Gearing up for a new school year? You’ll surely need an empty composition book—or several. These notebooks, which are typically lined, are necessary for note-taking, personal writing, and using for dedicated projects. Unlike taking notes on a computer, with a composition notebook there’s no threat of a technological glitch that’ll make all your recorded ideas disappear into cyberspace or be sent somewhere they shouldn’t go. Hardbound ones are a smart pick, as their covers act as built-in shields to prevent pages from bending and rippling. But softcover notebooks tend to be more lightweight and are easier to open so they lay flat. Depend on a classic and peruse our selection of composition notebooks below, which all measure about 9 3/4 by 7 1/2 inches.
How we pick each product:
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1. Mead College-Ruled Composition Notebook
The go-to composition journal for decades, the Mead college-ruled composition book is a classic. This 100-sheet double-sided journal has a traditional black marble cover made of thin but stiff cardboard and features space to write your name or subject on the front. The smooth sewn binding allows the pages to lie flat, and the inside covers feature a blank class schedule and multiplication and conversion tables, plus brief grammar rules for all your school needs. As for the paper, it is uncoated, which delivers a pleasing fibrous feel and allows for ink to absorb properly with little bleedthrough. Lines are college-ruled, meaning there’s about 9/32 of an inch between them. Available in a pack of three books.
Mead College-Ruled Composition Notebook
2. Roaring Spring Composition Book
Shopping for a younger student? You may want to consider a notebook with wider lines, which is handy for those who are still learning form letters. The 3/8-inch lines in this Grade 3-level book are also divided by a dotted line to provide additional penmanship guidance. This notebook is thinner than our top pick, with just 50 sheets, but that makes for a slim, extra-portable size. It also has some flex, allowing you to bend the book back and write on smaller surfaces. The paper is on the thin side so we recommend using it with pencil to avoid ghosting on the underside of sheets. Its marbled cover is bright red, which makes this notebook easy to spot in a backpack.
Roaring Spring Composition Book
3. Oxford Poly Composition Notebook
These medium-ruled notebooks immediately stand out from the competition for their bold, modern look. But we especially like them for their polythene covers, which are light, flexible, and more durable than cardboard—it’s really difficult to rip them. Stains can be wiped clean, and should a water bottle spill nearby, your pages would likely survive. The 80 sheets are sewn together securely, but you can also tear them out with ease. Available in packs of four different colors.
Oxford Poly Composition Notebook
4. Michael Roger Honeycomb Decomposition Book
Trying to buy while keeping climate change in mind? Consider picking up a few Decomposition notebooks, made in the USA by a small family firm. They are made of 100 percent recycled paper and feature college-ruled lines printed with soy ink. The sheets themselves are properly bound and offer a quality writing experience: They’re smooth for scratch-free scrawling, and they resist bleed-through with inky pens. The books feature quirky cover designs (we like this honeycomb pattern) by artist Nicholas Moegly.
Michael Roger Honeycomb Decomposition Book
5. Rhodia Classic Composition Book
If you know your notebooks, you know that Rhodia’s have a cult following—and for good reason. They are bound with high-quality, smooth European paper ideal for taking fountain pen ink. The legacy brand, in business since 1934, offers a beautiful composition notebook with 80 detachable sheets that are line- and margin-ruled in a soft gray. The 80-gram paper is a clean white and exceptionally smooth, so pens effortlessly glide over it. The signature orange cover is easy to fold back and features space to write one’s name and school subject or project title.
Rhodia Classic Composition Book
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