In a world in which a touchscreen keypad is the preferred way to communicate, writers, students, business men and women—and anyone with a "To Do" list—still have a need for a word processor that is decidedly low tech: the paper notebook.
The spiral notebook is the most common paper notebook. Students are the biggest users, and for good reason. They are cheap. They come in many sizes, with most ranging from 70 to 200 pages. They typically are wire bound and three-hole punched, and their pages are usually perforated for easy removal. The most common size is 8 1/2 by 11 inches. Spiral notebooks contain lined paper, either wide- or college-ruled. Their covers are thin cardboard, polypropylene or flexible plastic.
The composition notebook is sturdier than the spiral notebook with a thicker cardboard cover. Composition notebooks are book-bound, meaning the pages are sewn and then bound like a book. They usually contain 100 college-ruled pages and measure 9 3/4 by 7 1/2 inches. The pages are not perforated, because they are not designed to be removed.
Composition notebooks are easily recognized by their trademark marbled front cover, although they are available in other designs. The inside front cover typically contains a grid for recording a class schedule. The inside back cover contains student reference tools, including a multiplication table, measurement conversion table and grammar and punctuation rules.
Lab or Scientific
Lab or scientific notebooks are designed to keep a permanent record of scientific progress. Working scientists often use them to document patent claims. They are usually filled with graph paper that contains headings for recording research and experiment details. Soft-cover student notebooks are relatively inexpensive, but hard-bound notebooks used by scientists can cost as much as $20.
Notebooks used for business often serve two functions: note taking and schedule keeping. Many notebooks in this category contain a built-in planner. They are usually bound in a heavier weight material, such as vinyl or leather, and contain legal-ruled paper.
High-end notebooks feel luxurious inside and out. They contain heavy-weight papers, much more substantial than the flimsy paper found in the common spiral notebook. They are usually hard-bound and covered in cloth or moleskin, a heavy cotton fabric with a velvety feel. Some are held tight with elastic closures. They range in size from pocket-sized to over-sized. High-end notebooks may be filled with standard lined paper but more often contain blank, dot grid or French-ruled paper. They cost from $5 to upwards of $20 per notebook.
Novelty or Specialty
Paper notebooks are offered in as many styles as there are consumers' tastes and uses. Specialty notebooks contain waterproof pages that were originally designed for military use. "Notebooks" that are technically index card holders are useful for those who prefer to record one thought per card. Notebooks with covers designed by professional artists are valued for their art more than their usefulness. Letter-sized top-bound legal pads with extra-stiff cardboard backing make writing easy on the go.
Carolyn Enright began working as a professional writer in corporate communications in 1992. Her work includes executive speeches, annual reports, newspaper and magazine articles, newsletters and online training modules. Enright holds a Master of Science in corporate public relations from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts in American studies from the University of Notre Dame.