As an engineer, used to scribbling equations on all spots of white space available on a piece of paper in a notebook, I always found college/wide-ruled or graphing paper to be incredibly restricting. The lines force your equations to take up a certain amount of space and position, which can be sometimes frustrating when you’re manipulating numbers and symbols. But when I switched over to using notebooks with blank white paper, I ran into the issue of having messy pages, with my writing often slanted or slovenly. Simply put, for most of my life, notebook pages forced you to make a choice: order or freedom—never both.

And then I discovered notebooks with dotted pages. Dotted pages are an incredible design because they strike a balance between lined paper and blank paper. The dots provide writers and note-takers with some degree of order, ensuring that the writing comes out straight and does not appear slovenly. Yet the presence of the dots are not as intrusive as lines, and they are certainly more flexible. In a notebook with dotted pages, you can build various shapes and styles of note-taking, just by connecting the dots in the way that you feel fit. And that’s why I think dotted pages are a desirable design: It is aware of both the benefits and negatives of two types of paper and uses all of this evaluation to synthesize a product that is an attractive and appealing compromise.

(Image of Fabriano Eco Qua Glued Notebook, Designers Dot Paper, 5.8 x 8.25; Link for Image:–Designers-Dot-Paper–5-8-x-8-25–A5–MP-77824-003-i1018011.utrecht)