Tag Archives: notebooks

Vari-Dot Ruling

Early Vari-Dot design from 2017
Early Vari-Dot design from 2017

In the fall of 2017 I began to research an alternative notebook ruling for designers. I gave it the name Vari-Dot because it consists of dots varying in size and shape. This Vari-Dot ruling has been used in some handmade notebooks and from time to time. It has also been available as a download and printed stationery form.

What’s In A Ruling?

Different rulings. Clockwise from upper left: Graph/grid, dot grid, reticle, and Seyes

The most common rulings we see in the US are simple blue lined notebook paper found in wide and college rule. However, stationery nerds like myself know there are a wide variety of options for writing, drawing, and designing. The examples above are all still based on a pretty basic vertical or horizontal purpose. There are logarithmic rulings for graphs and isometric rulings for designing things in a sort of topographical 3D space.

Vari-dot is a hybrid ruling I developed for the purpose of layout design where the harsh lines of a grid ruling are too intrusive, but the sparse dots of dot-grid are not quite enough. It looks like this:

6mm Vari-Dot ruling with the different dots circled in pencil
6mm Vari-Dot ruling with the different dots circled in pencil

Why Vari-Dot?

The goal was that when working from a distance the dots would be small enough and light enough that they would blend into the background. When working closer to the paper, they become useful guides for designing things to scale. Each kind of dot (corner, side, center) is slightly different in size. The color of dot I most prefer has a CMYK value of 15, 15, 15, 0, but I have printed it as dark as 19, 19, 19, 0. [CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black/keyline.]

Some versions of Vari-Dot have square and triangle shaped dots along the perimeter of the page. These marks denote where quarter, third, and halfway marks fall on the page. Earliest versions of the Vari-Dot ruling were spaced at a quarter inch (5.35mm), but more recently I have found that 6mm is more comfortable to work with.

Vari-Dot is just one of the rulings that has been offered in my handmade notebooks. In the future there will be downloads available for those who wish to try it for themselves.