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Inexpensive Papers For Students

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8 replies to this topic

#1 linkoiram


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Posted 09 November 2019 - 06:07

As of late I have gotten more into fountain pens, and I have since switched from my notes setup of a rocketbook+pilot Frixion pens to fountain pens and printer paper. What I'm mainly working with is cheaper paper, however, I'm wondering what the best choices as far as that goes.

I see the hp premium 32lb paper recommended and I think I'll pick up a ream of the 24lb variant so it is lighter to carry around. Currently I use 24lb generic pen+gear brand Walmart paper and I notice the feathering and bleed isn't too bad, but my pens don't write incredibly smoothly on it, I just don't know how much the hp stuff will make a difference in that aspect.

I also have been looking for inexpensive journals/notebooks and was wondering if the journals on Amazon are decent. It seems the main consensus from my browsing here that paper that is made in India, Vietnam, or Brazil is most preferred, and I've found that even dollar general composition notebooks made in India are pretty good.

The pens I use most are the lamy safari fine with the included ink cartridge (will refill with Waterman serenity blue when I run out) and a pilot metropolitan medium with noodler's black. Recently picked up a wingsung 698 too, but I notice the lamy safari writes scratcher than the others so that might play into it as well.

Funny how I don't mind spending 20+ dollars on pens (drop in the bucket as far as fp prices go) but when it comes to spending that much on paper it is hard to wrap my head around spending a bunch of rhodia/Claire fontaine stuff.

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#2 dennis_f


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Posted 09 November 2019 - 17:27

Hey there Linkoiram... welcome to FPN (by the way, you should post a "hello" in the Introductions thread).


So, in my office a lot of people use fountain pens. Most of us carry a few note/sketchbooks with high-quality paper, but honestly, there's a lot of quick and dirty work that gets done on photocopy paper.


The standard paper we use is 20lb HP.  We do have heavier papier: 24 lb is fine quality for everyday work, and 32 is great (but as you say, it gets heavy if you're toting around a term's worth of work).


In our office we always use brand name paper, and yes, name brand paper always produces better results than the store branded stuff (for example, Walmart brand and (in canada) Staples brand (which i think is the same as Office Depot in the US (I'm not sure where you're posting from))).  


The 20lb Hammermill paper -- also available at walmart -- is not so great.  Someone did post a thread a few weeks ago about the heavier weight Hammermill being suitable. 


One thing I've noticed about using photocopy paper: brightness matters.  Maybe it's just a trick of the eye, but writing on 20lb paper on 92 brightness paper looks terrible compared to the same writing on 20lb/96 bright paper. 


I don't know if you have access to Blueline paper/notebooks where you are, but we do have some of those kicking around the office, and I've found -- surprisingly -- that you can get away with writing on that paper if you're writing with XF nibs, and can accept a bit of showthrough (if i'm FORCED to use Blueline, I only write on one side, and only with XF nibs with lighter saturation inks).  Sure, the line isn't great, and there's some feathering with F and XF nibs, but depending on how tight your student budget is, it might be worth it for you to consider.  But if you have the room in your budget, the 20lb/96 is definitely better.


If you do go this Blueline route, grab a small memo pad before you buy a ream of paper, and give it a quick test.  Then do the math to see if the cost saves you some money.  Again, I'm not sure if you're on a just-barely-getting-by-and-I-eat-ramen-noodles-everyday student budget, or a budget with more breathing room.  I suggest Blueline if you're in the former category.


Bottom line: name-branded paper is better than store-branded and worth the extra cost.  Heavier weight and higher brightness is suitable for note-taking.  Everything else available at Walmart is not so great.  Hilroy papers are not good. Cheap notebooks with cheap paper are always hit-and-miss (usually miss). 


Hope this helps; more people will probably give more suggestions.


#3 Kasyll


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Posted 11 November 2019 - 22:45

linkoiram: you are definitely on the right track with paper made in Brazil, Vietnam, etc.

I found these at Target for 0.50 a pop during back to school sale (all made in Vietnam). They even handle a super wet inked cotton swab like a champ without bleeding/feathering (it does showthru/ghosting on the otherside)! Of course... the paper does crinkle when dried. There are some ink shading as well for super wet nibs.

EDIT: I also cut them in half and use them as note pads, the ruled lines running vertically doesn't bother me at all when you are walking away with a notepad for 0.25 per!! Plus!! Wet dark ink upstages the ruled lines. No problem!

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Edited by Kasyll, 11 November 2019 - 22:58.

#4 linkoiram


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Posted 12 November 2019 - 23:13

Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. I'll look next school season at what is around.

I did get some hp premium 24 lb in the mail today and there is no contest, the paper is significantly smoother than the cheapo paper I had before. I didn't expect it to be so night and day. Probably going to use this as my daily driver scratch paper

#5 dennis_f


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Posted 13 November 2019 - 02:36

Yeah, the 24lb HP is pretty solid stuff.


#6 Samuel_Gray


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Posted 15 November 2019 - 22:30

The unlined paper from Dollar General is surprisingly good with fountain pens.

Samuel Gray- Seneca, SC

#7 LobsterRoll



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Posted 15 November 2019 - 23:03

Just chiming in about having good luck with school sales. Before I got into fountain pens, I bought a bunch of Staples compositions books that I'm still using up, and luckily they have paper made in Brazil. I also picked up a few composition books from Target this year (I wanted grid paper); the same brand as the ones in the photo by Kasyll, with paper made in Vietnam. I've had pretty good experiences with both. It's not the smoothest paper I've every tried, but it's relatively smooth. I've used stub nibs and some wet pens and inks on them.  I haven't had feathering issues or bleedthrough. Showthrough is minimal, so that I can use both sides of the paper.

#8 JefferyS


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Posted 17 November 2019 - 15:29

If you are looking for blank letter-size paper, Double A is very smooth and relatively inexpensive. But you might have trouble finding it locally. It shows up from time to time in cases of 5 reams in Office Depot. But just as suddenly as it shows up, it disappears. 


With an inkjet printer and very little ink, you can convert it to dotted paper or lined paper using a template PDF file.

In the Irish Channel of
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#9 pitonyak



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Posted 21 November 2019 - 03:40

In this thread, I review a bunch of (mostly) HP printer paper




In this thread, I reviewed some cheaper paper and I loved the cheapest yellow pads from staples, very cheap




Next, I tested a bunch of cotton paper




I was going to test some other papers, but have not yet had time. 

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