Sunday, 26 August 2018

Leuchtturm lined slim softcover notebook

My good friend Stu, from Nero's Notes sent me a couple of notebooks recently. One was this little number; the other was from Poach My Lobster, and a review of that will be coming soon. Although these were a gift, these are my honest views on the notebook.

Stu knows my penchant for slightly differently sized books (see all my recent posts on B5 and B6 stuff). I find that A5 can be a little bit big for a handbag, but A6 is a bit too small for me. I've slowly been shifting towards B-sizes, using B5 for writing notebooks (see hereherehere and here), and looking at using B6 for a Traveller's Notebook (see here). So both of these notebooks were a brilliant size for me.

The Leuchtturm softcover slim notebook measures 125 mm x 190 mm (making it almost B6 size:125 mm * 176 mm). It would fit in my B6 TN cover, but it would be as tall as the cover (probably making the stringing a bit tight - I don't know, I've not tried it). But, I don't want this for my TN, I want it as a satellite notebook to keep in my handbag! The one I was sent is lined, but they are also available in dot grid or plain.
[click on any image to enlarge; apologies for the contrast/colour casts. It's Scotland and dreich today!]

The cover is thinnish vinyl-coated card. It's sturdy enough to cope with being knocked about in my handbag, but not so thick it adds weight. There are the usual Leuchtturm features - the vertical elastic closure, the envelope in the back cover and the page-markers. There were also stickers for labelling the book for archive (I never use these. If anyone needs any, I probably have lots to give away).

The notebook has an "If found, please return to..." section on the first page. I never actually fill these in. Aren't you just giving your address away? I do use them to indicate what the book has been used for, though.

On the reverse of that page is a notification of the size:

In my notebook, this first page was glued to the next page, hence the odd crease on the right-hand side.

Following this, are 2 pages for a table of contents. There are 26 lines per page (therefore 52 in total) and 123 pages in the book, so you'd better write long notes that span more than one page. I've never really understood why there aren't bigger tables of contents in these books. Since the page following the double-spread is blank, you have space to overflow, but couldn't it have had the TOC there too?

The layout of the note pages is as follows:

At the top of each page, on the outer edge, is a space for the date:

Each page is numbered on the bottom outer edge:

Top margin is 12 mm. Bottom margin is 10 mm. Line spacing is narrow, at 6 mm. I don't really mind the narrow ruling, though others may find it a bit tight. There are 28 lines to the page.

There are two page markers. One was green to match the cover and elastic; the other was chequered. They are both decent lengths (can't be doing with markers that only just scrape past the page) and the fact they are different is helpful.

page markers next to elastic closure
Zoom in to show the difference

Okay. Pen tests. Uh oh.

I had a handful of fountain pens inked. One of them is just horrible on almost all paper (a Pilot parallel calligraphy pen - I did the title with that). The Rosetta and the Conklin can be a bit wet, depending on the paper. The other two pens are usually fabulous on most paper. Since other people might not use fountain pens, I also used some rollerballs/gel pens/biros.

The Pilot parallel feathered, but to be fair, I'd never use it in a book like this.

The others didn't feather at all and showed some beautiful shading with the inks.

The others didn't feather or skip either:

But what did the other side look like?

Not great, to be honest. I don't know if Leuchtturm have changed their paper, but I don't remember it being quite so bad. It also feels more like 70 gsm than the stated 80 gsm. Others may not mind this amount of ghosting, but it's too much for me. The Pilot parallel also bled through, but as I've said, that's probably an unfair test.

Reverse of the Pilot parallel
reverse of the Rosetta and Conklin
reverse of the rest

Okay, so much for pens... what about pencil?

To be honest, these were much better! The paper is smooth, but with enough tooth to make writing in pencil great.

For use, it needed a pen-loop, but I have several Leuchtturm self-adhesive ones, so stuck a black on on (and yes, those are marks to ensure it was exactly in the centre of the book. I'm like that!):

Overall verdict:


  • Nice sized notebook with a good number of pages. Not so many you'll be using it forever; not so few you feel cheated
  • Lightweight - with pen loop and pencil attached, the notebook weighs 178g (I think the loop and pencil might weigh 5-6 g in total)
  • Table of contents in the front
  • Space for noting the date
  • Numbered pages
  • The last few pages are perforated (I hadn't actually noticed... it says it on the label and lo and behold, when I looked properly, they were indeed! If you never wanted to tear them out, they would stay in very securely)
  • Two ribbon markers in different material
  • Thread-bound, so lays flat (with a little help)
  • Back pocket for storing odds and ends
  • A range of colours (see Nero's Notes pages for the range)
  • Nice paper for pencils


  • The fountain pen friendliness has gone (I note the label says "high ink compatability" but I have no idea what that's supposed to mean)
  • No integral pen-loop (though these are pretty cheap and easy to buy)
  • Came wrapped in single-use plastic

At the moment I am deep into writing the second book of a trilogy and so ideas can come to me all day and all night. I have a writing notebook, where all the notes relating to the book are kept, but pretty often ideas for a totally different bit of the book can come to me while I'm working, or come to me when I'm out and about, so a satellite notebook where I can jot them down and then put them in the main book when appropriate is incredibly useful. I've stuck a pen-loop in it and am keeping a pencil in it and this little lovely is always with me.

If you want to get one, pop over to Nero's Notes. They stock them in 5 colours: pink, yellow, green, orange, and blue (links take you straight to the correct page for the colour, hopefully!). If you don't fancy them lined, they are also available in dot or plain.

pencil is Stabilo Othello 2B = 1 1/2

Thanks again to Stu for sending me one of these. As I say, all opinions are mine and are not influenced by the fact this was a gift.

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