Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Clairefontaine Minuscule Notebook

I won this notebook in a giveaway at OfficeSupplyGeek some time ago, and have been meaning to write a review of it ever since.

Clairefontaine Minuscule

The Clairefontaine Minuscule is a spiral-bound notebook with sturdy plastic covers, and 180 white, lined pages.  The dimensions are 14.8x21cm, not nearly as small as the name "minuscule" originally led me to believe the notebook would be.

I have always had mixed feelings about spiral-bound notebooks - on one hand, I love how they always lie completely flat, but on the other hand, I dislike how impermanent they feel (since pages can be removed so easily, without leaving a trace), and how the spiral binding can become warped with time.  Hopefully, since the Clairefontaine Minuscule uses a double-spiral binding, the latter problem will be minimized here.

Close-up of the Clairefontaine Minuscule spiral binding.

One thing that I have noticed about the spiral binding of this notebook is that it feels very loose, i.e., the front and back covers and the pages seem to shift around a lot.  Looking at the binding more closely, the holes seem a bit larger than usual, which could account for the looseness, but perhaps it is just me.

One of the most noticeable things about this notebook is the window on the front cover.  The picture may appear puzzling at first, but when the cover is opened up it reveals a close-up of the head of a caterpillar and the word "minuscule" with a flying ladybug as the dot of the "i" (a nice touch).  (If insects are not your thing, there do appear to be some other cover designs as well.)

Opening the cover of the Clairefontaine Minuscule.

Inside, the pages are made of white, very smooth, 90g paper wth violet lines 8mm apart (a bit wide for my taste) and running right to the edge of the page.  Ample margins are located on the top (18.5mm) and bottom (15.5mm) of the page.

A look inside the Clairefontaine Minuscule.

All of the pens I tested wrote on the paper very well with very slight to no feathering, showthrough, or bleedthrough, with the exception (of course) of the Sharpie marker.  One important note: probably because of the smoothness of the paper, many of the pens took a fairly long time to dry.

Pen test in the Clairefontaine Minuscule.

[Digression: Why do some people include Sharpie markers in pen tests? They always bleed through the paper and who would want to write in a notebook with a Sharpie marker anyway? Maybe someone would, I guess. But not me.]

Reverse side of the pen test page.
Overall, the Clairefontaine Minuscule is a fun notebook that should play well with most of the pens and inks you use in it.  Although its loose spiral binding and wide ruling will probably prevent it from becoming a personal favourite, it may still be an excellent choice depending on your personal preferences.

A further note: In his original review, OfficeSupplyGeek mentioned that these notebooks were not available in stores, which appears to still be the case.  I did a quick search and the only websites that mention this notebook at all are in French.  So if you want to buy one, good luck, and hopefully these will become more widely available soon.


  1. Nice review - that window in the cover is so cute!

    I love CF paper, of course, but have similar issues with the spiral binding. And invariably, when I'm trying to carry such books in my bag or pack they catch on straps or keys or whatnot and get bent out of shape. On the other hand, I like being able to fold the book back so you can easily take notes on your lap or standing up.

    I've also noticed that although the Miniscule itself isn't readily available, there are still lots of CF spiral notebooks around with essentially the same paper and format. I've certainly seen them in Opus, UBC/Vancouver campus, Reid's in Calgary, for instance.

  2. This is actually the first Clairefontaine notebook that I have used, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more in the future. I haven't seen any in any local stores, but, then again, I don't get out much, so I'll keep looking.

  3. That's a cool little notebook, and I have not seen it before. Somehow I missed the original review at O.S.G. Thanks for the review!

  4. Oh i like this one ^_^ I'm just a random blog person O_O but i'll follow you anyway :)


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