What is a bullet journal?
A bullet journal is part journal, part planner, and part to-do list; the exact ratios depends on the owner of the bullet journal and how they use it. All you need is a pen and a notebook to start a bullet journal, but there are some extras you can get to add a little extra flair.
The pen is one of the most important parts of your supplies since bullet journaling You can use any pen to get started, but if you want to be picky there are some pens that are better than others. There are different qualities you can look at when picking a pen.
0.5 mm is my favourite for day-to-day, but I use 0.1 mm and 0.3 mm when I want finer details. A lot of pens that you would find around an office are 0.7 mm or 1.0 mm; I personally don’t like how these write. My favourite all-purpose pen right now is the uni-ball deluxe micro 0.5 mm roller point black pen.
A fountain pen uses water-based ink which flows from the ink reservoir into the nib of the pen. The ballpoint and roller point pens both also have a reservoir from which ink flows, but there is a ball at the tip which gets coated in ink. The difference between the two is the type of ink they use.
Ballpoint pens have thick, oil-based ink which dries quickly but appears dull. Rollerpoint pens have either gel or water-based ink, the latter of which is the slowest drying ink, but appears the most vibrant due to the larger number of pigments which reach the paper. Gel ink is a mix of oil and water-based. A benefit of oil-based inks is that since they dry quicker they are less prone to smudging, which is extra helpful for left-handed people.
A felt pen has a felt nub through which ink flows. Brush pens work like felt pens except they are finer at the tip and wider at the base, and are often used for calligraphy. I’m a big fan of this set of three black brush pens by Kelly Creates.
I like to stick to black pens in my bullet journal, although I have a blue 0.5 mm roller point pen I like to use for school work. Some people prefer lots of colour, and it can be fun using colour all over you spreads! You can get big sets of colourful felt markers or small sets of colourful roller point pens.
You can even get sets of pens and highlighters in one colour palette if you want a coherent colour scheme throughout your journal.
You can get lined, dotted, grid, or blank notebooks. There are pros and cons to each and it largely depends on how you plan on using your bullet journal.
A big benefit is that it’s really easy to find lined notebooks, and you can also get them a lot cheaper than the other styles. There are a lot more options for how the journal actually looks. A downside is that you don’t have vertical references like you do with dotted or grid notebooks, so drawing columns of even thickness requires extra measuring. Lined paper may be for you if you’re looking to do lots of writing.
Grid paper makes it easy to draw graphs, trackers, or boxes, however, some people may not enjoy the vertical lines when trying to write.
This is my personal favourite for bullet journaling; it has the benefits of graph paper but I like how the pages appear almost blank.
In 2019 I used a Dingbats dotted notebook which was extremely durable and the paper was quite thick. This year I’m using an emerald dotted leuchtturm1917, which I talked about in my 2020 bullet journal setup. I got my journal at a bookstore. Online store like Indigo always have gorgeious journals and planners.
A blank notebook might be a good choice if you want to do collages or paintings in your journal. If you want to write on a straight-line however, you’ll either have to trace the lines yourself or be a very careful writer.
Moleskine is a brand I’ve used before for bullet journaling. They hold up alright and the paper is pretty good, but you are paying a bit for the brand name. But they have a really large selection of plain, grid, dot, and lined notebooks in tons of colours so you should be able to find a combination you like!
Ruler and Stencils
A clear 15 cm (6 inches) ruler comes in handy when setting up pages in your planner. I’ve also seen people who use stencils for drawing uniform shapes.
Washi tapes are colourful masking tape you can use in your bullet journal as a kind of sticker. I think a good place to start is a set of solid colour washi tapes since they’re easy to incorporate. You can get different tones, like this set of natural colour washi tapes that I think is super pretty!!
A lot of washi tapes have prints on them and come in sets with matching colours, like these blue and purple astronomy washi tapes or these pastel and gold abstract washi tapes. There are even Christmas washi tapes!
There are tons of stickers made for planners you can get, but if you like the look of lots of art in your planner, you can also get packs of stickers that you can put anywhere in your bullet journal! Just remember to be careful with stickers that have 3D details since they can get in the way while writing on other pages. And that sucks.
If this list seems overwhelming, don’t worry! You don’t need all this extra stuff to get started. At a minimum, all you need is a pen and a notebook. Start with the basics, see what works for you, and then you can expand into the extra stuff.
Let me know if you use any of my suggestions in your bullet journal!