Bullet Journal · fountain pens · Organising · Planning · Stationery · Tips and Tricks

4 Incredible Stationery Hacks!

I’ve been seriously into planning and planners and all things stationery related for a year and a half now. Today I want to share with you four things that made my life so much easier when I found out about them. They seriously changed my planner happiness (and perfection)!!

1. Highlight first, then write!

This is one of those really frustrating things for those of us who like “wetter” pens like fine liners and fountain pens. When we write, we can’t highlight, or we’ll smear everything around like crazy. But someone in a planner group told me to highlight first and then write, and it totally works!!

Here are the pens I tested this on, I didn’t have many gel pens, so I couldn’t show more of them. Top one is the only gel pen I have, under it three ballpoint pens, then six fine liners and finally three fountain pens.


Here is a list how all of them write and their names:


Here are the four highlighters that I used. The Stabilo Boss is probably one of the best known highlighters, then the BeetleTip highlighter (which can do a broad line, a double line around your word or just a small single line), then a new one I just got in from Aihao and finally the famous Mildliner by Zebra.


This is what happens when you write first and then highlights… Smearing all over the place, so bad!!


So, the highlighters on the right side, pre-lighted, before I write over it:


And this is what it looks like if you write over it:


So much better, right? The line is a little thicker over the highlighted pieces, but it’s so much more readable! Sure, it requires some rethinking, but especially if you’re working in a planner and you now that some words need highlighting, like certain tasks, it’s easy enough to highlight first and write second.

(And sorry about the mess on the far right side… I had to clean the tip of the highlighter before going over the next pen sample, or the smearing would have been even worse!)

2. Perfectly matched colours in one pen!

So many people these days use the amazing Mildliner highlighters (I adore them!) or the Tombow Dual Brush markers, but did you realise that they also allow you to basically do two things with the same pen? These pens have nibs on both sides, so you get a really big end and a small end. So you can write and draw with them in a single pen and they will be perfectly matched in colour.

And I got this really cool set of highlighters and fineliners in one from one of my favourite Dutch cute webstore MostCutest they’re from a brand called Aihao (my gel pen from the picture above is also from them). They’re really cute!


Pens, side by side, all the caps still on them:


And open. See? You get a highlighter or brush pen on one end and then a smaller felt tip or fine liner on the other end. Instant colour matched tasks and words! No more trying to match all the colours (like I did in my review of the Stabilo Point 88 and Point 68), but both in a single pen.


Close ups of both sides. Broad on one side and thin on the other side. And if you don’t want to open your pen all the time to check which side is what. It’s written on the pen itself. The Mildliner says Bold on one side and Fine on the other, the Tombows don’t have words but they have the image of a brush pen on one end and an image of a felt tip on the other end and the Aihao is a combination, it has both the words Thick and Fine but also images of a highlighter and a fineliner on the ends.


I think this is such a cool idea and I hope more companies will do this because it makes taking your planner supplies with you so much easier! No more two pens for each, but just one! (You listening, Stabilo?)

3. A4 pages makes two A5 pages and one A5 makes two A6!

If you get all confused about the A-size papers and how they relate to each other, it’s quite easy and really ingenious! I know that in the US, the A-size papers are a little confusing because things like Letter and Personal and Legal size are much more standard there, but the A-size papers are an official paper size in industries all over the world and knowing how they relate will make shopping online so much easier!

I’ll be talking about A4, A5 and A6 here, but these principles also work all the way up to A0 and down to A9 or A10 (I don’t know how small it goes but technically it’s infinite).

This is a standard A4 size paper, it’s 297mm (11.69 inch) by 210mm (8.27 inch), looks pretty plain, right? But the way this paper works is that if you fold this in two, you get something cool:


One A4 makes two A5 pages. The smallest side stays the same and the widest size is cut in half. Now you have half the paper.


And if you fold it back out, you can see how it’s exactly an A4 again.


An A6, is half an A5. The smallest side becomes the widest side and the widest side gets cut in half and becomes the smallest side again, and this one is positioned again like the A4 did earlier


Here you can see it better. A4 and A6 both work in the same direction.


And even cooler: an A6 fits into an A4 four times!


Here you can see two A6 and one A5 that together cover the A4 paper.


Knowing this is of course cool. Who doesn’t like knowing awesome things? But there are some ways that this is really useful:

  • You can print two A5 planner pages side by side on a single A4 sheet. So you can fold them in half later and make a booklet. And this even works for A6.
  • You can make your own inserts for your planners all from A4 paper and there is no paper loss! You can fold A4 paper in half and stitch or stable in the middle and you have your own A5 booklet! And if you first cut your A4 in half to make A5 pages and then fold those, you get an A6 booklet. Pretty neat, right?
  • If you see a planner page in someone’s A4 planner and you have an A5 planner, you can still use it by turning your book sideways and folding it open. Your two A5 pages will be the same size as a single A4 page. This of course also works with two A6 pages and someone’s A5 page.
  • Hobonichi planners come in A6 (Techo Original and English) and A5 (Cousin). If you buy a cousin you’re literally getting double the space to write on each day.
  • If you want to, you can even print an A5 page on A4 paper if you think the A5 is too small. Just set your printer to “fit” if you have A4 paper and it will print your A5 onto your A4 paper, just making it bigger and it won’t warp any images or graphs or things like that. In the same way, if you think something is too big, or you’re trying to save paper and printing costs (for example, printing an article for your college classes), you can print two A4 pages onto a single A4 page, making them technically A5 sized, and it will only be smaller, all your images and graphs won’t warp.

4. Turn your ruler upside down to prevent smearing!

This one I only found out about really recently. When you’re making nice planner spreads and things like that and you run your pen along your ruler, sometimes it will smear and make the line all ugly. This will prevent that!

This works with most rulers and triangles and any pen, I’ve used a Stabilo Point 68 as an example.


You can see the difference between the lines. The first two on the right are done the normal way, and the two next to that with this trick. (I know, it’s not that obvious here, but we all know what these smears look like)


Most rulers will be slightly bevelled, which means that they’re not flat and square on the top but instead are as an angle. I tried to take a good pic of this, but it didn’t come out as obvious. But the middle of the ruler is almost double as thick as the edge and the underside is flat.


Here you can see that the ruler is exactly flush to the paper. This is of course a good thing then you try to measure something, but when you use something that is a liquid (like ink from a ballpoint or any other type of pen) on the edge of it, the surface tension (yes, going back to high school a little) will act like they’re one surface, so when you then pull back the ruler, you’re breaking that tension and the ink gets pulled along your paper. Leaving that streak. It’s even worse when the ink is able to find some minute space between the paper and the ruler and it tries to squeeze between it, also giving you ugly blobs.


So, to solve those issues, turn your ruler upside down. In this picture you can see the little space between the ruler and the paper (between the edge of the ruler and the shadow of the ruler). If you use it now, the ink won’t be able to get between the ruler and the paper, so no more surface tension and no more ink creep. The space between the two is too big for that, but it’s still small enough that you can do this with fine liners and things like that.


Also, bonus, your ruler won’t get as dirty. Almost all pens will end before it hits the ruler (unless you use felt tips or brush pens or other big tips). So no more constantly cleaning your ruler. Double win!


Whoops! Long post! Anyway, did you see something you didn’t know yet? Do you have your own stationery hacks? Post them below!




4 thoughts on “4 Incredible Stationery Hacks!

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