Ready to start your bullet journal?
Picking your bullet journal supplies can be one of the most fun parts of bullet journaling!
For stationery addicts like me – I can spend hours in a stationery shop, deciding between a rose pink or dusky pink highlighter – not much beats the thrill of testing out a new pen on a fresh new journal page.
It’s important to remember that you don’t need all kinds of fancy supplies. The original bullet journal creator, Ryder Carroll, uses nothing but a simple notebook and a plain black pen.
But if you want to get creative, gorgeous bullet journal supplies are a fun and relatively cheap way to treat yourself and improve the look of your journal. So why not indulge?
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Bullet journal essentials
When you first set up your bullet journal, there are some basic supplies you can’t do without. As for the more elaborate items, you can pick those up along the way.
So what are the absolute bullet journal essentials?
The great thing about starting a bullet journal is that you only need a basic notebook and pen of your choosing; it does not have to be fancy or elaborate.
You can get started with bullet journaling with just a basic spiral-bound notebook or composition book – the sort you can pick up from any supermarket or dollar store. Or, you might want to invest a little more money into a leather-bound journal with ribbon book markers.
Personally, I like to spend a bit more on my journal because it’s with me all day, every day, and it makes me happy 🙂
But if you’re still not sure whether this whole bullet journal thing’s for you, go ahead and get started in any old notebook you have lying around. You can always move into a nicer book later.
(One more benefit of bullet journaling is you can start a new journal any time – it doesn’t have to be the start of a new year, or even a new month!)
The only other item you will need to get started is a pen. You can get creative later by using colored pencils, fine-tipped markers and even calligraphy pens, but any old pen will do for now!
Best bullet journal notebooks
Let’s kick off our look at essential bullet journal supplies with the most important thing of all: the notebook…
The Leuchtturm 1917 is probably the most popular bullet journal notebook out there, and it’s my personal favorite 🙂
Leuchtturm1917 Medium Size Hardcover Dotted Lemon
- EXECUTIVE NOTEBOOK OFFERS LOTS OF ROOM FOR JOTTING DOWN NOTES, MEMOS, AND LISTS to help you stay organized
- NOTEBOOK HAS A DURABLE HARD COVER, so you can toss it in your briefcase or bag without worry of bending or damage
- TABLE OF CONTENTS IN THE FRONT OF THE NOTEBOOK lets you organize the notebook's contents for fast reference and the built-in bookmark saves your place
- INCLUDES 249 NUMBERED PAGES, so you can use it for an extended period of time
- LAY-FLAT DESIGN MAKES READING THE CONTENTS EASY and adds efficiency to note-taking
The Leuchtturm 1917 is a gorgeous hard-backed journal that almost seems made for bullet journaling! It has pre-printed page numbers and space for an index at the front, so that immediately saves you a bit of time with the set up. There’s a pocket at the back for loose notes, and label stickers to go on the front and spine.
You can buy it in literally dozens of beautiful rainbow colors, and every now and then they even have special limited edition designs.
The Leuchtturm 1917 is available with a choice of dot grid, squared grid, lined or blank pages. All work for bullet journaling – the page style you choose is up to you.
Dot grid and squared pages are the most popular for bullet journaling because they make it easy to draw boxes and grids for trackers and calendars. The dot grid style is most popular among people with an arty bullet journal, because it has the most white space for your creative designs and doodles, while still providing some structure.
Personally I like the lined Leuchtturm because I have a very simple, minimalist bullet journal (no drawings!) and that’s what works for me.
The Moleskine notebooks are another popular choice for a bullet journal. They come in a range of sizes, but most people will go for the A5. You also have a choice of grid, dotted, plain or lined paper.
Moleskine Classic Notebook, Large, Squared, Black, Hard Cover (5 x 8.25)
23 used from $14.55
- Layout: Squared Paper
- Dimensions: 5" x 8-1/4"
- Hard Cover with elastic closure and bookmark ribbon
- Internal Accordion Pocket
You can get Moleskine notebooks with a soft cover, which is a good choice for those who find Leuchtturms too clunky. They are stylish and professional looking.
The pages are a little bit thinner than Leuchtturm paper, so maybe not such a good choice if you intend to do art in your bullet journal.
They also don’t come in as many colors.
But still, Moleskines are a good, solid choice for your first bullet journal.
Rhodia Softback notebook
I haven’t tried a Rhodia myself yet, but I love the way they look with their bright colors and contrasting band!
Rhodiarama Dot 5.8X8.3 inch Sapphire Notebook
- Leatherette soft cover
- 80 sheets of smooth dotted paper
- Orange ribbon marker
- Orange expanding inner pocket
- Color: Sapphire
Rhodias have a super soft leatherette cover with a lovely texture.
I’ve read that the paper is very good quality – perfect for drawing or calligraphy.
This is next on my list to try.
Best pens for your bullet journal
When you start bullet journaling, all you really need is a simple black or blue pen. Any old ballpoint will do.
But of course, if you have a gorgeous pen that you really enjoy using, your everyday bujo experience will be much more fun 🙂
Here are some of the best plain pens for bullet journaling:
Pilot G-2 gel pens
These pens are cheap and cheerful, but still good quality! I love the way they write smoothly on the page.
Pilot G2 Assorted Colors Gel Pen 20 Count
1 used from $19.99
- Writes 2X longer than other branded gel pens, ISO Independent Testing, Data on File, Pilot Corp of America
- Contoured rubber grip for writing comfort
- Pack of 20 assorted color Fine Point 0.7 mm pens (5 black, 2 blue, 1 each: burgundy, caramel, green, hunter green, lime, navy, orange, pink, purple, periwinkle, red, teal, and turquoise)
- Retractable and refillable for continued use
They are cheap enough to buy in bulk and not worry if they go missing. You can get multipacks of these just in black or blue (perfect for every day writing) or a mixed color pack, perfect for adding some simple color to your bullet journal.
They come in colors from standard brights, to pastels, to metallic effect!
Sharpie fine pens
These pens are relatively cheap but great quality for a simple black or blue pen. You get a nice strong line, and they don’t bleed through the paper.
Sharpie 1742660 Blue Fine Point Pen 2 Count
- Fine Point Pen, Blue ink
- Smear resistant ink , Fine point, 2 count
- Permanent on paper
- Water resistant, acid free
- Will not bleed through paper
Sakura Manga Comic Pro pens
If you like line drawings, you’ll want a set of these! These pens are designed in Japan for professional manga (comic) artists. They’re available in a pack of six with varying nip sizes to get a full range of effects.
Sakura 50201 6-Piece Pigma Manga Comic Pro Drawing Kit
- Pigma manga comic pro drawing kit
- Archival quality ink for use in acid-free environments
- Chemically stable, waterproof, and fade resistant
- No smears, feathers, or bleed-through on most papers
- Set consists of 1 each pigma micron 005, 03, 08, 1 each graphic 1mm, 1 each brush all black, 1 each 0.7mm fixed sleeve mechanical pencil
Best decorative pens for your bullet journal
Here’s where the magic happens! Once you’ve got your bullet journal essentials sorted, you might start to think about some more interesting supplies.
For me, the next step up would be some pretty highlighters and colored pens. You can make a big difference to the aesthetics of your bullet journal with some simple color coding, even if that’s as far as your artistic skills go.
Highlighters are especially useful for marking important headers or events. You will quickly locate and identify an important upcoming event when you use a color-coded highlighting system in your journal.
Without a doubt, these are my favorite highlighters for my bullet journal. I adore the understated pastel colors – worlds away from those neon highlighters we all used in school! They even come in various color-coordinated packs of five, so you know your pages will always be coordinated.
Also, these pens are double tipped, so you can draw thicker or thinner lines with ease.
Zebra MILDLINER WKT7-5C (5-Color Set) / WKT7-5C-RC (5-Color Set) /WKT7-5C-NC (5-Color Set)3 pack
- Zebra Highlighter Mildliner
Tombow Dual Brush pens
If you’re into fancy hand lettering, calligraphy or doodles you need a set of these. They have a fine tip, perfect for illustrations, and a thicker tip that’s perfect for lettering. You can also use them for coloring in.
Tombow 56185 Dual Brush Pen Art Markers, Bright, 10-Pack. Blendable, Brush and Fine Tip Markers
1 used from $33.23
- Ideal for fine art, brush lettering, faux calligraphy, illustrations, water color illustrations, journaling and more!
- Set of 9 colors and 1 blender pen, with flexible brush tip and fine tip in one marker
- BRUSH TIP: Durable and flexible nylon fiber brush tip, creates medium or bold strokes by changing brush pressure
- FINE TIP: gives consistent lines
- Included colorless blender pen softens and blends colors, creating a watercolor effect
Stabilo Boss pastel highlighters
Ok, I’m a bit obsessed with highlighters. Look how pretty these colors are!
STABILO BOSS Original Pastel Highlighter Pens Highlighter Markers - Bumper Pack of 7
- Full Range Set of 6 STABILO BOSS Original Pastel Highlighters in STABILO branded packaging, with additional pastel yellow.
- Ultra Soft Chisel Tip 2-5mm
- Large Ink Reservoir for Extra-Long Highlighting Performance
- 4 Hour Anti-Dry-Out Technology
- Light Fast Pigment Ink Will not smudge ink jet print outs or most handwritten text
Beyond the basics
Once you have a basic understanding of bullet journaling and want to get more creative, a ruler and some correction tape become the next bullet journal essentials you may want to have on hand!
A flexible and transparent ruler makes it easy to create boxes and lines. This is especially useful for monthly spreads and calendar pages.
You will want to pick up one that is long enough to span the complete length of your bullet journal when it is fully opened.
Correction tape (white out tape) can also be useful for bullet journalers, especially in the early stages!
BIC Wite-Out Brand Exact Liner Correction Tape, White, 4-Count
- Natural shape with grip zone for comfortable, fast, and precise correcting
- Goes on dry, so you can write over tape immediately
- Strong, tear-resistant film-based tape
- Translucent dispenser lets you see how much tape is left
- 4 dispensers, each with 19.8 feet of white correction tape
You may go through several different adaptations as you experiment with new spreads and plan the perfect bullet journal for your lifestyle. Corrective tape will quickly become your new best friend.
The only problem is that most notebooks don’t have pure white pages, so you may feel your corrective tape stands out a lot. But if you re-write over the top you won’t really notice.
Getting fancy in your bullet journal
Once you have the basic layout and understanding, you can let your creative spirit free by customizing your journal in any way you desire!
A lot of people utilize page tabs in their journals for quick referencing and locating. You can buy special made page tabs for your bullet journal, or you could use post it notes or washi tape.
Washi tape actually counts as another bullet journal essential for me! As I mentioned, I actually have a very minimal bullet journal and I can’t draw or hand-letter for toffee, but washi tape is a simple way to add color and style.
MT Washi Masking Tapes, Set of 10, Bright Colors (MT10P003)
- 1 X Mt Washi Masking Tapes Set of 10 - Bright Colors
- Japanese washi masking from Japanese masking tape brand MT (Kamoi Kakoshi) tape, easy to stick and peal, good for decoration
- Model: MT10P003
Washi tape (or masking tape) comes in a huge variety of colors and patterns and is both easy and fun to use. Washi tape is a paper or tissue-based crafter’s tape with an adhesive back that is perfect for bullet journaling.
It can be used to create page markers and borders, or fill in empty spaces in your journal. You can also write over the top of it so it’s great for headers.
There is so much gorgeous washi tape out there and it can become a bit of a collectors item! I particularly like the Japanese brand MT. The washi trend originated in Japan and most of the best brands are from there.
Stickers are not for everyone, but again, they can be a quick and fun way to add interest to your bullet journal, particular if you’re not much of an artist! You can notate and mark special circumstances and upcoming events with coded stickers to serve as personal reminders.
In addition to purely decorative stickers, there are a lot of truly useful stickers that will save you time, such as these monthly calendar stickers.
Cordliya 2018 Calendar Stickers Monthly Tab Calendars for Bullet Journal/Planners/Agenda - 15 Months from February 2018 to April 2019-4 Sets Self Adhesive Tabs
- Little Monthly Calendar Stickers: Suitable for monthly calendar peel and stick index divider tabs, the tabs are nice and durable, you can stick it anywhere.
- New Arrivals: Calendars from April 2018 to June 2019, included 4 sets assorted colors - each set with 15 tabs, total 60 tabs.
- Fabulous Pattern: There are also some lovely designed patterns such as flowers and butterfly on the top of each set calendar sticker, good decorations for notebooks, planners, make it more lovely and you'll have a smile at the sight of open it.
- Easy to apply. Sticks to page, eliminating bulky divider sheets.
- Make a Unique Planner Now: A must have for bullet journal, personalized/homemade planners,diary,agenda,hardcover notebooks and so on. Save your time and help you keep notes organized by months.
I haven’t used stencils myself, but I know a lot of people swear by them to get a creative but consistent look.
Where to buy bullet journal supplies?
I would say the best place to buy bullet journal supplies is in a real life stationery shop. For me, stationery is a very tactile experience and I want to be able to feel the pages and test the pens before I buy.
But sadly, good stationery shops can be few and far between! If you don’t have a physical shop near you, the best place to buy your bullet journal essentials such as notebook and pens is Amazon. They stock all the major brands featured in this post, they’ll have the biggest array of colors and styles, and when you’re dealing with a major brand with good reviews it’s not such a risk anyway.
For fancier bullet journal goods such as washi tape, stickers and stencils, I turn to Etsy. Etsy is a marketplace for creative sellers. Many of the goods such as stickers are handmade and unique. They also have loads of printables which you simply print at home and paste in. Etsy also has a lot of cute imported stationery from Japan, Korea and Europe.
Let’s get journaling!
Remember, the best bullet journal supplies are the ones that get you to sit down and open your bullet journal every day. If they do that, they’re working for you.
What are your bullet journal essentials?