Choosing just the right paper is so important when it comes to starting a journal. After all, it’s the first brick in the foundation of your journal and picking the wrong one could pretty much slow the entire journal process. Doing it right the first time is important… but no pressure. Just to make it a little more challenging, there are four main types of paper to choose from:

  • Lined
  • Grid
  • Dot
  • Plain/Blank


Notebook paper with a dot grid, as opposed to traditional lined paper or plain paper, is the overall favorite for writing in journals. The dots offer the perfect balance of structure and open space, giving you the freedom to create.


Of course, there are some who prefer the other styles of paper, but for the most part, the dotted grid option is number one. If you’re ready to start journaling, but need help choosing the right paper, then this article is for you. Or, maybe you’re in the market for a new journal, but all of the different choices in paper are overwhelming. Then you’ll find answers here, too.

Why Are Dots the Best Option?

There are many different reasons people keep journals. This is exactly why the format of the paper needs to be easily adaptable to all of the different journaling needs. But, before going all-in on the dots, here’s a quick comparison of the other contenders, just for the sake of competition.




Lined Paper

  • Easy for writing actual words
  • Great for lists
  • Leaves lines through drawings and other designs
  • Can be limiting for those that have extra-large or extra small handwriting

Plain Paper

  • Lots of freedom
  • No guidance or structure
  • Lack of lines or dots leaves most designs annoyingly crooked

Dotted Paper

  • Freedom to do whatever you want in whatever size or style
  • Guidance and structure
  • Dots make it easy to create straight lines
  • You’ll go through more journals because you’ll want to put everything in them


Structure without Bars

Bars are limiting and restricting. Sure, if your only purpose in journaling is to write, then lines are fine. But if you have any plans of doodling, drawing, bullet journaling or even making bigger letters… anything that involves coloring outside the lines, then you’re restricted here.


Dots provide the structure without lines going through any of your creations. They give you the idea of lines, without the confines of actual lines.

Start and Finish Line

Dots provide a starting line and a finish line, without lines, of course. The dots are already spaced perfectly, usually with about 5 dots per inch. They’re printed on paper, usually in a light blue or gray tone, so they don’t get in the way and stifle your creativity.


Not everyone has the same penmanship. Some write with big swooping letters that can take up quite a bit of space. Others write so small that you might need a magnifying glass to read it. The dots again give the starting point, whether your letters are big or small.

Easy Grid and Table Making

Sure, you can trace lined paper to emphasize horizontal lines that are already there. But when it comes to horizontal lines, you’re still left to your own devices. Connecting the dots to make them up and down lines for a table or calendar is super easy - and oddly satisfying!


Busting out a ruler to make the horizontal lines is helpful, but it can also take away from the rustic appeal of creating a table or grid for your own purposes. There’s a certain level of personality that you get from the slightly imperfect lines of a DIY piece.


Also, the dots make it very easy to create the boxes to form a table or grid, without having to actually measure. If you’re working on your journal on the go, and you don’t have a ruler or straight edge, counting the dots is just as easy, and effective.

How to Use Dotted Journal Paper

At first glance, the sheer number of dots on the paper can make you a little crazy. The overwhelming “where do I even begin” thought will more than likely cross your mind. But this is your journal, so there really aren’t any rules. And the dots give you that freedom, not limit you.


To get started with dotted paper, allow yourself a few practice pages. Some prefer to reserve a few pages at the back of the book, while others like to dive right in with a dedicated practice space at the beginning of your notebook.


Doodle, draw, and write until your heart's content, using a variety of writing utensils. This will help you get a feel for what pens, pencils, or markers are your favorites. And, you’ll be able to work on new prints as well as designs.


Leave a few practice pages open for later on, even experienced journal users want to test new styles before making them permanent. Practice makes perfect, after all.

Inspiration for Pages Using Dot Grids

If diving right in makes you nervous, or you’re not ready to commit to putting something in writing quite yet, here are some ideas to help get started. These are great for getting the ball rolling for practice and for actual journal pages.

Daily and Monthly Planners

If you don’t want to be limited to the confines of a premade planner, use your own dotted pages to create a design all of your own. Include features that will help you navigate your life.

  • Daily schedule or routine
  • Monthly calendar with activities and appointments
  • Weekly meal planning


There’s something about having an aesthetically pleasing calendar that just makes you want to open it time and time again, so it makes it a little harder to ignore. This is one way to force yourself into staying organized. And, even if you don’t follow it exactly, you’ll still trick people into thinking you’re really on top of your game.


Meal planning is helpful if you’re on a budget or sticking to a specific diet. By creating your own custom pages with a dot grid, you can make a section for your shopping lists, keep track of sales, and plan your daily meals.

Vision Boards

It might sound cheesy but putting goals and plans on paper really helps to keep them at the forefront of your mind. There are many who feel strongly that putting things into the universe makes them easier to achieve, so giving it a try in your own personal journal is a great way to start, without having to broadcast all of your hopes and dreams to the entire world.


Keeping your vision board with you makes it accessible and provides lots of opportunities to sneak a peek. The more often you look at it, the more likely you are to stay on top of the tasks you need to do to reach those goals.

Keep Track of Ideas or Questions

If you’ve ever had one of those brilliant ideas that you just know will make life easier, only to have it escape your mind, then keeping track of them in a journal will help you prevent that from ever happening again.


Jotting your ideas down, or even sketching them out, is a great way to never lose them. That way, when you have a “didn’t I have a better idea for how to do this” moment, you can peruse your journal for the solution.


Dedicating a couple of pages to a continuous list of questions, or things to look up, is also super helpful. As you find the answers or information, cross these things off your list. The actual act of marking something as done also gives you a really fantastic sense of accomplishment.

Making the Pages Look Good

Using a dot grid allows you to add details to your notes with a little bit of guidance. Things are just more fun to look at when they’re colorful and decorated. Here are a few things that you can add to your pages to make them more aesthetically pleasing:

  • Headings with different lettering styles
  • Doodled frames or borders
  • Mind maps with colorful lines
  • Bullet points beyond regular dots

Final Thoughts

Using dotted paper for your journal pages is a great choice. It allows you the freedom to create, but also provides guidance. Whether you’re looking to purge all of your thoughts onto the paper and just clear your mind, or stay organized, dotted journal pages can help you do that. They offer just the right amount of structure so that you can use your journal in all the ways that will work best for your own life.

Scott Megit