Some of the best ideas start with a pencil and paper. That’s why it’s a good idea to always have a sketchpad or notebook nearby to record those ideas when inspiration strikes.
How you use those concepts and sketches can determine what kind of notebook is best for you. (I actually have several go-to notebook styles – one for my desk and a small one that’s always with me in my bag.)
Here, we’re showcasing six unique notebooks for designers that can help you capture ideas and even facilitate projects.
What makes the Panobook special is the size of the notebook. It’s designed with a panoramic format so that you can place it next to your computer, right in from of the keyboard. (It’s about the width of a standard keyboard.)
It’s spiral bound and can be always open with a lay-flat design so there’s no fumbling through pages when you are ready to sketch.
Each page includes a dot grid pattern that’s super light so you can use it as a guide or ignore it altogether. From the maker: “The guides virtually disappear if you are not looking for them, but are very useful when you need them.”
This notebook is made for keeping ideas long term. It also comes with a storage case so you can catalog and store the notebook long after the pages are full.
The Panobook includes a hardcover with a soft touch feel and high-quality paper that won’t smudge or run regardless of whether you like a pen or pencil.
- Cost: $20
- Size: 11.34 inches wide by 6.30 inches tall (288 mm by 160 mm)
- Buy it: From Studio Neat
2. Moleskine Adobe Collection
The hardcover Adobe Smart Notebook is everything you would expect from Moleskine with the ability to turn those paper sketches into digital sketches right from the notebook.
Just draw on the pages, which feature block-grid corner designs, download the Creative Cloud connected Moleskine app and you can optimize the drawing as a JPG or SVG. The app also syncs with your Adobe Creative Cloud membership to store drawings and use them in Illustrator or Photoshop.
The notebook features the same paper and hardcover with ribbon bookmark of other Moleskine notebooks. The major difference is the edge page grid which allows the app to accurately capture your drawings from paper to screen.
- Cost: $32.95
- Size: 5 inches wide by 8.25 inches tall (13 cm by 21 cm)
- Buy it: From Moleskine or in stores
3. Field Notes Original Kraft
Field Notes are the original small, portable notebooks with nice paper inside. The small notebooks come in multiple sizes and styles, but the Original Kraft is the best place to start.
Notebooks come with different paper styles – graph, ruled and plain – and you’ll probably want to buy a multi-pack of the small notebooks. (The mixed 3-pack comes with a notebook in each style.)
Notebooks are softcover, saddle-stitched and lay flat. The best thing about this little notebook might be that it is quite durable and lightweight.
- Cost: $9.95 for 3 notebooks
- Size: 3.5 inches wide by 5.5 inches tall (89 mm by 140 mm)
- Buy it: Direct from Field Notes
4. UI Stencils Everyday Carry Kit
This little notebook is made for web designers with a set of included stencils to help you sketch elements and web design ideas.
Each notebook is sized for light sketching with a soft cover and inside pocket to hold the stencil. (You can put this notebook in your pocket and it isn’t too bulky.)
What’s different about this notebook is the UI stencil – complete with traceable icons for tap and scroll interactions, common icons, box and button types, social media markers and more. The stencil is a fun element to add consistency to your UI sketches for website or apps. (You can even show these sketches to clients without fearing that your penmanship is too rough.)
- Cost: $39 for 3 notebooks, a pencil and one everyday carry stencil
- Size: 5.5 inches wide by 3 5/16 tall (140 mm by 84 mm)
- Buy it: From UI Stencils
5. Baron Fig Mastermind
Baron Fig has a robust line of notebooks, planners, and desk pads, with options for hardcovers, softcovers and no-cover styles. (These notebooks all feature high-quality materials and paper in stylish options.)
The Mastermind Week Pad is a great desktop notebook with blocks to keep you on task each week. For those who like to have a to-do list at all times, this is the pad that will make those to-dos easier to manage while you can sketch them on super nice paper.
It’s great for keeping up with meeting or appointments outside of other notes. (Plus this notebook looks pretty cool sitting on the desk with its funky aspect ratio.)
- Cost: $9 for 3 notebooks (That’s a year’s worth of pages.)
- Size: 11 inches wide by 3 inches tall (279 cm by 76 cm)
- Buy it: From Baron Fig
6. UX Sketchbook
The UX Sketchbook includes blueprint-style pages so you can draw out a webpage mockup. Each page as a 1-up web browser page backed with a 2-up browser blueprint page in a spiral-bound notebook.
The design of the pages is what makes this notebook special for web designers. It also includes perforated pages for “sketch-boarding” and ruled sections for additional notes. The browser outlines on the bright white pages mimic the Google Chrome browser.
The browser outline on each page is in light blue so it is visible but unobtrusive when looking at your sketched designs. Each notebook has 50 double-sided pages that won’t bleed through.
- Cost: $12.99
- Size: Pages are gridded in a 1:1 size for mockups, 960 pixels by 1280 pixels
- Buy it: From App Sketchbook
A good notebook can be a designer’s best friend. From taking notes to sketching outlines of projects to just keeping your workflow on track, there’s nothing like the movement of a pen or pencil on great paper.
All of these notebooks are affordable and have unique purposes and styles. Good luck finding one – or three – that you love!