18 Best Writing Pens: A Buyer’s Guide (2024)

Are you looking to buy the best writing pens? Whether you love fountain pens or ballpoint pens, we’ve compiled a list of the best of each to help you decide.

If you’re the kind of person who prefers to jot your thoughts down in a notebook, you know finding the best writing pens is what makes the writing experience so satisfying. Even in this age of tablets and phones, pens are irreplaceable.

There is something more organic about writing things down by hand. It sets a relaxed pace, giving you time to consider your thoughts and ideas, and for me is a reminder of the power of the written word.

Research presented by Daniel Oppenheimer from the University of California in 2013 revealed that handwritten notes aid memory and information recall, improving the learning process. It is also a form of art and becomes an aspect of your creative output.

Calligraphy — the dance, on a tiny stage, of the living, speaking hand.

Robert Bringhurst

With thousands of pens to choose from, most writers lack the time or budget to try them all. Generally, people prefer to buy cheaper pens in bulk, whereas the best pens for writing can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

For this guide, I’ve selected some affordable and more expensive options based on the different types of pens on sale today. If the pen is mightier than the keyboard for you, check out our list below, and you may also enjoy our roundup of the smoothest pens to write with.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission if you use one.

Product Image Product Name / Primary Rating / Price Primary Button
Best Gel Pen for Writing
Best Pen for Writing Notes
Best Pen for Writing in Books
Best Gel Pen for Writing
Best Pen for Writing Notes
Best Pen for Writing in Books
02/19/2024 11:00 am GMT

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Pen

For the average person, there isn’t much to consider when you buy a pen; you just need something that works well enough for you to jot down a note here and there. For professional writers or students looking for school supplies, choosing a writing instrument is a bigger deal and requires some thought.

How Do You Hold Your Pen?

How you hold your pen matters quite a lot when choosing a pen. For example, if you’re heavy-handed, holding the pen perpendicular to the paper results in a dragged and scratchy experience, and the tip of the pen expires faster.

People who hold their pens delicately might prefer ballpoints because all they need is gentle pressure to write. 

Left-handed writers and those who hold their pens between their pointer and middle fingers should avoid a rollerball pen, as their writing hand can become messy from the ink. 

(An aside for writers on a budget: if you want to save money on writing apps and tools, check out my Grammarly coupon)

Consider The Paper

When searching for the right pen, you also need to know the kind of paper you will be writing on. Take your journal or notebook with you if you’re buying a pen from a shop so you can test the performance and flow of the pen. 

The paper’s thickness, texture, color, and what is under the paper will affect your pen’s performance. Here is a list of the most common paper media and the best pens for them:

1. Notebook paper

This thin paper has a matte surface. A ballpoint or gel pen is perfect for this type of paper. You can also use a felt tip pen if you write with a light hand.

2. Legal pad

This padded paper is thin, but not as thin as notebook paper, with a sheen on the surface. It is usually yellow but is available in other colors.

The cardboard backing can range from flexible to rigid. The best pen to use on this paper is a rollerball or ballpoint pen. Heavier ink and fountain pens tend to bleed through paper on a legal pad.

3. Printer paper

This paper is much thicker than the first two and has a sheen like the legal pad. The best pen to write on this paper is a felt-tip or ballpoint pen. Fountain pens smudge easily on this paper.

4. Stationery or index cards

Stationery cards, or note cards, are thick and absorb ink really well. The best pens for stationery cards are felt tips, fountain pens, and markers.

Maintenance

Some pens require care.

Fountain pens are pleasing to use, but you will have to refill them regularly or purchase replacement ink cartridges.

Also, consider how your pen will age. If you get scented gel pens, they might smell great when you first open them, but this quickly fades, especially if you don’t close the cap after use.

Best Writing Pens

1. Wordsworth & Black Fountain Pen

Wordsworth & Black is one of the more expensive luxury pen brands in this guide and comes in a faux leather box. Billed as an executive pen, it’s heavier than other fountain pens. It feels solid, looks expensive, and writes smoothly. 

The pen comes with six free ink cartridges and a lifetime warranty. Writers can use it with a converter, which allows any bottled fountain pen ink for fountain pens.

Pros

  • Feels natural when writing
  • Wide range of colors & nib sizes
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Comes with ink cartridges

Cons

  • Pricey
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/21/2024 05:40 am GMT

Check out our guide on fancy pens you’ll love writing with. You might also be wondering why is the Montblanc ballpoint pen expensive.

2. Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen

The Pilot Metropolitan pen is a good fountain pen for beginners. It has a superior metal build for a comfortable grip. It also has an exceptionally smooth nib, which is perfect for novices.

This pen is available in a variety of color options. It has three nib sizes—fine, medium, and medium italic—and can be easily filled with ink using cartridges.

Most people prefer the medium nib version. It glides smoothly when writing and doesn’t make a mess on the paper or your hand. You can easily draw a fine line with it.

If you’ve wondered how to use a fountain pen, start with this model, as it’s affordable and comes with a travel case.

Pros

  • Ideal for beginners
  • Affordable

Cons

  • The cap tends to fall off the barrel
PILOT Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen
$21.26
  • Black Barrel
  • Classic Design
  • Medium Nib
  • Black Ink
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 06:31 am GMT

3. TWSBI ECO Fountain Pen

The TWSBI ECO is a cool pen that looks futuristic and comes in a clear plastic case.

Besides a high-quality piston filler, this fountain pen has a sleek, clear body that reveals how much ink remains in the pen. It writes exceptionally well and comes in different nib sizes ranging from extra fine to 1.1mm italic. 

The TWSBI ECO fountain pen requires more time to master than other pens. I had to watch a 10-minute YouTube video to figure out how to fill and clean it. Refills require an ink bottle, so the pen is more suited for home use than on the go.

This luxury pen would make a nice present for a writer.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Fine tip pen
  • Easy to use
  • Unique design

Cons

  • Some customers noted ink fluidity issues
  • Learning curve for maintenance
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 05:22 am GMT

4. PARKER Vector Fountain Pen

Parker makes nice, elegant pens that most people can afford. This no-nonsense fountain pen is suitable for an office and is refillable. 

It’s not quite as pleasing to write with as the other fountain pens mentioned above, and the plastic barrel doesn’t feel as satisfying. Still, the “quick ink technology” produces a pleasant effect on the page.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Good ink flow
  • Refillable

Cons

  • Some components are plastic
  • Less enjoyable to write with

5. Lamy Safari Fountain Pen

Given that the Lamy Safari fountain pen was recommended by acclaimed authors such as Neil Gaiman, you would be right in assuming it’s a quality writing instrument. It’s comparable to the Wordsworth & Black luxury pen, although it’s lighter and has a matte rather than a glossy coating.

It’s light and durable but by no means flimsy. The ink cartridges last a long time and don’t dry out. Since there’s a window on the pen that allows you to see it, you can order a new cartridge before the ink runs out.

Pros

  • Easy to hold
  • Good ink flow
  • Doesn’t smudge

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Doesn’t come with extras
Lamy Safari Fountain Pen
$37.95
  • Fine Nib
  • 5 Black Ink Cartridges
  • Z28 Converter and Wipe


We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 06:36 am GMT

6. Uni-ball Signo Gel Pen

There are lots of affordable gel pens to choose from, but the Uni-ball Signo gel pen is a good choice. 

It glides on all types of paper, has a large 0.7mm nib size, and offers a variety of color options, including metallic, sparkling, and pastel. Nib sizes vary from 0.7mm to 0.28mm.

If you prefer bold colors, go for the metallic option, but if you want something light, try pastel colors. Both ink types are vibrant. Its pigment-based formula is waterproof and unaffected by too much exposure to light.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to write with
  • Has a finger grip
  • Durable

Cons

  • Ink smudges
  • Can be scratchy
Uni-ball Signo Um-151 Gel Ink Pen
$13.30
  • 0.38 mm tip
  • 10 Set
  • Black
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 06:37 am GMT

You might also be interested in our guide on how to GTD a Moleskine notebook.

7. Uni-ball Vision Elite Rollerball Pen

The Uni-ball Vision Elite is a best-selling rollerball pen. It glides smoothly on the paper and feels sturdy. Unlike fountain pens, you don’t need to worry about an inconsistent ink flow.

This retractable pen comes with two tip options, 0.8mm and 0.5mm. The 0.8mm tip is silky smooth, and the 0.5mm option makes sure your pen never scratches the paper. 

The Uni-ball Vision Elite’s pen’s Super Ink is resistant to fading and water. Since this can prevent fraud, it’s often used to write checks and sign legal documents. 

It comes in different color variations such as blue, black, brown-black, and purple-black.

This pen doesn’t include a finger grip and is heavier than other Uni-ball pens in this guide.

Pros

  • Reliable
  • Smooth ink flow
  • Doesn’t smudge

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No finger grip
  • Heavy
Uni-ball Vision Elite Rollerball Pens
$22.28
  • 0.5mm Fine Point Micro Tip
  • Black
  • 12 Count
  • Super Ink
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 06:41 am GMT

8. Uni-ball Jetstream Ballpoint Pen

With the Uni-ball Jetstream ballpoint pen, you side-step the rollerball vs. ballpoint debate because of Uni’s proprietary ink. It uses Uni-ball’s famous Super Ink, which is resistant to fading due to exposure to light or water. 

This pen provides all the benefits of writing with a ballpoint pen. Besides giving the user a smooth glide on all kinds of paper—whether a legal pad or stationery cards—the Uni-ball Jetstream ballpoint pen is available in several colors and tip sizes, so you can easily choose your favorite pen.  

It also has a fine point at just 0.38mm.

This is a good, lightweight pen to keep in your bag or use on the go. It’s also not so expensive that losing it will annoy you.

Pros

  • Easy to write with
  • Soft grip
  • Ink doesn’t drip

Cons

  • Ink may run out quicker than expected
Uni-ball Jetstream Stick Pen
£47.98 (£4.00 / count)
  • 12 Pack
  • 1.0mm bold point
  • Medium Black Pens
  • Quick drying Super Ink
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 06:46 am GMT

9. Parker Jotter Ballpoint Pen

Parker is known for making luxury pens. The Jotter ballpoint balances appearance with affordability. It looks smart and isn’t too big or heavy. You can insert your ink cartridge of choice into the pen.

This clickable stainless steel pen allows you to write fast and easily. It doesn’t come with a cap, which some writers prefer. Pressing the thrust device on the top before you start writing is satisfying. 

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Smooth ink flow
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to hold

Cons

  • No grip
  • No cap
Parker Jotter Ballpoint Pen
$12.45
  • Stainless Steel with Chrome Trim
  • Medium Point Blue Ink
  • Gift Box
  •  Made of 77% recycled materials (excluding refill)
  • Signature Retractable Design
  • Fitted with Quinkflow Ballpoint Refill


We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 06:52 am GMT

10. Bastion Ballpoint Pen

Bastion sells a collection of ballpoint and fountain pens. The ballpoint pens are particularly impressive. They come in a range of colors with a keep-safe box. Some even have a rough grip along the body if you need the support.

These pens are pleasing to write with. Since it’s a premium pen, it is a little heavy but not to the extent of being difficult to write with. 

Given the high price point, you’ll be pleased to know that they’re durable enough to last a long time as they’re made from titanium.

Pros

  • Comes in a range of ink colors
  • Smooth ink flow
  • Durable
  • Easy to hold

Cons

  • Pricey
BASTION Grey Titanium Bolt Action Pen
£86.64
  • Gift Case
  • Lightweight
  • Retractable
  • Refillable


We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 06:50 am GMT

11. Zebra Sarasa Dry Gel Pen

The Zebra Sarasa dry gel pen dries pretty quickly as compared to other gel pens. It has a large tip and is great for thick papers like stationery cards. The ink has a consistency similar to gel, which is why writes smoothly. It comes in 0.4mm, 0.5mm, and 0.7mm tip sizes. 

The Zebra Sarasa also comes with a clip that lets you easily attach it to your notebooks or even your pocket, so it’s a great pen for students and writers on the go. It’s a cheap, cheerful, and affordable writing pen.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Fast-drying ink
  • Smooth-writing experience

Cons

  • Not durable
Zebra Sarasa Dry Gel Ink Pen
$7.56
  • Black
  • 0.5mm Fine
  • 5 Pens
  • Low viscosity gel-like ink
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 06:52 am GMT

12. Uni-ball Signo Premier Gel Pen

The Uni-ball Signo 207 Premier gel pen bills itself as the best ergonomic pen on the market. It has free-flowing ink, meaning you can hold the pen lightly or heavily, and it will still glide over your paper. Even if you have a light hand, you’re writing will be bold and legible.

This pen is heavier than other models in this guide, but the large gel strip on the side means you won’t hurt your fingers. It’s ideal for writers who take notes in class or write a lot on paper in the office.

Like other Uni models, it also uses the brand’s reliable Super Ink.

Pros

  • Ergonomic
  • Easy to write with

Cons

  • Finger grip can be sticky
Uni-Ball Signo 207 Retractable Gel Pen
$9.88
  • 0.5mm Micro Point
  • Black
  • Pack of 6
  • Textured Grip
  • Uni Super ink
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 07:05 am GMT

13. Pilot Frixon Gel Pen

The Pilot FriXion gel pen is a fun erasable pen. It has a special thermo-sensitive ink, which disappears easily when you rub it with the eraser on top of the pen. 

Don’t let the cheap packaging fool you; the pen works great. The Pilot FriXion gel pen comes in different colors, tip sizes, and styles.

Pros

  • Erasable
  • Affordable

Cons

  • May run dry quicker than expected
PILOT FriXion ClickerGel Rollerball Pen
£13.05 (£2.61 / count)
  • Pack of 5
  • Colours Blue/Black/Pink/Light Blue/Purple
  • Erasable Refillable Gel Rollerball Pen
  • Retractable Mechanism
  • Thermosensitive Ink
  • Medium Tip
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 07:16 am GMT

14. Sakura Pigma Micron Pen

The Sakura Pigma felt tip pen is suitable for writing letters. The tip of the pen is gentle and allows the user to make precise markings. It is a good option if you want to experiment with drawing fonts. 

The ink is pigment-based, which means the color is very strong. It uses water-proof archival ink. This ink is resistant to fading with age, meaning you should be able to revisit your writing in an old journal years later and find it as legible as the day you wrote it.

The Sakura Pigma felt tip pen comes in 15 colors and different sizes, ranging from 0.15mm to 0.5mm.

Pros

  • Comfortable to hold
  • Smudge-free

Cons

  • More suited for drawing than writing
Sakura Pigma Micron Assorted Pens
£13.99 (£2.33 / count)
  • Pack of 6
  • Black
  • Point sizes 0.20mm, 0.25mm, 0.30mm, 0.35mm, 0.45mm & 0.50mm
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 07:20 am GMT

15. Zebra Sarasa Mark On Gel Pen

If you use pens to write or highlight notes, consider the Zebra Sarasa gel pen. This cheap and cheerful pen is water-resistant and rarely smears, unlike other gel pens.

It comes with a clip, so you can easily attach it to your notebook or pocket. The ink dries quickly on both card and paper. You’ll notice the ink is heavier and more solid than other pens. 

The clickable pen is lightweight and features a finger rest near the nib, so you’re unlikely to get finger pain while writing quickly.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Quick drying ink

Cons

  • Clip may break without care
Zebra Sarasa Mark On Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens
£20.00
  • 0.5mm
  • 5 Black,1 Blue,1 Red
  • Water-resistant ink
  • Quick drying
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 07:22 am GMT

16. Papermate Inkjoy

Papermate is one of the best-known gel pen brands for good reason. Despite the low price point, these pens are quick drying to prevent smearing. The ink flows well, making for a smooth writing experience.

Keep in mind that if you’re writing on thin paper, it won’t bleed through, but you will be able to see the writing on the other side. You can choose from standard black pens or go for colored ones. Either way, the pigment is vivid.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Smudge-free
  • Vivid pigment

Cons

  • Shows through the back of thin paper
Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pens
$11.89
  • Medium Point
  • Assorted
  • 14 Count
  • Retractable
  • Ergonomic comfort grip
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 07:22 am GMT

17. Pentel EnerGel XM BL77

Pentel is best known for its special EnerGel ink, which offers a smooth writing experience with a quick drying time to prevent smudges. The ink flow is consistent enough that you can write clearly without having to use much pressure. To make it even more seamless, the pens have a finger grip to help with comfort and control.

For those concerned about the environmental impact of their writing utensils, these pens are made from more than 50% recycled materials.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Classic retro-look
  • Smudge-resistant

Cons

  • Ink may run out quicker than expected
Pentel EnerGel XM BL77 Gel Ink Pen
£6.39 (£2.13 / count)
  • Retractable Liquid Gel Ink Pen
  • 0.7mm
  • 54% Recycled
  • Black
  • Pack of 3
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 07:30 am GMT

18. Pilot G2 Premium Refillable & Retractable Rolling Ball Gel Pens

The Pilot G2 pens are another great choice for eco-conscious writers as they are refillable. With more than 100 years in the business, the brand is one of the most recognizable when it comes to gathering office supplies or preparing to go back to school.

You can choose from ultra-fine, extra fine, fine, and bold point pens, depending on your needs and writing style. The G2 pens write smoothly and dry quickly. Despite the cheap price point, they’re excellent value for money as the ink lasts a long time. 

Pros

  • Long-lasting
  • Affordable
  • Refillable

Cons

  • Isn’t smooth on all kinds of paper
  • Can smudge a little
PILOT G2 Rolling Ball Gel Pens
£12.07 (£1.51 / count)
  • Refillable
  • Retractable
  • Fine Point, Black
  • 8-Pack
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 07:47 am GMT
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/21/2024 09:00 am GMT

Check out our guide on the best roller ball pens for more options.

What Pens are Best for Lefties?

Left-handed writers need quick-drying ink to prevent smudges on their paper and fingers. The best choices are pigment liners and ballpoint pens. Keep in mind that oil-based inks tend to dry quicker but don’t write as smoothly as water-based inks. Lefties are better off using oil-based ink.

Selection Criteria

I chose a wide range of pens for this list so there would be something for everyone. Only pens with good reviews were considered, and they had to be durable and comfortable to hold for long periods of time. They also needed to be able to write on more than one type of paper.

Why You Can Trust Me

I bought almost every pen in this guide and spent a few minutes writing with each one on index cards and paper. I also looked at what other writers thought to determine if there was anything I missed.

Best Writing Pens: FAQs

What is the best pen for exams?

A Uni-Ball 0.8mm pen is ideal for students who need to write quickly during an exam, as it’s comfortable to hold and doesn’t smudge. It also comes in a variety of colors.

What are the best pens for note-taking?

If you like to read and review your notes often, use a fountain pen. It’s fun to use and looks great on paper. The Pilot Metropolitan Fountain pen is a good choice.

Pen Buyer’s Guide Resources

Rollerball Vs Ballpoint Pens

Fancy Pens You’ll Love Writing With

Why Is The Montblanc Ballpoint Pen So Expensive?

Best Gel Roller Pens

What Is The Smoothest Pen to Write With?

Author

  • Aisling is an Irish journalist and content creator with a BA in Journalism & New Media. She has bylines in OK! Magazine, Metro, The Inquistr, and the Irish Examiner. She loves to read horror and YA. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.