Archive for July 20th, 2009

The Cartesio pocket, ruled notebook.

The Cartesio pocket, ruled notebook.

This review is the forth 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

While the Cartesio journal has the same length and width as the Moleskine and Rhodia journals, it has a completely different look and feel . The sample I tested is red, but additional colors are available including orange, black and teal green. The cover is made from recycled leather with a pebbled texture and it’s flexibility lies somewhere between a hard and soft cover, which is very nice. The cover is thin, yet firm. Like other notebooks in this test, it has a vertical elastic strap, 192 page count, ribbon bookmark and the notebook will lay flat when opened. The paper is similar to the Rhodia’s in thickness and color and is thicker than in the Moleskine and Markings journal. There are 19 lines per page, so the ruling is a little wider than the Rhodia, Markings and Moleskine notebooks and the lines stop short of the outer and inner margins.

The paper in this journal was in the middle of the pack as far as bleedthrough and showthrough but there are some qualities about the paper that I think are worth noting. My wet pens dried quickly on the paper, and the inks had good contrast and depth of color. There is more tooth to the paper than the Rhodia and Moleskine notebooks which contributed to a tiny amount of feathering on the inks from the Tombow Roll Pen, Pilot Precise Grip and Marks A-Lot permanent marker. This was minor, though, and didn’t bother me.

When using my fountain pen, the ink sank well into the paper and the dried quickly. There was some tonal variation , but not as much as the variation on the Rhodia paper. I liked the way my fountain pen wrote on this paper and found it satisfying the way the paper accepted the ink. I did not experience any bleedthrough with my Tombow Fountain pen nor any raised areas on the back.

Detail of ink comparison on the Cartesio paper.

Enlarged detail of the inks on the paper in the Cartesio notebook. There was some minor feathering on the Tombow Roll Pen, Pilot Precise Grips and Marks A-Lot ink samples. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

The Cartesio was in the middle of the pack regarding showthrough or bleedthrough. The back side of the paper had some showthrough and there was small amount of 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 were minimal raised areas on the back side of the page on the samples from the Tombow Roll pen, the Ballpoint Pens, and the Pilot Precise Grip. The other inks samples did did not have any raised areas.

The back side of the page has minimal showthrough. On all samples except the fountina pen and markers, you can feel a small amount of text raised on the reverse side. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

The back side of the page has some showthrough and bleedthrough. There was a minimal amount of text raised on the reverse side, only the Ciak journal had less. If you right click this image and select “view image” from the dropdown menu, you can see an enlarged view.

I have to comment on the build and quality of this notebook. While it may not be relevant to how well the ink performs, it is great to use a notebook that looks and feels like a quality journal. The binding is tight, the paper is clean and the elastic strap is durable. I have had a lot of different notebooks over the past few years and I have never had a problem with a Cartesio journal, which is more than I can say with most of the others.


  • Clear text using ballpoint pen, water-based marker and fountain pen
  • Ink dries quickly and sinks well into the paper
  • High-quality materials and manufacture
  • Pale ivory color is easy on the eyes
  • Thick, acid-free paper with more tooth than most
  • Good ink saturation and contrast
  • Pebble textured, recycled leather cover in a variety of colors


  • Some showthrough and bleedthrough on the reverse side of the paper
  • Feathering on roll pens and permanent markers
  • Only 19 lines per page

Overall, I like using the Cartesio notebook especially with my fountain pen. I like the way the ink was accepted on the paper and that there were minimal raised areas on the backside of the paper. Because the paper is so accepting, I would imagine that some fountain pens and rollerball pens will bleed through a bit depending on the ink you are using. If you use ballpoint pens or if you don’t mind experimenting with your writing tools, the Cartesio is an excellent choice. It feels better made and has higher quality materials than the Moleskine or Markings journals. The firm, flexible cover is more accommodating to use than the hard cover notebooks and is the only one in the test that is textured.

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