The Ultimate Pen and Paper Post

Posted by Janet Nguyen on February 23, 2021

Student Life

Are you one of those people that walks into the stationery section of a store and gets excited? What about when you open a fresh notebook and can’t wait to write in perfect penmanship your first notes… Which then slowly deteriorate into messier handwriting but hey, you’re using that notebook!

I am big pen and paper lover and wanted to share some fun facts about pen and paper, and recommend my favourite products! Whether you’re using it for bullet journaling, taking lecture notes, or creative writing, this post will be sure to get you using your pen and paper!

Woman writing on a notebook
Love stationery? Read on to know more about the ultimate pens and papers.


Where would humans be without the written word? From berries on stone walls to brushes on papyrus to feathered quills and ink wells, we humans have loved to use writing instruments for thousands of years. Here’s an overview of the different type of modern pens and some suggestions for my favourite ones!

Ballpoint Pen

The ballpoint pen works by dispensing ink from its reservoir through the rolling of a metal ball that is placed at its point. We’re all familiar with these ones, you can buy them in big packs!

Cursive writing with a fountain pen
Fountain pens

Fountain Pen

These pens are the ones that are most recognizable but you don’t see them used often. Pen aficionados love these ones. You can refill the ink cartridge and trade out the nibs for a finer or bolder line. The nib is the same as the classic dip pen, which was used in the early 19th century but the ink flows from a reservoir in the handle of the fountain pen gets to the point by capillary action and gravity. They even require to be held a certain way to get the right look and are often used in calligraphy. The York U Bookstore has an affordable beginner fountain pen if you want to try it out. If you’re looking for the fancy stuff and want to get into pen collecting, try the Wonder Pens Stationery Shop for a local and expert experience.

Orange, red, blue, and green rollerball pens
Rollerball pens

Rollerball Pen

The rollerball pen is similar to the ballpoint but uses water or gel-based inks. These ones often look a little more scientific than your usual ballpoint. I love the way they write! One of my favourite rollerball pens is the Pilot V5 Premium Rolling Ball pen. The York U Bookstore carries the Pilot Rolling Ball pens in many different colours!

Of course, there are a lot more pen types (like fun gel pens) and we can’t forget about pencils or markers but these are the main types of pens used today.


A set of fineliner pens

This package of pens is something that I bought in first-year and that I’ve kept since then. They not only give me nostalgia for the first days of university and school supply shopping but make great notes. The Staedtler Fineliners are a super fine felt-tip marker with a triangular ergonomic grip. If you love to colour code your notes and add some spunk to it then these long-lasting pens are a go-to!


Wow, did I go in a rabbit hole learning about paper! Did you know that paper is measured in LBs (pounds) or GMS (grams per square metre)? This weight is measured in pounds per 500 sheets, which is known as a “ream”. However, it doesn’t end there as a there are different categories of paper from copy paper to heavy cardstock to watercolour blocks.

That’s the extent of paper weight that I’ll go into, because I know what you’re really here for, and that’s notebooks!

A blank notebook with a bowl of strawberries
Here is all you need to know about papers!

Leather Journals

Moleskine is an Italian company that manufactures these wonderful leatherbound notebooks that are the “heir and successor to the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two centuries: among them Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway”.

I love these notebooks for their portability and various styles. They are a bit on the pricier side for a student budget but once you get one all other notebooks will be incomparable!I find them perfect for journaling, taking notes, sketching and pretty much anything else you can use a notebook for. They also have specialty notebooks that feature your favourite characters or brands and there are sketchbooks and watercolour books for the artists out there.

For an affordable alternative I also love the Indigo Paper series. They have beautiful leather-bound notebooks in a ton of colourful varieties. Make sure you check out their sales because I always manage to get journals for a great price!

Coiled Notebooks

Woman writing with a fountain pen on a coiled notebook
Coiled notebooks

If you prefer a more classic style of notebook with coils and great paper quality, look no further than the Mead ones. These come in all different sizes and are perfect for taking colourful notes on large paper that is already hole punched for your binder. The paper is perforated so you can easily tear it out for storing later.

An affordable alternative to the Mead notebooks are the classic Hilroy notebooks, my favourite is the large 250 page, one subject notebook. These are classics with no frills.

I also recommend the Indigo Paper large spiral notebooks. They are a bit on the pricier side but have perforated edges, nice writing paper and stylish covers! As always, check for sales because you can usually get them for a discount.

I like to use a mix of Moleskine for my personal notes and then a coil notebook that is letter sized (8.5” x 11”) for my school notes.

Digital Notebooks

Well, this is a pen and paper post but we want to be greener and more sustainable when we can! If you are a digital notetaker these apps are great options:

Microsoft OneNote – This program is part of the Office 365 suite which is free for York U Students! OneNote offers a realistic notebook experience where you can draw and write in various notebooks.

Evernote – A free electronic notebook that can clip from the web with a ton of features and it syncs online across all of your devices.

Notion – We get access to the Personal Pro version of Notion with our Passport York! This is my favourite for creating a homepage and keeping everything in one place. There’s a lot to learn with Notion and you can create databases for your classes.

Well, I have to go empty my shopping cart now… or check out with my new pens and notebooks!

What’s your favourite type of pen or paper product? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @YorkUStudents.

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Janet Nguyen
Janet Nguyen

Janet Nguyen is a third-year Creative Writing and Screenwriting double major at York University. She loves to spend time playing with her kitten, Bean; cook vegetarian food; read all kinds of books, play Animal Crossing, and of course, write. She hopes her blog posts can help students navigate their way through this school year!

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