You’ll find many different types of notebooks and journals on the market today. Learning the difference between a notebook and a journal can make it easier to decide which one is right for your needs.

Notebooks are typically used for taking notes in class, while out on assignment or at work. A journal is more personal. Journals are most often used for writing down your thoughts, feelings or experiences.

Custom notebooks and journals are both effective promotional products. Keep reading to find out more about these two products and the benefits of each.

Basic differences between a notebook and a journal

lady writing in a notebook with sticky notes

It can be overwhelming trying to learn the actual difference between a notebook and journal for work, school or personal projects. Take a few minutes to examine the features of each before deciding which is best for your group.

Features of a notebook

features of a notebook graphic
  • Less expensive
  • Frequently spiral-bound
  • Covers made of cardboard, PVC, plastic
  • Large variety of sizes
  • Numerous colors and styles
  • Lined paper
  • Most often used for school work

Features of a journal

features of a journal graphic
  • Slightly higher cost
  • Covers made of leather, PVC leatherette, polyurethane, cloth
  • Privacy strap or snap closure
  • Attached bookmark
  • Pen loop
  • Numerous colors, sizes and styles
  • Blank or lined paper

Notebooks are usually less expensive than journals and can be found in a variety of sizes and colors. Notebooks generally have lined paper, while journals often have blank pages. Some notebooks have pockets for storing loose papers; journals often include locks for privacy.

A notebook is quite helpful for students or professionals who take a lot of notes and need to keep information organized. A notebook can also be used for brainstorming ideas or taking down important thoughts during meetings.

A journal is the ideal tool if your team or club members routinely track their daily thoughts or private achievements. Journals also can be used to document special moments or events in someone’s life. Their covers are typically made from classier materials such as leather or cloth.

Which style of notebook do you need?

Spiral-bound notebook

custom logo spiral notebook

The most common type of notebook is the spiral-bound notebook. It has a wire binding that allows the pages to lay flat, making it easy to write in. Spiral-bound notebooks come in a variety of sizes and can be found in both college-ruled and wide-ruled paper.

One of the most popular styles is the Translucent Spiral Notebook. It has 80 lined sheets of paper and a durable, plastic cover.

If you want an earth-friendly notebook, take a look at the Natural Eco Notebook With Pen. It has a cardboard cover, elastic band closure and 80 lined pages. A matching pen is tucked inside! The Recycled Cardboard Notebook With Pen is another low-cost, sustainable option.

Want a custom spiral notebook with unique features? Browse these showy products:

  • Photo Window Notebook With Pen: Your group can personalize these with a photo or use the clear window to display a student ID card or other form of identification.
  • Magnetic Close Notebook With Pen: The magnetic closure helps protect the paper and private notes. The ballpoint pen is made from recycled cardboard. How unique!
  • Stone Paper Card Notebook: The stone paper inside this professional-looking, spiral notebook is a non-toxic, biodegradable alternative to paper. This makes it even more sustainable than recycled paper.
  • College Rule Composition Notebook. This notebook has a 10-point, coated front cover and a 30-point, chipboard back cover. It includes 50, 18-pound perforated sheets.

Perfect-bound notebooks

customized green perfect-bound notebooks

Perfect-bound notebooks, as well as journals, are created by applying different types of adhesives to the spine to keep the cover and inside paper secure. It’s a cost-effective binding method that results in big savings for consumers.

Browse these popular, perfect-bound custom notebooks:

  • 5″ x 7″ Daily Notebook: The slim, compact design make this an easy notebook to tuck into a backpack or portfolio for school or work. The cover is made of durable PVC materials.
  • Strappy Journal: The matching strap enclosure makes this an eye-catching favorite. An expandable interior pocket provides extra storage and the smooth leatherette finish gives a luxurious feel.
  • Mini Memo Book With Pen: The handy size and affordability of this perfect-bound notebook makes it an excellent choice as a giveaway item. It boasts 70 lined pages and a matching pen with loop.

Hardcover notebooks

personalized hard-cover notebook with pen

A hardcover notebook includes pages that are bound and secured inside a thick, durable cover such as paperboard. (Think about the textbooks you were given in elementary school.)

Hardcover notebooks are an excellent choice for young students or individuals with disabilities who may frequently drop them.

A few bestselling, hardcover notebooks include:

  • Wooden Look Notepad Set: Talk about durability! This wood-look option provides plenty of protection for your valuable notes. Enjoy 70 lined pages with sticky notes, sticky flags and a hooked closure. This rugged notepad has everything!
  • Classic Jotter: This hardcover notebook proves you can have class and stay on budget. It’s small enough to slip into a backpack but rugged enough to take anywhere!

Softcover notebooks

custom red soft-cover notebook with flexible cover

The pages of softcover notebooks are bound together with a flexible paper cover, similar to a paperback novel. They typically are lighter to carry, which makes them a good choice for carrying, storing and displaying at events.

Here are a few popular, softcover notebook styles:

  • Colorful Canvas Journal: The polycanvas cover of this notebook opens to 80 lined pages of paper and a pen with secure loop. Choose from popular colors to accent your brand.
  • Pocket Neon Sticky Flags: Talk about unique! Use these handy sticky flags in five neon colors to keep your crew organized. The slim size makes it easy to slip into a purse or pocket.

What type of journal do you need?

pile of customized notebooks and pen sets

Personalized journals have become an essential part of the business world. Professionals appreciate the convenience of a journal to make notes and reminders. Your company logo on the front will immediately identify your team.

Journals have become more sophisticated over the years with lots of extras to meet consumer demands. Many journals today are constructed the same way as notebooks in spiral-bound, perfect-bound, hardcover and softcover styles.

Here are a few journals that claim top-selling status for their special features:

  • Eco Journal: The colored strap and bookmark on this journal will easily turn heads when handed out at trade shows or seminars. The 80 lined pages and durable binding are added features your group will appreciate.
  • Bright Black Paper Journal: This is definitely a journal for artists and doodlers! The stunning black cover opens to reveal 80 unlined, black pages just waiting for colorful creativity.

Notebooks and journals are powerful branding tools

notebooks with logo next to laptop

Businesses of all sizes use notebooks and journals as promotional items to spread awareness about their brand. Since notebooks and journals are used by students and all types of professionals, you’ll want to put these advertising tools to work for you.

Could your staff use notebooks for meetings or to take notes during Zoom conferences? Journals are valuable items for documenting client interactions.

Place your business name and logo on the cover of these stylish notebooks and journals to give away at trade shows or conferences. You can also use notebooks and journals as customer appreciation gifts. Give them to your best customers with a handwritten note thanking them for their business.

Schools — from elementary grades to colleges — often furnish students with notebooks printed with school mascots. Customized notebooks make great incentive gifts for kindergarten through high school students. PTOs and other clubs often purchase custom notebooks to award students for excellent grades and attendance.

College admission offices can boost school spirit by giving incoming freshmen notebooks and journals with the school name and mascot. These practical promotional items are often included in orientation packets.

Notebooks and journals are effective products for promoting your brand no matter how you choose to use them!

Now that you know the difference between a notebook and a journal, which type will you choose?

keep your brand on the move with personalized tote bags

Shelley Grieshop is a former newspaper journalist who earned more than a dozen Associated Press awards for her in-depth research and writing skills. In May 2016, she joined Totally Promotional as a creative writer. She currently writes company blogs about branding, marketing, logos, wedding planning and much more. One of her life goals is to teach people when to use hyphens and apostrophes.

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