Turn a Blank Notebook into a Lined Notebook

H. C. Marks (@HCMarks) on Twitter asked “do you know of any stencils with which to draw ruled lines in blank notebooks?”

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I have something so much better, at least in my humble opinion. I use a sheet of lined paper that I tuck under my blank page to create perfectly straight lines that are there. But not. Using a guide sheet does not require any prep time. Just slide the sheet behind your current page and start writing.

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And his request could not have been more timely as I’ve been planning to make up a few different line widths to share with readers so that you too can try this. The sheets have pretty thick dark lines that can be seen through most standard writing paper. I’ve tested these sheets in my Rhodia Uni Blank for several weeks.

Guide Sheet, 6mm

With Guide Sheet under Rhodia Paper, 6mm rules

Writing after guide sheet

With Guide Sheet removed.

I have created lined paper guides in 6mm, 7mm, 8mm and 10mm spacing. Each .pdf file includes a full 8.5×11 US Letter sized guide and a smaller 5×7″ guide that you can trim to fit in the average A5-sized notebook. Print out your favorite line width spacing on a laser or ink jet printer. One copy of the guide sheet can be kept in each of your favorite notebooks and should last for a long time. The guide sheet often doubles as a blotter sheet, pen primer or to protect the next sheet from pesky bleed through.






FieldNotes 6mm.pdf

FieldNotes 7mm.pdf

FieldNotes 8mm.pdf


Full Set of Guides (incl. Field Notes size).pdf

When printing, be sure that you choose to print at 100%, do not choose the “fit to paper” option. I ran the lines to the end of the template to maximize guides. Let your printer trim them where it must. For the 5×7″ size, just trim it out. If your favorite notebook is smaller, just trim it as needed.

Using a guide sheet with a blank notebook gives a lot more flexibility. You can sketch and free form on some pages and then use the guide sheets when you want to write. Guide sheets are great with letter-writing pads too.

If there’s interest, I can make up some graph paper sheets as well. Just let me know in the comments what size squares you prefer.

UPDATE: Corrected the 8mm line set to include both sizes. Added a “Full Set” download. And folks asked for Field Notes sized paper. I only did the 6, 7 and 8mm because the 10mm only got a few lines.


24 thoughts on “Turn a Blank Notebook into a Lined Notebook

  1. Pingback: Turn a Blank Notebook into a Lined Notebook | The Well-Appointed Desk | The Cramped

  2. Thanks for the guides! I love college-rule, so I’m going with the 7mm.

    I love graph paper, but I’m thinking that it is better for me to go ahead and buy graph paper, rather than use a graph paper guide. Just my humble opinion.

    Thanks again. Superb!

  3. Thanks for these guides. My handwriting is all over the paper without lines. The 8mm is lacking the smaller version, though.

  4. I’ve been doing this for years, when I used to hand-write homework solutions for my students. I would scan them from copy paper to PDF. I hated how line rules would clutter the page, so I just wrote on blank paper over a (heavily ruled) guide. Thanks for making the various sizes available.

  5. Ooh, excellent! And just in time — I got an order of Tomoe River correspondence pads and ransacked my notebooks for the perfectly spaced (i.e. 6mm) lined sheet for a guide — alas, unsuccessfully. I’ll ask the huz to print out a few sheets of this for me at work on Monday! Thanks for all your effort in making these!

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  7. I print my own guide sheets on Kokuyo 20 hole A5 removable sheets. I stick a half-dozen guides in my snap ring binder each behind a blank writing sheet so the guides are there and ready to go held in place and aligned properly by the binder rings. When I get to the last sheet with a guide behind it, I just move all the guides along in the binder – which takes less than a minute.

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