Several months ago the owner of Key Point notebook reached out to me to introduce himself and offer a notebook for review. I declined the freebie and opted instead to purchase it on my own. So in a continuing effort to be as real, raw, and honest about my reviews as possible, I didn’t want to be swayed one way or the other with a free notebook … so here we are to talk about a journal that I bought with my hard-earned moola. Not only did I like the specs on the notebook and unique design, but I also loved the story behind the brand. Before we jump into the guts of the Key Point Dotted Notebook review… let’s hear Ryan’s story.
The Key Point Notebook Story
I’d love to share the story that Ryan, the owner of Key Point, shared with me.
Key Point is a small company based in Denver, Colorado. I personally started the company out of necessity. I was going through a very tough point in my life, dealing with divorce, addictions, and many other issues. My brother reached out to me and told me I should start journaling. The next day I went looking for a journal that I could really connect with and enjoy. I had a hard time finding one on Amazon, so I went to Walgreens and settled on a Black n’ Red hardcover just to get started that day. Going that day and making the choice to start journaling was the “key point” in my life that started a tremendous turnaround. I started tracking my relationships, my health, my spirituality, my finances, and thoughts in general.
Four months and five journals later, I decided to start a business. I decided to start selling journals and the brand Key Point came into existence. While doing research on the market I came across bullet journaling and I started using a dot grid notebook and fell in love with the versatility. So the very first journal is a dotted notebook.
Key Point was created to help people make great changes in their lives through journaling. I wanted to create a professional feeling journal that anyone can use. Currently, we are small and just getting started so there is only one journal. I plan to develop many other journals and products in the future. I am so grateful that my brother reached out that day and got me hooked on journals.
What I love most about this story is how closely it mirrors my own journaling journey. I won’t go into the details of my own life – that’s a story for another blog post – but I can affirm that when you really dedicate yourself to the practice of daily journaling, amazing things will happen in your life. So, of course, I wanted to support this small, local business and the great effort it takes to get something like this off the ground. I love Ryan’s story … but more than that, I also love his journal.
Key Point Dotted Notebook Features & Specs
You can see the details specs below, so let’s just summarize things here. The Key Point Dotted Notebook is an A5 dotted notebook – measuring 5.8” x 8.3” and has a hardcover made of faux leather material with a leather-like texture. The journal only comes in a professional brown color option and the brand’s logo is stamped in gold in the corner of the front cover (I’d rather see this branding on the back cover instead).
There are 200 pages – not-numbered – with no special pages like an index or contact information page. The paper is creamy white and the dots are small and light gray. The dots almost disappear into the paper color from afar but can be seen alright when you’re writing on the page. The paper is 100gsm.
With a slight coating on the paper, inks do not soak into the fibers of the paper unless the ink is extremely wet or it’s a broad nib pen (Jinhao X750 broad nib fountain pen, I’m looking at you!). Ghosting is minimal and really not even visible with many of the pens I tested. I’ll go into more detail about the pen tests below.
These dots are by far some of the smallest and lightest I’ve seen in any notebook. If you’ve got bad eyesight and need darker dots, this might not be the one for you. But if you prefer dots to be unobtrusive so you can express your full creativity, then this is the perfect option for you. The dots go all the way to the edge of the paper and are spaced 5mm apart.
The grid is 5mm between dots with a grid of 40 x 28 dots – but that last 28th dot is literally at the very edge of the page so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the notebooks don’t have that 28th dot (paper shifts during manufacturing so sometimes the trimming shifts the margins, this is normal).
In fact, when looking at the edge of the notebook you can see that some dots got slaughtered in the trimming process. You should not be able to see printed dots along the edges of the pages because that indicates that the dots weren’t printed perfectly square on the page and that when the pages were trimmed after printing that the misalignment caused some of the pages to have different dot grids than the others. However, in looking through the pages I did not notice that any of the lines of dots were misaligned across the two-page spread, so that’s a relief.
You get one satin ribbon bookmark in brown to match the cover color but no back pocket. I love the way the elastic closure band is diagonal across the top right corner of the journal and not one that spans the entire height of the book. Not only is it unique and attractive, but it also serves the purpose of becoming a pen holder. Just lay your pen along the top of the journal, then stretch the elastic into place. It’s surprisingly secure and the pen stays put even when I put it through a “shake test” (yes, this is the first time I’ve ever done such a test on a notebook! LOL!).
BINDING & CONSTRUCTION
This is a sewn-binding notebook, it opens flat and stays put. I also find it interesting how compact the journal feels in my hand. With 200 pages at 100gsm, it’s thinner than other journals in its class making it an easy EDC (every day carry) type of companion. The construction is excellent and I’m sure it will hold up just fine to being opened and closed dozens of times per day.
Key Note Journal Pen Test & Paper Quality
It’s all about the paper, but it’s a huge part of the equation when evaluating the quality of a notebook. I’m happy to report that this journal passes the pen test with flying colors!
GHOSTING | BLEEDING | FEATHERING
As I’ve said many times before, it’s difficult to get a white paper that doesn’t have an issue with ghosting and see-through. A white paper is naturally less opaque than colored paper (which is why you often see journals with ivory or cream-colored paper). But Key Point stands up to this test beautifully. The paper in this journal is a very light cream (nearly white). None of the pens I tested showed any sort of ghosting on the backside of the page. In fact, the indentation of the pen was more prominent than the ghosting of the ink itself. I tend to be heavy handed so this wasn’t a surprise.
Even with the wettest inks I’ve tried there were none with feathering problems. Feathering is when the ink seeps into the fibers of the paper and spreads like a spiderweb (or a feather) outside the line you just drew. Nope, none of that happening… which is a direct result of the coated paper used in the notebook.
FOUNTAIN PEN TEST
Because I’m currently hopping around the rabbit trail of fountain pens, and because I’ve gotten several requests for this test on journals…. there’s a page dedicated to just fountain pen ink testing. I used a variety of nib sizes and several different ink types. You’ll see in the photos below that the only pen with a major problem was the Jinhao X750 which has a broad nib and lays downs a LOT of ink. But the other pens and inks did pretty good. And no feathering either!
ALCOHOL MARKER TEST
I tested an alcohol-based Sharpie Marker just to see how the paper would stand up to the impossible test. (Don’t use Sharpie Markers in your journal! This never turns out well!) Yes, there’s bleeding with that marker, as expected, and definitely ghosting. But the paper held up better than most I’ve tested. I’m pretty impressed.
The pages have a slight coated feeling to them. The writing experience is smooth and pleasant although I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as “buttery smooth.” That slight coating definitely contributes to the lack of bleed-through from the pens I tested.
Pros & Cons of Key Point Dotted Notebook
- I love the story from the owner and how the name of the notebook ties into the changes that journaling had on his life. It’s a notebook created by a journaler who understands what is important for fellow journalers
- High-quality paper with no ghosting, bleed-through or feathering
- The cool diagonal elastic band that doubles as a pen holder
- The professional look of the journal that has the look and feel of leather on the cover
- Super light dots that almost disappear into the page
- The lack of color options for the cover might be a deal-breaker for some
- The lack of page numbers makes it necessary for bullet journalers to manually number the pages
- The bold branding on the front cover is a bit intrusive
- The page margins could be better thought out so as to avoid dots falling off the page when trimmed at the manufacturing stage
- Super light dots might present a problem for those with low vision
I love this journal! I’m impressed with the quality of the paper and the feel of the journal in my hand. The construction is excellent and having a lay-flat spine makes life so much easier when I need to write for long periods of time. Even though the super light dots might be a deterrent for some, I personally love how light they are.
And that diagonal elastic band … why don’t more notebook makers do that? It’s kind of brilliant!
The Key Point Dotted Notebook is worthy of the Stationery Nerd Seal of Approval.
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FEATURES & SPECS | Key Point Dotted Notebook
|Notebook Brand||Key Point|
|Model / Description||Dotted Notebook|
|Hardcover | Softcover||Hardcover|
|Cover Options||faux leather | 2 colors|
|Sizes Available||A5 | 148 x 210 mm | 5.8" x 8.3"|
|Binding Type||sewn binding|
|Paper Color||light cream / whites|
|Dots | Lines | Grid | Blank||dots|
|Grid or Line Spacing||5mm|
|Grid Count||40 x 28|
|Number of pages||200|
|Are pages numbered?||no|
|Bookmarks||1 | satin ribbon|
|Elastic Closure||yes | diagonal corner strap|
|Additional Features||gold embossed branding on front|
Here’s a great image to use on Pinterest.
Journal & Notebook Review Rating Scale
Yes, I know that review up there is super long! You know me... I'm long winded and I think you might want to know every single teeny tiny thing about this product. Sometimes you just need to facts summarized in an easy chart. That's what this part is. Below you'll see my score for this notebook. I've based my score on the following criteria. Open each toggle box below to read more about the scoring system I use.
Notebook Features & Specs
Evaluates the available features of the line of notebooks including special pages included (contact page, index pages, pen tests, perforated pages); special features (bookmarks, back pocket); and additional features (special elastic closure, stickers, tools, pen loop).
- 20 points • PLAIN JANE - notebook includes paper (and probably a cover) but that’s about it
- 40 points • PURELY BASIC - notebook includes one or two features but not anything outstanding
- 60 points • JUST AVERAGE - notebook includes some of the typical features but is missing some
- 80 points • FULLY LOADED - notebook includes all the typical features you’d expect in a notebook
- 100 points • LUXURY - notebook includes every feature you can imagine plus more
Notebook Construction & Durability
Evaluates the overall construction and build of the notebook or journal. Factors considered are binding and lay-flat design; cover durability; bookmark and back pocket stability; paper performance; and the overall feel of quality.
- 20 points • VERY POOR - notebook is not recommended due to poor construction, performance, and stability
- 40 points • BELOW AVERAGE - notebook shows poor construction and has many areas that need improvement
- 60 points • JUST AVERAGE - notebook shows an expected level of construction and adequate performance or durability
- 80 points • ABOVE AVERAGE - notebook shows good construction and is durable in all areas
- 100 points • LUXURY - notebook shows superior quality in construction and durability; feel luxurious
GHOSTING | SHOW-THROUGH | SHADOWING
Ghosting is when your pen strokes show through on the backside of your page and you can clearly see what you’ve written or drawn on the previous page. The combination of paper, ink wetness, and pen nib style contribute to ghosting or show-through.
- 20 points • EXTREME GHOSTING - see-through is so bad that you can’t write on the back of the page
- 40 points • MAJOR GHOSTING - significant ghosting making it difficult to write on the back of the page
- 60 points • MODERATE GHOSTING - some ghosting is visible but writing over it is acceptable for some
- 80 points • SLIGHT GHOSTING - barely visible ghosting and only with wet or heavy inks
- 100 points • NO GHOSTING - no visible ghosting at all
BLEEDING | BLEED-THROUGH
Bleeding is when ink penetrates the fibers of the paper and soaks through to the other side of the page. The combination of paper, ink wetness, and pen nib style contribute to bleed-through.
- 20 points • EXTREME BLEEDING - ink bleeds through the page and soaks into the following page of the journal
- 40 points • MAJOR BLEEDING - significant bleeding making it difficult to write on the back of the page
- 60 points • MODERATE BLEEDING - some bleeding of full words or extra wet ink pen strokes
- 80 points • SLIGHT BLEEDING - minor bleeding when a pen is left on the page for too long or at the end of a line but not visible during normal writing strokes
- 100 points • NO BLEEDING - no bleeding at all
FEATHERING | CAPILLARY ACTION
Feathering is when the ink penetrates the fibers of the paper and spreads outward from the line just written. The feathering happens when ink from your pen is pulled into an absorbent paper via capillary action. Typically seen with uncoated or low-quality paper (i.e. newsprint or cheap school notebook paper) combined with wet ink or broad nib styles.
- 20 points • EXTREME FEATHERING - the paper is so porous that ANY ink type feathers with every pen stroke. This is probably a paper towel or newsprint.
- 40 points • MAJOR FEATHERING - any WET ink shows significant feathering with every pen stroke
- 60 points • MODERATE FEATHERING - certain ink types show feathering but it’s not overly bothersome
- 80 points • SLIGHT FEATHERING - if you look closely you’ll see some periodic and insignificant feathering
- 100 points • NO FEATHERING - no feathering at all