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Gearing up for a new school year? You’ll surely need an empty composition book—or several. These notebooks, which are typically lined, are necessary for note-taking, personal writing, and using for dedicated projects. Unlike taking notes on a computer, with a composition notebook there’s no threat of a technological glitch that’ll make all your recorded ideas disappear into cyberspace or be sent somewhere they shouldn’t go. Hardbound ones are a smart pick, as their covers act as built-in shields to prevent pages from bending and rippling. But softcover notebooks tend to be more lightweight and are easier to open so they lay flat. Depend on a classic and peruse our selection of composition notebooks below, which all measure about 9 3/4 by 7 1/2 inches.
How we pick each product:
Our mission is to recommend the most appropriate artists’ tool or supply for your needs. Whether you are looking for top-of-the line equipment or beginners’ basics, we’ll make sure that you get good value for your money by doing the research for you. We scour the Internet for information on how art supplies are used and read customer reviews by real users; we ask experts for their advice; and of course, we rely on our own accumulated expertise as artists, teachers, and craftspeople.
BEST EVERYDAY NOTEBOOK
Mead College-Ruled Composition Notebook
If you want to follow tradition, go with the tried-and-true black marbled Mead composition book, which comes in useful packs of three.
The go-to composition journal for decades, the Mead college-ruled composition book is a classic. This 100-sheet double-sided journal has a traditional black marble cover made of stiff cardboard and features space to write your name or subject on the front. The smooth sewn binding allows the pages to lie flat, and the inside covers feature a blank class schedule and multiplication and conversion tables, plus brief grammar rules for all your school needs. Lines are college-ruled, meaning there’s about 9/32 of an inch between them. Available in a pack of three books.
BEST NOTEBOOK FOR YOUNG WRITERS
Roaring Spring Composition Book
Designed for third-grade students, this softcover notebook is wide ruled with dashed half lines for guiding younger writers.
Shopping for a younger student? You may want to consider a notebook with wider lines, which is handy for those who are still learning form letters. The 3/8-inch lines in this Grade 3-level book are also divided by a dotted line to provide additional penmanship guidance. This notebook is thinner than our top pick, with just 50 sheets, but that makes for a slim, extra-portable size. It also has some flex, allowing you to bend the book back and write on smaller surfaces. The paper is on the thin side so we recommend using it with pencil to avoid ghosting on the underside of sheets. Its marbled cover is bright red, which makes this notebook easy to spot in a backpack.
BEST NOTEBOOK WITH A WATERPROOF COVER
Oxford Poly Composition Notebook
Featuring covers made out of plastic, this notebook will withstand a lot of wear and tear.
These medium-ruled notebooks immediately stand out from the competition for their bold, modern look. But we especially like them for their polythene covers, which are light, flexible, and more durable than cardboard. Stains can be wiped clean, and should a water bottle spill nearby, your pages would likely survive. The 80 sheets are sewn together securely, but you can also tear them out with ease. Available in packs of four different colors.
BEST RECYCLED-PAPER NOTEBOOK
Michael Roger Honeycomb Decomposition Book
These notebooks can handle inkier writing utensils, and when you’re done with them, they can be recycled or composted.
Trying to buy school supplies while keeping climate change in mind? Consider picking up a few Decomposition notebooks, made in the USA by a small family firm. They are made of 100 percent recycled paper and feature college-ruled lines printed with biodegradable soy ink. The sheets themselves are properly bound and offer a quality writing experience: They’re smooth for scratch-free scrawling, and they resist bleed-through with inky pens. The books feature quirky cover design (we particularly like this deep-sea pattern).
BEST NOTEBOOK FOR FOUNTAIN PENS
Rhodia Classic Composition BookS
Featuring superfine vellum paper with zero bleed-through, this luxe notebook is a cult favorite among writers.
If you know your notebooks, you know that Rhodia’s have a cult following—and for good reason. They are bound with high-quality, smooth European paper ideal for taking fountain pen ink. The legacy brand, in business since 1934, offers a beautiful composition notebook with 80 detachable sheets that are line- and margin-ruled in a soft gray. The 80-gram paper is a clean white and exceptionally smooth, so pens effortlessly glide over it. The signature orange cover is easy to fold back and features space to write one’s name and school subject or project title.