This review is the first in a series where I will test the paper in some of the most popular notebooks today, including Moleskine, Ciak, Rhodia, Markings by C.R. Gibson and Cartesio. I am posting the reviews in no specific order. I intentionally omitted the Leuchtturm journals because they are planning on changing to “pen-proof” paper in their journals in August, 2009, and in all fairness, I want to review their newest products.
The pens I chose were based on what I had lying around my office, but my selections are similar to popular pens in the market today. I chose a fountain pen with a medium nib because it will lay down more ink and will be more likely to feather or bleed through the paper than a fine point nib.
Please note that you may get different results using your pens than I do with mine. A lot of variables can come into play here including pen type, ink type, pressure used, nib style and environmental conditions, etc. I will do my best to be specific when possible and to include all of the relevant details.
The pens I am testing are:
- Tombow Ultra Rollerball Pen, 0.5 mm point
- Sensa Ballpoint Pen
- Staedtler Triplus Fineliner
- Tombow Fountain Pen with Medium Nib
- Tombow Pixie Ballpoint Pen, 0.7 mm point
- Pilot Precise Grip Fine Point Marker
- Tombow Dual Brush Pen, Fine Point
- Marks A-Lot Dual Sharp Permanent Marker Fine Point (similar to Sharpie)
The Moleskine notebook has fairly smooth paper with little tooth. The paper is the second thinnest, the thinnest being that from the Markings journal from C.R. Gibson. The color is pale ivory and is nearly the same as all the other journals.
Overall, I am surprised by how well the paper in the Moleksine notebook performed. It displayed the second best color depth, with the Ciak paper being slightly more saturated. The words written on it appeared sharp, but less so than those on the Rhodia Web notebook paper. There was little, if any, feathering. I’ve heard complaints about the paper in the Moleskine journal feathering badly, but the notebook I tested did not. Even the fountain pen ink appeared sharp, and the inks went down clean without drags, skips or picks.
There are some issues I have with the paper, however. The back side of the paper has a lot of showthrough. All but the ballpoint inks show through clearly, and the Tombow Rollerball Pen bled through a tiny bit. The Marks-A-Lot Permanent Marker bled through a lot, but I expected this because it is similar to a Sharpie Marker and it bled through all of the other papers in this test.
Because this paper is thin you can feel the the raised writing on the back side of the page. This holds true for all ink samples except the markers. If you write with moderate to heavy pressure, you will have quite a bit of texture from the previous page popping through.
When using wet pens, such as the Tombow Roll Pen and the Tombow Fountain Pen, the inks dried slower than expected. This can cause smearing if you are a lefty or if you are impatient. It shouldn’t be a problem if you are a righty as long as you don’t rush things.
- Clear, sharp text with no apparent feathering, even when using a fountain pen and markers
- Rich, saturated ink colors
- Smooth paper accepts ink without skipping
- Pale ivory color is easy on the eyes
- Good for use with ballpoint pens and other non-saturated inks
- Darker inks show through the back side of the paper
- Writing with any pressure will push through the back leaving raised areas on the back side
- Some “wet” pens and markers will bleed through the back of the page
- The ink from wettest pens including fountain and roll pens dry slower than in other journals
Overall, I can see why there are so many Moleskine fans. They make nice notebooks at reasonable prices that serve the masses. Crisp lines, rich color and smooth ivory paper are good things. Even thin paper can be a plus because it takes up less room than thicker paper, so the journals are thinner. If you use fine, ballpoint pens or fine point, water-based markers, the Moleskine notebook may work well for you. You can even write on both sides of the paper if the texture or showthrough doesn’t bother you.
You may be able to use some fountain and roller ball pens with the Moleskine paper, but these will show through to the back side of the paper and you may experience some bleedthrough with juicy writers. This will vary dramatically with different pen and ink choices, and will vary somewhat from notebook to notebook. Whether this is a problem or not is up to you. If you are a die-hard fountian pen user who won’t tolerate any showthrough or bleedthrough, you should consider another journal. If you use a fountain or roll pen, this journal may work for you if you are comfortable with showthrough and some minor bleedthrough now and then.