A notebook (also notepad, writing pad, drawing pad, legal pad, etc.) is a book, usually of paper, of which various uses can be made, including writing, drawing, and scrapbooking. Notebooks can be distinguished along several dimensions and sub-dimensions:
The specific dimensions determine the most suitable usage for a given type of notebook.
It is frequently cheaper to purchase notebooks that are spiral-bound, meaning that a spiral of wire is looped through large perforations at the top or side of the page. Other bound notebooks are available that use glue to hold the pages together; this process is commonly referred to as "padding". Today it is common for pages in such notebooks to include a thin line of perforations that make it easier to tear out the page. Spiral-bound pages can be torn out but frequently leave thin scraggly strips from the small amount of paper that is within the spiral, as well as an uneven rip along the top of the torn-out page. Hard-bound notebooks include a sewn spine, and the pages are not easily removable. Some styles of sewn bindings allow pages to open flat, while others cause the pages to drape.
Variations of notebooks that allow pages to be added, removed, and replaced are bound by either rings, rods, or discs. In each of these systems the pages are modified with perforations that facilitate the specific binding mechanism's ability to secure them. Ring-bound and rod-bound notebooks secure their contents by threading perforated pages around straight or curved prongs. In the open position, the pages can be removed and re-arranged. In the closed position, the pages are kept in order. Disc-bound notebooks remove the open or closed operation by modifying the pages themselves. A page perforated for a disc-bound binding system contains a row of teeth along the side edge of the page that grip onto the outside raised perimeter of individual discs. Pages can be added or removed at any time by peeling the perforations away from each disc.
Artists often use large notebooks which include wide spaces of blank paper appropriate for drawing. Lawyers are also known for using rather large notebooks known as legal pads that contain lined paper (often yellow in color) and are appropriate for use on tables and desks. These horizontal lines or "rules" are sometimes classified according to their space apart with "wide rule" the farthest, "college rule" closer, "legal rule" slightly closer and "narrow rule" closest, allowing more lines of text per page. When sewn into a pasteboard backing, these may be called composition books, or in smaller signatures may be called "blue books" or exam books and used for essay exams. In contrast, journalists prefer small, hand-held notebooks for portability (often called reporters' notebooks), and sometimes use shorthand when taking notes. Scientists and other researchers use lab notebooks to document their experiments. The pages in lab notebooks are sometimes graph paper to make it easier to plot data. Police officers are required to write notes on what they observed whilst on duty, to do this they use a Police notebook.
Digital paper combines the simplicity of a traditional pen and notebook with digital storage and interactivity. By printing an invisible dot pattern on the notebook paper and using a pen with a built in infrared camera the written text can be transferred to a laptop, mobile phone or backoffice for storage and processing.