Miquelrius: King of the Notebooks

17Jul06

Update: This post was updated on 19 July 2007. Please see the bottom of the post for more information on acquiring Miquelrius notebooks.

A good notebook is an important tool for the physics graduate student; it’s a place to flesh out ideas, jot down references, work out calculations, and remind yourself every once in a while what you’ve done and what you’re trying to do.

Ruled/Graph/Blank. Physics lends itself to graph paper. I catch myself making sketches, drawing graphs, or writing up tables all the time. The vertical rule also helps me align my notes when I’m making an outline. Ruled and blank pages don’t offer enough structure for me to organize things nicely (though I’m sure they’re great for other forms of creative endeavors). The graphing/ruling should be printed onto the paper not too obstructively. If it is too dark or thick it gets in the way of your notes.

Paper. Paper should be thick enough such that your pen doesn’t bleed through. Most American notebooks have paper that’s too light, and are hence really only useful for ball point pens or gel pens. I prefer “ultra-white” (bleached white) pages which give maximum contrast for your writing. (Perhaps a slightly more natural shade is better if you plan on working outside in the bright sun.)

Size. Pages should also be at least letter size, though ideally slightly larger. This lets you insert print outs and such into your notes–essential for a good lab notebook or to include an important photocopy. I’ve tried using pocket-sized Molskine graph notebooks but was turned off because they’re too small for doing calculations. At best they’re useful for daily notes. Also, aim for a one subject notebook between 80 and 120 pages. Anything much larger and your notebook will be too heavy for the amount of information that you’ll likely need at any given moment, anything much less and you’ll need to bring an extra notebook or two whenvever you go to the coffee shop (one documenting your previous notes and one in case you get in a groove and run out of pages).

Binding. I have a strong preference for spiral bound notebooks since this makes it easier to write on small tables or maximize desk space. Metal or plastic spiral binding is irrelevant; plastic is slightly lighter (and does the job just as well for normal use) but tends to be associated with low-cost bargain notebooks.

Cover. Go for something water resistant and durable. Thick paper/cardboard with some kind of laminate is good, plastic is better. If you’re anything like me, chances are that your notebook will have to hold its own against drops and spills. Plastic covers help prevent pages from getting doggy eared.

That being established, I have to give my gushing praise to Miquelrius notebooks. Miquelrius is a Spanish designer/high-end stationer that has created the most practical notebooks I’ve ever seen. Their Note Book 1 (as in 1-subject) and Note Book 4 Spot pass each of my criteria flawlessly.

In addition to having bright, large, graphed pages, Miquelrius graph paper notebooks have a colorful stripe for easy identification (separating volumes of notes, for example) and a horizontal box at the top of each page for titles/dates of entries. The graphed area is also nearly demarcated with a graph-less border, keeping each page nicely organized. (It’ll make other graphed notebooks look downright heathen.)

The only negative is that Miquelrius is nearly impossible to find in stores. I found a couple in a stationary store in Palo Alto (the one next to Palo Alto Toy World) at a price of $6.25. There’s been some discussion about Miquelrius online, and it seems like there is at least one reputable online retailer.

A friend of mine prefers Claire Fontaine, but they don’t carry a letter-sized graph notebook (they do carry an odd colored-paper tabbed multiple subject graph notebook which doesn’t strike me as terribly aesthetic).

I should also make a note that these notebooks are a bit too expensive for course notes (which tend to have a lifetime on the order of months). At over $7 per notebook, I reserve my Miquelrius notebooks (plural, Miquelrii?) for research/reading notes and thoughts that I’d like to save in the long term. In the future I’d like to be able to look to a shelf of Miquelrius notebooks and think of them as a scrap book of my Ph.D. years.

For everyday notes/scatchwork/etc., I suggest using engineering computation pads. These are one-sided pads with dark graphed ruling on the opposite side. This gives the front of the page a clean, organized look while making the graphed lines nearly invisible (and actually invisible when you photocopy them). For scratch work I suggest the usual green-tinted pads that you’ll find in stationary stores. For homework/lecture notes, I suggest the heavier tan/buff paper that, so far, I’ve only been able to find at the Stanford Bookstore.

Update: (8/11/06) I’ve found Miquelrius graph notebooks available online through Kate’s Paperie as well as Miquelrius USA (mentioned above). After I spoke to one of the owners, The Campus Store just off the UC Berkeley campus on Euclid also was able to order Miquelrius graph notebooks. I have heard that The Art Store in Los Angeles also has Miquelrius in stock.

Update (19 July 07): Boy, these guys are hard to find. In the United Kingdom the upscale stationary store Paperchase carries notebooks with Miquelrius paper. The Paperchase notebooks have slightly thicker covers imprinted with the company logo, but the pages themselves have the Miquelrius logo. These notebooks are also a bit thinner with a mix of different line colors. Unfortunately, Paperchase doesn’t seem to sell these notebooks online. If you’re searching online, try using the alternate spelling `Miquel-Rius’ with a hyphen. There’s a review on Amazon, but the 4-subjecte notebook appears unavailable. There also seems to be a company in New York (Lincoln Stationers), but I haven’t tried ordering from them personally. More references from Squidoo (mostly dead links).



29 Responses to “Miquelrius: King of the Notebooks”

  1. 1 robert

    How splendid to come across a true notebook aficionado; paper and pen are still the tools of the trade, even in these days of laptops and Blackberries. Though not an obsessive hoarder, I still have the first notebook from my days as a PhD student (spiral bound, ruled – price 11p) and, thirty + years on, it remains in fine shape. Nowadays my heart belongs to European notebooks : spiral bound , squared and robustly backed, and an excellent excuse for a trip across the Channel. Given your ringing endorsement of Miquelrius I feel a trip to Madrid coming on.

    Best of luck with your studies; may your Miquelarii burgeon with excellent calculations

  2. 2 Elissa

    My friend introduced me to these notebooks years ago, and I have spent the night online trying to find them again…Thanks for your help!

  3. 3 Kim

    I notice that there are several types of the notebooks on the website. Is there any particular one that you like better than the others?
    -Kim

  4. 4 Revann

    Just to answer your little question about plural. Miquelrius is Miquel Rius, a family name. As it has an -s at the end, the word does not change with the plural, so it stands Miquelrius too.
    I guess you were trying to use latin? Regards.

  5. You can find all our products online at http://www.ShopMiquelRius.com and if there is something you are looking for that isn’t on the site, please e-mail us and if we have it in stock, we’ll put it on the site for you!

    Thank you for your support of Miquelrius products!

  6. I’m glad someone else understand the perfection of Miquelrius. One of my VERY old posts:
    http://lauraisageek.blogspot.com/2004/09/double-search.html

    I never did find a good supplier. I even emailed Miquelrius USA (the girl RIGHT above me) and after nearly a month still have gotten no response…

    I particularly like the Eco or Diplomatic versions of graph notebooks, but am giving up hope of every finding them.

  7. You can also get a small but nice selection Miquelrius notebooks at the Flax store on Market. I favor the red cover 6 x 9 graph paper book myself.

  8. chicgeek, I still have you on my waiting list for the Eco notebooks… we are still waiting for them. I’ll let you know if/when we get them in the USA.

    For those wondering, http://www.shopmiquelrius.com is the retail site for Miquel-Rius USA which is the US warehouse for Miquelrius products, so yes, we are the real thing. Miquelrius is our parent company.

    Thanks for your support of our products. Please feel free to e-mail me with requests if you can’t find it on our website. If we have it in stock, I’ll list it for sale.

    Thank you!

    Jennifer

  9. You can also find a great selection of Miquelrius products at http://www.kaligiftbag.com

  10. 10 Evelyn

    I buy them at Borders bookstores.

  11. 11 Janice

    I get mine from the shopmiquelrius.com website since they don’t have them in any stores near us, they ship super fast and their prices are the best. I joined the mailing list for discounts too.

  12. Uh, Jennifer? I’ve been buying the Eco line from Paper Zone in the US for almost a year. How did they get them first?

  13. Shae: Thanks for your email! I’m actually looking for the graphed version, which is a lot hard to get my hands on, it seems… it DOES exist! Somewhere…

  14. Shae,

    PaperZone purchases the US horizontal (6225) from us, which we have available, but chickgeek is looking for the A4 sized Eco in squares (6010,) which we don’t have available.

    I hope that clears up any confusion, thank you!

    Jennifer

  15. 15 evankeane

    i bet you’ll be using those yellowy graph paper notebooks till you’re old and grey you querky old contrario!

    [read in yiddish accent]
    hoi! why i oughta …

  16. 16 Nick

    Here via MeFi. I didn’t recognise the name until I saw your pic, but YES. I’ve used four of the A4 ruled ones for 4 years of Uni notes. There’s more or less enough room to get an entire course into one colour section (the ones I use have 6 colours).

    As you say, expensive, but it beats lugging around more than one notebook, picking up the wrong notebook in the morning, or not having your *other* notes with you when you suddenly have some free time in the library, etc.

    As someone’s already pointed out, Paperchase sell them in the UK.

  17. 17 gabygirl

    I really like this site. I am an avid lover of notebooks and journals…though not a fan of spiral bound, but I do realize the importance of the paper quality and the sturdiness of the binding. this page rocks!🙂

  18. 18 Drew

    Hey there,

    There are tons of suggestions for locating these terrific notebooks here already, but ever since I was introduced to them by a Gallega friend of mine (she brought me some for Chirstmas 4 years ago), I’ve been able to buy them at Sam Flax in New York City (Chelsea). They have the 4-subject notebooks at Target in my parent’s hometown in the Midwest this year too. I liked to be the only nerdy psychology student with the cool notebooks. I’m not sure if I can get used to seeing such nice notebooks in the hands of Red State kids…

  19. 19 Jake Anderson

    Hey check it out, Miquelrius has an affiliate program on their website now where you can earn 5% commission on sales through your own links. I just signed up and thought I would share! I’m going to use it to buy my own notebooks and save 5% too.

    Here is the link: http://www.shopmiquelrius.com/servlet/Affiliate

    Good luck!

  20. Hi Jake — thanks for the link, perhaps more enterprising readers might find it useful. However, this blog is strictly non-profit.

  21. I picked up the the Miquelrius 1 at Kate’s in NYC a couple years ago – I bought a few and just finished the last one. Unfortunately, I found out this morning that Kate’s no longer carries this – they still have the display at their store (now on Spring Street), but it is filled with a Kate’s notebook (which looks similar, but only comes in a bulky 6-subject size). Likewise, Miquelrius was not found on Kate’s website.

    So now I am looking for source online (which is how I wound up here…).

  22. 22 Steffen

    WTF? Flip? What do they pay you to write this?
    Also, graph paper sucks. The world doesn’t consist of little boxes.

  23. Hi Steffen, I see you’re feeling better?🙂

    I’m a big fan of my notebooks, what can I say.

    Graph paper is great, it keeps my diagrams neat and ordered. Said in another way: unlike differential geometers, I prefer to work in coordinates.🙂

  24. 24 Scribe

    Most Barnes & Noble have two types of miquelrius in stock, the medium and large sized. The medium sized is horizontal ruled and large is graphing paper. I picked all the large ones they had in stock today…2🙂

  25. 25 Izana Golding

    Nice to see others who appreciate quality. I love the Miquelrius notebooks and always bought some back with me from trips to the US. I now sell them on Ebay UK and the new Joshua Davis range is gorgeous.

  26. 26 heartruis

    I adore these notebooks. Target usually has a decent selectiom.

  27. 27 jwbowen

    Thank you very much for writing this. I have been searching for a good notebook for quite some time. I am quite picky about the weight of the paper, the ruling, etc. I will have to give these notebooks a try. I’m an American math student still in America.


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