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?