What Is Bullet Journaling? A Newbie’s Guide To Bullet Journaling

For those of you who aren’t up-to-date with the planner community, you may be a bit confused by what all this talk about “bullet journaling” is about (I definitely was).  Here’s how the people at BulletJournal.com define it….

The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less. -BulletJournal.com

     To put it simply, a bullet journal can be whatever you want it to be.  Most people on YouTube use it as a planner that can be customized with trackers, lists, calendars, doodles, etc.  Many also use it as an opportunity to get creative with banners and different writing styles. You can have a lot of fun with it; I’ve personally found it to be very therapeutic.

What do I need to start bullet journaling?


In my experience, I’ve found that most planners prefer to use dotted and/or grid paper notebooks to do their bullet journaling in.  By far the most popular notebook used is the dotted Leuchtterm 1917. These notebooks have numbered pages (which is convenient when creating a table of contents), are hardcover, and have two ribbon bookmarks to make it easier to flip to commonly-used-pages.

Of course, you can use whichever notebook you have on hand. A lined notebook is great if you don’t plan on creating elaborate spreads and prefer a more minimalist look…and for the artistic type who may wish to incorporate sketches into their layouts, blank pages would be perfect! The choice is entirely up to you! My one suggestion would be to make sure the pages of whichever notebook you choose has thick enough pages that you won’t run into issues with your pens/markers bleeding.


There aren’t any specific pens that you must use for bullet journaling…it’s all about preference! Use whatever works for you! I personally love using the PITT Artist Pen in size small (and sometimes medium), and the Pigma MICRON pen in size 05 and 03. Both are great black pens that don’t really bleed through the pages in my leuchtterm, AND they’re perfect for doing cool fonts. Pretty much 100% of the spreads I’ve shown on my channel were created with one of these two pens.

Another writing utensil I love to use is the Tombow Brush Dual Tip Marker. I really like using the Tombows to add colour to my bullet journal pages and for brush lettering. I’m no expert on brush lettering but I did go through some basic techniques in my latest “Bullet Journal Handwriting” video…it’s worth checking out if you’re up for a bit of a challenge. My go-to colour for the Tombow is colour 553 Mist Purple….it’s a beautiful blue/purple colour that is light enough that it has a watercolour effect to it!

Getting Started

     Based on my own experience, and from what I have heard from you guys, the hardest part about bullet journaling is getting started. I get it, it can be intimidating—ESPECIALLY if you’re following bullet journalers on social media who go all out with their journals. My biggest piece of advice for you is to, in the words of Shia LaBeouf, “just do it!”  Don’t worry about whether or not your handwriting is fantastic, or whether your doodles are the most artsy thing in the world…your bullet journal doesn’t have to be super fancy! But, if you do want it to look cute, just remember practise makes perfect and you can always improve as you go….in fact, I found once I started, I saw drastic improvements with each page I set up.

     If you’re looking for some inspiration, I’m going to include some links to some bullet journal videos I’ve done on my channel. I keep my journal simple, but I also like to do small things to visually make is pleasing to the eye…hopefully they’ll be useful tools for you!

Bullet Journaling UNDER 10 MINUTES: For STUDENTS

Bullet Journaling ON A BUDGET: Lined Page Spreads

Bullet Journaling FOR STUDENTS


What is an Index?

There’s no “right” way to bullet journal, but the component that seems to be used by most bullet journalers is the index. The index is just a fancy word for the table of contents. In the Leuchtterm 1917 notebooks, there’s already a blank table of contents page set up for you so all you need to do is fill it in as you complete your pages. The index will allow you to find the page you’re looking for quickly.


What is a Key?

You by no means have to set up a key, but you may want to consider making one.  Your key is where you decide how you will symbolize the things in your bullet journal. For example you may use a dot to mark a task or a horizontal line to symbolize a note. Once again, the key is completely customizable…do what works for you! The reason I created a key when I first started my bullet journal was just to ensure that I kept my planning fairly consistent throughout my journal. Now that I’ve been bullet journaling for over a year, I don’t feel the need to create a key because I’ve learned which symbols work for me.


Bullet Journal Page Ideas






Other Suggestions….

  • Expense Tracker
  • Reading Tracker
  • Project Planner
  • Study Planner
  • Memories Page




I’d love to get your feedback on this printable’s style, font, look, etc. so I know where I can improve when designing future printables. Be sure to let me know if you have any questions down in the comment section below! If there’s anything major I didn’t cover, I’ll update this post.

Good luck journaling,

Caitlin xoxo

Caitlin Da Silva

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