I love fountain pens. Ever since I first held my father’s Mont Blanc those years ago, I fell in love with the way a fountain pen smoothly passed over the paper, the gentle flow of the ink. Ever since that day I have used a fountain pen for all my personal and professional writing and editing.
For everyday use, I use a Pilot Varsity fountain pen; they come in a variety of colours and if I should happen to misplace it, I can replace it with no big financial burden. For my personal writing and editing, I use my father’s old burgundy gold nibbed Mont Blanc.
I came across the LAMY AL-Star dark purple fountain pen as I was perusing the European Paper website. I had never used a Lamy pen so I was intrigued and wanted to experience it. I’ve heard fantastic things about the AL-Star and wanted to use it for myself. I fell in love with the colour first and knew I had to have it! I ordered it and eagerly anticipated its arrival. The pen came in a simple cardboard-like box in an envelope mailer.
This pen is everything I could have wanted or imagined! It is sleek, a lovely deep purple, and it comes with a cartridge of deep blue ink. I had ordered the medium sized nib and was writing in a Moleskine Squared Folio Notebook. As I started writing with it, the solid feel of the nib as it moved across the paper was smooth, the ink didn’t clump or run dry as I wrote, it slid across the paper, fluid and with a precision that belies its modest price.
I have used this pen for everything – for writing checks, to signing grocery receipts. I keep it in my purse and use it to write in my journal. The ink doesn’t bleed across to the other pages, and dries almost instantly so it doesn’t smudge.
This pen is a fantastic investment; I would recommend this writing instrument to any one – new or seasoned.
Meet the Writer: Akhila Jagdish is a writer and editor in the process of starting her own editorial services company, The Crafted Word. She loves making lists, collecting journals, reading, drinking wine and cooking.
With centuries of paper-making experience, Fabriano’s EcoQua Notebooks in a set of 2 are as environmentally-friendly as you can dream for. Made in Italy, the EcoQua Notebooks are not only FSC certified paper, it’s also chlorine free, acid free, and completely recyclable. Available in myriad fashionable cover colors so you can choose your favorite, the EcoQua Notebooks have 85 gsm off-white paper, and the notebooks are fully recyclable. Grab them all, color code your notebooks, and protect the environment at the same time with the Fabriano EcoQua Notebooks!
Now you can have the best of both worlds: a notebook and sketchbook in one with the Clairefontaine GraF It Sketch Pad!
Available in four sizes – pocket (4 x 6), large (6 x 8), A4 (8 x 12), and A3 (12 x 17) – and each with 80 micro-perforated sheets of 90 gsm Clairefontaine white, acid-free paper, you can sketch, doodle, and write to your heart’s desire. Use your favorite pencil, pen, fountain pen, and other writing instruments to fill the matte pages.
The GraF It Sketch Pads are both glued and stapled at the top so the cardstock front cover and the sturdy cardboard back cover never fail while giving you proper support. Clairefontaine’s GraF It Sketch Pads come in assorted cover colors and designs. Check them all out here –>
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Have you ever been writing in your journal or notebook and noticed the disturbance of the lines? One of the biggest downfalls of customary paper is that the lines on the paper are simply too prominent. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way lessening the importance of the lines, as I am a huge neat freak when it comes to writing. I like everything clean and readable and straight. However, when looking at writings and drawings on traditional paper, the text looks anything but clean. After putting things down on paper, the lines’ assistance completely goes away and they become more of a limitation than an asset. Enter Whitelines.
For so long we have simply accepted traditional writing paper without questioning the fact that the lines of the paper, created to provide a foundation for your writing and drawings, acts as an interference forcing your thoughts and ideas to compete with the lines of the paper for attention.
Years ago Olof Hansson, the founder of Whitelines, was doing sketches of a new invention of his. Annoyed by the dark lines disturbing his creation, Olof became astutely aware of the hindrance of customary writing paper. He set out on a mission to create paper that did not impose limitations.
The obvious solution to this problem was to take the dark element out of writing paper. Still desiring the support and functionality of lines, Olof turned to a slightly colored paper with white lines. Quickly Olof found that not only did these two light elements provide a solid foundation for both note-taking and drawing and provide a strong contrast between the paper and the writing, but the paper also gave an enhanced reading and writing experience. The eye and the brain, without having to decipher between the writing and the lines of the paper, can process the information more effortlessly, making it easier on the eyes. Additionally, the gray tone of the paper delivers less glare. Whitelines was born in January of 2006.
Whitelines paper is for all those that want a supportive writing paper. The reason Whitelines is so popular among so many groups of people is because the paper makes the writing and reading process more pleasant for everyone. Students find note-taking and organization much more agreeable. People in the office place enjoy the ability to scan and fax the paper with the lines disappearing leaving only their writing. And the creative folks – they just get it. No longer do their drawings and creations have to fight with the constraints of traditional writing paper.
So go ahead and give it a try. Test out the paper for yourself to experience a writing experience without limitations. A bit of a forewarning: once you start using Whitelines paper, it’s difficult to go back to the distracting lines of traditional writing paper. With so many options to choose from (Hard Covers, Soft Covers, Wire-O), we don’t think you’ll have a problem finding a notebook for each need of yours.
Meet the Writer: An avid list-maker and moderate risk taker, Kaylee Bergstrom handles all of the logistics for Whitelines North America and, having never heard of Whitelines prior to her current position, has become hooked on the unique design of the notebooks. Rarely spotted without a good tube of mascara, an A5 or pocket notebook and her Jack Russell / Shih Tzu puppy Russell, Kaylee enjoys spending her free time with friends and family, getting hooked on a good book series or catching a mind-bending thriller.
The most important thing to keep in mind when writing a letter of recommendation is that you are writing to present new information; not to confirm information that is already available. Let’s go through some scenarios:
Recommendation Letters for Students
Many graduate-level education programs don’t highly consider recommendation letters that simply confirm information available in a student’s transcript. This means information like grades and test scores.
If your student has an A in your class, it’s best not to write something like:
“Student is very conscientious, arrives to class on time, has never missed a lesson and is 3 out of 67 students academically. He would be an excellent addition to your program.”
The above example is simply confirming what’s in the student’s transcript. One can easily tell this student is really good at being a student. But is that all they can do? Are they able to be anything else? The emphasis should be on their ability to apply their knowledge in the real world, and it should reference their enthusiasm and interest in whatever their course of study is.
Recommendation Letters for Employees & Interns
Your first step is to ask what the letter is for. Is this for another internship? If so, where? Or is this for admission into some sort of educational program? Your letter of recommendation will be more valuable if you are able to write it with an understanding of what its purpose is for.
Your letter should be concise and thorough. It’s actually OK to mention a weakness as long as you are emphasizing the positive. When mentioning a weakness like “She/he doesn’t always know when to ask for help,” be sure to end with a positive solution like “She/he doesn’t always know when to ask for help, but after we paired her/him with a senior-level manager to mentor them, we saw immense development of skills and ability. Their leadership skills grew as a result and their contribution to the team multiplied tenfold.”
A letter of recommendation for an employee is not a request to state that the employee showed up on time or did their job. It’s a request to understand more about the character and ability of the person. They want to know if this person is likely to persevere through difficulty, or give up. If they’re able to adjust to changes and adapt to new situations. If they can work with a wide range of personality types and still keep projects moving forward. They don’t want to hear that they took no sick days in 2012. They want to hear that the applicant is not only capable of working independently, but also able to ask if they’re unsure of something.
Recommendation Letters for Volunteers
A volunteer is special. They are giving up their most precious resource—time—to your cause or organization. Keeping that volunteer volunteering is vastly important. If they’re ready to move on from your organization, it’s your job to make sure they continue giving their time somewhere else. Volunteers are precious resources!
Writing letters of recommendation for volunteers should involve two things: statements about the volunteer’s character and information about your organization. Each organization or group that utilizes volunteer time is built differently. How your group is structured may not align with how another’s is. It’s important for the person reading the letters of recommendation to not only get a feel for the volunteer’s character, but also to understand the inner workings of your organization.
Recommendation Letters Are Not About You
It’s generally useful to provide a paragraph’s worth of information about yourself. How you know the person you are recommending and a little about how you interacted/worked with them. But that’s it. No need to get into specifics. The letter is about them, not about you.
How to Structure a Letter of Recommendation
Be formally concise. Your first paragraph is the statement of recommendation. Your second paragraph covers who you are and how you worked with the person being recommended. The next 1-3 paragraphs should each detail a specific example (all positive) of situations or events that clearly demonstrate certain aspects of the character of the person being recommended. Your final paragraph should serve to summarize: restate your strong recommendation on the basis of the person’s demonstrated strong character and positive attitude.
When NOT to Write a Letter of Recommendation
Simply, don’t write a recommendation letter for someone if you don’t mean it. You will waste their time and yours. If you need a way to decline writing a letter of recommendation, you can simply say that you do not have enough time to write an adequate letter.
Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of the How to Write series. Read the others here: