Sunday, January 16, 2011

Plain, Lined, or Graph?

Because I have very small writing, most ruled pages have lines that are spaced too far apart for me.  Lines on a page also limit the ways you can write and draw on it.  It is for these reasons that I often prefer plain, unlined pages for writing.  Plain pages are better for adding doodles and drawings around my words or for writing in a non-horizontal manner.  And a sketchbook should, of course, be unlined.

Yet lined pages have their benefits - for one, they give the page an orderly appearance, keeping words and sentences lined up properly and improving the ease of reading the writing on the page.  Lined pages can also be interesting to draw on, with the lines adding another element to the drawing.  I have seen many excellent examples of drawings on lined and graph paper, as well as on various pre-printed forms.

Graph paper offers an even greater degree of order, and also, paradoxically, greater freedom.  Graph paper is ideal for precise drawings, graphs, and lining up your words in columns, tables, and blocks of text - all things that would not be possible without the use of a ruler or would just look messy on plain or lined pages.  Graph paper encourages doodlers to fill in the squares in different colours, draw diagonal lines through them, and create intricate geometric mandalas.

There are also other, more exotic formats, such as the dot grids used by the Rhodia dotPad and others, as well as the grid+lines format of Doane Paper.  Unfortunately, I have not yet had the opportunity to try either of these formats, although I think that a dot grid notebook would make an excellent calligraphy journal.

Which do you prefer - plain, lined, graph, or something else entirely - and why?  What do you use the different formats for?
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