Memo Pads and Other Pocket Picks

January 14, 2014 - Posted by Miriam to Guides, Journals / Notebooks

Here at JetPens, we have a soft spot for the memo pad and its casual, free form. It's there for you to jot down notes, observations, and ideas from those bouts of inspiration that come at any which time. Convenience, accessibility, and portability are what memo pads are all about.

Last year, we did a piece on the whys and wherefores of pocket notebooks and introduced some of our favorite ones. Today we want to follow up with a companion article and some fresh picks!


Extremely versatile in their usage, memo pads come in a wide range tailored to different needs. From the most simple of pocket notebooks to notepads with unique designs, we chose some of our new favorites and put them to the test. Click on any of the images below for a larger view.

Maruman M.Memo Mini Notepad
Writing sample on the right
Maruman M.Memo Mini Notepad

This mini notepad has basic down to a science. If you want a simple, functional, travel-friendly option, the Maruman M.Memo Mini Notepad is the way to go. This fuss-free, no- nonsense notepad is pocket-size and perfect for taking notes on the fly. It has 50 sheets of smooth paper, a uniform 6 mm ruling for you to jot down your thoughts. There is also micro-perforation for easy tear-out, so you can leave notes around for yourself or other people.

Our writing test yielded pretty good results! From the pens, there was faint show-through, especially from the gel ink and fountain pen, but no feathering or bleedthrough. Pencil had no show-through, but we like using a ballpoint pen with this notepad for a higher contrast that’s easier to read.

Pair with: Zebra Mini T3 Ballpoint Pen / Tombow Pfit Clip Mini Ballpoint Pen
Best for: Students

Midori Diamond Memo Pad
Midori Diamond Memo Pad
Midori Diamond Memo Pad

For those who want just a smidge more organization to their notebooks, we recommend the Midori Diamond Memo Pad. Originally made as an all-purpose memo pad for businessmen, it sets itself apart from other lined notebooks with its print. Sheets are printed on both sides with a pale bluish gray 5 mm grid, and every fifth horizontal line is bold. By having that bold line, you have an extra way to organize your thoughts. You can even make a weekly schedule!

Midori Diamond Memo Pad
Writing sample
Writing on the front and back of every sheet is easy, because the paper resists feathering and bleed-through, and the twin ring binding keeps your memo pad laying flat. Testing revealed only the slightest show-through from the three kinds of pens and a minor amount of feathering from the fountain pen. For the least amount of show-through, the ballpoint pen is your best bet, though the gel ink pen would do just as well. The flexible, sturdy plastic covers protect your notes against water—your memo pad will survive a few light rain drops. Rounded corners keep the pad from catching as you slip it into your pocket or bag.

Pair with: Ohto Rook Ballpoint Pen / Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock Gel Ink Pen
Best for: Writers

Midori Grain Memo Pad
Writing sample on the right
Midori Grain Memo Pad

If you want a touch of luxury to your notepad, the Midori Grain memo pad is the one for you. This beautifully crafted product is a collaboration between Spain and Japan. Recycled leather is sourced from workshops in Spain, and crafted in Japan into rich, durable covers. With rounded corners and a brown elastic that holds the entire memo book together securely, you don’t have to worry about bended pages when you stow away the pad.

Writing Sample
Back page of writing sample
Inside each memo pad, there are two types of paper: 50 sheets of lined white paper, and 50 sheets of blank cream-colored paper. In the lined section, brown lines are printed on both sides of the page. Like the Diamond Memo pad, every fifth line is bold, dividing each page into four sections. There are endless possibilities for this unique layout. You can plan your schedule using one page per month (each section is a week), or two pages per week (seven sections for the days plus one section for notes), or categorize your to-do's into neat sections. With the blank cream colored paper, let your creative side come out and play without the rigidity of lined paper.

We also did a writing test that produced similar results to the Diamond Memo Pad, except that there was no feathering from the fountain pen. The ballpoint pen had the least amount of show-through, but the negligible amount of show-through from the gel ink and fountain pens also makes them acceptable as pairings for this notebook. We particularly love how elegant it looks with a fountain pen!

Pair with: Pilot Petit 1 Mini Fountain Pen / Ohto Tasche Fountain Pen
Best for: Working Professionals

Kokuyo Design Paracuruno Slanted Page Notebook
Kokuyo Design Paracuruno Slanted Page Notebook
Kokuyo Design Paracuruno Slanted Page Notebook

The Paracuruno was the winner of Japan's Good Design Award in 2005 and for good reason. Its innovative “easy to look-up” pages are designed with a simple slant, making it incredibly easy to flip through the notebook to find what you're looking for. The notebook features a forward and backward slant so you can quickly find your spot whether you're starting from the back of the notebook or the front.

Writing Sample
Writing sample on the left; back page on the right
The one we have spotlighted in the photograph features grid paper, which we love for its versatility. You can write as big or as small as you’d like, divide your notes in any which way, and easily delineate different sections based on your needs. This notebook also comes lined paper in a variety of sizes and cover colors.

Like the previous writing tests, the ballpoint pen fared best with a minimal amount of show-through, and the gel ink pen follows a close second. The fountain pen produced just a tiny bit of feathering, but we would stick with ballpoint or gel ink pens with this notebook.

Pair with: Pentel Slicci Gel Ink Pen / Zebra Minna Mini Ballpoint Pen With Japanese Design
Best for: Travelers

Maruman Pocket Croquis Sketchbook
Maruman Pocket Croquis Sketchbook
Maruman Pocket Croquis Sketchbook

We didn’t forget about the artists out there, and the Maruman Pocket Croquis Sketchbook is our pick for people who can’t be restricted by lined or graphed pages. Whether you are on the train or in the park, the Croquis will provide a platform for creative brainstorm. Each book features a sturdy dual coil binding and one of three types of high- quality art paper tailored for your needs, whether for sketching, drawing, memo taking, or even water color.

Writing Sample
Writing sample on the top; back page on the bottom
We did a writing test using the same pens for this sketchbook too, just in case some of you use pens to draw instead of pencils. The fountain pen did not do as well, with a tiny bit of bleedthrough, but the ballpoint and gel ink pens both performed beautifully, with just a little show-through. Of course, there’s nothing quite like pencil scratchings on blank paper, so we have a couple of mini pencil picks that you can reference below.

Pair with: Ohto Tasche Mechanical Pencil /
Pentel Graftgear 1000 Drafting Pencil
Best for: Artists


We gave you some ideas in our previous article about what you can fill your notebooks with, but in the spirit of the new year, here are a few more things you might want to jot down.

  • Witty comebacks. Never have to think on the spot again!
  • Quotable quotes. Useful for slipping into papers.
  • Compliments in your in-laws' mother tongue. Repeat these phrases to them and bask in the praise that rolls back in.
  • Favorite regular expressions. Here's one of ours: ^([w]{3}\.)*jetpens(\.com)*$
  • As many of the digits of pi you can fit into one page. Just because you can.
  • Diagrams of obscure organs. In case you need a quick refresher before that big surgery.
  • Kobe Bryant's PER. Fantasy sports anyone?


We hope you found this post helpful and you have fresh ideas about how to use your memo pads and pocket notebooks. My resolution is to remember to take my memo pad with me wherever I go. You never know when ideas may bubble up at the most random of times! I’ll leave you with a page from my own notebook of a quote by T.S. Eliot (one of my favorite poets) from Little Gidding, the fourth and final poem of his Four Quartets.

Model Size Cover Binding Paper Perforation
Maruman M.Memo Mini Notepads 4.1" X 2.9" Cardstock Ring Lined Yes
Midori Diamond Memo Pad 2.9” x 4.1” Plastic Ring Lined No
Midori Grain Memo Pad 5" x 3" Leather Ring Lined No
Kokuyo Design Paracuruno Slanted Page Notebook 4.1" X 5.8" Cardstock Glue Graph No
Maruman Pocket Croquis Sketchbook 4.2” x 6” Cardstock Twin Ring Blank No

What are your new year's resolutions?

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