Today we’re going to talk about the five best paper to use for fountain pens. I get a lot of questions about, “Hey, I’m just getting into the fountain pen hobby,” or even people who’ve been in it for a while. “I’m looking for some new suggestions.” I thought I’d bring out my personal opinion for the top five papers. I’m sure there are some papers that I haven’t used, but these are my favorites.
Best Paper for Fountain Pens on the Market
In no particular order, I’m just going to talk about random ones. Let’s compare all paper so that you can decide which will work best for you.
Best Choice Overall
|Tomoe River FP Notebook|
The Gold Standard
|Rhodia A5 Webnotebook|
|Clairefontaine Basic Large Clothbound Notebook|
Best for Journaling
|Life Noble Note Ruled|
|BooQool Ruled Notebook|
1. Tomoe River FP Notebook – Best Paper for Fountain Pens
One that is not the standard but is a massive star and a big-time favorite of a lot of people (including me) is Tomoe River. This small little kind of light notebooks. Tomoe River is the kind of stuff I like to use just to write random thoughts. Sometimes scribble, doodle, writing samples when I film videos, like just the random stuff that I don’t plan on keeping. When I write through this notebook and all the pages are full, I’ll just toss it in the recycling.
Whereas, like journals and stuff like that, I will keep these pretty much forever. And that is so amazing about Tomoe River if you’re going to get all of the best properties from the ink. Tomoe is famous for showing lots of lots of shading, lots and lots of sheening because it doesn’t absorb through the paper. If you have an ink that is going to have any, any, I mean any characteristics, meaning like shading, sheening, shimmer, anything it’s going to show on Tomoe River paper. And that for a lot of people is a huge, huge bonus.
Even with ink that doesn’t have many of those qualities, it will still look a little extra special on Tomoe River paper. It is just fantastic. So I like Tomoe River. I use it almost every day. It makes your everyday writing amazing and smooth. So, your nib glides along. There’s no catching. But one thing I will say is that you generally have two different sizes or weights to this paper.
So, if you remember what I was saying with this guy, how this one’s 90 GSM, this is 80 GSM, and how typically you want to stay between 80 and a 100, Tomoe River breaks that rule, and it breaks it well. So, this one that I have in my hand is 52. So, now you’re probably thinking, well, that’s well below 80, like what are you doing? As I said, it handles fountain pen ink extraordinarily well, but you will have ghosting, full stop, late period, that’s it. You will have ghosting. You still don’t have much bleed through, but you will have ghosting if you’re familiar at all with the Midori Traveler’s notebook, which uses Tomoe River paper.
You can get just blank sheets. You can get notebooks, and you can get anything. Tomoe River is starting to become a little more popular. It used to be really difficult to get your hands on a notebook specifically of Tomoe River. And that’s because Tomoe River paper is pretty expensive by comparison. Paper, in general, is kind of expensive. Almost every piece of paper or notebook I use is A5 size.
Typically, you can get A4 or A6, just depending on what size you want. But Tomoe River is more expensive than most others. As you can see below, you get more sheets with Clairefontaine than you will with Tomoe. But this paper is fantastic. So, if you want to bring out your inks’ best quality, then definitely go for Tomoe River. Just know that you will have a good amount of ghosting.
Pros and Cons
2. Rhodia A5 Webnotebook – The Gold Standard of Notebooks
Speaking of gold standards, what you’re going to hear a lot about is Rhodia. And for a good reason, it is a very lovely standard piece of paper for fountain pen users. This is 80 GSM paper. Rhodia is what I would consider the standard of fountain pen paper. I like to use specifically their dot pad. Dot just means it’s a dot grid instead of lines or blank or anything like that.
I write all of my ink samples on Rhodia. All my writing samples, things like that. If I want to test out an ink I’ve never used before, I will test it first on Rhodia. The reason is the standard, in my opinion. So, you’re going to get a little bit of sheening, a little bit of shading. It’s not very absorbent. So, you’re going to be able to get some of those properties. But unlike a paper I’m going to talk about in a minute, it doesn’t bring out extra shading.
Some paper will lean towards more properties than the other. If I want to test out an ink I’ve never used before, to see its everyday characteristics, this is the paper that I will use that on. You can get Rhodia in basically any size, and you can get dark reds, you can get, I think French ruled. You can get lined, and you can get blank, you can get all kinds.
I go through a lot of journals. But Rhodia is the one I’ve been using for a long time, and I like it because I can use whatever ink I want. As you can choose from lots of different colors. You can use lots of different colors of ink, and you can use lots of different nib sizes. There are no restrictions. In my journal, when I flip through it and I’m using a very wet nib at a very broad nib, which I don’t typically lean towards the broad ones, but you’ll get like the smallest hint of ghosting, but it does not in any way hinder you from using both sides.
So, I strongly recommend Rhodia. As I said, I think this is the standard when it comes to fountain pen paper.
Pros and Cons
3. Clairefontaine Basic Large Clothbound Notebook – Best Budget-Friendly Paper
Clairefontaine notebook is just a little small notebook. But the paper in and of itself is basically one of the best papers. So, this one happens to be a Clairefontaine notebook. This one is 90 GSM paper. So when you’re looking for papers, you’re going to hear a lot of numbers. Like 80, 90, 120, things like that when it comes to that weight. Typically you’re to want to look between 80 and a 100. The reason is of that number because I have had some experiences with higher numbers of notebooks that are not fountainpen-friendly.
But typically between 80 and 100 GSM. It means that you won’t experience bleeding, ghosting, things like that. And I say not always because there’s going to be a little caveat to that, which I will get to. But Clairefontaine, this one is 90. This one happens to be a lined version. But what I like about Clairefontaine is it’s very smooth. It has a super smooth finish. You can’t really feel any texture to it. So, you have very soft writing experience. Nothing’s going to catch on your nibs.
So if you’re using a fine nib, extra-fine nib, and things like that, you would like smooth paper. The small point of the nib, doesn’t catch on the fibers of the paper. You don’t get any ghosting or show-through with this, except Sharpie. Sharpie is pretty much annihilating any paper I’ve ever tried. You definitely will have a few problems with that. But I’m sure, for fountain pens, Clairefontaine is perfect, and it is one of the gold standards as Rhodia.
Pros and Cons
4. Life Noble Note Ruled – Best Notebook for Journaling with Fountain Pen
Another one that has become a favorite, even though I never even really considered and it was another notebook actually that I use. Another one I use for my journal from 2016 to 2017 and that is the Life Noble Note. Life is a Japanese brand and they make a lot of paper in a ton of different ruling sizes. And this one I quite enjoyed. This paper, you’ll get a little bit of ghosting, just a little bit. But I’ve used thick nibs, I used a Sailor Zoom nib in this before, and that is just crazy.
No bleed-through, which is excellent. It does bring out a few of the ink’s properties, but it’s a bit more similar to Rhodia in the sense that it’s just like a standard paper. It’s not like Tomoe, where it’s going to bring out everything that’s there. But it performs well. The only time I ever used this, where it had a little bit of feathering, was when I used a De Atramentis Red Roses ink, but everything else I’ve thrown at it, has had zero issues with it. So, I think it was just a random quality of that specific ink. But Life is excellent. It’s a relatively inexpensive paper. I repeat it: paper for fountains pen, in general, is expensive. This notebook is about 80 GSM.
This one happens to be like a kind of a cream finish, but I know that they make white ones. Again, it’s pretty darn smooth. One thing I will say a little bit about this and that goes for Rhodia and some Tomoe Rivers as well, is that the smoother the finish is, the more pleasant the writing experience will be, especially again with finer nibs, so nothing catches.
It is a little susceptible to your oils from your hand. I have very dry hands, so I don’t encounter it very often. Sometimes I do notice that if you are writing at the top of the page and as you get down to the bottom, you can occasionally experience all of these notebooks, some skipping just because of the oils from your hand. So, that’s why sometimes you’ll see people use plastic sheets that they keep under the bridge of their hand so that as they move along, they don’t transfer any oils.
I have had that happen a couple of times on this, but it’s not because of this paper. It’s just mainly because of the oils from your hands, but I quite liked this one.
Pros and Cons
5. BooQool Ruled Notebook – The Notebook with Best Versatility
So, those four, the Noble Note, the Tomoe River, the Rhodia, and the Clairefontaine in my opinion, four of the best, but they’re a little bit more expensive. These two are going to be a little less expensive, just because they’re small, like little no nothing notebooks. Whereas the other two are more substantial, but one notebook, one paper, that I think deserves an honorable mention and a place in the top five because it’s less expensive. You can get it in a lot of different formats is Ruled Notebook.
I really actually liked this notebook. I went into this notebook with lower expectations because I had heard some bad things about this paper. I had heard that it ghosts, I had heard that it bleeds, that it’s not super pleasant to write on and I thought it deserved a better place. So, out of every notebook that I have here, you’ll notice I’m not getting into ruling sizes or anything like that because that depends on what kind of thing you’re getting into, not just the paper. But if you get ruled paper, the Ruled Notebook has much narrower lines. E.g., Clairefontaine has very large width. The space between the lines is very large.
The benefit to that means that this notebook is going to last you much, much longer because you get more lines per page. The downside, if you use large nibs, you may have a hard time cramming your writing into that little space. I don’t have very large writing, and I typically will use a fine to a medium. So, for me, it was no problem. The page, the fiber material is a little bit more, or I guess a little bit less smooth, I should say.
You will feel your pen running along with the paper a little bit more than any of the other notebooks. So, this is like writing with a buttery smooth nib with no feedback whatsoever. This is like writing with a fine nib with a small amount of feedback. It does have a little bit more of a catch. What I really like about this notebook, again it’s not just because it is a notebook, it is numbered, which is handy.
But the nice thing about this paper is that I’ve thrown a good amount of pens and ink at it and it does still handle it really well. There are few that don’t if it’s like kind of crazy, just thrown at it and bold, bold inks and stuff like that. And for whatever reason, a generic gel roller ball didn’t do well on this. But most of the time, 99% of the time, the ink did just fine with it. And again, if you’re using a super-fine nib, you will notice. So, this is a great paper to using to test out if your nib is tuned well. Because if you’re using an extra-fine, you are fine, and if you’re using it on a like Clairefontaine paper, for example, this paper forgives a little bit of variation in your nib.
If your tines are not perfectly aligned, that paper because it’s so smooth, it will forgive a little bit of that. This paper because there’s a little bit of tooth to the paper it will catch. So if your nib isn’t perfectly aligned, you will be able to tell on this notebook, and I suppose that’s a good thing because you want your tines to be aligned. But it’s also a bad thing because like I said, if you notice that you’re catching on this, it’s going to be susceptible to it. But I’ve used cursive metallics. I’ve used sharp pens on this before, and I’ve been okay. And I like the fact that this is much less expensive. You get a lot of bang for your buck on this. You can get huge sizes if you want.
The versatility of this paper is great. And for the fact that you can use 99% of things with it, I think it deserves mention. It’s one, and I think that is a little controversial with the fountain pen community, as I’m sure the comments will begin to show. Some people love this paper, and some people hate this paper. That’s why I said at the top of this article is my top five. So, that is why this guy is there.
Pros and Cons
Choosing the Best Paper for Your Fountain Pen
We talked about Clairefontaine, and we talked about Tomoe River. We talked about Rhodia, talked about Life Noble Note, and Ruled Notebook. What out of these five make them these five, is the fact that I lean towards them more often than anything else. I would recommend it to anyone, be it a fountain pen beginner or someone who’s been using fountain pens for 30 plus years.
And the fact that they come in all different sizes. If I could only choose one paper out of all of these, I’d probably choose Tomoe, if I’m quite honest. The Tomoe River paper just amazing. What it does to the ink is unparalleled. You will find nothing like it. And I appreciate that. It is more expensive. You can’t get like every single pen on it because if you throw a wet noodle to it, sometimes you will get a little too much ghosting.
And I do like to be able to use both sides of the paper but, Oh man, does it make your ink look good? And at the end of the day, isn’t that why we use paper in the first place? So, given one choice and one choice only, I would have to choose the Tomoe River paper. But that’s my top five. What’s yours? Let me know in the comment section below. If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or anything like that, definitely throw them down there as well.