Simple journal ideas to make your pages look amazing
I want to help you with my simple ideas for amazing journal pages. I believe keeping a journal should be something you can do to relax. My journal tips are here to help!
This post is a step up from my Journal Along with Me series. If you haven’t read any of those then you may want to have a browse and come back.
Disclaimer: this is not an affiliated post and links are for example only. I do not necessarily endorse any brands or products mentioned in this post. This means I can write entirely honestly about the items I have used.
1. Get a good notebook
If you are getting more experienced at keeping a journal, or you have a bottomless purse, then you will eventually want to spend more on your supplies. I recommend starting with a cheap notebook just to get into the habit. That said, having a more expensive notebook has definitely improved the look of my journal.
I bought a Leuchtturm 1917 with a voucher I had for Christmas. It was a big step I had been having trouble justifying – but it made a perfect gift 😆
I chose the Leuchtturm because it was really the only brand I had heard of that made dot grid notebooks. However, I will try a different brand next time. I’ll explore the reasons why at the end of this post.
So, the first simple tip is to just buy a proper dot grid journal, because your layouts are instantly lifted. The dots are enough to give you a guide to draw columns and rows etc, yet they don’t impose on doodles in the same way heavy lines do. If you want to be precise about drawing lines you can use a ruler, but I rarely bother. Most of my lines are free hand. The only time I thought a ruler was important was when I got geeky and made a graph of my blog stats.
2. Use a good pen
I have given this piece of advice before, so therefore it should go without saying, but it is important if you want your pages to look great.
Firstly, you need a good black pen to draw with. I bought a set of drawing pens from WHSmith. My pens range in width from 0.1mm to 0.7mm which enables me to add detail to borders without adding colour. I rarely have a monochrome page though. Artist drawing pens (rather than just black felt tipped colouring pens) are best because they don’t react with other ink.
Secondly, it’s good to have a nice pen to write with. My favourite is a fountain pen. The pages of the Leuchtturm take the ink very well without bleeding or ghosting. Some fineliners, such as Triplus, also make excellent writing pens.
Finally you might need a set of coloured pens. Do not use Sharpies! The ink in a Sharpie is great for lots of things, but it will absolutely bleed through the paper – not a good look at all!
Lots of Bujo Junkies (that’s what we call ourselves – I didn’t make that up) use dual ended brush pens by TomBow. I haven’t got any of those, but I do have something similar. My pens are no longer available, so I will replace them with TomBow when the time comes. You can buy them individually as well as in sets, so I will just buy my favourite colours. The ink is less likely to bleed through than other coloured pens, which makes them absolutely worth spending money on. You can use the brush nib to colour with, write some fancy titles, or as a highlighter. If doing the latter, lay down your highlight first and then write over the top to avoid smudges.
3. Plan your page first
Perfect Planning Prevents Poor Performance …
Using a page in the back of your journal, make a cheat sheet for your favourite layouts. Make a note of how many dots you need to count to divide your page in half, thirds, quarters etc.
If you don’t want to use up a page of your journal, plan it on a piece of scrap paper instead. I prefer using my journal. I can get an immediate idea of how my page will look, and I can test my pens as well.
My Leuchtturm has pull out pages at the back. These are to try out layouts, or see how your pens perform, without spoiling your main journal. Research for this post also suggests that Scribbles That Matter have a built in Pen Test page at the back. So, if you need permission to have a few pages at the back for trial runs, look no further 🙂
Before you draw anything in pen, draw lightly in pencil first to minimise making a mistake.
4. Decorate your pages
Now we have established that, for amazing journal pages, you need the right tools, let’s have a look at some simple decorations.
Arrange your pens into an aesthetically pleasing spectrum by making some test swatches, and then make some rainbow highlights. You could just make a border or divider, or colour right across the page before writing over the top.
Have a look on YouTube or Pinterest for step by step tutorials on how to draw. You could add your doodles to the corners of your pages. Or, if you have divided your page up for each day of the week, add a doodle for each day. You could also have a whole spread for doodles, or add them to a cover page (see next).
Cover pages can be used at the start of the month or to create a break between collections. An example of a collection could be:
- a reading list of books with reviews of each one
- a meal planning and recipe section
- holiday and travel section with packing list and itinery
The most important part of a cover page is the title of course. Even if the rest of your journal is quite plain, at least try this. It is possibly the most important of all the simple ideas for amazing pages. They look fantastic with added doodles, but if you can’t draw you could add a quote or an affirmation.
Have a theme
Another simple way to make your journal pages look amazing, is to stick to a theme. Now, I will admit that I don’t have a theme as such. I work in quite a random way with most of my crafts. However, I do tend to repeat a weekly layout that works really well for me. The trendy journals, on Pinterest or wherever, often have a theme. Popular themes could be coffee, honeybees, or something relating to the time of year.
Learn from your mistakes
For me, the part of the process I enjoy most is being creative. A bullet journal is supposed to be flexible. The idea is to create the pages you need, as you need them. The pages are often a reflection of my life too. At busy times my pages can be a bit rushed and look messy. At other times I can take a lot of care over them.
Mistakes don’t bother me anymore, I see them as a chance to learn. In fact, by becoming more relaxed in my attitude to making mistakes, I have become more creative. I am only writing my journal for myself, to help me get organised and for self reflection. If it does end up in a museum, then I naturally hope they choose the best pages to exhibit! Realistically the chances of it being on display (anywhere other than Instagram) are nil, so it just isn’t a problem. It is partly about making amazing journal pages that you like yourself. My simple ideas should make it easier for you to love your own journal. The more you love it, the more you will use it.
Finally, I wanted to say a bit more about my Leuchtturm 1917 notebook. I don’t regret buying it by any means, BUT, I am disappointed with its performance. I mentioned ink bleeding and ghosting, and they are the reasons why I would try a different brand next time.
Bleeding is when the ink leaks right through the page and happens with some pens more than others. It can be very annoying! It spoils a good page by ink showing on the wrong side of the paper – entirely in the wrong place. You can hide it though by turning it into a doodle, or sticking a piece of washi tape over it.
Ghosting is when the ink doesn’t leak but is dark enough to be show through the back of the page. In a way, it is much harder to hide.
I hope you got something useful from my simple ideas for amazing journal pages. Please make sure you are following my blog so you don’t miss out. You can easily sign up below using your email address:
Also, if you could share this post with others that would be great! If Pinterest is your thing then I have created some pin friendly graphics for you to add to your boards. Thanks so much!