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The Happy Planner Dot Grid Size is NOT What You Think

The Happy Planner dot grid size is a non-standard 4.28mm (or .1685″). Why such an odd size? Why don’t they print their dots at 5x5mm or another standard size? And why does their grid spacing look square, but in my testing is off by just a tiny, almost imperceptible bit?

While I don’t have any definitive answers, I do have some ideas and thoughts about their proprietary sizing.

The Happy Planner Dot Grid is….. Special

First – full disclosure – I’m not a raving fan of The Happy Planner products. But I don’t dislike them either. They’re not bad… they’re just outside my budget. So unless I can find them on clearance (which is how I’ve acquired a few), I prefer to use other paper and notebooks.

A photograph of The Happy Planner dot grid spacing measured with digital calipers in inches
The Happy Planner dot grid spacing measured with digital calipers is ~.1685 inches

Which is how I noticed a big difference in grid sizing between The Happy Planner and other brands.

I’ll get into that more in a moment, but first I’m going to tell you what I found.

The three types of grids I’ve found printed on their products are dot grid, graph grid, and what I call a tiny graph grid. Their graph grid is a somewhat standard 1/5×1/5″ size (also known as 5×5 spaces per inch). And I haven’t yet measured the sizing of their tiny graph grid, but it’s a lot smaller than most. But their dot grid is so different from anything else I’ve found. So, for clarity, I’m only going to talk about it’s sizing in this post.

Closeup of dot grid spacing testing and one sheet of The Happy Planner dot grid paper
I tested a LOT of different grid spacing sizes – to the thousandths of a millimeter – to finally find The Happy Planner dot grid spacing is ~4.28mm.

What size is The Happy Planner dot grid?

In my testing, The Happy Planner prints their dot grids at about 4.28×4.28mm.

HOWEVER – on The Happy Planner paper I have, I’ve noticed something strange. It threw me for a loop testing and re-testing to get an exact (or as exact as I can tell with my tools) sizing.

The Happy Planner dot grid isn’t exactly square?

First – assume I’m holding the rectangular page in front of me in portrait orientation (long sides up and down). For me, the spacing between each dot across the page from left to right in rows measures 4.27mm apart. However, the spacing between each dot in columns (top to bottom) measures 4.28mm apart.

Although they look like it to the naked eye, they are NOT exactly square spaces.

There are 2 possible explanations I can think of:

  1. It’s an unintentional printing issue. As it’s printed, the dots could shift ever so slightly out of square.
  2. It’s an intentional design. This could be a. just one more way to make their grids that much more proprietary. And/or it could be b. a design choice to give you a minuscule bit more vertical room for handwriting (when writing left to right in rows across the page in portrait orientation). I think it could be more likely a., but I’ll get to that in a moment.

It’s fun to speculate why, but I doubt I’ll ever know the real reason. The consequence, however, is that it forced me to make a difficult design decision.

And I’m not even talking about the fact that 4.28mm is NOT a standard dot grid size.

The Happy Planner Dot Grid is Non-Standard

Dotted paper, notebooks, and journals come in many different line-spacing sizes.

Think of it this way – if you live in the United States, you’ve probably seen Wide Ruled vs. College Ruled paper. And you probably prefer one over the other, depending on how you write. Some people prefer to have less space between the top and bottom of their letters. Others’ hands cramp up trying to write so small. Dot grid spacing has variety as well. But some are more “standard” than others.

For example, 5x5mm dot grid spacing is very widely available, and the preferred size of many bujo enthusiasts. However, you can find dot (and line) grids printed in many other spacing sizes.

A photograph of The Happy Planner dot grid paper with calipers measuring spacing between dots in millimeters
I measured the spacing between the dots on The Happy Planner dot grid paper with digital calipers. The dots are each 4.28 millimeters apart.

4x4mm, 1/5″ (also known as 5×5), and 1/4″ (also known as Quad or 4×4) are commonly found in the United States. I’ve also seen 1/8″, 6mm, 7mm, and even 1/2″ spacing sizes. I’m planning to write more about dot grid spacing sizes in a upcoming blog post.

But the point is, these sizes are either whole measurements or common divisions. They rarely dip into the tenths or hundredths of common inch and millimeter measurements. Not so with the 4.28mm spacing in The Happy Planner.

Other Non-Standard Size Brands

The Happy Planner isn’t the only brand that has odd sizing. I’m still researching the exact spacing size of Hobinichi dot grids – which may be about 3.55-3.7mm. And they’re not the only brand to make up their own sizing standards for more than just their dot grids.

Photograph of several different sizes and styles of The Happy Planner paper
Paper sizes for The Happy Planner come in four varieties: (from left to right) Big, Classic, Skinny Classic, and Mini.

The Happy Planner has LOTS of proprietary sizes

The Happy Planner also sizes their other products exclusive to their brand. They even name their sizes different than standard paper sizes.

You can tell just by looking at them that The Happy Planner “Big” size is close to US Letter size, but not quite the same. Similarly, “Classic” size is very close to a B5/Composition standard size. “Classic Skinny” is almost the size of a Travelers Classic Slim. And “Mini” size is close to B6 size.

Why would a brand do this? One reason I can think of is market-share. Making their brand-exclusive sizes just different enough from standard means they can create their own market. Especially for the accessories that go with their paper. For example, the planner binders and covers, paper punches, disc binders, rulers, stencils, and more. Yeah, I see what kind of marketing mojo they’re working.

Designing for Maximum Functionality

When I originally tested the grid spacing size, I spent hours trying to get it right. I printed many, many grids with only a tenth or hundredth difference in spacing. I even tried going to the thousandths! In the end, I decided to keep it within the hundredths. Two decimal places’ worth is enough difference to tell by eye without really squinting.

Photograph of several different styles of The Happy Planner Classic size Dot Grid paper with a 5x7 grid drawn on the top sheet and The Grid Tool in 2 sizes each laid over the top
The Grid Tool is available in 2 sizes for The Happy Planner Classic Dot Grid – you get both in one download!

Then I had to decide whether to use 4.27mm or 4.28mm size. When designing The Grid Tool to work with The Happy Planner dot grid paper, I had to choose one or the other. I decided the lengthwise 4.28mm size would match up along the longer columns of dots down the page. The dots start “walking” away from each other the farther away from the beginning you go, and aren’t as noticeable across the shorter length of the page.

Did I make the right choice?

What’s the official sizing? These are questions I still have, but probably won’t know the answer to. But I know making The Grid Tool in a size to fit The Happy Planner dot grids will help a lot of people get creative with their layouts, without the math time-sink. And that’s a good enough reason for me to offer it to the bujo and planner community.

If you’d like to get your own, check it out in my Etsy Shop.


January 6, 2022

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About the author

Hi, I'm Cas! I'm a Minnesota gal who parents, teaches, gardens, crafts, cooks, and reads. I'm an Inventor, Entrepreneur, Professor, Marketer, and Technologist. Thousands of amazing people have purchased my art and designs online since 2001, and I'm here to offer you a lifetime's worth of experience. Enjoy!

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