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How to add lines and grids in the Notes app on iPhone and iPad

iPad Pro with Notes Lines and Grids hero
iPad Pro with Notes Lines and Grids hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

While you may often use the Notes app on your current iPhone or iPad for text the most, it does have the ability for handwritten notes and sketches too. But don't you hate it when handwriting a note, and your writing just ends up going crooked because there are no lines to guide you? I mean, that's why lined or grid notebooks are so popular, so why not have the same capability in the Notes app?

Don't worry, the Notes app does have an option for lines and grids so your handwritten notes and sketches are always precise and accurate, not off-center and sloppy. Here's how to get lines and grids in the Notes app on your best iPhone and iPad.

How to access lines and grids from a new note

When you start a new note in the Notes app, something with no writing on it, you can access lines and grids directly when you tap the Share icon.

  1. Launch the Notes app on iPhone or iPad.
  2. Start a new note
  3. Tap the ... in the upper right corner of the screen.

Access lines and grids from a new note in the Notes app on iPhone and iPad by showing: Launch Notes, tap New Note, tap the ... button in the top right corner (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap Lines and Grids.
  2. Select a style of line or grid.

Access lines and grids from a new note in the Notes app on iPhone and iPad by showing tap Lines & Grids, tap the line or grid style you want (Image credit: iMore)

How to access lines and grids from Action Extensions in the Notes app

Action Extensions are extra tools that let you perform tasks within an app. If you've already started a note — if you've already written or sketched something — you'll be directed to Action Extensions to access lines and grids.

  1. Launch the Notes app on iPhone or iPad.
  2. Select a note.
  3. Tap the ... in the upper right corner of the screen.

Access lines and grids from Action Extensions in the Notes app on iPhone and iPad by showing: Launch Notes, tap existing note, tap ... in the top right (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap Lines and Grids.
  2. Select a style of line or grid.

Access lines and grids from Action Extensions in the Notes app on iPhone and iPad by showing: Tap Lines and Grids, tap the style you want (Image credit: iMore)

You'll see that when you tap the Share icon, it brings up the standard share drawer, showing other sharing options and tools (like locking a note or creating a PDF).

How to set a line or grid as the default note style

If you're likely to use the same grid or line every time you use the Notes app, you don't have to select it for each note. You can set one as the default, and every new note will default with that selection.

  1. Launch the Settings app on iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Notes.

Set a line or grid as the default note style in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Launch Settings, tap on Notes (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap Lines & Grids.
  2. Select a style of line or grid.

Set a line or grid as default note style in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Tap Lines & Grids, select your preferred line or grid style for all new notes (Image credit: iMore)

From now on, all of your new notes will launch with that style.

How to remove a line or grid from a note

If you want to save or share a note without having a grid or line in the background, you can remove it at any time, even if you've got it set as a default note style.

  1. While in the note, tap the ... in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Tap Lines and Grids.
  3. Select the blank style.

Remove a line or grid from a note sketch in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing: In the note, tap the ... button in the top right corner, then tap Lines & Grids, choose Blank style (Image credit: iMore)

This will remove the line or grid from the background but leave everything you wrote or sketched in place.

Make it straight with lines and grids

As you can see, the Notes app is meant to be like a replacement for paper notebooks, with lines and grids and all that jazz. With this feature, your handwritten notes, diagrams, and sketches will look better than ever since you'll have lines and grids to guide you — no more crooked writing! It's easy to access this tool, and just as easy to turn it off when you don't need it.

Updated March 2022: Updated for iOS 15.

Christine Chan
Senior Editor

Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently the iMore lead on all things iPhone, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.

2 Comments
  • I get the grid to appear on screen but as soon as start to draw it disappears.
    I am using a Generation 8 iPad running 14.4.2 and an Apple pencil 1.
    Wonder what I am doing wrong.
  • just a guess but ... if you haven't set the grid as your *default* note and you are using the pen tap to start the note instead of the app, then maybe the pen tap reaches for the default template? maybe?