A Guide To Bullet Journal Supplies For Beginners

So imagine this. You’ve decided you want to start a bullet journal. You know how to set a bullet journal up and use it to stay organised. But then you realise there are certain bullet journal supplies you need to buy. A notebook and a pen are obvious. But starting a new bullet journal seems like the perfect excuse to go buy some brand new stationery.

You can easily become overwhelmed by researching bullet journal supplies. Despite what many websites claim, you don’t need any fancy supplies to start bullet journaling. I would recommend you start a bullet journal with whatever you have at home before going off to buy new stationery supplies. 

So today I’m going to share which bullet journal supplies I would recommend for beginners. The basics are obvious, paper and something to write with. But some other stationery supplies can be useful too. What if you decide to start getting fancy with your bullet journal. What are the best supplies to add to the basics? I have a rundown of everything in this post. 

Bullet journal supplies for beginners.

A GUIDE TO BULLET JOURNAL SUPPLIES FOR BEGINNERS

HOW TO BULLET JOURNAL

If you’ve come across this post and have no idea what a bullet journal is. Other than it being an organisational system. I would recommend you start off either by reading The Bullet Journal Method or by visiting the official bullet journal website.

This is where you will learn about the bullet journal system and how to set up your bullet journal. In the beginning, I would recommend you stick quite closely to these bullet journal rules. Over time the way you use a bullet journal will change and you can customise it more to your specific needs

If you’re just starting with bullet journaling I would recommend you don’t go out and buy a new notebook at this stage. Find a notebook or paper, use the things you have around you to set up a bullet journal and learn how the system works. After you’ve been using it for a few weeks you can then start thinking about buying a new notebook and stationery supplies. 

I know the idea of a bullet journal sounds great, But reading about something online is very different from using it. It’s much better to try out the bullet journal system before you start to buy lots of stationery supplies. One of the great advantages of the bullet journal, unlike paper planners, is that you can try it out first. 

THE ESSENTIALS

There are a few basic supplies you will need to buy when starting a bullet journal. This being a notebook and a pen. Unless you’re planning on trying a digital bullet journal but I wouldn’t recommend that to beginners. 

From this starting point, you can then go on to buy more elaborate stationery supplies for your bullet journal. Just remember that you don’t have to go buy everything on this list. Your bullet journal can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. 

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Don’t get disheartened at all the pretty bullet journal pictures on Instagram and Pinterest. It’s possible to use your bullet journal as a creative output. But the main point of using the bullet journal system is to keep yourself organised. 

NOTEBOOK

If you’ve decided bullet journaling is right for you one of the things you will have to buy a notebook. There are many many options when it comes to notebooks. The first thing you should think about is the type of paper you want to use. 

Notebooks used for bullet journaling.

For most people, this is dot grid paper. But I prefer gridded paper. The type of paper you want will largely determine the type of notebook you buy. One of the most popular dot grid notebooks is the Leuchtturm1917. This is a great notebook, I’ve bought a number of them in the past. The notebooks are quite durable and have a high page count. This means they will last you a long time. 

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Leuchtturm makes an official Bullet Journal notebook. My advice would be to not buy it. There are very few differences between the bullet journal Leuchtturm and a regular Leuchtturm1917 notebook. One of the only notable differences is that it has Bullet Journal written on the cover of the notebook. You don’t need to pay extra money just for this. 

If you don’t want to buy a Leuchtturm notebook there are many others to choose from. One of my personal favourite notebooks is the MD Paper notebook. As far as I’m aware the MD Paper notebooks don’t come with dot grid paper. So you will have to choose between lined and gridded paper. 

I’ve been using my MD Paper notebook as a bullet journal for almost a full year now and I love it. I would say I prefer this notebook to the Leuchtturm. 

PENS

Again when it comes to bullet journaling you don’t need any special pens. The likelihood is you already have a pen lying around somewhere so don’t need to go out and buy anything special. 

When I’m writing I like a black gel pen. Muji branded pens are one of my favourites. The pens work well, the ink doesn’t bleed through the paper of my notebook. They also last for quite a long time. I’ve only been using Muji pens for the last year. 

One of the only problems when it comes to Muji is getting them. There are very few Muji shops in the UK so you either need to be lucky enough to live close by or you will have to order the pens online. 

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If you don’t want to use a gel pen you could always look at something else, such as a ballpoint pen or a fountain pen. Ballpoints are great because you can buy them pretty much anywhere and they are usually quite cheap. 

Fountain pens are more expensive but they are also more customizable. Most fountain pens have thicker barrels which I think makes them more comfortable to hold. They also come with replaceable ink cartridges. This means you have more choices when it comes to the ink you use in your bullet journal. You do just need to be careful that whatever ink you use works with the paper in your notebook. 

PENCIL/ ERASER

If you are going to start bullet journaling I would highly recommend you have a pencil as well as a pen. There are certain spreads in your bullet journal where you probably want to avoid mistakes. These being the monthly views. It is very easy to write a date wrong and if you do it in pen it’s very hard to correct.

For these sorts of things, I would recommend you use a pencil. A pencil is probably also something you have lying around at home. Most of the pencils I own are from stationery boxes or I’ve been given for free at various events. 

Instead of a wooden pencil, you might want to look at a mechanical pencil. I much prefer this when I’m using a pencil for writing. With mechanical pencils, you buy lead refills. You can then insert these into the mechanical pencil. 

If I’m going, to be honest, I like mechanical pencils because I’m too lazy to sharpen a regular pencil all the time. But again, the type of pencil you buy depends on your preference.

Along with a pencil you will want to buy an eraser. There’s no point using a pencil in your bullet journal if you can’t erase the pencil marks. Now the artist in me would say that some erasers are better than others. The truth is so long as it gets rid of the pencil marks it doesn’t matter what type of eraser you buy. 

RULER

I would also recommend buying a ruler. This is something which comes in really handy while setting up spreads in your bullet journal. You don’t need to go buy some super fancy ruler. I have two which I use most of the time. 

One is a 15cm plastic ruler from Muji. The other is a 15cm steel rule which I bought in an art store. I like the steel rule for graphic design work. But for most people, a simple plastic ruler works just as well. Especially when it comes to bullet journaling, being able to see underneath the ruler can be handy in certain situations. 

GET CREATIVE

Once you’ve got the basic bullet journal supplies sorted out you might want to start looking at something more elaborate. I like having a bit of colour in my bullet journal. I think it makes the pages more interesting. So I have some examples of stationery supplies you can use to do this. 

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Just remember that you don’t need to go out and immediately buy all these supplies. These are all things that I own but I didn’t go out and buy them specifically for my bullet journal. I don’t use all of these in my bullet journal. It’s just to give you an idea of what you could buy and how they can be used. 

TOMBOW DUAL BRUSH MARKER

Tombow Dual Brush Markers are very popular in the bullet journaling community. These are dual-tipped pens. One end has a brush nib and the other has a 1mm fine point nib. This makes the pens a great choice if you want to try calligraphy in your bullet journal.

The Tombow markers use water-based ink. This means you won’t have any problems with ink bleeding in your notebook. It also means you can blend inks on the page using water. This can create some really interesting results. 

If you’re just getting started with calligraphy the Tombow markers can be slightly tricky to get used to. The brush nib on the Tombows is quite broad. This can make it difficult to get the right amount of pressure on the pen. Once you get used to the pens they can be used to create some interesting headings in your bullet journal. 

HIGHLIGHTERS

Something else which I will use in my bullet journal instead of marker pens is highlighters. I like using highlighters to create really simple headings in my bullet journal. This means I don’t have to worry about spending lots of time creating elaborate bullet journal spreads. Most of the daily logs in my bullet journal consist of the date, then a list of tasks and notes. 

Zebra Mildliners used to make headers in bullet journal.

For highlighters, I use the Zebra Mildliners. I like these highlighters because of the selection of colours. The Mildliners come in 25 different colours, and most importantly they don’t come in bright fluorescent colours. I much prefer these muted colours in my bullet journal. 

Again these are dual-ended pens. One end has a chisel tip and the other has a 1mm fine point nib. The Mildliners are slightly more expensive compared to regular highlighters. They can also be harder to find because they have to be imported from Japan. But if you get a set of 5 Mildliners they will last you for years. 

COLOURED PENCILS

I like using coloured pencils in my bullet journal, they are probably one of the bullet journal supplies I use the most. Especially to mark tasks as completed. I’m not particularly picky about the types of coloured pencils I buy. The first thing I look for with pencils is the actual colour. 

Coloured pencil bullet journal supplies.

Most of my pencils were bought individually rather than in sets. This means I have more choice over which colours I get. I like having colour schemes in my bullet journal so will choose colours which match the Tombow markers and Mildliners that I already own. 

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The specific brand of pencils just depends on what was available in the art store. I have a range of Derwent Procolours, Caran d’Ache Supracolour and Faber Castell Polychromos. 

The lead in the Procolour pencils is slightly harder so I don’t need to sharpen those pencils quite so much. But all the pencils are great. I’m not picky when it comes to brand. The colour is what’s important to me. 

WASHI TAPE

I love washi tape, I use it a lot in my bullet journal and in my graphic design sketchbooks. I was using washi tape before I even learned about bullet journaling. Washi tape is Japanese paper tape. Sort of similar to masking tape but with thinner tissue-like paper. 

MT masking tape washi tape.

Washi tape comes in lots of different colours and patterns. It’s not something you will find in stores unless Paperchase has it as part of a collection. Though I would recommend not buying the Paperchase branded washi as it’s more like sellotape than true paper tape.

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When it comes to washi MT makes the best range of tapes. You can buy the MT washi tapes in Amazon or the art store section of Paperchase. Like I said above, I have specific colours I like using in my bullet journal, and this also applies to the colours of washi tape I use. 

I tend to not buy patterned washi. Though there are some nice rolls of washi tape available on Etsy. I like the MT tape because they come in block colours. I tend to only buy the white or neon pink coloured washi tapes. 

But if you want to buy washi tape for your bullet journal there is a huge variety of colours available. You don’t need to be like me and only use one or two different colours in your bullet journal.   

STICKERS

Occasionally I will include stickers in my bullet journal. Both on the cover and as part of my bullet journal spreads. I like adding stickers to the cover of my notebook because I feel like it personalises the notebook. There is also the added benefit that I’ve made a few friends at university because of the stickers on my bullet journal. 

The stickers I use on the cover of my notebooks are a mixture of ones I’ve been sent for free and ones I’ve bought from RedBubble. I like getting stickers from RedBubble because they are cheap and I can get fun pop culture stickers. 

Stickers bought from RedBubble for cover of bullet journal.

When it comes to stickers for inside my bullet journal. I get them from a few different places. In the past, I’ve been subscribed to the Papergang subscription box. Some of the stickers in my bullet journal have come from those boxes. 

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I will also be on the lookout for stickers when I’m in places like Paperchase and Hobbycraft. If you want to get into stickers the best place to look is Etsy. This is where you can find a huge range of stickers for your bullet journal.

Planner stickers are such a huge topic that it could fill its own blog post. If you’re just getting started with bullet journaling you don’t want to get bogged down trying to find the perfect planner stickers. 

Stickers from Papergang subscription box.

To begin you’re better off looking for functional stickers. These are sticker versions of things you’re likely to want to include in your bullet journal. For example, banners, or days of the week. Or even simple headings such as ‘to-do’ or ‘task’.

One of my favourite shops for buying functional stickers is called Paperkumaco. This shop was originally on Etsy before going independent. I like using simple functional stickers in my bullet journal. Things like circles, banners and flags. This shop is my favourite place to get those types of stickers. And I don’t often use stickers in my bullet journal so they last a long time.

FINALLY

I hope you got some use out of this list of bullet journal supplies. I’ve tried to mention all the things you could get if you’re just getting started with bullet journaling. But remember you don’t need everything on this list. 

As you use your bullet journal your style will change. You may come to find that what you want to use in your bullet journal will change. The best thing to do is to start with the basics, a notebook and pen. 

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Then as you use your bullet journal you might decide you want to add more colour or some other designs into your bullet journal. You can then start buying some new stationery supplies depending on how you want to use your bullet journal.

All the stationery supplies I’ve mentioned in this blog post are things I’ve used in my bullet journal. But I don’t use all of them at the same time. I also didn’t buy all these supplies at the same time. Over the years my collection has grown. It means I can now pick and choose what I want to use in my bullet journal. 

But what about you. Have you just started bullet journaling? Are there any bullet journal supplies I haven’t mentioned in this post? Let me know in the comments.

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