notebook

Bullet journaling is a great way to stay organized, move toward your goals, capture your experiences, and explore your creativity all at once. And dot matrix lined sheets are simply the only way to do it properly. Dot matrix patterns allow you to create lists and checkboxes, write freeform, draw, design, and do it all in a way that looks organized and beautiful.

The Essentials Dot Matrix Notebook is a beautiful hardcover dot matrix journal that is letter-sized, measuring 8.2 x 11.6 inches. The hard cover allows you to use it even when there isn't a table or desk handy, making it a great choice for students and commuters, and its moisture- and stain-resistant for lasting good looks. It has a generous 192 pages, so it lasts for a long time.

The premium quality paper has a smooth finish that beautifully accepts pens and other media, and its acid-free and archival quality so you can keep your bullet journals for a lifetime. It has a black satin ribbon bookmark, and an elastic band closure. There is also a back cover pocket to store loose notes, cards, and other items.

PROS

  • Light dot matrix pattern keeps you tidy without interfering with your designs
  • Durable hard cover has classic style
  • Satin ribbon marker and elastic closure look great and add convenience
  • Back pocket for extra storage
  • Acid free paper is archival quality
  • Generous number of pages

CONS

  • Some gel pens may bleed through

12. Best Journal with Refillable Pages: Poromo's Refillable Leather Journal Notebook

This is the best journal for writing, as it offers the cleanest space for users to write as much as they want. It can also be used for drawing, traveling, and offers extra features to help users stay on top of their busy lives.

This stylish journal is helpful for many writing purposes, whether you want to record your thoughts and goals or you want to keep track of your appointments. It is made with high-quality, distressed cowhide leather, and includes a leather strap so users can keep it tightly closed, ensuring your important information is secure.

This journal is refillable, so you can keep the high-quality cover and add in pages as you need them. It also lays flat, allowing users to have more space on each page to write, draw, or record any type of information. The pages are 6” by 9” and the cover includes an inside pocket and card slot. It initially comes with 100 sheets of plain, white paper, which can be added to at any time.

When ordering this journal, users also receive a pen and a pen holder. Because the securing strap is so long, users are able to keep multiple books of paper in this journal at a time.

PROS

  • The journal can be refilled with any type of paper of your choosing
  • The distressed leather improves with age
  • Great notebook for people who are looking for something simple to really personalize themselves

CONS

  • The pad of paper that comes with the journal is unlined, which does not suit everybody
  • Some find it cumbersome to have to unwrap the securing strap
  • Until you have used this journal enough to break in the leather, it can be stiff and refuse to stay flat while in use

13. Best Vintage Journal: Handmade Leather Journal with Thick Vintage

How better to record and capture your own story, than in a notebook that already tells one? This notebook is hand made in Nepal by artisans practicing a 1,000 year old craft of making paper. The journals are individually stitched and bound with genuine buffalo leather and thick, handmade vintage paper. This journal is eco-friendly, supports traditional handcrafts, and each one is unique. What better way to express your own uniqueness?

The Handmade Leather Journal with Thick Vintage is made with lokta paper, which is hand crafted from lokta bushes in the forests of the Himalayas. This paper is sustainably created by harvesting the bark of the bushes, rather than cutting down trees, and is naturally renewable, acid-free, not treated with chemicals, and is one of the world's best handmade papers.

The papers are then roughly cut for imperfect, natural edges on each page, and hand bound in high quality real leather binding. The covers are hand-stitched, with a loop closure that is both useful and beautiful. This journal measures 8 x 5.5 inches, and has 192 premium-quality blank pages. The real leather cover and acid-free paper ensure that this journal will last a lifetime.

PROS

  • Handmade and unique
  • Sustainably sourced
  • Supports native Nepalese crafts
  • Rugged and durable
  • Thick paper can be used for writing, drawing, or even watercolor
  • Convenient strap closure

CONS

  • Not refillable

14. Best Journal for Self-Improvement: The Five Minute Journal

What if you could improve yourself in just five minutes a day? This daily guided journal does just that, with a format designed by psychologists to help boost your happiness and reduces loneliness, anxiety, and isolation. It's amazing that a simple journal can do that, but over half a million people have benefitted from this daily journal.

The Five Minute Journal is structured with a morning and night-time section, to provide inspiration and motivation throughout the day. Daily prompts include gratitude, prioritizing the day, recording amazing things, sharing inspiring quotes, daily affirmations, and quiet self-reflection.

It may sound like a lot, but it takes just minutes, and is a tested and research-supported way to help experience more positive emotions every day. The journal measures 8.3 x 5.3 inches, and can be used during moments of thoughtfulness in the morning and evening, or throughout the day.

The sturdy hard cover design lets you use it even when there isn't a desk or table nearby. The neutral color scheme and design creates a calm, restful backdrop for your thoughts and feelings. It has space for 6 months of daily reflections and includes powerful quotes to help motivate and inspire you.

PROS

  • Based on proven psychological research to help boost happiness
  • Format makes it easy to use in just minutes a day
  • Sophisticated, neutral design looks attractive and promotes calm thoughtfulness
  • Inspiring quotes and messages to provide motivation
  • Many people find the daily practice life-changing

CONS

  • Not designed for free-form journaling, but to support a daily positivity habit

15. Best Journal with Prompts: Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal

This is a small journal, but it is best to use when it comes to engaging users to write every day. The journal actually spans a five year period, so users can watch their progress in a variety of areas in their lives advance with time.

The Q&A journal offers you a specific question about your life to answer each day for a year. Once the year is over, you return to the beginning of the book and start over. After five years, you’re left with a five-year-long study of your life and growth, and a written reminder of how you were able to overcome challenges in the past.

This journal offers a thought-provoking question to answer every day of the year that often leads to greater self-awareness. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to track your self-development through the years and see how far you’ve come.

This journal only requires users to write 2-3 sentences per day, so it isn’t a huge time commitment. Users find it to be a convenient size and unique in the sense that it makes you think about things that you possibly wouldn’t normally consider. Users find these thought-provoking questions to be a great way to engage in some self-reflection every day.

PROS

  • Users love having the long-term memento of their lives
  • Small enough to carry around in your bag
  • Asks unique questions that make users think

CONS

  • Some find that the binding is a bit tight
  • There is the possibility that this journal can bring back bad memories in the future
  • Not a lot of space to write aside from answering the questions

16. Best for Creative & Visual Thinkers: Lemome Sketchbook With Premium Thick Paper, Unruled/Blank/Plain/Unlined Notebook, A5

This is the best option for a graphic journal because the pages work well for sketching and drawing, as well as for note-taking. It comes in a timeless, simple, versatile design.

This is a popular choice for everyday use because it can be used for a wide variety of purposes. It comes with an elastic pen holder to ensure you always have a pen when you have an idea that you need to record.

The thick, premium paper holds up well, making it perfect to use for writing and drawing, no matter what kind of pen you are using. There are 90 sheets in this notebook, allowing users to have 180 pages to write on.

PROS

  • Perfect pages for sketching and drawing.
  • Ink does not bleed.
  • The cover has a nice leather feel.

CONS

  • The elastic band used to hold the notebook closed tends to come undone.
  • Paper and cover may separate from the binder.
  • Some people find there is not enough room to write on the pages.

17. Best Genuine Leather Journal: LEATHER JOURNAL Writing Notebook – Antique Handmade Leather-Bound Daily Notepad For Men & Women Unlined Paper 7 x 5 Inches

This rustic leather notebook is the best option for writing and diary keeping. It has an attractive design that makes it ideal for gifting, and a portion of the proceeds is donated to Tehila, an African charity in Zambia that works to prevent cruelty to children. The company behind this product believes in making products that can benefit the world in some way. This notebook, along with all of their other products, is ethically sourced and fairly-trade certified.

This has an antique and vintage feel to it, with its leather-bound cover and creamy, textured, unlined paper. The paper is made from recycled cotton paper, making this a sustainable product. The cover is 100% hand-made from crazy-horse leather, which has a natural tan with oils added to preserve it. However, this means that these notebooks vary in color, making no two journals exactly alike. Further, the leather gives this notebook a rich, earthy scent. The soft leather with a distressed finish will further improve with age, and will last for many years.

Writing in this journal is easy because the paper prevents ink from bleeding. The paper can handle a soft B pencil, a variety of different inks, and even watercolor. It comes with 240 blank pages measuring 7” x 5”, making it the perfect size to take with you on the go. This is the best leather-bound notebook.

PROS

  • Attractive and great for gifting.
  • Proceeds donated children in Africa.
  • Each leather notebook is unique.

CONS

  • Some users experience bleeding in the paper.
  • Cannot remove pages.
  • It does not lay completely flat, making it difficult to write on one side, depending on your dominant hand.

18. Best for Classroom Note-Taking: Mead Spiral Notebook, 6 Pack of 1-Subject College-Rule​​d Spiral-Bound Notebooks, Pastel Color

This is the best option for classroom note-taking. You can use one notebook per subject, and they are inexpensive, so you can easily buy a replacement if you run out of space. The wired spiral locks prevent snags from occurring in your bag.

These notebooks are college-ruled and have a three-hole punch so they can easily be put inside of a binder. You can distinguish which notebook you assign for which subject because of the variety of colored covers that come in this pack. The six colors include light pink, purple, yellow, light blue, green, and orange.

Each notebook contains 70 sheets of paper that can be written both on the front and back. This should be sufficient space for the notebook to last you for the duration of a course.

PROS

  • Great for students.
  • Won't snag in your bag.
  • It comes in a variety of colors.

CONS

  • There is a large label on the front of the notebook.
  • The ink may bleed through pages.
  • The pages may tear out too easily.

19. Best Notebook for Laboratory Work: National Laboratory Notebook, 4X4 Quad, 11”X9.25”

This option is the best notebook for laboratory work. It is one of the best paper notebooks for work because it has carbonless pages for convenience and is sold at a reasonable price compared with lab notebooks sold in most school bookstores.

The brown cover is made of sturdy pressboard and has a stitched binding to ensure the pages are secure. Inside, this notebook has 100 4×4 quad carbonless numbered sets of white and yellow paper, so you always have a copy of what you're writing. The second sheet in each set is perforated for easy removal. This notebook also opens up flat, so writing in it is easy, regardless if you are right- or left-handed.

The fabric on the binding is water-resistant, protecting it from water or spills in the lab. The cardboard cover is also water-resistant. This journal even includes a table of contents and only has grid numbers and page numbers on the carbonless copy pages.

PROS

  • Best notebook for lab work.
  • It provides you with a carbonless copy of each page.
  • Reasonably priced.

CONS

  • The page divider in the back is difficult to remove.
  • Some find the writing to bleed or leak through pages.
  • Some find the carbon copy pages to be messy.

20. Best for Heavy-Duty, All-Weather Use: Rite in the Rain W​​eatherproof Top-Spiral Notebook, 3″ x 5″, Black Cover

These are the best notebooks for heavy-duty, all-weather use. They can withstand tough environmental conditions such as rain, mud, snow, sweat, oil, and grease because they are waterproof and greaseproof. Their compact size and durability make them ideal for field notes. The pages have a unique moisture shield that allows you to write on them, regardless if the paper is wet or dry. You can easily use pencil, pen, or crayon on this paper.

This rugged writing surface was created almost 100 years ago to stand up to rugged weather elements. They come in a pack of three black 3″ x 5″ top-spiral notebooks, which are small enough to easily fit into your pocket and tough enough to survive rough conditions.

These notebooks have a non-glare gray paper that is easily legible, even in bright sunlight. The wire binding is resistant to impact and will not become misshapen. The notebooks have a polydura cover that protects your notes from scratches and smears. These notebooks are recyclable as well, making them environmentally friendly.

PROS

  • Waterproof, great for outdoor use.
  • Small and convenient to carry into the field.
  • Heavy-duty.

CONS

  • Slightly expensive.
  • Some find these notebooks to be flimsy.
  • It cannot be submerged in water.

Get Started with Journaling Today!

There you have it — twenty journals that are perfect for building a powerful habit. We did our best to provide you with specific “categories” you can use to purchase the journal that's right for you.

So, if you're stuck with “what” to get, then think about how you'd use the journal. If you're someone who needs specific prompts, then I'd recommend checking out Q&A a Day Journal. But if you like the freedom and flexibility to write about whatever is on your mind, then you should consider the BestSelf Co. The SELF Journal – Daily Planner or the Moleskin Journal.

Best Journal Notebooks | BestSelf Co. The SELF Journal - Daily Planner
BestSelf Co. The SELF Journal Daily Planner

Whatever you pick, I strongly urge to do some type of journaling every day — you won't regret building this powerful habit!

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20 Best Daily Personal Journals and Notebooks for 2021