Whitelines A4 Notebook

Quite recently I decided to migrate my household accounting to a physical notebook. I’d always used Excel sheets to make the adding up easier, but as I came to rely more and more on a tablet, I found myself booting up the laptop less and less and my recordkeeping getting laxer by the day. The final straw was when our dog gnawed through the cord of the AC adapter. I figured that reverting to a more analogue method of accounting might be both less tempting to canine appetites and easier to keep up, so I started rummaging through my treasure chest for a notebook. (I am now at that stage where my backup box is better stocked than the average stationer. I don’t need to go shopping for notebooks anymore. I dig and I find. Maybe I should do a post on my notebook hoard next?)

I was gifted the large Whitelines notebook a number of years ago (thank you, reader X!), but frankly, at that time, I didn’t quite know what to do with it. I had moved on more or less completely to smaller formats (<A5), and this particular notebook was large (A4). The paper seemed good but not in any way special, and the main feature, that of the light grey background with white squared lines, seemed funky but somehow not essential. I didn’t want to break out a good notebook just to test ink on a few pages, so I put it away for the future. And I’m glad I did that, because now I find the larger format perfect for bookkeeping, and the background singularly suited for pencil markings.

I happen to be partial to grid-lined paper. I like it for the freedom that it grants me from the tyranny and boredom of regular lines, all the while gently nudging my letters in line. But since I started using pencils as well as pens, I’ve been frustrated by the interference and noise that most grid patterns create around the delicate graphite. My favorite products from Rhodia and L!FE all tend to have pretty strong grids, and I realize that if you’re not going to use plain unruled paper (which I can’t), your best bet as a pencil user is to opt for light, understated grids. Happily, Whitelines has turned out to be the perfect whispery grid that doesn’t get in the way of pencil strokes, and the background color somehow even succeeds in drawing the eye to the graphite markings.

I think this grey background, while commonsensical in theory, can be tricky to get just right in practice. Leuchtturm seems to make these kind of white-on-grey notebooks too, in partnership with Whitelines Link (that scans digitally), but some Amazon reviews note that the grey can seem “gloomy”, and that the white markings can be hard to see. I wonder if the shade in the Leuchtturm or the more recently made Whitelines notebooks is darker than what I have; if so I would indeed find it a bit gloomy. Right now the shade is perfect.

Another important aspect that I’ve woken up to as a pencil user is that pencil markings are less tolerant of see-throughs (this is why I often hesitate to use pencils on Tomoe River paper). The Whitelines is safe in that aspect as well, as the paper is just thick enough to prevent it.

Two of the pencils I like using with the Whitelines notebook – they are both HBs on the dark and soft side. Based on the few lines I wrote with pen and ink, the paper seems to be fairly fountain-pen-friendly as well.

(TWSBI RB580 + Sailor Apricot ink)

As I encounter more and more notebooks on my stationery journey, I realize that unusual notebooks can be a hard sell, as quirky features such as this can either win you over completely or leave you cold. There’s no middle ground. But I’m glad this particular notebook works for me – finally! Who knew grey could be such a graphite-friendly color?


9 thoughts on “Whitelines A4 Notebook

  1. Thanks for giving us an insight into your household accounting and the tools you use.
    I have used Whitelines for years and like them, but somehow don’t think they add a lot compared to white paper with grey lines. I didn’t know about Whitelines Link before, thanks.
    Just out of curiosity – as someone who doesn’t do household accounting, are you mainly recording or planning and what kind of things do you include? Including everything would probably be too cumbersome..


    1. Hi Matthias, I wasn’t really comfortable publishing photos of my accounts at first but I’m glad you found it at least a little bit interesting :) I’ve been keeping records ever since I left home in my 20’s, because I was terrified of bouncing checks and forgotten credit card purchases. So it’s a very simple system: I come up with a monthly figure I would (ideally) like to keep to, and record expenses according to about six or seven categories, and see how much they add up to at the end of each month. It’s not so much about trying to save on necessities (which I think are rather pointless), but rather more about controlling the amount of discretionary spending. I know my weak points! ;) And yes I do record everything (at least on my side).

      I didn’t know you used Whitelines. They’re not bad, are they, once you get used to them? But the Whitelines Link (at least the image of which I see on Amazon) page layout doesn’t look terribly attractive. Whether it scans well would be another matter to consider; I don’t use that function so I wouldn’t be qualified to judge. Another thing that bothered me a little was that Whitelines makes a big deal about its low carbon footprint, while moving paper products around the world is quite costly and probably gobbles up its fair share of CO2. Globalization has been a boon to stationery fans but I sometimes wonder if all that jetting around is justified – especially if you consider the fact that some items cross oceans back and forth before finding a buyer…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You make me want to try this out. We need to renew the mortgage soon anyway, so the bank will want to know how money is spent. Do you have any tips for someone who is starting this for the first time? Do you have subcategories, too?


    1. Matthias, my accounts aren’t that sophisticated so I’m really not the person to ask… But if I were to give just one piece of advice, it would be to keep things as simple as you possibly can, otherwise you’ll soon run out of steam. Keep the categories down to a manageable number; mine are, for instance, groceries and household supplies/eating out/son/dog/culture, hobbies and entertainment/utilities/other (includes one-time expenses such as travel or maintenance work) etc. Oh, and I lump stuff like medical expenses and clothing and furniture purchases into one category since they don’t occur so often. And do carry a pencil around to jot down those purchases you don’t have receipts for ;)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Believe it or not, I was working on a draft of a post that sort of involves these Whitelines, when I saw this post. A cool coincidence! :D

    I was gifted a set of A5 spiral Whitelines notebooks eons ago, and I’ve only used pens with them so far. But I see that pencils look good too! I should give them a try. And that’s great that you were able to find the right notebook for your accounting.. Perks of being a notebook hoarder! :) You know, I haven’t done much research but it seems the Whitelines notebooks are harder to find now, at least here in the US. I’m not losing sleep over it but I’ll miss the soft gray + white lines. Not many notebooks out there with the “inverted” graph grid.. are there?


    1. I haven’t found many either. If I remember correctly the Whitelines used to be available at Pencils.com, weren’t they? Hmmm…

      I’m dying to know what you thought about them! They are unconventional but I do think they are a good alternative :)


  4. I think they must have improved the paper – I bought a pocket perfect bound notebook when they first came out, and it was pretty disappointing. Whilst better than Moleskine, I was surprised by the number of inks that feathered on it, given the (again, at the time) price premium.

    Shame, because I quite liked the idea of them – I must pick up a more recent example and see what I think.


    1. Wow, you were an early adapter :) I don’t know exactly when they came out but mine is not that new either. Interesting to hear of possible differences in the quality of the paper.

      From what I see on the Amazon product page I don’t think I’d go for the Leuchtturm Whitelines Link, the page layout wasn’t very appealing. I do hope this idea lives on in an attractive and fountain-pen-friendly form!

      Liked by 1 person

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