Grid Format and Why Didn’t I Try This Before?


It’s only a month into this journal so my opinion might change in future, but for now, the grid format is working very well. That’s something I never thought would happen.

Ruled notebooks are designed for writing. Like the yellow brick road, just follow the path. I’ve used them for years and doodled in the margins, but with a few exceptions like when Gene Kelly danced across a page, seldom added anything else.

Blank journals have no limits, but do invite filling the empty space creatively. However, I miss the lines that keep my writing level and so use blank journals mostly for water media rather than words.

As my daughter pointed out, the pale grid format is like a background pattern. The horizontal lines can be followed for writing or I can ignore them and doodle in any direction. Turning the book sideways, allows for long sentences and a fresh perspective.

Line spacing on Miquelrius paper is 4mm so skipping a line when I write full-sized looks fine or I can use a fine nib and write on every line. For my journal use, this grid is just the right size. For comparison, the Moleskine and Rhodia grids are 5mm so there isn’t much difference.

Glad I didn’t spring for a dated planner since the freedom of decorating pages my own way is liberating. Plus I don’t write in my journal every day and some days I write more than a page. Despite the useful design and appeal of a Hobonichi or Midori, I need room to roam.

Things like Washi tape, paper cut outs, stamps will enliven pages, but not add significant bulk. Watercolor squiggles applied with a dry brush is another option. Filling in some of the squares to make various designs is relaxing and can add more details. No talent necessary for any of these embellishments.

Trying something different has paid off this time and added an element of adventure to keeping a journal. Predictable can get ever so boring. Where’s the fun in that?


  1. In my opinion, grid is good, but dot grid is even further down the road of ignorable but handy guides for aligned writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love grid notebooks for writing and sketching in graphite/pencil (but blank watercolor books for color). Even more than grid patterns I like dot patterns, as they serve the same function as grids but are less obtrusive.


      • The dot grid has a legion of advocates. When I look at it, I just want to connect the dots into a picture. It must be the kid in me. 😉


  2. The wrapping paper cutouts are a great idea, Margana. Right after I got married (21 years ago this past Thursday), I started keeping a journal in which I stamped on the pages and added bits and pieces, like pretty packaging and images cut from wrapping paper. I guess it was an art journal before I knew what an art journal was. The book I used was a Bandolier covered in gorgeous purple fabric highlighted in gold. Hmmm … now I have to go search for Bandolier blank books. Are they still available?


    • Congratulations, Cheryl! I vaguely recall the Bandolier name, but haven’t run across it in years. Ebay?


  3. I’ve been using undated journals for years, as a page can be taken up with a description of a beautiful morning, or indeed a foul one.
    I use grid paper for handwriting practice, and never thought of using one for a journal until now.
    I think it would be great with faint grey lines.
    Thanks for the post.


    • Welcome. The Leuchtturm 1917 has very faint gray lines. In the A4 size, there is plenty of room for musing about the weather and other journal activities. I will be using one this month and will review it after some use.

      Which grid paper do you use for practice?


  4. I have been using grid notebooks for the last few years, after having used only lined notebooks prior to that. I do find that the grid does allow for a lot of creativity, and that surprised me. I do use my grid notebooks mostly for writing; I save art stuff for blank notebooks, but I find that the grid notebooks keep my writing nice and organized. I especially like to use indentation similar to a bulleting or outlining format for various reasons, and the grid notebook keeps that nice and clean.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do you color in the squares for the bullets? I just realized how perfectly that would work, except that I might have to use different colors or other variations to make the bullets unique. A girl’s gotta have fun, you know.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve not done that, however, they are brilliant for tanglepattern doodles.


        • That’s a great idea, Ron. I shall give it a try.


      • I have not used different colors, or colored in the squares for bullets. I am a “dots, dashes, and arrows” girl. I don’t know why; it’s just what I do. =)

        I enjoy zentangle doodling, as well. I have often considered using the grid journal as a pattern journal when learning new tangles.


        • Grid paper save a lot of measuring time, and if you get the faint grey lines photocopies of tangles don’t show the grid.


          • That’s a good point, Ron.


  5. I have never thought of how freeing a grid could be, but I like how you describe it. I’m forever writing in the margins of my comp book just because it’s like an addendum, but having the extra ‘space’ to doodle a bit sounds really nice. I may have to consider grid format for writing in. Like you, blank notebooks leave me racing down the hill then trying to hike back up and my writing never looks neat.
    As for wrapping paper… our family has stuff from my childhood that we keep. We can use it if we want, but it just is kept as a memento. Mostly Christmas paper, but some other themes. Seeing it always brings back childhood.


    • Garage sales might provide some useful items like stamps and wrapping paper along with a good excuse to get out early on a Saturday morning. 🙂


      • Oh exactly. Second hand stores are great for this too. You can find all kinds of things.


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