Notebooks from the DoD

During that whole $109 notebook kerfuffle, a reader sent in a tip about a much more utilitarian and affordable notebook that everyone in my office has grown to love. The bright green government-issue bound-books are used frequently by the DoD and by troops all over the world. Interestingly enough, I actually spotted one in a real world application in the photo (below) of resting soldiers in Afghanistan.

The hardbound notebooks are perfect for different projects around the office, which is how we have been utilizing them. I bought a stack and have them on hand here for people to use. As far as notebooks go, these are a great daily driver. Plus, the fact that they are hardbound makes them easy to save and organize. More info below on the green government notebooks from ACL reader Aaron:

While not exactly vintage, they’re fantastic: 5.5″ x 8″ with a green cloth cover and 192 pages in a rule I’d like to deem “just right.” They’re usually government/military-only (I got my first as a gift while an intern at the Pentagon last fall; practically everyone in the building has one), but after scrounging the web for more, I came upon that site, which in my experience will ship the notebooks to non-government-employed persons such as myself. Each notebook is stamped on the bottom of front cover with the NSN (National Stock Number) 7530-00-222-3521 and the words “Federal Supply Service (GPO).”

And for $3.35 you can’t go wrong. Save that $105.65 to buy beer. Then get yourself drunk and complain on the internet about how other people spend their money.

Pick up your own Federal Supply Service notebooks individually or by the gross here (Editors note: updated link, with an updated price.)

Comments on “Notebooks from the DoD

    Erik on December 3, 2010 4:08 PM:

    These come in a whole slew of sizes, not just the one mentioned above. This size, however, is the most common and fits nicely in a lot of pockets and pouches. I have fond memories of learning how they can help you start a sputtering humvee, using them as pillows, blocking sunlight for naps, and, of course, taking notes. I still have a whole stack full of notes I took while I was in the Army. Someday my children will find them and ask me if I spent all my time in uniform doodling. You can also easily write your name on the covers with a sharpie, or put some pin-on rank/branch/unit insignia on the cover.

    TC on December 3, 2010 4:33 PM:

    Love the site, and for the record I usually don’t mind it when non-military types appropriate military stuff for style purposes. No offense taken. After all, it’s not like someone is going to mistake an art school hipster for an Airborne Ranger just because he happens to be wearing a pair of GI boots with his $300 denim. If “dork wannabe” is your aesthetic, then who am I to stand in your way? But still, it’s pretty hilarious to see civilians ooo-and-ahhh at stuff that, to guys in uniform, is nauseatingly commonplace.

    Helz on December 3, 2010 4:37 PM:

    Fantastic! I think these are just the notebooks I’ve been looking for.

    Vintage-ish aesthetics, and they’re the perfect thing for me to you use my recently thrifted Skillcraft writing implements in.

    Thanks for the post!

    David Himel on December 3, 2010 4:52 PM:

    In response to TC: I have several friends in the U.S. who are the biggest artschool hipster queerish people you will ever meet who were in the airborne rangers…ironically or not so…killing people, and being shot at can inspire someone to pursue artschool hipster lifestyles…I can put you in contact if you like..all veterans of GW1 and GW2.

    oh and some of them are old videogamer clan mates as well…head down to the Brewery district in L.A. and introduce yourself!

    Jeff on December 3, 2010 4:53 PM:

    Here’s a version of the standard issue notebook from 1996 when I worked for the VA. It looks to have the same ref # but my older book has an almost canvas cover and a lighter green. Did different departments get different colors?

    Ed on December 3, 2010 4:55 PM:

    Nice. How much does it cost to get gold-stamped personalization on the cover?

    Blair on December 3, 2010 5:08 PM:

    Hey Michael,

    How do i get a couple of these? thanks alot

    Christina on December 3, 2010 5:15 PM:

    I had a really fun time reading the comments on the Smythson post – Burkina Faso, drowning babies, it had it all…

    bob corrigan on December 3, 2010 6:27 PM:

    My favorite small paper notebook comes from the Department of the Interior, a beauty officially known as NFES 0448 Writing pad, 3″ x 5″ (see page 52 at – for $0.43 it’s got yellow pages quad-graphed on one side and perforate for easy removal.

    Larry on December 3, 2010 6:28 PM:

    This whole “Military v. Hipster” argument is ridiculous (Brooks Brother Army boots, North Face Camo, DoD Notebooks) cool is cool… that’s it. I don’t think anyone really cares if its Military, Grandmas, Pennsylvanian-Dutch, or Moroccan… if it looks cool, and works well, than rock that shit!

    Michael Williams on December 3, 2010 6:34 PM:

    Thank you for that Larry. Fucking A people. This argument is so tired. Half of all men’s clothing is military related.

    Edward on December 3, 2010 7:08 PM:

    Oh man, I used these all the time while I was in the Navy.

    os3 on December 3, 2010 7:28 PM:

    great for throwing at subordinates as well.

    dear everyone trying to use hipster in a derogatory way, get over it. any statement you make is just like saying “black people steal cars”.

    Hopping Frog on December 3, 2010 8:08 PM:

    Well, I missed the earlier ridiculous thread about the $109 notebook (thanks for including a reference to that, very entertaining). What I’m actually shocked by is all the moral outrage on a site dedicated to consumerism. Am I missing something? I read this site because they feature cool shit which I may or may not buy. But the fact is, I don’t NEED any of it. No one does. I might buy a cool notebook, funky pair of boots, or even a shoulder harness for a flash, because A. I like it. and B. I can afford it. I’m also sure there are plenty of sites where you can express your moral, political, or ethical ideals. This. Isn’t. It. This is a site about cool. It’s about products. It’s about design, culture and aesthetics. That doesn’t mean I can’t also care about ethical issues, donate money to worthy causes, or even volunteer to make the world a better place. It’s just that I don’t claim to do it while I’m buying a $245 scarf.

    bob corrigan on December 3, 2010 8:11 PM:

    I believe cats steal cars. They entice their staff (people) to do their evil bidding. But I digress.

    I’d love to see if they sell smaller versions of this book. What a hoot it would be to supplant the Moleskine juggernaut with functional, well-made product that has everything but the marketing to recommend it.

    TC on December 3, 2010 8:33 PM:

    Half of all men’s clothing is military related because there was once a time when half (or more) of all men actually served in the military. It was stuff that was issued to them, not purchased at a flea market, and they incorporated these pieces into their wardrobe because they didn’t have anything better – not because they were trying to out-cool the guy down the block.

    But that wasn’t even the point I was trying to make with my first post. I was just trying to point out the irony of it all: many of the things that are so loathsome to servicemen – clunky boots, stupid green notebooks, ugly camo patterns – are an inspiration to people who have never used these things for their intended purposes. I think the guys racked out in the picture above would think it’s pretty funny, too. In fact, I know they would, because I was one of them not long ago.

    I meant no offense, Michael. I’m actually a big fan and I appreciate your work. I just can’t understand how anyone with such a passion for authenticity would tolerate what seems, to me, quite pretentious.

    Unless, of course, the whole notion of authenticity is a sham… which I’m entirely willing to entertain.

    kevin on December 3, 2010 8:33 PM:

    love these…still have mine from my marine corps days…

    PatagoniaCommunity on December 3, 2010 9:27 PM:

    Wow, interesting how much discussion a li’l green notebook can spark. I just kind of think that if someone wants a li’l green notebook, they should buy this. If they don’t then they shouldn’t.

    Rodeo on December 3, 2010 9:54 PM:

    One of my favorite aspects of the info-bahn is that there are now a bajillion people out there looking for and posting about cool stuff they come across.That and Miley Cyrus pix. Thanks internets.

    jb on December 3, 2010 10:01 PM:

    Always looking for a good, inexpensive notebook. How is the paper for fountain pens / heavy felt tips?

    MikeS on December 3, 2010 10:56 PM:

    I believe the note pad in the second photo is from rite-in-the-rain. They are also used in the military heavily.

    andrew on December 3, 2010 11:28 PM:

    Michael, I am looking forward to you finding new notebooks to post because these posts and reactions will never get old… PatagoniaCommunity says it best: if someone wants a li’l green notebook, they should buy this. If they don’t then they shouldn’t. pretty much goes for anything in life. And at $3.35 or $105 whatever makes one happy it doesn’t really matter!

    K.A. Adams on December 3, 2010 11:48 PM:

    A closer inspection of the photograph will show that the notebook in question is spiral bound and flips open vertically.

    It looks typical of the Rite In The Rain brand but perhaps it was printed with some type of unit insignia instead of their standard logo

    Jesse on December 4, 2010 12:05 AM:

    I dug through some of my old Army shit when I saw this and found four of these (one still unused). From my own personal experience I will say that the bound DOD notebooks are far far superior to the cheap green knockoffs (such as Rite In The Rain). I will also happily verify that although it might not show in the image posted–every person that was in a leadership position in the Army carried one of these notebooks with them at all times.

    E. Elizabeth on December 4, 2010 12:42 AM:

    I came by one of these second hand about 8 years ago and it has survived continuous use perfectly! Great line width, great paper, sturdy covers and well bound. Yeah, the boots may be clunky and the camo is still ugly but as far as utility and appropriated military style, these books are far from stupid.

    TMH on December 4, 2010 3:10 AM:

    Where are they made? Anyone know? For that price
    I’m not sure they are made here in the states. Which If true, would be a hell of a kick in the helmet. Nonetheless, it’s a great looking notebook.
    I may have to send some to my defense contractor
    brother. In France. WTF?

    Gina Americana on December 4, 2010 3:32 AM:

    Thanks to Michael & K.A. Adams for the heads up on less-than-$109 notebooks.

    HolThaDo on December 4, 2010 4:56 AM:

    Man . . . Monocle has been ripping me off.

    bob corrigan on December 4, 2010 9:52 AM:

    The best part about these green books is the unadvertised (but awfully handy) ability to make deadly origami from their paper. In a dangerous situation, the user can tear out a page, make a few quick tactical folds, and voila, a pointy crane! Try that with your civvy Moleskines or $109 namby-pamby alternatives.

    Philip on December 4, 2010 11:03 AM:

    How dare you spend so little on a notebook! How else am I going to learn the GDP of random African countries.

    Jason on December 4, 2010 11:49 AM:

    Anyone put off by the low price can always freely pay more at Amazon:

    Elvisio on December 4, 2010 3:10 PM:

    I would suggest that there is an ethical and political dimension to the fashion and design that is featured on this site – in particular in regards to questions of sustainability and the related questions local production and distribution schema. Duh.

    Loopy on December 4, 2010 4:10 PM:

    Notebooks: the new wedge issue.

    Jonas on December 4, 2010 8:44 PM:

    This is how you take that Hardback DOD notebook up a division:

    Cut up some of your worn out winter weight woodland Cammie’s (BDU’s for Army guy’s) that wont pass inspection with the Sgt. Major. and make a notebook cover out of them. The left breast pocket on the blouse already has a pen sleeve in it, and are double cool if your old school Marine Corps as it has the EGA stencil. New school will have a name tape.

    robbie on December 4, 2010 11:41 PM:

    hard bound, less than 4 dollars… I agree with Larry’s sentiment.

    Cool is Cool, why debate any further.

    Shaun on December 5, 2010 3:33 AM:

    I’m surprised you had not discoverd this in the past. These remind of the old times doing “fire watch” and “logging” in the “LOG BOOK”.

    Shaun on December 5, 2010 3:40 AM:

    After reviewing the photo, I feel as though one of the “soldiers” should be awake with the actual notebook by the side and be on guard.
    fr. -U.ncle’s M.isguided C.hildren-

    D. Buckner on December 5, 2010 10:44 AM:

    The idea that only those that have been in the military should sport related equipment is asinine.

    Sacred duty (and all of that) is a personal choice that every military member makes. To expect that ethic of others is to fall victim to the highest form of arrogance.

    And besides…imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

    Carry on.

    mpr on December 5, 2010 12:53 PM:

    shaun, the picture didn’t take itself.

    bob corrigan on December 5, 2010 1:12 PM:

    The notebook is standing guard – ever vigilant to the threat of drowning babies and the needless excesses of the acquisitive classes.

    iamamoody1 on December 5, 2010 4:13 PM:

    These notebooks bring back many fond and not so fond memories of my years in service. I had completely forgot about these notebooks until I saw this post. I just bought 5 of them from the link at the top and I might even pin my old rank insignia on the front for nostalgia’s sake. Thanks for posting this Michael.

    david himel on December 5, 2010 9:28 PM:

    Kevin: lol Marine core hipster fashion photographer I love it! TC: Regarding half of everything is military…actually a large part of the prevalence of military influence in fashion dates back to ww2 when billions of dollars became available to research clothing. At that time specs, sizing standards, and manufacturing standards were either hodge podge or left up to the various local manufacturers. Because of the large scale of manufacture for ww 2 soldiers, and the need for innovations in technology, cost, efficiency, new weaponization, camouflage and other pressures, money was spent developing clothing innovations and standards. Since that time the military has often lead research into new fabrics, threads and always maintained the cutting edge of utility clothing. As far as influence in style that may come and go but the other stuff is key in the nouveau Appalachian aesthetics of authenticity.

    SlyPig06 on December 5, 2010 9:54 PM:

    Acutally it isn’t a Rite in the Rain notebook. It is a standard issue where he has drawn what appears to be the insignia from another unit (these guys are from either 504th or 505th PIR out of Fort Bragg).

    You can’t write on the cover of Rite in the Rain books with anything other than a Sharpie.

    Love these books, wish my buddies in the Army would still send me a few.

    Colt1 on December 6, 2010 12:22 AM:

    I filled out many of those books while I was in the US Coast Guard. When I became a pollution investigator, I always carried one with me in my backpack to take notes when interviewing people.

    Larry on December 6, 2010 1:02 PM:

    Just got an email from my NSA Uncle in Afghanistan… “We’ve got a ton of these. So do you want the 8.5″ x 11″ or the smaller 5″ x 7″ (or so)?”

    8.5″ x 11″ will be a nice addition to the desk drawer.

    Timloe on December 6, 2010 6:14 PM:

    Hm, no secure checkout on their website. That’s a deal breaker.

    kevin on December 6, 2010 7:21 PM:

    @david himel….

    -marine corps
    -non hipster
    -non fashion photographer

    that is all

    Chuck on December 7, 2010 7:53 AM:

    These “official” notebooks are ubiquitous at federal work sites. In the USDA Agricultural Research Service, we are tasked with using them as official laboratory notebooks. The use of green books is taken (somewhat) serious due to patent concerns and other issues, like government accountability. Naturally, there is a written set of rules for the appropriate way to use them (format, signatures, dating and whatnot). Perhaps all you nutless hipster.military debaters should read the P&P before you go carrying them around willy nilly.

    SSG B on December 7, 2010 9:10 PM:

    Lol, I’ll never forget the time I left this book behind in a training meeting and my first sergeant found it. These were the standard for all leaders to have. It would be interesting to see a Flickr page of all the different cover “art” guys would draw on theirs

    editor on December 7, 2010 9:52 PM:

    oh lordy, i can’t keep up with all this back-and-forth.
    i like the lean and mean smythson, i love the design of this more though, frankly; i cracked up at the insult to the awful wood under the smythson piece (on that older post)(truly, it was bad. beautiful wood is something i value); and i bought the j.w. hulme notebook you featured a while ago, also got the newer version with removable screws so it can be refilled, and liked that so much that i bought another as a gift.
    so, um, keep the journal recommendations coming.

    ps i agree, by not having children you really should get some sort of eco/ethic-credits.

    Jake Wright on December 8, 2010 12:04 PM:

    Ah man I was just at a base Called Carwile in Afghanistan and they had a whole bunch of these books, I was tempted to take one and these things can take a beating,

    Jason on December 8, 2010 12:43 PM:

    Ordered on Saturday after seeing them on here, just got them in the mail (I live in Richmond, close enough to their showrooms) Two of the small (5.5*8) and one of the large (10.5*8 – available through the same site at only 50 cents more). I dig. They’re a bit more lime in color than the picture above shows, the large one has “RECORD” across the front. Guts are good, college ruled more or less (which I prefer over wide) lines go straight across the page. Binding’s solid, gives a good cracking noise on first open, pretty darn sturdy cover. Paper quality’s good, not that super thin non-sense a lotta cheap notebooks go with, but not heaviest quality. Works to keep it thin with a good number of pages.

    Admittedly haven’t even written in these things yet (just opened 15 minutes ago) but for under $4 these things are really worth it at first blush. May buy more of these in bulk.

    Dillon on December 10, 2010 12:09 PM:

    All i have to say is . I’m a wildland firefighter in Alaska and this is the goto note book for us. Comes in lots of sizes and styles. Check it out.

    Jason on December 11, 2010 12:13 PM:

    Follow Up – They write great. The larger notebook is wide ruled. If you’re into that kind of thing.

    texas pete on December 15, 2010 1:43 PM:

    @bob corrigan
    Great tip. thanks!

    Jonathan on December 15, 2010 4:24 PM:

    I found the Rite In The Rain on the recomended web site that the Log Book had.

    Jeff on December 15, 2010 7:33 PM:

    I just got my order today and I’m pretty impressed with the look and quality. Great suggestion!

    John on December 16, 2010 3:45 PM:

    Got mine in the mail yesterday. Really nice quality for $3.25. My only suggestion is to order multiple right away, as shipping is a flat $10 dollars. I got 5, should have purchased even more.

    Leigha on December 23, 2010 12:22 PM:

    Wow. I need this! My love for notebooks is finally affordable. Thanks for sharing.


    Erik on December 23, 2010 8:11 PM:

    I would like to get my hands on some of those books. Problem is I live in Europe. Has anyone ordered to the EU? What can I expect in terms of customs?

    The Desctop on December 30, 2010 1:04 PM:

    Thanks for sharing. I ordered five books and they arrived before the holiday. Talk about cheap…with shipping it was under $25. Perfect for the new year. It’s a great travel size for work and pleasure.

Comments are closed.