Review: Arc Notebook System from Staples

4 out of 5 stars

Arc notebook and accessories

Arc notebook and accessories


  • versatile, customizable system
  • easy to use
  • good quality
  • inexpensive


  • hole punch is expensive
  • some wearing on pages where it attaches
  • only sold at Staples


I was excited to receive a complimentary Arc notebook with some accessories as part of my attendance at the 2012 NAPO conference.  I’d heard some discussions about it from other organizers although I had never seen it in person.  From the moment I looked at it, I suddenly understood why people talked about this style notebook.  Nevertheless, I wanted to use it for a while before I shared more about it with you, my readers.

Arc leather notebooks

Arc leather notebooks

Let’s begin with the notebook itself.  There’s 2 different notebook sizes – a 6 3/8” x 8 3/4″ and a 9 3/8” x 11 1/4″ and 2 different ring sizes – 1” and 1 1/2″.   You are able to purchase just the notebook with rings.  When considering the notebook, you have choices between leather ($14.99-$19.99) and poly ($7.99-$9.99).  The leather notebook is thicker than the poly style.  As you would expect, the thicker rings allow more paper to be stored within the notebook.

Arc poly notebooks

Arc poly notebooks

The rings are a special design and provide the system with much of its uniqueness.  Its appearance is quite different and I discovered that I had to rethink how I thought about the available space.  Since the rings stick out, I needed to limit how much paper to store in the notebook.  What makes this so unique is the style of the punch, which you can see in the picture – it looks a bit like a mushroom.  This means that the paper can be pulled in and out.

Close-up of punch and ring

Close-up of punch and ring

I’ve had some concerns about the paper since the little side parts are being bent each time you pull out or put paper into the notebook.  Would it really hold up?  It certainly looks like they get tired, yet the papers continue to work well.  I expect there’s still a limit to how many times a paper can go in and out of the notebook.  Yet, this style is exactly what drew me to this notebook.  You might know that I’m not a big fan of 3-ring style binders – they can be a hassle for the paper to go and out of with having to pop the rings open and closed.  It takes a little time to adjust to getting the papers in completely – it’s something different to wrap your head around using.

There are many different accessories for the notebook – from the standard lined paper, to-do lists, project planning pages, graph paper, calendar pages to poly tab dividers, poly zip pockets, poly pocket dividers.  There are also smaller inserts available: a task pad and page flags.  This means that you can get only the accessories that make sense for you.  Most people I’ve talked about this notebook have opted for no calendar pages, yet one person chooses to include the calendar pages.  Although I don’t use them much, I do appreciate the task pad, with only a handful of pages kept inside the notebook though other people find them borderline useful.  I am disappointed in the page flags since pen ink doesn’t set on them – so the writing can be hard to read and smudges easily, though their stickiness is good so if you simply use them as page flags without labeling them, they’re good.

They sell a hole punch so you can make any piece of paper can be inserted into the notebook.  I find the price, at $39.99, to be more than I want to spend.  One person I showed the notebook system to did purchase the punch and shared that she finds it indispensable for her usage of the notebook.

As I get more digital, there were some things that I needed paper for.  This fits my needs extremely well.  I have the tabbed sections to divide categories into and even places to collect those papers that don’t fit into another area.  There has been some evidence that our brains process better with the process of handwriting and there seems to be some truth to that for me – I want a place to write some things and this notebook has become my place.  Since there are some papers I want to keep longer though not in the active notebook, I set up an archival type notebook.  Due to the relative inexpensiveness of a notebook, it’s easy to do this.

There are so many things I could say about this notebook, but there’s only so much space!  Levenger sells a similar notebook system at a higher price.  I found one review online that actually commented the paper from Staples is thicker and better quality.  And as with everything else, this can be a fabulous tool for people though you need to consider your own needs.

Posted in Reviews and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Hi! Thank you for your blog. I am thinking of getting me an arc-book but I was wondering if you can flip it over like a notebook. I don’t have much space on my desk 😉

    Best regards.


  2. Hi Marie,

    I am sorry it’s taken me a little bit to get back to you – I was away at the Institute for Challenging Disorganization conference.

    Thank you for asking this. It’s something I should have covered since that is one of the features I appreciate about this notebook system! 🙂

    Yes, the ARC notebooks do flip over like a notebook.

    The ones with the leather do not lay as flat since the leather doesn’t extend across the entire cover which means when you’ve flipped them over, it lays with an angle. I think you should be able to see the extent of that (at least to some degree without it being set up for you personally) in the store, if it’s an option to get into a Staples.

    When you flip the ones with vinyl covers over, they will lay more flat.

    Of course there are more caveats to how flat they will lay – as I find the zipper pocket also adds an angle to the notebook when it’s flipped over – depending on what you’re using the pocket for. The other important factor is how much paper you are keeping in it as well as the size of the rings you’re using – and this is something that you can adjust.

    For what it’s worth, I use the leather ARC notebook myself and often flip it over and have no problems using it, even with the angle. On the other hand, I am not often using it at a desk!

    If I can answer any other questions, please just let me know. 🙂 And if you do get it, I love hearing how it works or doesn’t for other people – since as I say, we have to find what works for us as an individual.

  3. Pingback: Follow-up on the Arc Notebook | Sustainable Organizing, Milwaukee WI

Comments are closed.