Handmade Notebooks – blank or ruled

Customer Request: some pages ruled

Handmade Notebooks – plain or ruled?

Moleskine Notebook

Fashionable Commercial Notebook

Handmade notebooks are not often ruled, whereas many commercial notebooks contain preprinted guidelines.  You see bright young things in fashionable coffee houses with Chicskine notebooks and equally smart phones.  Guidelines keep their writing neat, though the Chicskine and its cover may be more important than the contents of the notebook.  It is a book not to be ashamed of, but it isn’t original and curious.  No one is going to cry out – ‘Hey, where did you get THAT from?’  Central Store.

How were books ruled in the past?

Dark Age monks used the end of a blunt knife or a bent pin to score lines in vellum, and, later, in paper – with a wooden rule.  Pricking and pressing the point too hard weakened the parchment or paper.  That’s torn it is probably a bookbinder’s expression when pulling too hard on a thread.

Ruling tools medieval

Ruling Stylus and Ink Tray

Feint- Ruled or Faint-Ruled?

Matthew making a handmade book

Ruling Handmade Gospel

Both are valid.  A feint was a thin ruler or template for marking lines consistently and the object was to produce faint or barely perceptible lines which guided handwriting.  The use of an implement such as a stylus (used for writing on wax tablets in Roman times) did the job.  Reed pens and ink produced bold lines of varying width.  Chalk and charcoal were too thick.  Paper could be pressed on a ruling frame which left indentations.

Lead Pencils

Pencils are not made from lead but from graphite (an allotrope of carbon) which was called plumbago or black lead.  They appeared in the 16th century.  The Romans may have used actual lead (Pb – plumbum) for making marks because they produced tons of the metal; but they became aware of lead poisoning.

Printing your own lined paper with computer and printer

There are many templates on the internet for lines and graphs.  They are useful for practicing calligraphy.  Search on calligraphy guides or ruled paper templates.  Here is one example:

Turn a Blank Notebook into a Lined Notebook

Music Manuscript

I came across a picture of Alice Elgar ruling paper for her husband Edward in the late 1890s.  She appears to be using a dip-pen and ink.  Hand-ruled paper had not been ruled out (sorry) by the end of the 19th century.

Undersheet Bookmark

Here is an undersheet for an A6 notebook.  It can be ruled with thick black lines to sit under each page and act as a guide.  However, the text paper may be too thick for the lines to show through.

Notebook with Bookmark

Handmade Notebook with undersheet bookmark: can be ruled as a guide

Steve Mongkut

Posted by SteveMongkut