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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Guest post: Federal Supply Memoranda notebook review

Many thanks to Jane for this guest review!

My name is Jane, I'm a middle school art teacher, and I've been a part of the Plannerisms and planning community since 2009. Thanks to this site, I've finally found what works for me, and hope to pass along ideas to someone else. A huge thanks to Laurie for letting me write this and for all her amazing work here and all over the internet!

About three months ago, I realized I needed a "ubiquitous capture device," in addition to my planner. In the past, I've tried to make my planner as small as I can. I've tried pocket Filofaxes, mini Filofaxes, and lots of pocket sized notebooks such as Moleskine, Field Notes, and off-brands. Yet, I never had enough room for planning or making diagrams. So, I realized I need something I can write in on the go, and add to my personal Kendal Filofax later.

However, I think I've found it. Everyone in the planner community calls it 'their unicorn" and although I like the mental image, I choose a different one. I call this my holy grail.

Behold the humble Federal Supply Memoranda Notebook!
The front and back of the Memoranda book


This notebook measures 3.625 inches (3 5/8 inches or 92 mm) by 5.625 inches (5 5/8 inches or 143 mm).  It is 1/4 an inch wide (.5 inches or 12.7 mm) and has a flexible cover.
Flexible cover

The inside has a blank page, that I'd use as an index.
Index page

The spacing on the blue ruled paper is a 1/4 of an inch (.25 inches or 6.35 mm). You can see the comparison to Filofax ruled paper.
Ruled pages

The binding is actually sewn together. It contains 72 pages, so 144 front and back. This does not have flatability when you first open it. You can get some, but not all the way.
Stitched and glued binding

This is a hardy notebook. It takes being roughed up quite nicely. I really like the vintage look of the notebook, so I decided to color the outside edge a different color, so I can find what I need. I had a black marker handy, and the rest is history.

This notebook doesn't have a page marker, elastic closure, or an internal pocket. I'm probably in the minority here, but it doesn't bother me.

Also, about 4 out of the 12 came with odd corners--they were either over shaven or irregular. Just something to be aware of.
Takes a beating yet still holds it together


Compared to both a Moleskine or Leuchtturm1917, I actually like the feel of the Memoranda book. Why? It slides into my pocket easier. The Memoranda book is slightly taller than a pocket Moleskine and narrower in the width. Plus, this thing is going to stay together much longer than a Moleskine Cahier or Volant. The covers have fallen off previously owned Cahiers and pages have fallen out of my Volants.

Comparison to a pocket Moleskine

However, it's shorter and more narrow than a pocket Leuchtturm1917.

Comparison to a pocket Leuchtturm1917


I'll admit, I used to be a pen snob. I had to write with gel ink and only certain pens would do. However, with teaching, I don't have time to wait around for my ink to dry. It's amazing how your priorities change when you're dealing with 30 middle school kids armed with art tools. (Fun fact: a tween translates that term into 'weapon,' by the way.) So, I tend to use ballpoint or pencil.

Check out how your weapon, er, writing tool fairs below.
Front of pen test

Back of pen test


I was able to purchase 12 of these notebooks for $12.99 including free UPS delivery. That's a cost of $1.08 per notebook, while a single pocket notebook of any other brand will be around $10.  You can order them here for that price.

They also sell a shorter, top opening version here.

And a reporter style version here.

Amazon also sells them, but they are MUCH more expensive. They sell 3 notebooks for $9.99, plus shipping.


Now, I know members of our community will balk at the army forest green and gold decor. I personally love it. It's just so . . . different than the bright pinks, blues, purples, and neon colors that are the current trend.

But if you dig bright colors, bust out the washi, duct tape, or scrapbook paper (and cover it with clear packing tape) to create your own covers! The possibilities are endless. You could decorate each one according to the major month's holiday. You could take a lovely card that was sent to you and recycle it for a cover. You could decorate it all in stickers. 

The options are mind boggling.

I'm not sure if this would fit into an official Midori Traveler's passport notebook (I think it's too tall), but I'm sure you could contact other members of our community to make you one.


The really neat things about these notebooks is that they are made by Industries for the Blind. You can read more about their services on the PaperClipsetc.com website.

I've done some limited research, and apparently, these notebooks have been manufactured for 40 years. If you go to this eBay listing, you can see they used to be produced in hardback. 

However, I read during the 90's, they stopped producing hardback versions, and converted to soft covers instead. If anyone knows about these, or has a collection of them, please tell us in the comments below!
This is how I roll. I keep my current list open or open to a blank page folded over with my Zebra 301F Compact pen. (It unfolds into a full size pen. You can purchase the 301F at Jet Pens.)


You might wonder how I stumbled across this humble notebook. I found this YouTube video. It is a riot--seriously, no eating or drinking while you're watching. And the best part--he hits on a major planner truth . . . SIMPLE IS GOOD!


  1. Love the Texan sized post..... awesome review Jane

    1. Thank you Deborah!
      I thought I posted this thanks when this went live, but I guess Google was censoring me :)
      Appreciate it!

  2. I just commented and google ate my comment. Jerks.

    Anyway, this is SO INCREDIBLY PERFECT and I'm ordering some RIGHT THIS DANG SECOND. Thanks, Jane!

    1. Joshua,
      You are welcomed! Be sure to tell me what you think of them when you get them. Also, did you watch the hilarious video I attached? It is so funny!

  3. There's also the military green book, though a bit pricey from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Military-Book-Memorandum-LogBook-7530-00-222-3521/dp/B0064M7X30. It's your basic lined journal, hard backed, and there are 3 sizes (the one in the link is the smallest). It's an updated version from when I was in the military. Then, we had cloth covers on the books, but now they have a more modernized one. If you ask any former US military about it, they will know instantly about these books. They were everywhere!

    1. Linda,
      Do you know any of the history of these? Like who decided to make them, if any famous generals or commanders or anything has a collection on display?
      In short, any of their history?

    2. Jane, only my association with them. I remember signing for supplies in the largest version of them (legal sized), in the old days before there were computers. The books were everywhere, usually with a coffee ring somewhere on them, or stuck in an office mail box.

  4. I carried one of these in my pocket for many of my 26 years in the military. I had to smile when I saw the picture in the post! Washed in the laundry, smudged with grease, sweated on or dropped on the ground, my little green book was a lifesaver. Many maintenance folk (in the US military, anyway) have one of these for jotting down part numbers, passwords, phone numbers, etc. When mine started falling apart I would get a new one, transcribe everything over and start anew. The green books spoken of by Linda Maye Adams were another familiar sight. We used those a lot as log books. Seeing the picture brought back a lot of fond memories! You definitely cannot tear that little notebook up.

    1. Melanie,
      So glad you liked the post!
      You wouldn't happen to have any of your notebooks, would you? I'm sure we'd love to see photos!

  5. One word - want! Okay, more words - thank you for including some of the history. :)


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