Bullet Journal Essentials: Supplies You Need For A Bullet Journal

If you’ve done a quick search for bullet journals, I’m sure you’ve encountered those picture-perfect spreads on google. They might seem intimidating and cause you to abandon starting a bullet journal, but don’t worry. I went around the internet and compiled information on what supplies will help you when you’re getting started.

What supplies do you need to start a bullet journal? The basic supplies needed to start a bullet journal are a simple pen and a notebook. The bullet journal is a minimalist system but has since evolved to suit the needs of the individuals using it, resulting in the more maximalist spreads that have achieved virality.

Whether you plan on doing a minimalist spread or more like those elaborate journals you see on Instagram, the best supplies to start with is always the pen and paper. However, there is no wrong with bullet journaling, as long as it works.

Here, I compiled all that you would need to start whether you’re aiming to do a minimalist or maximalist spread.

Getting To Know The Basics

You may be wondering why a pen and a notebook are the most basic supplies needed for a bullet journal. 

I wouldn’t blame you. I mean, you would if all you’ve seen are the viral Instagram posts and the pins going around Pinterest.

The bullet journal at its core is a minimalist practice.

It began with Ryder Carroll, the creator of the bullet journal, and he developed it during his time in school. Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder(ADD) during this time, he now began to understand his difficulties with keeping up with school work. This also resulted in him developing anxiety and stress, with all the clutter in his mind.

That’s when he began developing the bullet journal as we know it today, at least, how it started as.

The system was designed to allow the individual to improve his productivity while at the same time, practicing to be more mindful. It’s a win-win for you, you get to keep track of your work and life, plus you’re able to improve as a person.

Now how did it come to be as those masterfully done spreads? Well, the bujo community, a shortcut for the bullet journal community, is a large one. It resonated particularly well with artists, which makes sense because Carroll himself started as a graphic designer.

It’s flexible nature allowed the community to put their own touch on it, letting it evolve to what you see today.

With the bullet journal, anything goes as long as it works for you. That means you can make it as artistic as you want it to be, or as minimal as possible.

You can choose the components that go inside the journal, as well as how it looks.

And yes, you can choose which supplies you get to work with as well, whether they be a simple pen and notebook, or a plethora of beautifully colored implements.

I’ll list each below, as well as what is needed for artistic maximalist spreads, and the simple minimal ones.

Bullet Journal Essentials

  • Notebook
  • Writing instruments
  • Rulers and stencils
  • Washi tape
  • Stickers and Printables
  • Storage

Notebook for the minimalists:


This is easy.

Do you have a notebook lying around the house? Great. Use it.

But really, for minimalist bullet journal spreads, any notebook will do. You might have a problem depending on which pen you’ll be using, but as long as you remember this formula it’ll be alright:

Cheap notebook = Cheap pen

The thing is, when you’re using a cheap notebook, it is likely using cheap paper. When you use an expensive pen, you might have the ink bleed, feather, or ghost. This might result in unintelligible text, or the ink going through, making your bullet journal impossible to read.


Feel free to use a more expensive notebook if you feel like using a more expensive pen. If you’re using something like a fountain pen, I would highly suggest you use more expensive paper.

Keep in mind, the price isn’t what’s keeping the ink from messing up the paper, it’s the thickness or the GSM(Grams per Square Meter).

When deciding which paper to go with for more expensive pens, always try to go with 80 gsm and above. These are more or less going to prevent the ink from becoming a mess.

Lines, Blank, Or Dotted Paper

If you want a simple list or if you’re sticking to the original system, I would suggest going with lined or dotted paper.

This will make it easier for you to follow the guides and make you spread neater and more intelligible.

You can save time from not having to draw the lines and dive straight into planning your tasks.

Check out our articles for Lined Paper, and Blank Paper for a more in-depth analysis of why you should pick one.

Notebook for the maximalists:


This, too, is easy.

When going for the maximalist spread, or the artistic spread, go with more expensive notebooks. This will be around the $15 – 30 range.

The reason being is that cheap notebooks will likely have fewer pages and cheaper paper.


The absolute minimum for this will be 80 GSM. To be safe, get something higher to make sure your journal doesn’t get ruined.

The gsm is highly dependent on what you plan on doing with it.

For some color coding, their journals with moderately expensive pens are what they plan to do, for which 80 or a little bit higher gsm will do.

But for those who plan on painting and the like, well, the higher the better.

Lines, Blank, Or Dotted Paper

For the paper, you’ll likely want to choose between the dotted and the blank paper.

You wouldn’t want the lines of your pages ruining the masterpiece you’ll be placed on your notebook, right?

If you really want to use it as a dedicated creative outlet, then blank all the way.

For those who want to have the journal somewhat in between, I suggest a dotted notebook.

Writing Instruments For The Minimalist

  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Highlighter

I was debating on whether to include the highlighter for the minimalist spreads but, it does have its use.

For the minimalist spread, it’s as simple as using any pen or pencil lying around the house. As long as you can write with it, go ahead and do so.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t recommend something like a fountain pen.

Personally, I started with a cheap pen, but I found that I kept on running out of ink faster and faster the more I had to do. I used 4 pens in a span of 2 months before I tried using a fountain pen.

Suffice it to say it was worth it. It was a small investment, though I plan on using this pen for quite some time.

The highlighter, as I mentioned, has its use for the minimalist spread as having things color-coded does help some. I don’t use one, but I know people who do, and for them, it helps a lot.

So don’t be a minimalist snob, and use it if you find it helpful.

Writing Instruments For The Maximalist

  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Highlighter
  • Markers
  • Felt Tip Pens
  • Fineliner Pens

It gets a bit complicated for the maximalists out there.

I’m pretty sure that if you decide on going with a maximalist or artistic spread, you’re prepared to equip yourself with the tools needed. Also, those listed above are those that are usually used. Feel free to add on your own if you find that it’s not there.

As you can see, the writing instruments for maximalists are more than black and white.

You can expect more color coding with your spreads, and time spent focused on the artistry of the notebook.

I understand how therapeutic a spread like this can be. While I myself lean towards a minimalistic spread, I have a great appreciation for the masterful art I see in the pages of bullet journals.

It’s one of the things I like about the bujo community.

Rulers For The Minimalist

Depending on what you’re going for, a ruler might be needed to keep the page clean and crisp.

The bullet tracks a great many things, and the most basic format of a tracker is table or list. I’m sure that you’ll find a ruler useful in making this and making the page visually appealing.

Having it neat does help it become more efficient and easy to use.

If you don’t mind crooked lines then go ahead and skip the ruler, you savage.

Rulers And Stencils For The Maximalist

For the maximalist, you’ll need straight lines and friendly shapes of all kinds.

For those, you’ll need rulers and stencils.

It’ll be a great help for you to have these on hand, particularly when your doing spreads or logs with many repetitive shapes.

You can also use the shapes in your stencils as your key for some of your trackers.

Also for some, their stencils come with rulers attached as well. You might want to have it all in one, however, given the number of tools you have in your utility belt, I’m pretty sure you’ll have both.

So whatever you go with, be sure to have both at arm’s length for when you need it.

Washi Tapes For All

The all-purpose tapes are here and they don’t discriminate.

Whether you’re a minimalist or maximalist, you can use washi tapes to organize your notebooks for a better experience.

You can use them to attach important stuff, for markers, or just bunching used pages together. These paper tapes will allow you to become more efficient when handling collections too, making them into tabs, or color-coding them.

While these are extras for minimalists, maximalists will often use them for more than organizing and will be an important part of their bullet journal supplies.

You want an added bonus? Washi tapes mostly have cute designs and serve an aesthetic purpose as well. They can be used to hide mistakes, or as guidelines, in your spreads.

Stickers and Printables For All

In the bullet journaling community, you can buy stickers and printables online.

These are usually items that you stick to your notebook to use as a pre-made collection or section that you can use to track various things.

They are visually appealing and enhance the aesthetic appearance of your notebook.

For minimalists, these peripherals not only serve to enhance the look of your notebook, but they also save you a decent amount of time when setting up collections or trackers of your own.

For maximalists, they have the added bonus of easy aesthetics to enhance what you have already made.

Bonus: If you’re aiming for a more maximalist spread but aren’t artistically capable, these will help greatly. You’ll be able to choose a theme as well as labels that will let you design your notebook however you want.

Storage For Maximalists

For maximalists, as time goes on, you’ll find yourself getting more and more supplies.

Pretty soon you’ll need a good place to store them. It’s also important that you get good storage for your supplies to always be organized and safe. You wouldn’t want them all over the place and or missing, right?

Tips For Both Minimalists and Maximalists

  • Have Fun With It
  • Get To Know Your Stuff
  • Try New Things

Have Fun With It

I get it. You’re starting with the bullet journal to improve yourself and get your life in order. Sure, that’s quite a task, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun while doing it.

It’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself when making the bullet journal. You can have imperfect spreads, or maybe you got home and were too tired to log in your data. All those things are okay.

Just log them on the next day, or just cover the mistake with white out.

Just remember, that this whole system works better when your mind is at ease. In fact, that’s what this system is aiming to do.

Get To Know Your Stuff

Like with anything, practice makes perfect.

You can’t expect to start the journal and have it so that everything is perfect and running smoothly.

You will run into mistakes, and that’s okay. Just keep on doing it and learn from that.

This is also where minimalists with cheap notebooks have an advantage. They don’t have the pressure of having to keep the notebook in tiptop shape.

Either way, don’t expect to have the best notebook in the beginning.

Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Things

There are many things that you can do with the bullet journal.

Not all of them will work for you.

It’s important to try as many formats, collections, and trackers to make sure you get the most out of it. You can try a minimalist spread, then try your hand with a maximalist spread.

Who knows you might have more fun with an artistic spread, or you might find you have a hidden talent.

You might be forcing yourself to use a system or method when you can choose another path and have better results.

You don’t really need to worry about being wrong as well, or tweaking it to suit your needs.

Like I said, the system works in a way that whatever works is right.


Jm here! I run the Scribbler Planet website. If you're new to bullet journals and journaling, I think I can help you out. I've always had problems with keeping on track with what I'm doing, so when I heard bullet journaling could help I tried my hand at it. Here we are about a year later and I'm glad to say it significantly helped. Here's hoping I can help you do the same!

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