Journals have been the birthplace of the greatest creative works, jotted notes from work meetings, secret heart's desires, and so much more for as long as they've been around. From avid journal writers to travel writers and from the great pioneers of North America to poetry greats like Walt Whitman, many have used journals. But, journals only have so many blank pages to pour your soul into, so it's reasonable to wonder…


Which are better: refillable, or bound journals? Neither one is better than the other, but there are some benefits to using one over the other. For example, if you're one to keep a journal on a consistent basis, using bound journals can leave you with a steady growing collection over time.


The debate over bound versus refillable journals is quite split, with many reasoning that using a refillable journal gives the exterior of journal character over time as it begins to wear down. Those in favor of bound journals tend to reason that each new journal will have its own unique character during the duration of its use.

Refillable Journals

Refillable journals are journals in which the pages are held in place by a slim pocket stitched to the inside spine of the book. The pages in a refillable journal can be replaced and changed out according to your preference. Once you run out of room to write, all you have to do is purchase new pages instead of buying a whole new journal.


For avid journalers and writers, buying a new journal every year can start to become expensive, especially as the cost of these materials rises over time. For the cost of a bound journal, you can easily purchase page inserts AND keep the journal you have to come to love over the time you have written in it.


Buying a new journal several times a year can get expensive.  A good idea is to choose a refillable journal cover that holds a replaceable page insert. ― When the pages are filled, pop out the insert and replace it with a fresh one.


Another great thing about refillable journals is that you can replace the original pages with inserts that feature creative designs, inspirational quotes, lines to write on, and anything else you'd like. If you plan on using a journal as a daily planner, there are also page inserts that feature calendars for you to plan out your life.


The page inserts designs don't stop there either; you can also choose which type of paper you'd like to use. You can choose from thick, thin, and papyrus paper, to name a few. 


Refillable journals come in all sizes and styles. There are leather, paperback, and hardcover varieties that feature plain and creative designs. 

Bound Journals

Bound journals are most likely what the great pioneers of North America used, considered refillable journals are more of a modernized thing. They were some variants of a refillable journal way back then, but there's no promise it was as advanced as today's refillable journals are.


There were no multiple styles of inserts to choose from, for example.


A bound journal is a journal in which the pages are sewn or glued onto the hard spine of the journal. The pages of a bound journal are not replaceable. They only other way the pages of a bound journal can be replaced is if the pages are sewn to the spine of the journal instead of glued. 


The bound journal is indeed an archetype of daily reflection and recordings of history and life itself. From Anne Frank's diary to the journals of those who experienced other major historical events, most of these recordings, with some now artifacts, were written in bound journals. 


Bound journals can be used for all the same things a refillable journal would be used for. They can be used for daily planning, general, and any other type of creative or reflective writing, jotting down notes, drawing, and more. It's not exactly a matter of how it can be used, but which journal is the most sustainable over time.


If you plan on starting a collection of journals, consider using bound journals that don't require the replacement of pages over time. If you don't journal often, a bound journal may be ideal, as you won't have to replace it as often. Furthermore, you can use bound journals is you'd like to have more than one journal for several purposes. 


The one downside to using a bound journal is that it must be replaced once you run out of pages to write on. Over time, this simple task of buying a new journal every so often can become expensive. 

Deciding On Which Journal To Use

When it comes to deciding whether to use a refillable or bound journal, try to think of how you want to use the journal and, most importantly, what you want to use it for. If you're one to write almost every day, maybe it's not a bad idea to try out a refillable journal. In doing so, you get to keep the same journal over time as you write in it.


Over the years, you will start to see the journal age with you, and who wouldn't want that? Something that builds character by use and tells the story of its owner before it has even been opened and read. The pages don't necessarily age with time, but the outside does, and that's no big deal as long as what's on the inside is protected.


It would be best if you didn't judge the book by the cover, but rather the content, and that is what is worth being protected with refillable journals. Remember to keep the pages that you take out in a safe place, stored away from anything or anyone that could damage it.


On the other hand, if you enjoy the thrill of getting a shiny new journal, then perhaps a bound journal is the preferable option. If you're able to keep up with a potential collection of journals, then a bound journal it is, be sure to have a safe place to store the journals.


Regardless of the type of journal, you're free to buy which size and design you prefer. If you’re a travel writer with little to no room to spare in your suitcase, consider using a small bound journal. This way, you can keep a record of each of your travels and maybe even keeping a separate journal for each continent is worth trying out.


The possibilities with each type of journal are limitless and you can even use both types at the same time. There is no right or wrong here, so get writing!

Additional Resources

For Walt Whitman's actual journal, visit here for an in-depth look into the black leather journal the famous writer kept in his pocket:


Disunion: Inside Walt Whitman's Notebook


For notable (no pun intended) refillable journals available for purchase, check out these links:


Jenni Bick Custom Journals, Refillable Journals & Covers


Papier Plume Refillable Journals


Blue Sky Papers Refillable Journals & Notebooks


For some bound journals available for purchase online, visit these links:


The Leather Quill Shoppe


Bound Custom Journals


  1. R. Gibson Bound Journals


For some ideas on how to use a bound journal, visit here:


How To Use Bound Journals







Scott Megit