Labeling Moleskine Notebooks

Moleskine notebooks are wonderful, as are their cousins from Miquelrius and others. They’re small, durable, and easy to carry which begs the owner to fill them up and get some more. Eventually you end up with a shelf full of notebooks and they need to be labeled.

I hope folks will comment on methods I haven’t tried, but here are a few that have worked for me:

Label makers. I’ve got a Casio Label-it!, and it works pretty well as long as I do not try to put it on along the spine. The surface of regular Moleskine notebooks defies most adhesives, and it’s hard to get them to stick. On the spine it’s impossible because the surface is always wrinkling. So instead, I just write out the label, and then apply it to the cover as shown:

Moleskinepics 001mod

For the Reporter’s style, I got a better idea: Write on the pages. It’s permanent, and allows me to put them on the shelf normally:


For Cahier’s it’s really easy – write on the cover.

Anyone else got some ideas?

Moleskine: Using Reporter’s, Cahier, Volant

Quite a while ago I posted when Moleskine released the Reporter’s style and Cahier notebooks, and at the time I didn’t think I would like them very much.

Since then, I’ve filled up the two journals I’d been using and had a chance to experiment, both at home and at work. I’ve now got some experience with the Volant pocket (no longer available in unlined), the Cahier pocket, and the Reporter’s pocket.

Volant and Cahier: Small, durable, easy to carry

First the Volant and Cahier. They are both small and thin enough that you can devote one to a single trip or event. In my line of work I take a lot of notes, and in some environments, like conferences, a voice recorder doesn’t work. That’s when these little guys really shine. It’s easy to take a spare or two, and with the Cahier’s light-colored covers, I can simply write the subject and dates on the front. The Volant is just as nice, and perhaps a tad more durable. Both allow one to bend the covers around backwards which makes them very easy to write on. The Cahier has a pocket in the back, but it’s useful only for a few cards or the like.

I remember when I got my first Moleskine, and I remember treating it like a precious treasure – I’d bought it in a distant airport and didn’t know if I’d ever be able to buy more. It still feels strange to essentially beat the snot out of these guys, and not pay them any attention. That’s the beauty of them – they’re so thin they can absorb whatever you dish for the fairly short time it takes to fill them up. For work, I can take one for a conference or vacation, fill it up maybe halfway, and not feel guilty about not using all of it. It’s also better for security – if I lose it, I’ve not lost months or years of confidential info, just the notes from that trip.

My only major complaint is that they both have exactly half of their pages perfed for easy removal. In their ad copy they make it sound like it’s only a quarter, but it’s half. This is really nice when you have to jot a note to give someone, but that doesn’t happen much in my world. The result is that I really feel like I can’t use the second half of the book, for fear of the pages (which are not numbered) starting to fall out. Even so, I’ve done it and they haven’t fallen out yet, though it’s clear the perf is losing strength.

Reporter’s Style: My new favorite.

The Reporter’s style was a real surprise. In my earlier article I really didn’t think I would like it. It turns out that I really like it a lot. The format is not bad, and it’s not even bad to write on the reverse sides of the pages, even though you cannot flip the cover around like on a Volant or Cahier. The cover is stiff enough to write on. When I get to the bottom of the front side of a page, I can just inch the page up a bit so my hand’s supported while I write to the bottom of the page. It’s actually a lot easier to write on than the traditional styles, and for whatever reason I don’t have troubles with it coming out of my pocket upside down or backwards – it’s always in the right orientation.

I use the pocket in the back cover much more often than I used to, as I’ve taken to putting goals and the like on Levenger index cards. They fit perfectly and don’t create a lumpy surface to write on.

I miss the placeholder ribbon. I don’t know why they didn’t put one in, I suspect it’s because no one could decide which side to put it on. It needs to be added.

Labeling them is also easier. A while back I built a small custom shelf to store Moleskines, and it expects things to be put in vertical format. At first I was stumped, and then I realized that the Reporter’s wins here too – just write on the pages. It’s easier than getting a label to stick to the spine of a Moleskine (more on labeling these guys later).

Give ’em a try!

So, if you’ve been stuck in rut of using the original style notebooks, don’t be afraid to give these newer styles a try. At first I’d thought they were just Moleskine going on a product development fishing expedition, but now I know they are really trying to advance the state of the art.

Pen Review: Namiki Grance

The Namiki Grance is no longer sold, which is a real shame because it is a great combination of quality, price and pure usability.


I bought it back in 1997 or so, and it quickly became one of my favorites. It writes very well, with a ink feed that almost never dries out. I swear I can leave this pen full of ink for months, pick it up and if there is any ink left in it, it will write.

The cap is a click-on, instead of twist or threaded which I like. The pen is not very thick, and the nibs run narrow, but if you write fairly small it’s all good. The nib is not very flexible, but it’s very smooth. Construction-wise, Namiki doesn’t disappoint. Solid feel, reasonably tight threads with only a little grittiness when screwing the body together. There’s an O-ring to keep things tight, which is a nice touch. The cap doesn’t noticeably rattle when it’s on, which is often a problem with click-ons. The clip is very tight, and is designed to put a death-grip on a shirt pocket – it’s not going to be so useful when gripping thicker fabrics. The reveal is pretty short – perhaps a quarter of an inch – but enough to reliably grab the pen.

While these are no longer made, they are still showing up on Ebay for $100 or so. At that price, they are a nice pen, very usable, without the fragility you sometimes feel with more expensive pens.