Moleskine Dotted Pocket Notebook – Soft Cover – Underwater Blue

23 03 2014

I can’t ignore the most popular and pretentious notebook maker, even when I’ve had extensive first-hand experience with their paper quality being generally terrible and all their products being overpriced. For one thing, I do like the format of some of their calendars—the extra small weekly calendar is perfect for keeping track of my work schedule. Plus, their notebooks are ubiquitous, and I denounce them at my own peril. Every so often I will check back in on the quality of Moleskine, to make sure my denouncements stand on experienced fact, and a brand new style of paper in the form of a dot grid notebook was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Underwater blue maybe if you're under water and drunk and looking at a robin's egg

Underwater blue maybe if you’re under water and drunk and looking at a robin’s egg

We’ve got this attractive robin’s egg blue cover that I would describe as almost distressingly soft. The corners of the front cover want to curl up when the elastic isn’t on. Soft covers are so strange to me. What is the advantage of soft cover anyway? Are they easier to stuff in a back pocket because they fold around your buns?

I will give bonus points for the color-coordinated back pocket accents

I will give bonus points for the color-coordinated back pocket accents

All the usual features are here: braided bookmark, back pocket, elastic band (all matching in color), and the “In case of loss” section in the front, with a newer dot-based Moleskine logo (or maybe it’s supposed to evoke apps? I know I’ve seen it before, perhaps online).

Ahahaha I forgot to take a picture of the back of the page...too late now

Ahahaha I forgot to take a picture of the back of the page…too late now

A cursory glance will tell you that this dot paper doesn’t look like it does as bad with fountain pen ink as a typical Moleskine. Let’s look at typical Moleskine for reference.

Notes section from this year’s planner

Notes section from this year’s planner

Now look again at the Moleskine dots paper.

Why the bluish tint? Why did I do all these backwards? These are the mysteries of a rainy day

Why the bluish tint? Why did I do all these backwards? These are the mysteries of a rainy day

Better. But a curious pattern emerges—the best performance by far on the Moleskine dots paper comes from using the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa iron gall ink. Look at the difference.



Most regular inks are prone to some bleedthrough so bad you can’t use both sides of the page—not so with the Scabiosa, especially when writing in cursive. Lest we get too excited and forget what regular good paper is like, let’s look at some tests on Leuchtturm1917 paper.

Beautiful Leuchtturm1917 paper

Beautiful Leuchtturm1917 paper

Based on the evidence, I’m concluding the following:

  • This Moleskine dots paper is of better quality than most Moleskine writing paper
  • It’s still not as good as known fountain pen friendly paper (such as Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Leuchtturm1917, Quo Vadis, etc. etc.) but—
  • Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa iron gall ink is magical, and can be combined with the Moleskine dots paper for a fountain pen friendly experience.


I feel like this is the kind of product you can only offer a backhanded endorsement to. “I don’t always use my fountain pens in substandard notebooks, but when I do I prefer Moleskine dots (with Scabiosa ink).” It won’t give you the best performance but with the right ink the paper performs quite acceptably (of course, if you prefer using gel pens or ballpoints, this whole paper quality discussion is pretty much moot to you). This notebook is a fun spring color, and surprisingly not a complete waste of money. Good job, Moleskine!

Moleskine Notebook – Pocket – Dotted – Underwater Blue – Soft at Moleskine

Mini Review: Leuchtturm Pocket Notebook, Dots, 3.5 x 6 Inch

30 05 2011

Poor quality lighting brought to you by a deceptively bright coffee shop.

The Leuchtturm 1917 pocket notebook is the notebook that the Moleskine thinks it is. Or it’s the notebook I think the Moleskine should be. When you think “I want a small, black, affordable notebook with decent paper from a company with a relatively long history,” you should be thinking of the Leuchtturm 1917. The company was founded in 1917 (hence the numbers in the name), and puts out an inexpensive yet satisfactory product.

The specs: 3.5 x 6 inches, 185 numbered pages (last 8 sheets are perforated) featuring 70 gsm dot grid paper. Also includes 3 page table of contents, and stickers for archiving the notebook.

Before we get to the extras, let’s do a rundown of the standard features. Paper:

What's this? Fountain pen writing doesn't look like an unmitigated disaster??

Now, this is no Clairefontaine paper, but it can handle a decent range of fountain pens without making a mess. There is some feathering, but no fuzzing as far as I can tell.

Feathering! Small feathering. Like a wee chick, peeping and pecking around the page? Also, an unrelated smudge of fountain pen ink on the bottom.

The paper itself is fairly smooth, but thin. Bleedthrough wasn’t a problem except for the heaviest, wettest pens (like the Pelikan Griffix, the Stabilo, and the A. G. Spalding with the Rotring Turquoise ink). What might be a problem for some of you is the shadowing—with paper this thin, it’s inevitable.

Not perfect, but still usable!

As long as the ink doesn’t bleed through, I don’t have a problem with it, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Page of writing using Kaweco Sport with aubergine ink on both sides

The bonuses to this notebook (aside from having usable paper AND being available in dot grid): numbered pages (useful but subtle), archival stickers (two for the spine, in case you mess one up, and two for the cover, one lined and one blank), and a table of contents.

Features additional languages at no extra charge!

The table of contents is a fantastic addition. I have a lot of notebooks full of various ideas, bits of story, details, what have you, and NO idea where those things are written down; at best, I might know which of the dozens of notebooks it might be written in. Provided I make use of the table of contents, this will make my life a lot easier.

I got my first Leuchtturm1917 notebook from Amazon because I’m lazy, they have free shipping, and the notebook is currently on sale for $9.62. However, if anyone knows of any cool stationery/pen sellers/distributors who carry the Leuchtturm, let me know and I’ll link to them too. I’d much prefer to support the cool people.