Friday, July 1, 2011

Rhodia No. 11 Pad

The Rhodia No. 11 Pad is one of those items that has become so ubiquitous in my desk drawers, it is astonishing that I have not reviewed it before.  This is even more astonishing when you consider that this same paper pad has made an appearance in most of my pen reviews.  (The Rhodia pad first appeared in my review of the Uni-ball Fusion, a pen that ultimately proved disappointing; luckily, the pad did not disappoint.)

Rhodia No. 11 Pad posing with a Stabilo Bionic pen.
Let me first draw your attention to the size of the Rhodia No. 11 Pad.  At 7.4 x 10.5 cm, this small paper pad will fit with ease and comfort into nearly any pocket.  As for the cover, it is made of a durable coated material, attached with a single staple to the pages.  A stiff cardboard backing provides a firm surface to write on, and the front cover is cleverly scored to allow it to fold over the back of the pad:

The clever cover scoring in action.
These Rhodia pads are available in both orange and the more staid black.  Both covers wear the Rhodia logo prominently (and proudly) on the front cover.  The back cover contains information about the pad:

The back cover.  Ignore the gluey remnants of a price tag that I was unable to remove cleanly.
Opening up the Rhodia No. 11 Pad reveals the 80 sheets of 80 g gridded "high grade vellum paper."  (I'm not exactly sure what "high grade vellum paper" actually is, but it sounds impressive, right?)  The paper is very smooth and very white (wet pens dry slowly on this paper, a hazard that left-handed writers especially should beware of).  The grid is printed in violet lines, a nice contrast to the orange cover, although some purple, violet, or blue pens may not show up that well.  The squares are 5 mm, ideal for those with small handwriting.  The pages are perforated at the top of the pad, and tear off very cleanly.

Curiously, this photo makes the lines appear pale blue.  In fact, they are darker and violet.
All pens that I have tried perform very well on this paper (click through some of my past pen reviews to see even more writing samples).  Feathering and bleedthrough are minimal to nonexistent with most pens.  As seen in the writing sample below, the only pen that really showed any significant bleedthrough was, unsurprisingly, the Sharpie marker.  The Uni-ball Vision and Pilot V5 Hi-tecpoint showed slight bleedthrough; since you probably wouldn't be using the back of the paper anyway, none of this really matters.  The Uni-ball Vision showed some very slight feathering, but it was barely noticeable.  The only real issue that some might have with the paper is, as I mentioned earlier, drying time, especially with wet pens, although it hasn't bothered me at all.

The writing sample, front (left) and back (right).  Click to see larger.
The Rhodia No. 11 Pad is one of my favourite writing supplies (it even showed up on my list of top ten supplies for 2010).  It is, however, not perfect.  Rounded corners, for example, would give the pad a classier appearance, reduce wear on the corners, and improve comfort if you're keeping it in your pocket.  The violet grid could be a bit fainter, to conflict less with your writing (especially if you use fine-point pens with violet ink), although if the grid really bothers you, you might be better off checking out a pad with a dot grid.

The most annoying thing that I have found is that the cover, once folded back, never returns again to a perfectly flat position:

To solve this, I use a wide elastic band to hold the cover down and prevent the pages from flapping about:

This looks kind of ugly so I wonder if some sort of closure could be invented that would keep the cover closed?  But then again, any addition would likely detract from the classic simplicity that is embodied in the Rhodia No. 11 Pad, so perhaps it is better left just as it is....

Finally, happy Canada Day to all of my fellow Canadians!

Related reviews: Gourmet Pens, Pens 'n' Paper.


  1. Thanks for this look at a notepad that's become a sort of workhorse for me.

    For rounded corners on a premium-quality notepad, Heather, there's something called Quattro by the Handbook Journal Co., distributed by Global Art Materials. I'm not sure about Canadian availability, but I found mine at a regional (Ohio) arts and crafts store. There's an Amazon (US) presence, I think, and Global Art Materials has a Web site.

    Like my ZEQUENZ journal, the Quattro impressed me for its extraordinary quality of construction, its paper, which may be an art paper such as mulberry (not sure), and overall "engineering/design" vibe.

    To secure the cover, T. M. Lee of Singapore (at FPN) uses a rubbar band in what I call the dog-ear backstrap configuration. Loop a rubber band at the northwest dog-ear of the notepad. Draw the rubber band around the back of the notepad from northwest to southeast. Loop again at the southeast corner. You may have to experiment a little to find the right rubber band.

    All the best. Jack/Youngstown

  2. Agreed withe everything you said here. The Rhodia pad is astonishing in just about every where, except for the cover to have a tendency to stay open, but otherwise the paper is pure joy.

    If only more Moleskine users would try Rhodia to see how the performance of the paper compared...

    Great review!

  3. Economy, I agree, Molie has strong competitors; I've got a few Molies but'll stick w/Rhodia and other brands.

    Buying can be a little frustrating. Maybe two-thirds of my pretty modest desk rig comes from online purchasing. As long ago as the 1980s, I'd have to order drafting pencils (Lumographs) from a jobber 300 miles from here. And, I live in an industrial area, too. Jack/Youngstown

  4. Thanks for the great comments, everyone!

    I agree that buying many of these brands can be challenging. Moleskine seem to be the only brand that is readily available in stores around here. The only place I have seen Rhodia is at my university bookstore, and for most other brands I have to look online. It makes it difficult for Moleskine users to find anything better...

    Thanks for the Quattro notepad recommendation, Jack. I'll certainly keep it in mind for future purchases.

    1. Hi Heather,

      You can check out our online store for rhodia notebooks here - You don't need to find product in your university bookstore but you can buy any brands notebook & journal from our online store. We have exclusive online store for moleskine, ciak, copic, Leuchtturm, fiorentina journals.

      It's about interest you can't compare the any brands with the anyone.


  5. I'm a serious notebook addict so this is a great blog for me, really like the drawings from nature section.

  6. Thanks, Greg, and I hope to hear from you again in the future!

  7. Hi Heather,

    Hi fellow pad freaks,

    H., your Rhodia spiel is spot-on. We use rhodia 8X12 and quattro 8X12 exclusively. Work gives us no other choice, as we gotta have a cover on our pads for information security. rhodia and quattro are the only legal pads I know of with a cover. Anyone know of others?

    quattro paper is much higher quality than rhodia ... almost too high, feels wasteful for taking notes.

    keep scribbling!


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