For those college students who don’t want to use their tablets to take notes, choosing the best notebooks for college is critical. There are different factors to consider when selecting the perfect paper notebook that fits your needs, including the cover design, size of the lines, number of pages, and more. You want a durable notebook that will best fit your style and your budget, helping you take notes and retain all that great knowledge – especially for exam time.
Below we’ll explore some of the best picks on Amazon to help you choose the best notebook for you, but we know that college students are often in a hurry, so here’s the CliffsNotes version.
Top 5 College Notebooks at a Glance
- Best Overall: Five Star Notebooks
- Great Value: TOPS/Oxford 1-Subject Notebooks (Six Pack)
- Chic Design: Cheer Up Spiral Notebook
- Reusable Notebook: Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook
- Non-Spiral Notebook: Mead Composition Book
The right notebook can make or break your note-taking. It needs to be durable so you can tote it between different places like classes, home, the library, and more! You may want a single notebook with different subjects, a hardcover instead of a soft plastic one, one with numbered pages and a dot grid, or something else.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for notebook types! You have many options to choose from to meet your school and studying needs. Here are some of the highest-rated notebooks based on average reviews – you won’t regret checking these out and sharing the notebook picks with other students.
Best Notebooks for College Students in 2021 Reviewed
1. Five Star Spiral Notebook
Five Star notebooks are popular with college students for taking notes because of their high quality, ruled pages, durability, and organization features. The reviews are that its utilitarian plastic cover doesn’t distract, and the ruled paper is easy to write on, and the ink won’t bleed through the page. Five Star is a huge name in the spiral notebook game, and they are a staple in many students’ backpacks because they like its durability, high-quality paper, and price.
Students can choose from 5 Star college-ruled or wide-ruled paper and single subject or multiple subject notebooks, among other features. There is a tear-resistant folder at the beginning and between subjects (if applicable) to help keep you organized in a single notebook. The 5 star pages are easy to write on and won’t catch your pen or let the ink bleed through the pages, helping you use every page with ease.
This quality notebook is one of the best college notebooks available and most popular based on average reviews. The Five Star spiral notebooks come in different colors and are affordable. The 5-star notebooks have enough pages to last all year, and the spiral features a spiral lock to prevent it from unwinding throughout the year. The plastic cover on the front of the 5-star notebook is water-resistant to protect all of your important notes. And, if you need to rip anything out of the notebook, the pages are perforated for easy tearing – those jagged edges are a thing of the past!
The option listed here is for a five-subject notebook, but there are single-subject notebooks, three-subject notebooks, different designs, and more available. With the number of choices, there will be a Five Star spiral notebook for you – all you need to do is pick one! It is one of the best notebooks for a reason, and there are thousands of five and four-star average reviews to support that.
2. TOPS/Oxford 1-Subject Notebooks (Six Pack)
There are six spiral notebooks in this set, making it the best value on this list. The price is right, and it has awesome reviews, making it a good spiral notebook for your note-taking in college. The TOPS/Oxford college ruled, spiral notebooks comes in a six-pack, with various colors helping you organize your notebooks by class with ease. They have 70 sheets of ruled paper per book, so you might need to add a notebook to get you through the year, but it is still the best value. The paper is standard size, with perforated edges making it easy for you to rip out pages with ease.
The no-snag coil add prevents the notebooks from unraveling or catching on surfaces. The paper’s smooth surface will prevent your pen from jumping on the notebook pages, providing a clean, readable set of notes, which is best for that end-of-the-quarter test! The notebook pages are thinner but still have minimal ink bleeding, and every page is punched with three holes, which can fit easily in a binder for storage and organization.
These are standard spiral notebooks for school, nothing fancy, but they work well, and you will get an awesome value for the price when you buy this set – with the average reviews saying the same thing. There are six notebooks for you to use when you are taking notes at school, and the different color covers that are available will let you assign a color to a class, so you will never take the wrong notebook with you again.
3. Cheer Up Spiral Notebook
The reviews are in, and these chic colors are too cute to pass up for your college notebooks! Four subjects, 240 ruled pages, you can keep all your classes in one college-ruled notebook with bright cover colors – and they feature the best motivation on the cover … cheer up! The bright cover colors of the Cheer Up Spiral Notebook will draw your attention, but you’ll stay for the convenience of these two notebooks!
These notebooks come in a two-pack with four subjects that feature different color dividers. There are 240 standard size pages in each notebook. The notebooks are college ruled, won’t let ink, pen, or pencil bleed through when you use them and are secured with a tight spiral bound that has a spiral lock to prevent snags.
The dual wire bound on these notebooks works well to hold your notes even more securely than others on the list, and the price is not too high for these notebooks based on the number of subjects you can get in one notebook for school.
Each section in the notebooks is clearly noted with a tab and cover page for writing the section name on the first page, and you can use the front and back to write without worrying, no matter if you use a pen or pencil. This notebook feels more like a mix between a binder and a spiral notebook, but that’s a good thing! The durable plastic cover will protect all your notes stylishly and securely; however, there is no pocket to help secure loose papers.
This spiral notebook set works well for college students on the go who want to add a little brightness to their day while keeping the convenience of one notebook. And the cover design even says cheer up to bring a smile to your face. You can choose from the following available pairs when selecting your two notebooks: pink and green, pink and blue, blue, and orange. The colors are so striking you won’t be able to pick … you’ll want them all!
4. Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook
This notebook is a great mix of traditional and modern, letting you physically write and record your notes digitally – the best of both worlds. It isn’t as thick as other notebooks, but even so, it will help take your college studying to new limits. The Rocketbook notebook is a great reusable notebook that works well for eco-friendly school students – with a twist!
It is high quality and high tech, saving time for the student on the go. 36 pages feature a dot grid, and you can write on one side or both. To use, start writing with the included Pilot Frixion pen. Note that there is a dry time associated with this notebook. Be sure to let it dry for 15 seconds, and this time will allow the writing to bond to the specialized pages. You can even organize your notes using several cloud-based services, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote, Slack, and more. All you have to do is download the Rocketbook application from the app store, and you’ll get started in no time.
Once you fill up the pages, wipe them clean with a damp cloth. This is more than your average college student notebook, and its AI technology lets you search your notes in no time by computer or phone vs. scanning your notebook. This is executive size vs. standard paper size, making it slightly smaller than others on the list, coming in at 6 x 8.8 in. However, there are different colors and sizes that you can choose from, all of which are high quality and will perform well for all your school needs.
The pages are made of synthetic materials that allow for smooth writing you will get used to in no time. It comes with a Pilot FriXion pen and a microfiber towel. With more than 31,000 reviews, it is a notebook built for the digital age – and you may earn some attention for using one of the digital options in school! It recreates the typical note-taking experience and marries it with the search and find function and accessibility of digital note-taking.
5. Mead Composition Book
If spiral notebooks aren’t your thing, the Mead Composition Books are for you! These notebooks are held together with binding, wide ruled and have 100 pages for all your writing needs at college – all backed up with great reviews. The Mead Composition Books are great for writing because they lay flat on any surface, and their marble cover will add a little flair to your notebook. Unlike others on the list, these notebooks are wide ruled and come in a variety of colors. There are 100 sheets of paper, letting you write on each side with ease because they are thick enough to prevent ink from bleeding.
The inside cover includes a place for writing your schedule, multiplication tables, conversion tables, and grammar rules. These will come in handy at college – you never know! The pages are smaller than a standard size, coming in 9.75 and 7.5 inches. The black cardboard cover won’t prevent damage like plastic ones, and the sewn binding makes it harder to tear out the paper if you need to turn something in.
But these notebooks are classic for a reason – and college students love the look and feel. This notebook is one of the best available, a great value for the number you get. It has awesome average reviews with many four and five stars. It will add something special to your note-taking and could even make you feel better about being prepared for your classes!
When you’re looking to buy the best notebooks, you will want to keep some mind features. To make the best decision, take a look at the average reviews. Add in if there’s anything specific you need, and you will be well on your way to getting the best notebook for you.
A big feature to consider is the type of line in your notebook. Typical options that are available include college ruled, wide ruled, unlined, or dot grid. If you’re taking notes, you’ll likely want some lines, but the width will depend on your preference.
The cover design may not seem like a big deal – especially if you’re not choosing based on aesthetics – but the available material makes a huge difference. Plastic and hardcover will protect your notes from water and general wear and tear. They are more durable than a cardboard cover, though those are likely to have more fun design options.
Number of Subjects
Will you have one notebook per class? Or are you looking to condense multiple within the same notebook? You can get two or more subjects in a single bound notebook, separated by a pocket folder, so it is something to consider when you choose your next notebook. Your notebook will be thick if there are multiple subjects and maybe heavier to carry.
Number of Pages
Smaller notebooks have only 70 pages, while others have more than 100 pages. The more pages, the less likely you are to run out in a class; however, you are likely to have leftover pages if you have too many. You’ll need to strike a balance – or resign yourself to reusing notebooks so as not to be wasteful!
Frequently Asked Questions
You might have some questions when deciding on the best notebooks for you, and a few of these are answered below! Ultimately, there are plenty of options to choose from, but you’ll want to get the notebook with the best quality and the best average reviews. That will help you find the top pick and best notebook available for you.
What is the Difference Between College-Ruled and Wide-Ruled Paper?
These types of notebooks are different because of the width of the lines. College is thinner, meaning you can fit more on a page, while you will find that with wide-ruled pages, you have more space available for your writing. Younger students typically use wide-ruled paper, while older students have honed their handwriting and can write in smaller college lines. Either will be great for taking notes and test-taking – it just makes a difference in how many pages in the notebooks you use. Writing on a wide-ruled paper tends to take more pages.
Does the Cover Really Make a Difference?
The type of cover really does! Notebooks with plastic covers on top are more resistant to damage to take a water spill better than cardboard covers. You will find that your notes will be in the best shape because it adds an extra layer of protection, making you feel safer in case of an accident. There are different types available, but ultimately you want to pick based on color or design.
Why Does Paper Type Matter?
The thinner the paper, the more likely it is that the ink will bleed. This means that you will be unable to use the opposite side of the paper because it already has markings on it from the top side, making fewer pages available for use. If you don’t plan to, you don’t have to worry about the paper types as much. If you do, you should choose a thick paper that can handle writing well.
Why Do I Need Folders?
Pocket folders within notebooks add value to notebooks by helping promote organization, but they can also cause your notebook to be thick. You may want a separate folder to keep all your documents; however, the pocket folder can be used to bring homework, separate notes or paper, and more.
What Pens Should I Use?
It depends on your preference! Some pens for note-taking can bleed through the page, so you’ll need to be careful about the paper type and the thickness. The ruled paper makes it easier to write, but grid paper is better for drawing.