Cambridge Quad Notebook: The Best Graph Paper

Having just finished a year of math and science heavy coursework, I am confident in stating that the Cambridge Quad Wirebound Notebook is one of the best tools I've used all year. Notebooks may seem like a silly thing to get worked up about, but having used this day-in and day-out for a year I can attest that it makes a difference.

When I first started looking for a notebook I was astonished by how much variety existed (especially in the world of graph paper), and consequently how much vitriol crappy notebooks generate. Everything from paper thickness to perforation was a potential sore spot. After field testing several varieties it was immediately clear that the Cambridge Quad was the winner.

Why this particular notebook? It has the perfect weight paper that doesn't bleed when using a variety of pens (I'm partial to the previously reviewed Lamy Safari with Noodler's Bulletproof Black Ink, and the Pentel Sharp Kerry mechanical pencil). Its perforations make for clean tearing, but are strong enough that they never unwittingly lose sheets. At 70-sheets per notebook, it's not too big, and the wire spiral binding holds up throughout its life (which hasn't been the case for other notebooks I've tried). Another benefit is that there are no delineated margins or hole punches which makes this notebook lefty friendly (being right-handed I only know this through hearsay). Finally, the paper in the Cambridge notebook has a warmer tone which provides for a nice contrast while also making it simple to distinguish any of my assignments in a pile.

While in the past I've used the previously reviewed Whitelines graph paper (which is excellent and offers low contrast quad lines for scanning) I found it too expensive for daily use (not to mention that availability was really spotty in certain sizes). At the end of the day these Cambridge notebooks are good enough that I've stocked up in case they decide to stop production.

 -- Oliver Hulland

Cambridge Quad Notebook

Manufactured by Mead

Sample page:

Ignore my illegible scrawl, but instead take note of the warmer manila tone of the paper.


Know of a better tool, or have a recommendation? Submit a review or request!




  1. Having just finished 20 years of article heavy internet surfing, I am confident in stating that the a typo in the first sentence of a post is one of the sloppiest and most annoying things in eternity. Typos on a web article may seem like a silly thing to get worked up about, but having used this day-in and day-out for 20 years, I can attest that it makes a difference.

      1. “Having just finished” joins the two parts of the sentence before and after the comma (this is what’s known as a gerund clause), so it’s not a run-on sentence.

    1. Sorry about that. Really! I don’t know how I missed it. Even after you pointed out that there was a typo I had to re-read the first sentence several (way too many, to be frank) times before it hit me. Cognitive blindness FTW!

      — oliver 

    2.  I am confident in stating that the a typo in the first sentence…

      Was that supposed to be intentionally ironic? Because otherwise you’re just proving Muphry’s law.

    3. It doesn’t just seem that way, typos in a web article ARE a silly thing to get worked up about.

  2. Notebooks may seem like a silly thing to get worked up about

    You may want to notify every hipster on earth of this fact.

    (Edit: I am in love with my pocket Rhodia)

    1. The cambridge Quad is nice, but Rhodia is the shit.  They are also the only quadrilled option that I’ve located in Seattle that is TOP bound, which is the ideal for us lefties.

      1. Don’t you find that the pink lines in the Rhodia bleed? I spilled water on one of mine and it seemed to turn the affected pages into a bleeding pink mess. With that being said, they are nice notebooks, I just like to maximize paper real estate by writing on both sides of the paper and the top binding made that difficult. 

        1. Despite sitting here with a full cup of coffee that my not-quite-two year old is grabbing at demanding to smell, and living in “the rainiest place”, I had not actually tested their waterproofiness.

          I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Rhodias that were side-bound too, if that’s your preference.  They have a pretty big rack of them at Artist & Craftsman Supply in the U-district, if you’re in the area. (they have a few other stores nationwide as well)

      2. I’ll second the Rhodia.  Mine are orangy/yellow covered, left-wire bound, 5/5 A4 size.   Wirebound is the way to go. No perfs to tear a sheet, though. But I really try not to do that anyway.  (and I also recommend Sakura Pigma Micron 05 pens… 0.45)

  3. These too are my favorites, and as a left-handed individual I agree about the advantages of the “ambidexterity” of this notebook.  However, one disadvantage of this notebook is the existence of the wire spiral itself.  Right now I’m using a Staples brand Graph Composition book (#11624), but would prefer one with the larger size and higher quality paper that comes with the Mead. 

  4. I used to use notebooks, but I quickly found that I would use up some before others. I have had classes where I take 15 pages of notes a week and others where it is more like 5. I settled on 8.5×11 5-Star reinforced lined paper. I keep about 20 sheets on a clipboard and then file them into the binder. 

    Plus, once I started grad school (mechanical engineering), I had access to a super-fast sheet scanner. So, I very easily scan all my notes to have backups or copies for quick reference. Also, if I forget something or I have important other documents to include with it, I can put them in the binder, at the right place

    I too have obsessed both about pencils (actual tool and lead size….Pentel Twist Erase 0.7mm if you’re interested) and paper. As someone who erases a lot, good, thick paper was a must

  5. I’m addicted to Maruman Mnemosyne graph-paper notebooks–expensive (Japanese imports through, but MAN are they nice. Fountain pen, ballpoint, marker, mechanical pencil (0.3-mm 2B leads FTW–also from jetpens), drawing pencil–they take everything as smoothly as you could imagine.

  6. Thank you very much for the kind words. As the Digital Marketing and Social Media manager for the Mead brand, and an AVID BongBoing reader I really appreciate the positive words about our products!

  7. These are excellent notebooks. I particularly like the very strong covers and the perforated edges to the pages. I would say that these notebooks aren’t as good as some of the higher quality engineering pads (green or orange tint, grid on the back, 0.2 inch spacing, and clear on the front), but probably only cost half as much.

  8. My multi-decade scientific career is documented in a large number of double-wire-bound computation books such as

    The paper is thick and off-white to minimize eye-strain, the pages are numbered, and the covers are ~indestructible.

    (My last bulk purchase a number of years ago was for the Ampad 22-157, but a reviewer on Amazon says Ampad has gone to cheaper, thinner paper… Bummer.)

  9. When I was in college, the school bookstore sold a wire-bound notebook that had no lines at all.  Just blank white pages and reasonably stiff covers. Perfect for notes and sketches. Sadly, nobody makes anything like it any more.

    1. What are you talking about? There’s plenty of those around. I think I’ve seen more of those than wire-bound graph, anyway.

      My favorites are still the dots, though. Dot paper is superior to lined, blank, OR graph paper in every way that matters to me. It’s a shame they are so rare!

    2. I have a bugger of a time finding unlined notepads in Australia. I could use an art or sketch book. But to use those 60 pages of super heavy, high-quality paper as a notebook seems wasteful. Especially for the mad prices they charge.

      Happily, just last week I found a source of cheap, unlined notebooks. At an art store.

  10. I came here because I thought “The Best Graph Paper” was a really funny headline for an article. Am *I* ever out of place.

  11. I’ll believe it’s the best when they make a version subdivided into ten blocks to the inch.  Bonus if the back half of the notebook is subdivided to metric, but in a different color so the two kinds of pages are easy to distinguish.  Oh, and water resistant plasticized paper.  And a back rigid enough that I don’t need a clipboard.  

    That’s what I want when I’m drawing or mapping.

  12. Sorry, nope, the best ever is a Komtrak refillable spiral ( I got at Pearl Paint a decade ago.   Super heavy weight 80lb paper, thick plastic covers, virtually indestructible.  You can fill it with any mix of blank, lined, music staff, graph of different scales or various art media papers like for watercolors or charcoal. Literally the last notebook I ever bought.

    1. Thanks for the link. I had forgotten what state-of-the-art web design looked like in 1998.

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