How To: Lettering and Fonts in Your Bullet Journal

Here’s a highly requested blog post on all of my favorite tips and tricks for using fonts in your bullet journal!

Fonts vs. Lettering

First, let’s quickly talk about the difference between fonts and lettering. Generally, fonts are used on the computer (a type of typeface) or in other printing mechanism. There are of course hand-lettering inspired fonts, but generally a font is on the computer, and creating lettering is done by hand.

For me, as a calligrapher as well as a bullet journaler, I prefer to call this lettering—since it’s hand-done, and in my journal. I’m not typing or printing out a font to include in my bujo, but rather sketching and re-creating or taking inspiration from a font to make a header or create a certain kind of design or style.

Fonts for Inspiration

I love using fonts as inspiration for my bullet journal spreads. I started doing this after seeing Stina @supermassiveblackink‘s amazing spreads, and realizing it would be so fun and meditative to do more expansive lettering in my bullet journal. Lately I’ve been using fonts as one of my primary inspirations for spreads in my bullet journal and it’s been a great way to stay creatively engaged from week to week… and probably the closest I’ve ever come to sticking with a theme in my bullet journal.

My favorite places to find fonts are MyFonts and Google Fonts, both of which let you use your own text to preview and search with different keywords and styles.

How to Recreate a Font in your Bullet Journal

Once I’ve found a font I like, it’s all about going back to basics to sketch out the font. I want to say up front that re-creating fonts (or doing any kind of lettering) takes a lot of practice, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t look right for you the first time. Just keep trying and you’ll improve!

First, type in the word you want to have in the preview on the font website you’re using so you have a reference to look at.

For me, I go by shape first and sketch it out in pencil. Using the dot grid in my bullet journal, I’ll draw a baseline (bottom line where most of the letters “sit” but above any tails, like on a lowercase “y” or “g”) and a top line (where I want the highest point of the letters to be). I try to keep each letter roughly the same width as long as that’s in line with how the font looks.

Then it’s just sketching with your pencil, referencing the font as you go! I’ll often sketch out the overall shape, like a big circle for an uppercase C, D, or O, or a small circle for a lowercase e; a box or rectangle might be best for an M, E or B. Then I refine it, all staying in pencil. Once I feel like I’ve got the general shape and feel, then I’ll go in with a fineliner to ink the header itself.

And that’s pretty much it! It sounds simple, but like I said, it does take some practice to feel like you’ve gotten the essence of the font down. If it’s feeling difficult or out of reach, I would recommend sketching some fonts just for fun outside of your bullet journal—that way you can take away the pressure of having it on the spread itself, and just get some practice in!

I also like to adapt fonts sometimes, like adding a symbol, or changing the loop in a letter’s “tail.” As you get deeper into fonts and graphic design, you’ll have a sense for what might look good with each style and it becomes fun to adapt and experiment!

If you liked this how-to post, you might want to check out my shop for more inspiration, such as journal prompt ideas and a creativity-based productivity guidebook!


How To: Sleep + Mood Tiny Tracker

One of my most frequently asked questions is about my bar graph tracker in my bullet journal, so it’s high time I wrote up a little post about how it works!

That bar graph is my sleep and mood tracker.

It’s actually super simple—especially if you remember your graphing basics from school!

  • X-axis (Horizontal) – days of the week
  • Y-axis (Vertical) – numbered 10-6, descending

The bars represent how long I’ve slept that day: from 10 hours down to 6 hours (I usually don’t sleep too much less than that, phew!) on the Y-axis.

The dots represent my mood that day. A higher dot (up towards the 10) means I was in a great mood. A lower dot means, you guessed it, a worse mood (towards the 6).

Above is an almost completely filled out example—I clearly did not sleep well on Saturday night (tiny tiny bar) BUT it was apparently a great day because my mood was at the top!

Meanwhile that Tuesday, I slept well but my mood was on the lower end.

I always have this “tiny tracker” module on my weekly spread. I also have a longer one on my monthly spread as well that includes all the days of the month in one visual.

Customization Ideas

You could easily customize this tracker with a different number of hours for sleep (you may need to make the vertical axis longer).

You could also track a mood more specifically. Perhaps you color code the dot to represent a different mood and the level it’s at (low to high) is an intensity, rather than just being generally a good or bad mood.

What do you think? Would you give this tracker a try? Let me know in the comments below!

For more resources from me, check out my Journal Prompt Packs—30 days of cozy journaling prompt ideas.


Journaling for Anti-Racism

There are so many resources out there for beginning an anti-racist practice. Rather than re-post resources that many others have shared over the past few weeks, I want to offer some additional tools for an anti-racist practice that relate to journaling and creativity. I am not an expert by any means, but I have been trying to integrate this into my own journaling and self-reflection practice for many years thanks to my profession (I am an art educator with a focus on social justice, and I’m white), so I thought perhaps some of these resources and journaling suggestions could be as helpful for others as they have been for me.

To be clear: This post is not a replacement for the incredible resources others have shared. This post is an addition to help you on the next step: the lifelong step of working on your anti-racist practice.

Unfolding the Year: 2020

May Challenge

May’s theme is Perseverance, and I’ve got a really tactile, easy exercise for you to try this month to remind yourself of your own strength.

Unfolding the Year: 2020

April Reflection

Well! April certainly was… a Month, with a capital M, wasn’t it? I hope all of you lovely folks reading this are safe and well!

I’ve found myself trying to stay light and positive on my Instagram captions and Stories, but these blog posts are inherently more serious, and a little more vulnerable. It’s funny to change my tone in a way that feels so drastic here, but the intention of Unfolding the Year was always to be a place to investigate how our feelings, moods, and realities affect our productivity. So perhaps it’s not surprising that these feel so different to write than an Instagram caption, after all! Still, I appreciate you being here, whether you want the escapism of minimal planning photos or are interested in digging a little deeper here on the blog with me.

Unfolding the Year: 2020

May: Perseverance

I know I said this last month, but wow, when I planned the themes for this year, I had no idea how topical they’d really be. It’s still blowing my mind!

When I first came up with the idea of a month of perseverance, I was thinking about how the past few months’ themes have been cognitively challenging: from reflecting on your inner self to grappling with the concept of holding two conflicting things in your mind at one time. Internally, those are massive steps to take towards beginning to understand yourself better and I definitely think perseverance is the last step in that process: to keep going and keep practicing reflection, sitting in the grey area, and being present. That’s when it becomes a way of life rather than a habit you’re trying to stick to. When you know yourself and are honest with yourself, you can be more productive and creative all at the same time.

Unfolding the Year: 2020

April Challenge

April’s theme is “The Grey Area”: finding the both/and, the multiple interpretations, rather than assuming something is firmly one way or the other.

Unfolding the Year: 2020

April: The Grey Area

I chose all of the themes for my Unfolding the Year: 2020 project in December, and I’m pretty surprised at how “right” this month’s theme feels for our world right now.

There’s a lot of uncertainty and scariness out there right now, and it can feel overwhelming. In addition to, of course, social distancing and staying home to protect those most vulnerable, I highly recommend you first and foremost practice self-care, whatever that means to you. It’s the best way to care for ourselves and others.

This month’s theme is The Grey Area. It’s the idea that we have to move around from binary thinking — and/or, yes/no — and into both/and.

Unfolding the Year: 2020

March Reflection

Who knew last month how important (and unavoidable, for many of us?!) reflection would be?

I hope everyone reading this is safe and well, practicing social distancing and self-isolation, and finding some small moments of joy where you can in a very stressful world at the moment.

I’m personally not up for a massive reflection–transitioning to remote work is hard, and so is trying to comprehend everything that’s happening. But I did want to share a few thoughts on the general theme of reflection before we dive into the April theme.

Unfolding the Year: 2020

March Challenge

March’s theme is reflect — and this month’s challenge will help us do just that.