The 19 Best Journals of 2023

Our picks include everything from guided journals for self-discovery to pocket-sized notebooks for jotting down thoughts on the go.

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Two of the best journals placed twice on a two toned blue background

Real Simple / Kristin Kempa

Writing in a journal is a great way to reflect and organize your thoughts. In fact, a daily journaling habit is proven to increase your happiness and reduce stress. The best journals will inspire you to maintain this habit, whether you're jump-starting a new routine or keeping up with a long-standing practice.  

To find the best journals, we extensively researched the market and considered factors like type, size, and format to choose a range that appeals to all sorts of writing habits and needs. For expert advice on finding a journal, we reached out to psychiatrist Milena Perkins

“I feel that a mid-sized notebook is the ‘just right’ Goldilocks of journals," she says. "It’s most effective because it can easily slip into most bags and be pulled out to jot down things in the moment.” 

Whether you’re looking for guided prompts to help you dig deep or a blank slate to release your creativity, there’s a journal on this list for you.

Moleskine Classic Notebook Expanded

Moleskine Classic Notebook Expanded

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a quality journal with blank, lined, dotted, or gridded pages. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a journal with pages that are easy to rip out. 

Moleskine is a stationery staple for a reason. You can’t go wrong with the brand’s Classic Expanded Notebook—it comes with 400 pages, which is nearly double the amount in the regular edition. The pages are incredibly smooth to write on and give you lots of space to scribble, doodle, and more. Keep in mind that the pages aren’t perforated, so they can be difficult to rip out.

This journal is lightweight but sturdy. It has a bendable cover that can slide into a cramped backpack and won’t fold or crease like a paperback cover. It also has an interior pocket to keep track of handouts, letters, or other documents, and a ribbon bookmark so you don’t lose your place, making it a functional notebook with lots of space to express your thoughts. 

Price at time of publish: $32

Product Details:

  • Format: Ruled, dotted, plain, or squared
  • Size: 5 x 8.25 inches 
  • Number of Pages: 400 pages

Rifle Paper Co. Garden Party Fabric Journal

Rifle Paper Co. Garden Party Fabric Journal

Rifle Paper Co. 

Who it’s for: People who want a cloth-covered journal. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a sleek journal.   

This cloth-covered notebook has a vibrant, floral pattern and a soft touch that makes breaking out your journal even more pleasant. With details like gold foil lettering, decorative page accents, and a matching turquoise ribbon bookmark to keep your place, this journal makes for a luxurious writing experience. 

It has 144 pages with ruled lining in metallic ink for neat, aesthetic pages. Given how luxe this journal is, it may not be the best option if you prefer a no-frills journal. But if you want a floral notebook to display on your desk, this makes a great pick. 

Price at time of publish: $30

Product Details:

  • Format: Lined
  • Size: 5.75 x 8 inches
  • Number of Pages: 144 pages

Beatific Happy Planner

Beatific Happy Planner

Etsy

Who it’s for: People who want a journal with customization options.

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer spiral-bound notebooks.  

Any stationary or journaling enthusiast will love the Beatific Happy Planner. It offers lots of opportunities for personalization: You can choose between multiple paper types, cover styles, and page counts, and you can even include a personalized message on the spine and the first page. There’s also the option to add your name above the elegant cover illustration. The pages are made with high-quality recycled paper and are silky smooth to the touch. Beatific plants a tree with every purchase, so you can feel good about your notebook purchase too.  

Price at time of publish: $30

Product Details:

  • Format: Lined, blank, dot grid, or square grid
  • Size: 6 x 9 inches
  • Number of Pages: 100, 150, or 200 pages

Papier Good Things Take Time Notebook

Papier Good Things Take Time Notebook

Papier 

Who it’s for: People looking for a hardcover journal that’s easy to tote around. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a notebook with a neutral cover design.  

For those seeking a vibrant, hardcover journal, Papier has your back. The bright red and pink cover will stand out on your desk and greet you with an inspiring quote to keep you going on rough days. Its pages are 85 GSM, which means they have a nice thickness that allows your pen or pencil to glide across. This journal has some customization options: You can opt to put your name on the front cover, and you can also choose between lined, plain, or dotted pages. Plus, it’s pretty compact at 6 by 8.5 inches, so you can take it with you to flaunt at your local coffee shop.  

Price at time of publish: $30

Product Details:

  • Format: Lined, blank, or dot grid
  • Size: 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Number of Pages: 192 pages

Be Rooted Co. Aligned With My Purpose Notebook

Be Rooted Co. Aligned With My Purpose Notebook

Be Rooted Co.

Who it’s for: People who want a high-quality journal with dateable pages.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a pocket-sized journal. 

Be Rooted Co. is on a mission to empower women of color through stationery, and as the first Black-owned stationery brand to be sold at Target, it’s well on its way to achieving that goal. The Aligned With My Purpose Notebook has a beautiful cover design that deserves to be displayed on your desk and features a reassuring message on the spine. 

All the pages have a month and day tracker across the top, which is great for students taking notes in class or anyone who wants to be more organized with their journaling. This notebook is about the size of a sheet of paper, so it’s not ideal if you want something that can squeeze in your pocket, but it can easily fit into a backpack or briefcase for when you’re on the go. 

Price at time of publish: $18

Product Details:

  • Format: Lined
  • Size: 8 x 10 inches 
  • Number of Pages: 160 pages

Intelligent Change Inc. The Five Minute Journal

Intelligent Change The Five Minute Journal

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who need a journal that will help them reach their goals with engaging, bold graphics.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a simple, streamlined guided journal. 

True to its name, each page in the Intelligent Change Five Minute Journal takes five minutes to fill out. This journal utilizes proven psychological principles proven to lift your mood. Each page has two parts: a morning section where you write down things you're grateful for, your goals for the day, and a couple of affirmations; and an evening section where you reflect on the highlights and lessons gleaned from your past 24 hours. It also includes weekly challenges designed to get you out of your comfort zone. The journal’s pages are undated, and it contains enough prompts to last for six months, so you have to repurchase if you want to use it long-term.  

Price at time of publish: $29

Product Details:

  • Format: Guided
  • Size: 8.7 x 5.5 inches
  • Number of Pages: 268

Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal Edition 2

Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal Edition 2

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a notebook for bullet journaling.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a journal with a colorful or patterned cover. 

Bullet journaling can help you improve productivity and practice mindfulness, but getting started can be overwhelming. The Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal is ideal for newbies and pros alike, thanks to its 120 grams per square meter (GSM) pages and built-in bullet key, index, and future log. Its smart, dotted grid design allows you to customize each page as you please and contains subtle markers that divide the pages, making it easier to create your own layouts. 

It also includes a bullet journal pocket guide to help you get started and give you some ideas for page designs—and the pocket guide doubles as a ruler to ensure each page looks great. This notebook also comes with stickers for all 12 months and 52 weekdays, making it perfect for setting up your monthly logs, habit tracking, and more. 

Price at time of publish: $28

Product Details:

  • Format: Dot grid
  • Size: 5.7 x 8.27 inches
  • Number of Pages: 206 pages

Burn After Writing Journal

Burn After Writing Journal

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a journal that inspires self-reflection.

Who it isn’t for: People who don’t want a guided writing experience.  

While its pink cover and title may give you flashbacks to the infamous Burn Book from Mean Girls, this journal couldn’t be farther from it. The Burn After Writing Journal is designed to get you to face your thoughts and feelings head-on. It has a mix of silly and introspective prompts that lead to self-discovery and awareness, from creating trivia lists about your life to writing about someone you need to forgive. It’s great for people beginning their daily journaling routine, as the prompts are straightforward and don’t require a lot of time commitment. 

Price at time of publish: $14

Product Details:

  • Format: Guided
  • Size: 5.25 x 7.95 inches
  • Number of Pages: 160

Leatherology Spiral Snap Journal With Pen Loop

Leatherology Spiral Snap Journal With Pen Loop

Leatherology

Who it’s for: People who want a leather journal with lots of customization.

Who it isn’t for: People want a journal with a fun, patterned cover. 

The Leatherology Spiral Snap Journal stands out for its unparalleled style and practicality. The notebook has a spiral binding and comes in a luxurious leather sleeve that you can slip off. The Italian full-grain leather feels soft and supple, and it comes in various bold and neutral shades. It also comes with a nifty pen loop so you always have a writing instrument handy. 

This journal is customizable, too. You can opt to have the name of a loved one debossed or hand-painted on the cover. Plus, when you get to the end of your journal, you can order a refill to reuse the leather sleeve. 

Price at time of publish: $65

Product Details:

  • Format: Lined
  • Size: 6 x 8.25 inches
  • Number of Pages: 130 pages

One Question a Day for Self-Care: A Three-Year Journal: Daily Check-Ins for Emotional Well-Being

One Question a Day for Self-Care: A Three-Year Journal: Daily Check-Ins for Emotional Well-Being

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want to build a regular journaling habit.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a lot of room to write. 

If you want a daily journaling habit but can never seem to stick to the routine, this is the journal for you. The One Question a Day for Self-Care Journal prompts you to answer one quick question every day with space to record your answers over the course of three years. There isn’t a lot of room to jot down your thoughts, which helps keep things brief and prevents you from feeling overwhelmed by writing—you can do it no matter how busy you are. Plus, it’s fun to look back on your answers from years past and see how much you’ve grown. 

Price at time of publish: $18

Product Details:

  • Format: Guided
  • Size: 5.2 x 7.6 inches 
  • Number of Pages: 368 pages

Field Notes National Parks Journals

Field Notes National Parks Journals

Field Notes

Who it’s for: People who want a portable journal for writing on the go. 

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer lined or blank journals. 

Field Notes is well-known for its pocket-sized stationery that fit right into the palm of your hand. These portable notebooks are great for jotting down ideas, grocery lists, to-dos, and other thoughts on the fly. The national parks series combine the practicality of the journals with eye-catching artwork inspired by iconic sights of America’s great outdoors, and each purchase benefits the National Park Foundation. 

The pages are smudge-proof, which is ideal if you often scrawl things in a rush, but the paper is thin, so your pen might bleed through. While the notebooks are more flimsy than other options, they wear down nicely, revealing the cardstock underneath for a lived-in look. 

Price at time of publish: $15 for 3

Product Details:

  • Format: Grid
  • Size: 3.5 x 5.5 inches
  • Number of Pages: 48 pages each

Do It For Yourself (Guided Journal): A Motivational Journal

Do It for Yourself Guided Journal

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a journal that inspires more gratitude. 

Who it isn’t for: People searching for a guided journal that lasts for a year. 

Created by productivity expert Kara Cutruzzula, Do It for Yourself is a motivational workbook that helps you realize your best self. It encourages you to work toward your goals with prompts for reflecting on what may be holding you back, taking action, and setting deadlines to follow through. 

The page design differs throughout the journal: Some pages have lines while others don't, but there’s enough blank space to write down your thoughts without feeling cramped. Across from each prompt, you can find motivational quotes with bold visuals designed by Tessa Forrest. With its vibrant style, this journal could double as a motivational coffee table book or a gift for a friend. 

Price at time of publish: $17

Product Details:

  • Format: Guided
  • Size: 6.25 inches x 8.5 inches
  • Number of Pages: 144 pages

Moonster Leather Journal

Moonster Leather Journal

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a high-quality, rustic journal.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a journal with a colorful or patterned cover. 

If you’re looking for a rugged, vintage-inspired notebook, check out the Moonster Leather Journal. The cover is made from water buffalo leather, giving it a beautiful finish and an earthy scent, while the binding is hand-stitched to ensure papers won’t fall out. We’re also a fan of its wrap-around design that adds to its rustic look and offers a clever way to keep it shut. Inside, you’ll find high-quality 125 GSM cotton paper, which is smooth and sturdy enough to handle pens, pencils, and even watercolors. You can choose between blank or ruled pages, and the journal also comes in two sizes so you can get the one right for you. 

Price at time of publish: $24

Product Details:

  • Format: Lined, blank
  • Size: 5 x 7 or 6 x 8 inches
  • Number of Pages: 240 pages

Poketo Creativity Journal

Poketo Creativity Journal

Amazon

Who it’s for: People looking for a guided journal that sparks creativity. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want an everyday guided journal. 

Poketo’s guided journal will help you get back in touch with your inner child with its creative and quirky exercises. Each page invites you to use your imagination, get in touch with your senses, and explore your surroundings to ease your mind and build creativity. There’s a mix of activities, from drawing imaginary pizza slices to interviewing your loved ones with some deep questions. The only downside is that it’s over pretty quickly: There are only 61 prompts in total. 

Price at time of publish: $28

Product Details:

  • Format: Guided
  • Size: 5.75 x 8.5 inches
  • Number of Pages: 128 pages

Cagie Spiral Leather Journal Writing Notebook

Cagie Spiral Leather Journal Writing Notebook

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a refillable journal.

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer journals with traditional binding. 

For people who want a notebook with lots of customization that will last for a while, a binder journal is your best friend. This one from Cagie offers a lot of functionality: a hardcover design that allows you to take notes anywhere, a pen holder, card pockets, and a magnetic snap closure to keep your notes shut tight. Included are page separators to keep you organized, a monthly calendar, a blank grid, and ruled pages for all your writing needs. 

The binder journal comes in various colors and styles, ranging from chic suede to faux leather, and it’s a convenient size to fit in a tote bag or briefcase. When you’ve used up all its pages, you can order refills to spare yourself the trouble of finding a brand-new notebook.   

Price at time of publish: $29

Product Details:

  • Format: Lined
  • Size: 5.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Number of Pages: 80 pages

Appointed A5 Journal

Appointed A5 Journal

Appointed 

Who it’s for: People looking for a durable dotted journal with a classy look.  

Who it isn’t for: People who want a journal with blank pages.

The Appointed A5 Journal is ideal for anyone looking for a hardy notebook. It has a realistic, water-resistant faux leather cover and can handle getting shoved and thrown around your bag. Its dot grid pages are numbered, while the journal’s key pages are lined—making it ideal for bullet journalers who love customization. It also comes with a back pocket where you can stash flyers, to-do lists, or other papers you need. You can choose between three neutral cover shades that look classy no matter what, and you can opt to have your monogram embossed in gold foil for a personal touch.  

Price at time of publish: $26

Product Details:

  • Format: Dot grid
  • Size: 5.5 × 8.3 inches
  • Number of Pages: 144 pages

Decomposition Sweet Pear Tree Book

Decomposition Sweet Pear Tree Book

Decomposition 

Who it’s for: People who want an affordable notebook with a cute cover.

Who it isn’t for: People who like using dark pens. 

Decomposition notebooks are made in the U.S. from recycled paper, so they’re great for those who want to be eco-minded while staying on a budget. The notebook comes with 144 crisp, blank pages, allowing you to doodle to your heart’s content without any lines getting in the way. However, the paper is a bit thin, so it’s best to stick to pencils and fine-tipped pens to avoid ink bleed. 

This notebook is spiral bound, which makes it super convenient to fold in half and rip out pages, and it's lightweight, making it easy to travel with. If you aren’t a fan of pear trees, there are plenty of other fun cover patterns to choose from. 

Price at time of publish: $11

Product Details:

  • Format: Blank
  • Size: 7.5 x 9.75 inches 
  • Number of Pages: 144 pages

Magic of I Moi Vegan Leather Journal

Magic of I Moi Vegan Leather Journal

Magic of I 

Who it’s for: People who want a beautiful journal to jot down their thoughts.

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer journals with flexible covers. 

The Magic of I Moi Vegan Leather Journal has delightful little details: The pages are coated with a holographic finish, which makes cracking open this journal a luxurious experience, and there’s a ribbon bookmark and an elastic band to keep it firmly shut. The spine is embellished with gold foil that reads: “as the universe, so the soul,” adding another luxe touch. It also contains 192 smooth, unlined pages that give you ample room to write, doodle, and more.

Its cover is buttery soft, vegan leather with a mystical gold foil design, and you can choose from seven neutral color options to match your style. The cover isn’t bendable, so it’s not the best for taking on the go—but this is the journal you want to show off on your nightstand.  

Price at time of publish: $32

Product Details:

  • Format: Blank
  • Size: 5.8 x 8.3 inches 
  • Number of Pages: 192 pages

Denik Beautiful Day Large Wire-O Spiral Notebook

Denik Beautiful Day Large Wire-O Spiral Notebook

Denik

Who it’s for: People who want a durable, waterproof journal. 

Who it isn’t for: People who dislike spiral-bound notebooks. 

Denik is a notebook company with a mission. The brand uses its artistic journals to fund education in all parts of the globe—so far, the profits have built schools in Laos, Ghana, Mali, and more. 

The Beautiful Day notebook is waterproof and lets you customize the ring size and page type, allowing you to tailor it to your needs. The pages are remarkably soft to the touch and have rounded corners to prevent paper cuts. In case you aren’t a fan of this journal’s bold and funky design, you can find other offerings on the site designed by artists from all over the world.

Price at time of publish: $15

Product Details:

  • Format: Lined, blank, or dot grid
  • Size: 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Number of Pages: 120 pages

How to Shop for Journals Like a Pro

Type 

Consider what you want to get out of your journal before deciding what type to get. “The format of the journal leads to the outcome,” says Perkins. “Numbers, lines, and built-in structure help us be more rigid, stick to the to-do list, and help us visualize what we need to accomplish.” 

So if your goal is to get more organized, consider a guided or lined journal. But a journal with blank pages can also be beneficial. 

“Blankness allows for just that—a blank slate to create, to imagine, without visual limitations,” Perkins says. A blank journal works best if you want to get creative with your journaling habit, and it can also be more convenient to write in. “Simplicity on the inside makes it easier to use it for your needs,” Perkins explains. “Scribble, cross-out, whatever gets the job done in helping you schedule, create, meditate, or just gather your thoughts.” 

If you can’t decide which type of journal to go for, Perkins says “journals that have structure followed by a few free pages can help tap into both needs.” 

Size

Journals come in various sizes—the standard is an A5 journal, which is 5.8 inches x 8.3 inches, but you can also find pocket-sized notebooks and large ones. To decide which size is the best for you, think about where you store your journal and if you intend on traveling with it. A heavy leather-bound notebook may look great on your nightstand but can weigh you down when you take it on the go. Similarly, a small journal is a perfect size to stash in your pocket and jot down ideas on the fly, but it may feel cramped if you want lots of space to write. Envision how you plan to use your journal and decide from there. 

Number of Pages

Be realistic: How often do you see yourself writing in your journal? That answer will help you determine how many pages you should look for. If you’re constantly scribbling down ideas, you probably want a thicker journal than someone who writes sparsely. Beginners may also benefit from a slimmer notebook, so they get some sweet satisfaction when they use it all up as a reward for their new habit. 

Keep in mind that larger journals typically have more pages: It’s harder to find a 200-page journal in a pocket size. If you plan on traveling with your journal, you may have to sacrifice page count to find something practical and portable.   

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Jen Woo, a freelance design, lifestyle, and culture writer and content strategist with over 10 years of experience. To write this article, she thoroughly researched journals and considered factors like type, size, and page count to make her top picks. For expert insight on how to shop for journals, Jen spoke to psychiatrist Milena Perkins

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