TRU RED Mastery Journal Review

Mastery journal cover

Some time ago took a look at a couple of new products from TRU RED, a new office supply brand available at Staples. The products offered a nice change of pace from standard over-the-counter stationery, and have since expanded to a brand capable of outfitting an entire office.

Recently I was offered an opportunity to take a look at the new Mastery Series journal. So, with a return to office-life on the horizon, this seemed like an excellent time to reevaluate the more accessible offerings on the market. Let’s take a look at what TRU RED has to offer.

Mastery journal cover

Mastery Basics

The Mastery Journal series is described as being “For the: Experienced scriber; On-the-go brainstormer; and Next-level notetaker.” The journals use ruled and numbered pages, with an index and goal-setting/tracking section at the beginning and end respectively. TRU RED decided to mix things up a little by placing the rear cover pocket on the front cover, and including a slim exterior pouch for toting around the included pocket notebook. But the pockets don’t stop there. Remember that rear cover pocket that was placed inexplicably on the front cover? Well it has a little pocket too! That’s because the pocket notebook includes cover-to-cover perforated pages!

Also included are three ribbon page markers, an elastic closure band, and a semi-pliable hard-cover. Another nice bonus feature is the small channel cutout for the closure band to stay in place and act as a pen loop. Overall, this is a pretty well-built notebook.

Using the Book

In discussing this product with a representative of the TRU RED brand, I learned that this series was designed for the self-starting, entrepreneurial-minded individual. The designers took a look at the journaling and note-taking habits of successful CEOs and business-people to really cover all the bases of effective, efficient note taking.

The standard ruling gives the notebook a very professional tone, but the inclusion of subtle guides adds a level of versatility to the layout. I even found myself setting up pages for notes like I was instructed to back in school. Behind those lines, we find a paper that is definitely above the standard notebook level of quality. While not completely fountain pen friendly, the paper does hold ink well, with no major bleed through. Your standard gel, ballpoint, and rollerball pens will be perfectly at home on this paper.

The pocket notebook is also of a premium quality. With the knit-textured cover and perforated pages, this little book is super handy to slip into a pocket or bag, just in case inspiration strikes. It almost makes me wish for a full-size fully-perforated version of the Mastery Journal. While hard bound notebooks are objectively nicer than spiral or disc bound (don’t @ me), having the option to cleanly extract a page now and then would be nice.

As I mentioned previously, the notebook has a lot of features we generally only see in the specialty section. In this case, I’m finding the three ribbon markers to be a little overkill and slightly cumbersome, particularly with the inclusion/intention of folding the top corners. But one nice touch that I haven’t seen in other products is the section for reflection on the back interior cover. The section has a page for “My best thoughts” and “Final words” to fill in as you go or once you’ve finished. I really like the inclusion of this feature, I think it’s a great idea to go back and think about what you’ve done in the past and ways you can improve, especially in the professional context. Plus, it’s a great use of that last page in the binding of a notebook. Bonus points for efficient use of space.


The Mastery Journal is a great piece of stationery that was clearly designed with intention, and a desire to enable those who use it. Although Staples may not be the first shop to come to mind when searching for a “premium journal,” it is very refreshing to see the Big Brands put some actual effort into their office offerings. The paper quality of The Mastery Journal is certainly above average, and I can’t recall the last time I reviewed a notebook so absolutely filled to the brim with features.. While I have reviewed a few guided journaling products in the past, it’s nice to get my hands on something designed with that same intent that backs off a little and lets the Journaler take the wheel.

After a long year, some of us are going to be heading back to the office or classroom soon. Some already have. If you happen to find yourself with a little “back to work” budget, I’d strongly consider the TRU RED product line for your shopping list. This notebook has really raised the standard for retail-level stationery in my book.

Take a look at the Mastery Journal, and other great office products from TRU RED HERE.

But Wait, There’s More

When TRU RED sent me this package for review, I had nearly forgotten that I had already reviewed the TRU RED retractable gel pens. At the time, I found them to be surprisingly high-quality with a solid feel and excellent performance. While that is still the case, it is a little discouraging to see that TRU RED has still not introduced a line of refills. While the pen is compatible with most Pentel EnerGel or Pilot Juice style refills, I do worry that the lack of branded cartridges may discourage users from refilling these pens in the future. But getting back on topic, I have a whole pack of these great 0.5mm TRU RED retractable gel pens on my desk. So what is a lucky penman to do in circumstances such as these?

Pay it forward, of course! That’s right, it’s time for another giveaway. I’ve already experienced these little black pens, and now one of you lovely readers gets to check them out for yourself.

This giveaway will run for two weeks to give more people the opportunity to enter. The winner must have a shipping address in the continental United States to receive the prize, and they will be contacted via email to confirm once the giveaway concludes. Thanks for reading, and good luck!

Click Here to Enter

Giveaway Closed. Thanks for Entering!

These could be YOURS!

Disclaimer: TRU RED provided these products to The Poor Penman blog for review purposes. All opinions stated are those of the author.

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