When you first start journaling you are immersed into a whole new world. Words like “Migrate”, “Spread” and “BuJo” are thrown around and you may be forgiven to think people are talking in a whole new language!
Below I have created a handy A-Z list of terms that you might need to know as you embrace your new hobby… I may have got a little bit creative for the Z!
A5, A6, B5 etc
This refers to the standard paper sizing that you might choose for your journal. ISO (International Paper Size Standard) ranges from A0 to A7 and B0 to B7. Confusingly, as the numbers increase, the size gets smaller, with each number being exactly half the size of the previous number (i.e. A5 is half the size of A4, and so on). Common sizes used in journals are A5, A6 and B5. (B5 falls half way between A5 and A4).
BuJo is a shortened version of the term BUllet JOurnal. (I also like to think I put the Jo in BuJo… 😆)
A Bullet Journal collection is a page (or group of pages) in your journal that are dedicated to a particular topic. I.e. Reading, Movies, Music, etc.
The pages could be physically clustered together, denoted via page numbers in the index, or colour coded with Washi tape.
A Dutch Door journal spread is made by cutting away part of the page to reveal a permanent dashboard visible over several pages. These can be horizontal or vertical. Dutch Doors are a personal favourite of mine – you will have seen plenty of examples if you follow our YouTube channel!
Event vs Task vs Appointment
In the original Bullet Journal system an Event is signified by a circle, a task with a square and an appointment with a triangle, These are coloured in once completed.
A Bullet Journal future log is a way to plan future events in a system where the month/week is set-up as you go along. A space is created, normally at the start of the journal, where you can add future events. These may be dates that recur every year (like birthdays or anniversaries) or specific to the upcoming year.
GSM and why it is important!
GSM (Grams per Square Metre) is the way in which paper thickness is measured. The lower the number the more lightweight the paper is.
A higher GSM is helpful if you plan on using a lot of coloured pens in your journal. Although do remember that alcohol based markers will bleed* through even the heaviest paper weights.
Journals with a higher GSM generally have fewer pages, as the spines can only hold so much weight and thickness.
*NB: Bleeding is when the ink travels through to the other side of the page. Ghosting is when a shadow of the writing can be seen on the reverse side of the page but there is no ink transfer.
Habit Tracker (also Mood Tracker)
Habit tracking is very popular within the journaling community. Trackers are created to log whether habits or tasks are completed over weeks, months, or even a year.
There are a huge variety of ways that trackers can be utilised. They may be the yes/no style (area coloured or crossed off if habit is complete), or alternatively can show a range of information using a key (various colours or patterns to show mood or number of steps, for example.
A Bullet Journal index is a method of keeping track of the spreads and collections in your journal. Each new spread is added to the index with a page number reference.
Journal (Dot Grid)
The most common style of journal used for bullet journaling is the “dot-grid” page style.
The 5mm dot-grid page has a grid of grey/black dots spaced 5mm apart. It creates a guide for writing, lettering, to do lists, and spread setup in your journal.
A key is where you set out the specific signifiers you will use throughout your bullet journal. These may include simple crosses and arrows, or more complicated symbols.
Below is an example of the key I use in my journal. It is very simple but works for me!
A lay-flat journal is bound in a specific way that allows the pages to lay flat when the journal is open on your desk. This allows you to more easily create layouts, particularly across two pages.
This binding involves a more complicated and time consuming manufacturing process and therefore often incurs more cost. Lay-flat binding has become a standard feature in journals specifically designed for bullet journaling, rather than cheaper, more generic, notebooks.
Task migration is the process by which any uncompleted tasks are moved from one spread to the next. I.e. from the current day to the following day, or the current week to the following week. In my key I use a small right facing arrow to signify that I have migrated the task to another list.
Through this process you can essentially close down a list that you are no longer using, by ensuring all tasks are either completed, migrated or cancelled.
TOP TIP – If you are finding yourself migrating tasks often it may be worth reviewing if the task still needs to be completed.
Nesting within a Bullet Journal essentially involves creating sub tasks underneath a parent task (or alternatively provide additional details under an event or task). E.g. The task ‘Send Mum’s birthday card’ may have the sub task ‘Buy stamps’.
Oops a Daisy
O has to stand for Oops a Daisy! If you are reading this then hopefully you have heard of us, but just in case: Oops a Daisy is a UK based small business founded by me (Jo) and specialising in journal stencils and supplies to make journaling fun!
Pens (I.e. Tombow, Mildliner, Gelly Roll, Pigma, Micron, etc.)
After you fall down the initial Bullet Journal rabbit hole, quite often a low-key pen obsession will follow.
My personal favourite for day-to-day journaling is a Pigma Micron 04 Fineliner (black) and a selection of Koi Brush Pens for adding colour/highlights to my pages and crossing off tasks on my to do list!
Your journal doesn’t have to be all productivity. An afternoon spent mindfully creating a decorative quote page is a self-care activity in itself. Quote pages also make great visual dividers between collections or months.
If you aren’t feeling super creative then printables and stencils come to the rescue!
Ryder Carroll is the creator of the original Bullet Journal system! Before you get started I would definitely recommend learning the fundamentals via the Bullet Journal official website. You can find out more here.
Spread (I.e. daily, weekly, monthly)
A journal spread is a page (or pages) in your journal set up for a specified purpose. For example, a future log, monthly spread, spending tracker, etc.
While journal themes are not essential, many Bullet Journalers often like to choose a specific theme for their overall journal set-up or for individual monthly/weekly spreads.
OK, this one may be a bit tenuous for the letter U, but please do remember, you are unique and so is your journal!
One of the biggest reasons people fall out of love with Bullet Journaling is they feel the need to create perfect, beautiful spreads. Whilst browsing Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram for inspiration can be fun, it is important not get caught in the trap of comparison. Your journal only has to work for YOU!
Vertical vs Horizontal Spreads
This is a controversial subject within the walls of Oops a Daisy HQ. I personally view a horizontal weekly spread as one where the week runs horizontally across a double page (first picture below), however others view the orientation of the rectangles within the spread as vertical and therefore call this a vertical spread… Which do you think is correct?
Washi tape is the journalers best friend! This decorative, multipurpose tape comes in an array of brightly-coloured patterns and can be used to quickly add colour or patterns to your journal spreads.
X Marks the Spot!
Another tenuous one… But X is the basis to my journaling key! (see above). I also like to highlight completed tasks as I am super motivated by colour and seeing the colour flood the page as I complete a to-do list.
Year in Pixels
A year in pixels is a popular spread where each dot grid space represents a day of the year. You can use it to track mood, habits, weather, and so much more!
Zilch, Zero, Nada!
The number of reasons you have NOT to start a journal!
Join us to set up your next journal!
Check out “Journal With Oops a Daisy” a four week programme to support you through journal set-up and beyond!
The programme is totally free to join with a small donation* to our chosen charity: St Clare Hospice, Hastingwood via our Just Giving page.
*No minimum, give what you can afford. Access to the resources is granted for 3 months after sign up.