Friday, 4 October 2013

Review of Paperchase 2013-14 18 month organiser refill

Goodness. Work has become very busy and stationery reviews and blog posts are piling up, waiting to be written. I’ve changed the set-up in my filofax, I have some glorious writing paper to review, an A5 diary and leather covers to coo about and half a dozen other things...

But, time is of the essence and some of you may be thinking about 2014 inserts and wondering what other non-Filofax brands are like. I know that I have been very curious about the Paperchase ones in particular and eventually bought the 18 month version the other day. Neither the packaging on the inserts nor the online catalogue description are especially enlightening, so I thought I would give you a full run-down of what’s in the packet and what it’s like, before I tackle all the other reviews that are piling up! Hence, picture-full post. Click to enlarge the pictures.

I bought the 18-month week on two pages version. Regular readers may already be going ‘huh????’ at that (since I have written SO much about week + notes being so perfect for me... more on all that another day!). Some of you might also be thinking ‘hang on, that diary started in July and now it’s October – isn’t that a waste?’ and it would be, if it were not for the fact that both the 18-month version and the 12 month version (starting January 2014) are the same price: £5. I figured that I might as well get the fuller version – I can always use the extra days for scrap paper/shopping lists etc.

Walk through:
The ‘this is what you’re buying’ cover sheet of the diary is useless as it doesn’t really show you anything like what you’re buying. This cover sheet implies that there is a stripy pattern down the side of the pages, like on some of the other Paperchase inserts. There isn’t. It also implies that the line spacing on the days is 5mm. It isn’t. It also implies that the total height for a day on the diary is 2cm. It isn’t. All in all, not all that useful (and why I’m going to give you the kind of detailed walk-through I would have liked to have had before buying).

So, what IS in there?
As well as the diary, there are 6 labelled dividers. I find them a bit confusing as I’m not sure quite what the differences between ‘agenda’, ‘planner’ and ‘diary’ are. I would just use one of them. The other labels are ‘information’, ‘addresses’ and ‘notes’. All of the labels are in a sans serif font and with no capitals. I quite like them and the dividers are also quite sturdy, made of a slightly shiny white card.

Behind the dividers was a card cover to the diary. All very pretty etc, but not any use to me.

Behind that was a page for personal data – single sided, same font as the dividers.

After that was a year calendar on a page for 2013, with the 2014 version on the reverse. Again, I don’t really use these, but I know others do.

Then there were several pages for listing significant dates in 20131 and another set for 2014: 6 months per side.

After that were three weeks of timetable pages – one week split over two sides (though not to view). Not enough to cover a term, so I’m not sure of their use.

Then there were two months to a side year-planners: May to Dec 2013 and a full set for 2014.

The diary started after that.

The diary I got was a week to view (week on two pages; WO2P; WTV etc.). At the top of the page, a lot of space (too much in my mind) is taken up with the month and year – e.g. July 13. I find this a bit annoying as my brain immediately thought it was a page for the 13th July. It also annoyed me by taking up a lot of real estate, but I suppose there is still some white space around it for noting things for the week.

The left-hand page covers Monday to Wednesday. Each day has 4.5cm (vertically) of page, with 7 line spaces of 6.5mm.

The right-hand page has Thursday and Friday with the same 4.5cm space, and (inevitably) Saturday and Sunday sharing the same 4.5cm, with 4 lines each (and yes, that makes their line-spacing 5.5mm not 6.5mm and if your little Virgoan brains squeak like mine does at that kind of thing, if you keep looking at that, it will annoy you!). When I rule the stationery world and people ask me about that kind of thing, I will suggest that 8 lines for the days instead of 7 isn’t a disaster and would at least keep the same line spacing across the days...

After the diary comes some address pages. Irritatingly, the first side of these comes on the reverse side of the last diary page (which would mean that it could never go behind the divider and would always have the wrong dates on it if you moved it from year to year...). Again, when I rule the stationery world, they won’t do that. There are 5 sheets of ‘name address’ (plus one side on the back of the diary). They are fairly free-form with two columns indicated by a gap in the lines. There are 21 line spaces and the spacing is just shy of 6.5mm.

Following this are 8 notes pages. 21 line spaces; same line spacing.

Then there are 5 pages of quadrille paper. The quadrille doesn’t cover the whole sheet, it stops for the holes. The squares are 4.3mm x 4.3mm apart from the very top of the page, which has 4.3mm width x 5.5mm height boxes. The page has 19 boxes x 38 (+ a taller one at the top).

Next up is a lurid pink/orange/peach plain sheet. It might potentially be called ‘salmon’ but is quite horrible coloured. There are 6 sheets of it and they feel like they are proper coloured paper (i.e. the colour goes all the way through, unlike Filofax coloured paper which is coated in the colour, and which is why pen ink beads up so badly on it).

It's not nearly as nice as this indicates.
Imagine adding orange highlighter
Then there are 7 pages of a very blue paper. Again the paper feels as if it is proper coloured paper, not coloured by a surface application of colour. There are 21 line spaces with the same line-spacing as the notes pages and a large top margin (again, the same size as in the other pages).

The very last page (not pictured) is the back ‘cover sheet’ which has the brand labels etc. on it.

Pen tests:
After the horrors of recent pen tests on some notebooks, this has started to be an area I dread, but, I did them.
The paper didn’t cope with fountain pen at all. The ink soaked in, the lines feathered badly and bleed-through was quite bad. If you look closely at the pictures, you can see vertical lines appearing in the feathering – I think this is related to how the paper has been made.

Close-up: fountain pens
Close-up: non-fountain pens
Close-up: reverse of fountain pens
Close-up: reverse of non-fountain pens

The other pens were okay. For some reason the purple Pilot hi-tec feathered and bled a bit, but the others didn’t.
In fairness, I would be unlikely to use a fountain pen in the diary in my filofax, and so the other pen tests are more useful (to me at least).

How does the paper compare to Filofax paper?
The colour of the Paperchase paper is much brighter white and the overall design is crisper and cleaner-looking; less fussy and cluttered than the Filofax version. Below are the two pages side by side for comparison. The space for the day in the Filofax version is 5cm (c.f. 4.5 in the Paperchase version) but the day spaces feel bigger in the Paperchase version. That might because of the single language. Certainly Sunday feels better without that mini-calendar cluttering the place up!

As for the pen tests – well, the Filofax paper coped with biro and very little else. Certainly not the other pens I want to be able to use in my diary to colour-code things. Filofax notepaper copes fine with almost anything I throw at it – why can’t they just make their diaries out of that paper?

Reverse - close-up of fountain pens
Reverse - close-up of non-fountain pens
Reverse - close-up of more non-fountain pens

All in all:
It is much more pleasing on the eye (to me) than the standard Filofax version. It is also much better value than the Filofax version. Even discounting the dividers and other extra sheets and comparing 18-month diary with 12-month diary, the Paperchase version is £5 and the Filofax version is £7 for an August 2013-July 2014 version (WO2P; unlined) or £7.50 for a January 2014-December 2014 WO2P, lined version. A set of dividers on the Filofax site is £2.75 for the cream standard ones or £3 for the coloured, removable tab versions.

I’m certainly glad I bought it (line spacing changes and assault-on-the-retina coloured paper notwithstanding!). More soon on why I have gone back to WO2P and am not still using week + notes.


  1. I am salivating. I already bought my inserts for the next three years in my preferred formats (because I use undated and found them on clearance), but there is no luxury in them. These look yummy. If only the layout worked for me...

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  3. Where do you get paper refills for the paper chase organisers. I have an A5 organiser but need more paper.

    1. Paperchase do a relatively limited range. Filofax A5 is the same hole-spacing and have a wider range. If you're happy to print, cut and punch your own, head over to Philofaxy ( for a big range of inserts (look on the diary page or the inserts page along the top menu).