Archive for July 16th, 2009

The Markings journal by C.R. Gibson

The Markings journal by C.R. Gibson

This review is the third 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.

Moleskine, The paper was tested in Ciak, Rhodia, Cartesio and C.R. Gibsons Markings journals.The paper was tested in Moleskine, Ciak, Rhodia, Cartesio and C.R. Gibson’s Markings journals. All journals have light ivory colored pages that look very similar.

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)

First Impressions

At first glance, the Markings notebook looks similar to the Moleskine notebook. The cover is black, there is a vertical elastic strap, 192 page count, ribbon bookmark and the notebook will lay flat when opened. The paper is similar to the Moleskine’s in thickness and color, but the lines are different. The Markings journal has a large margin on the top and bottom of each page which gives you the impression that there is less writing space, but the lines are spaced closer together than the lines in the Moleskine. There are 21 lines per page, just one less than in the Moleskine.

The paper in this journal did not perform as well as the other journals overall, but it was fine with the ink from the ballpoint pens and Staedtler Triplus marker. These lines were crisp and clear, did not bleed through the page and had good contrast and depth of color.

I had the most trouble with the wet pens and markers on the Markings journal. There is a coating on the paper that caused the ink in my fountain pen to skip. The ink did not sink into the paper very well and had a tendency to set up on top leaving me with some streaky lines that I needed to go over a couple of times. The Tombow Rollerball pen and the Pilot Precise Grip marker had a small amount of feathering which was not an issue until I realized that these pens also bled through the back of the page. There was less contrast on these ink samples than in the other notebooks.

The Tombow Dual Brush Marker and Tombow Fountain pen had tonal variation on this paper, which could be interesting in the right situation. The color is darker at the end of a line where the pen is lifted from the page. I like this look and think it enhances the hand-written page, but it may not be for everyone.

Detail of the inks on paper in the Markings notebook.

Enlarged detail of the inks on the paper in the Markings notebook. The words from the ballpoint pens appear sharp and clear, and the colors saturated. The fountain pen sample has some streaking and there was feathering with some of the other pens. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

The Markings’ paper performed worst of all of the samples I tested regarding showthrough or bleedthrough. The back side of the paper had a lot showthrough and bleedthrough with the Tombow roll pen and Pilot Precise Grip. The Marks-A-Lot Permanent Marker bled through too, but did so on every paper in this test including the top rated Rhodia. There is raised writing on the back side of the page on the samples from the Tombow Roll and Ballpoint Pens, Sensa Ballpoint pen, Tombow Fountain pen and the Pilot Precise Grip. The Staedtler Triplus Fineliner did not have any raised areas.

The back side of the page has lots of show through, especially on the darker, more saturated inks. On all samples except the markers, you can feel the text raised on the reverse side.

The back side of the page has quite a bit of showthrough, even on the ballpoint pen samples. On all samples except the Triplus Fineliner, you can feel a raised text on the reverse side. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.


  • Clear, sharp text with ballpoint pens and the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner
  • Pale ivory color is easy on the eyes
  • Good for use with ballpoint pens and fine waterbased pens
  • Less expensive alternative than the other notebooks tested
  • Top and bottom margins could be useful


  • Heavy showthrough and bleedthrough on the reverse side of the paper limiting your pen choices
  • Writing with any pressure will push through leaving raised areas on the back side
  • Feathering on wet pens and markers
  • Coating makes using a fountain pen difficult, causing streaking and skips
  • Paper does not appear to be acid-free

Overall, I think the paper in the Markings notebook is fine for use with most ballpoint pens and some markers such as Staedtler’s Triplus Fineliner, just don’t expect too much from it. If you are using it to take quick notes on a day-to-day basis using basic ballpoint pens, it would be worth giving it a try. If you like using wet pens, such as fountain pens, roll pens or markers, you may want to use a Rhodia, Ciak, Cartesio or Moleskine notebook instead.

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