Thin Paper for Notes and Outlines

Yesterday on my other blog, I mentioned some of the advantages of Writing by Hand. By nature I’m a complicator. I never do things one way when I can do them five different ways, which is why I don’t have a single favorite Bible to recommend, or a single piece of software, or a pen, paper, whatever. My workflow these days reflects this complicating urge: sometimes I write notes down, sometimes I type them on the laptop, sometimes I thumb them slowly into the Evernote app on my phone. Since most ideas will be re-worked and re-written, it doesn’t matter how they’re captured. Increasingly I find myself relying on paper, especially now that I can snap a photo of the paper notes and make them searchable in Evernote — best of both worlds.


If you’re writing drafts of a novel by hand, scribbling your outlines on paper isn’t such a daunting task.


When teaching or preaching, which I’m occasionally called upon to do, I’ve started to rely on handwritten notes and outlines more than ever. A few years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of this. Everything had to be typed and laser-printed before I was happy — or if I was lecturing, I created elaborate multimedia slideshows (which I still do for the right context). Something about the immediacy of pen and paper appeals to me, however. The problem is, I don’t like jamming paper into my Bible.

At the risk of sharing too much information, the other thing you need to know about me is that I don’t like bulk and clutter. I don’t want to carry around a bunch of extra ballast when I’m in front of people. If I bring a bunch of books, papers, etc., to the lectern, I end up ignoring them. So when I started using handwritten notes, I took advantage of thin Tomoe River paper, which allows me to interleave pages into my Bible without adding much bulk.


Fold an A5 sheet in half and it fits nicely inside mid-sized Bibles like the Clarion.


I’ve mentioned Tomoe River before on Bible Design Blog. It’s a thin Japanese paper that fountain pen users adore for its ink-handling properties. While it isn’t as thin as most Bible paper, Tomoe River is close enough to be discreet. I can tuck a page or two of notes into the Bible near whatever passage I intend to discuss, and it disappears until needed. In the photos you see my notes from last Sunday written on a folded A5 sheet, which fits nicely in the Cambridge Clarion ESV (although in the pulpit I was using the larger Legacy I wrote about yesterday).

If the idea of handwritten notes appears to you, and you’re as bulk-conscious as I am, you can find out more about my method and sources by following the link: “Writing by Hand.”


The Clarion’s paper is thinner than the inserted notes, but the Tomoe River sheet is still in the ballpark, as you can see.

14 Comments on “Thin Paper for Notes and Outlines

    • Follow the link, Heath, for a couple of sources. TR always seems to be going in and out of stock but I’m had good luck with Nanami especially.

  1. Pingback: Tomoe River in the Bible | Pen Paper Ink LetterPen Paper Ink Letter

  2. Mark,
    I realize this question is equivalent to beating a dead horse, but what is the chance of anyone ever publishing a bible with Tamoe River Paper? According to the specs the notebook thickness is 6/10ths of an inch at 320 pages and I was wondering if you knew whether or not this measurement included the book boards? Or, do you happen to know what is the thickness of the 100 pack of sheets? And not to be a pest, but as an example what would you estimate the thickness of a Clarion with Tamoe River Paper?

    • No idea what it would means in terms of thickness, but Tomoe River would show considerable ghosting. If you look at some of the manuscript photos I’ve posted on the other site, you’ll see how translucent it is. I tend to write only on one side.

  3. At 52gsm I just assumed the paper would be pretty dense, but I guess density doesn’t necessarily equal opacity. The paper in your photos also appears white, have you had any experience with the cream color?

    • I’ve used the cream (which is pictured with the Clarion) but prefer the white. I’ve never seen anything PRINTED on TR so I’m only assuming the ghosting would be comparable to what you experience when writing. Perhaps that depends in the printing process, though.

  4. I’ve been trying to figure out the whole paper/ghosting/thickness issue. Apparently, the reduction of ghosting has more to do with thickness than either density or color. It would be interesting to find out how line matched print would effect ghosting using the TR paper. I wonder if a type writer would provide similar results as factory print?

  5. Mark,

    This is great advise. I live overseas and can frequently get asked to speak on a minutes notice. Consequently, I have a few sermon outlines always in my Bible. This is a great way to always be prepared, while not bulking with the Word.

    On another note, I am planning a 10-year project to transcribe the entire Bible. I want to do it on quality materials and then have it bound and kept as a family heirloom. Would you have any advice on choosing materials for this project? I live overseas, but will be home for 6 weeks this summer and hope to collect some materials then.

    Thanks for the great post!

  6. Simply want paper that holds ink steadfastly & will NOT spread out inadvertently on paper.

  7. Even the sample for Tomoe River paper is $0.50 per sheet!!! Ridiculous. I’ll just type my Bible study notes into a document on Google Drive.

      • Heath,
        Is there a second-best or third-best alternative to Tomoe River paper that I can buy from Walmart or so? thanks for the links. The prices were better but still… $15 for 100 sheets (gulp!).

  8. Is the Tomoe River paper thinner than Vellum paper? which would be better or cheaper? Thank you for your answer.. Cynthia Russell, Slidell, La.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *