Spruce Up Your Office with the Best Pens
Even with the world running on laptops, desktops, and mobile phones, there’s always a time and place for good old-fashioned handwriting. It could be for taking notes at work or school, bullet journaling, practicing your handwriting to make it neater, calligraphy – the list goes on. We’ve compiled this list of pens for every user that will improve your handwriting game or even help instill a new hobby.
Our top picks
How to choose the perfect pen
With an incredible array of choices, keep these in mind:
Function: Do you want a pen for everyday notes? Work? School? Lists? Handwriting letters to friends, family, or loved ones? Calligraphy practice? There are many reasons to use pens and they all do something better or worse depending on what you need.
Ease of use: Look at rollerballs or ballpoints for a pen you can just uncap and use. Something more elaborate like a fountain pen might have a few more steps involved in regard to cleaning or changing ink colours, which can be a relaxing and fun hobby on its own.
Durability: If you want to just toss your ballpoint or rollerball pen into a bag and go, chances are it will be fine. Certain fountain pens might be more susceptible to damages depending on how you store and travel with your pens.
Cost: There is a price range on pens from inexpensive under a dollar to thousands (yes, plural) of dollars. Keep in mind what you want your pens for and decide from there which price point you’re comfortable with.
How we picked the best pens
For this buying guide, we reviewed the best pens for a variety of individual needs between type of pen, budget, and usage to suit everyone. We wanted everyone to be able to find a pen that works for them whether you’re a student taking notes every day, work, or bullet journaling.
Best extra-fine pen
Uni-ball Signo UM-151
If you want extra fine pens, Japanese pens are the best choice. All Japanese pens versus Western are always smaller and are finer tipped when it comes to their Extra-Fine or Fine variations.
Uni-ball Signo UM-151 pens are gel pens that can withstand drops and falls, and if you lose any, they’re easily available and affordable. The ink itself can hold up against water, sunlight, and chemicals once it’s fully dry on the page. There are dozens of ink colours and several variations of each, like Bordeaux Black, Lavender Black, and Green Black.
They’re widely used for everything from workplace notes, school lists, and artist drawings. The gel is smooth and isn’t too thick or thin for easy and consistent writing without needing to apply much pressure. The Signo UM-151 pens come in 0.38mm and 0.5mm extra fine tips, so if you need an even thinner line, go with the 0.38mm variation in whichever colour of the rainbow grabs you most. There is also the Signo Needle – It has a thinner grip and longer tip that comes only in 0.38mm, which is small enough for most.
- Water, sunlight and chemical resistant ink.
- Dozens of colour options.
- Ink can run out quickly.
Best pen for note-taking
Another Uniball pen, best for quick notes and left-handed writing is the Uniball Jetstream. With archival, smear-resistant ink this pen is inexpensive and perfect for anyone that likes fast writing.
They have a retractable tip instead of needing a pen cap, so you can just simply click and start writing. There are a rainbow of colours to choose from, from bright reds to emerald greens in a 0.5mm or 0.7mm tip choice. Uni-ball’s Super Ink is designed to become ‘trapped in paper’, ensuring that it won’t fade or smudge once it’s fully dried. Which is great for notes and other things you don’t want to get damaged over time or if there’s any spills from coffee and the like.
These Jetstreams are ideal for left-handers as well since the ink generally dries extremely quickly compared to other pens and inks, especially useful for avoiding smudges when gliding your hand across a page. The hybrid ink is unique to the Jetstream pens, and Uniball itself. The pen has an embossed soft grip that can help with hand fatigue, and since the ink is smooth it generally doesn’t take as much pressure to write with like other pens.
- Ideal for left-handers.
- Skips when ink is low.
Best pen for bullet journals
Sakura Pigma Micron
Known best for being great artist pens, Micron pens are perfect for bullet journals or any other sort of journaling. They’re archival, fade-resistant, smear-resistant, and won’t get damaged from chemicals or water once the ink is dry.
The ink doesn’t feather, smear, or bleed-through on most types of paper unless it’s a particularly toothy page. The black ink stays a deep colour even if you erase over it, and the other colours are richly pigmented, while not bleeding through most paper.
They come in a multitude of different sizes and widths, including a brush version. Anywhere from 0.1 to the large brush size are great for bullet journals, drawings, and notes. You could refill Micron pens yourself if you really wanted to but for the cost you may as well just go ahead and buy a new set.
- Multiple colours.
- Can be pricey depending on which pens you want.
Best luxury pen
Anywhere from $100-$15,000 could be considered luxury. The Waterman Carene is a beautifully designed and crafted pen, that’s well worth the price tag.
If you’re looking for a luxury pen that performs wonderfully and has the reputation and reviews to back itself up, you don’t need to look any further than a Waterman. They’ve been around since 1884 and are well known for their attention to detail and care.
With multiple nib sizes to choose from and a handful of colour options, there’s a Carene that is sure to suit your palette. They’re wet writers and aren’t scratchy or stiff even using finer nib sizes and drier ink. The Waterman Carene is shaped like a boat, with a unique slanted taper at the end of the pen. It has a large ink capacity which is always a plus, as some higher end pens have small ink reservoirs or filling capacities.
- Beautifully designed.
- Large ink capacity.
Best pen for school
The Pilot Metropolitan is well known in pen groups for being an affordable and easily available writing tool.
It comes in every colour of the rainbow, writes smoothly without being scratchy or too wet, and won’t tear through paper. The durability is surprisingly solid for the price, and they’re perfect for just tossing into a school bag.
Useful for anyone in younger grades all the way up to university, these pens are able to get you through whatever notes you need to take during class. The inks can bleed through or feather if you’re using rough and toothy paper, but generally they hold up well without destroying journals or notebooks.
Whatever your colour or need is, you can’t go wrong with the Pilot Metropolitan as an everyday workhorse that will help you with anything you throw at it.
- Rainbow of colour choices.
- Quality can be hit or miss.
Best executive pen
Montblanc – Meisterstück Classique
Montblanc is a top-tier brand with a high-tier price point to match. Quality and customer care are top notch and they’re generally worth every penny spent.
The Classique is one of, if not the best-selling pen Montblanc currently sells. There are several versions of this pen, including a gorgeous fountain pen variation that has several different nib choices in terms of size and material used.
Montblanc’s Classique rollerball is a silky-smooth writing experience with enough weight that it doesn’t feel like you’re using any old cheap pen to do your writing. Whether it’s for taking notes or signing documents this pen won’t let you down. The ink is deep, rich, and comes in either cartridge form or you can opt for a converter that allows you to use whichever fountain pen ink you prefer.
The price may be high, but for an executive pen, Montblanc can’t be beat.
- Amazing quality.
- Warranty is good.
Best gel pen
BIC is known for their pens, and most likely everyone has a few laying around their home somewhere. The Gelocity is no exception to their quality and charm, earning its spot as one of the Competing with other popular gel pens, the BIC Gelocity stands out by not only being inexpensive and affordable but with good quality and an ink capacity that will make you get more colours and use them in your every day. Drawing, writing, notes, or even just doodling this gel pen holds up and doesn’t smudge or smear as easily as other smooth writing gel pens can.
There are multiple colours and sizes to choose from, from Fine to Bold. The lines they put down are fairly wet, so you do have to be careful to not touch your page too soon after writing or working, because it can smudge and then will stay that way forever. The ink itself is fade-proof and can even hold up against some water damage.
- Great writers.
- Can smudge.
Best ballpoint pen
Sakura Grosso Ball Ballpoint
Ballpoint pens are regularly touted as the inexpensive and thick inked pens that everyone knows and has a handful of somewhere in the back of a drawer, dried out. The Sakura Grosso is a wonderful ballpoint that puts other ballpoints to shame.
With an array of colours to choose from, smooth writing, and an inexpensive price point this particular choice is great. One caveat as with all ballpoints is that since it’s an oil-based ink, it tends to be thicker and while writing with the Sakura is typically very smooth, it can have some hard starts that will leave an ink smudge or blob at the beginning of writing.
Also, with the thicker ink, it can take some time to dry. These pens tend to dry fairly fast, but always make sure that you give your writing or drawing some time to do so before moving on or starting a new line just in case your hand accidentally smudges what you’ve just laid down.
- Can smudge and blob.
- Ink is thicker.
Best pen for writing quickly
If you’re looking for a pen that can handle fast note taking or writing, the Zebra Sarasa has you covered. With its fast-drying ink and durable design you won’t want to use any other pen.
An inexpensive choice that’s readily available and comes in multiple colours and tip sizes, this Zebra is worth thinking about adding to your collection. With their own patented fast dry ink and tech, it’s an amazing pen for writing quickly. If you do go too fast though, it can tend to skip but for most it’s not a dealbreaker.
The ink holds up against light damage, splashes of water, and shouldn’t smudge or budge a few short seconds after you’ve finished writing. Highly reviewed as the best pen for fast writers, it’s also great for left-handers as you won’t have to worry so much about accidentally smearing the page with your hand just simply by writing.
- Fast drying.
- Sometimes ink skips.
Best metal pen
Metal pens are somewhat prestigious given the expensive material they’re made from. More expensive models are typically made of brass or copper. If you’re looking for a metal pen, look no further than the Parker Jotter.
Affordable and designed to be sleek but simple, these all-metal pens are a good start for dipping your toes if you’re wondering if a metal pen would suit you, and compare to using other materials while writing.
The Parker Jotter is easy to find and comes in several colour choices, while the clicking mechanism is loud, satisfying, and has good feedback. If you’re a nervous clicker or someone who just likes clicking pens (don’t we all), you’ll enjoy this pen possibly for the satisfaction of that alone. It’s a smooth writer that generally has no hard stops and gets the job done.
- Satisfying click.
- Smooth writer.
- Can have a hard start sometimes.
Best fountain pen
Platinum Preppy is known in the fountain pen world as a good start for anyone that wants to get into fountain pens without the costs. They’re surprisingly good quality for their price, come in every colour you could want, and are a fun addition to any pen case.
If you’ve wanted to try writing with fountain pens, this is a good start. You don’t have to worry about any ink leaks, and if you lose or damage one you aren’t out a lot of money that could burn a hole in your pocket. Every colour of the rainbow from vivid bright reds to dark violets are in range for the Preppy and they’re great for old and new fountain pen users.
A trick that some people enjoy is filling the entire body of the pen with whatever colour fountain pen ink they desire, known as ‘eyedropper’ pens. You just fill the pen with an eyedropper or blunt tipped syringe, and you have ink that will last weeks, depending on how much you write or draw. The Platinum Preppy is a beloved little pen that’s a good choice for anyone.
- User friendly.
- Quality could be better.
- Writing can be stiff.
Pilot parallel pen
Pilot Parallel Pen
Calligraphy is difficult to learn and get into, as most people can attest to trying it once with some cheap kit we found at the bookstore and never touched again. The Pilot Parallel takes the frustration out of trying to use finicky loose nibs and dip pens and allows you to just simply uncap and learn how the angles work with up and downstrokes.
Coming in a plethora of colours, the Parallel pens are great not only for calligraphy but for drawing and signage as well. A fun trick with these pens is to hold the tip of two colours together for a few seconds and then writing with them – The colours with shift from one to the other as the ink runs out of the pen. It’s fantastic for custom gradients and writing.
There are several sizes for the Parallel pens, and whichever you decide to go with will help learning calligraphy basics, whether you’re old or new.
- Can mix colours.
- Easy to use.
- Learning curve.
Best pen for field notes
Pilot Precise V5
The Pilot Precise V5 is a fantastic pen for field notes as they’re a smooth, wet writer that dries fast and resists smudges and water damages.
Whatever you can throw at the Precise V5, it can take it and still deliver perfectly. They’re available almost anywhere and are inexpensive for multiple packs of pens. They come in several colours and tip sizes and are consistently good straight from the package. Just uncap and write, no hard starts or trying to get it to work.
The archival ink is rich and dark, and is great for any fast notes while out in the world. It can bleed through cheaper papers however, so do make sure that whatever paper you’re using it can withstand some wetter ink that may go show through.
- Easily available.
- Smooth, wet writer.
- Can bleed through paper.
Best pen under $10
Pilot’s G2 pens are durable, great writers, and affordable. At less than $10 for packs of four generally, they’re a good addition to any backpack, purse, or kitchen drawer where all the other pens inevitably collect.
The ink can sometimes be a bit thicker and take a while to dry, but they are consistent and steadfast, with the quality being great for the price. They come in several colours like red, blue, black, and green and can take damages unlike some other pens in the same price range.
If they get tossed around, there’s a good chance that they’ll still deliver smooth writing. They’re great for toothier or rougher paper and will minimally have any bleed through or ghosting like with thinner, wetter inks. All in all, a solid investment for cheap pens.
- Great writer.
- Ink is a bit thick.
Best pen under $60
TWSBI is known as a brand in the fountain pen world that has great customer care, and fantastic pens. The Eco (next to the LAMY Safari) is generally one of the first fountain pens users purchase as a starter pen.
Comfortable, large capacity, and generally smooth writing, the TWSBI Eco is a great pen to have. They come in multiple colours including fully clear, and the nib sizes are a range as well from EF to Bold. They’re very lightweight pens and are easy on the hands for long writing sessions.
A noted issue that some users seem to have is that their Eco can crack near the front of the pen near the nib, though with an acrylic body it seems to all depend on the quality assurance and how rough some people are with their pens. It is worth checking from time to time if any acrylic bodied pen has cracks just in case there are any ink spills or leaks.
- Great performance and design.
- Amazing customer service.
- Acrylic body can sometimes crack if not careful.
Best pen under $200
One of the more expensive fountain pens that is generally the first ‘step up’ in fountain pen use and collecting, the LAMY 2000 is a renowned and beautiful pen, and for the cost it’s well worth it.
With a beautifully designed shaped and a ‘hooded’ nib style, the LAMY 2000 is a gorgeous investment if you’re looking to step up your pen game into a more expensive level. The nibs do come in several sizes, and material finishes. There have been notes from some users that there can be a ‘sweet spot’ while writing with the LAMY 2000, depending on how you grip pens while you write.
Most don’t notice this as an issue, but it is worth noting if you can’t try out a pen like this in person anywhere before purchasing. It’s generally very smooth, gliding across paper like glass, and has just enough feedback that you don’t feel like you’re writing with nothing. The matte body is beautiful and LAMY guarantees their pens are quality checked and made with care.
- Beautiful design.
- Quality warranty and care.
- Has a ‘sweet spot’ while writing.
Best pen to pair with moleskine notebooks
Pilot Hi-Tec C
If you use Moleskine notebooks for journaling, notes, or as a dairy you may find that the paper can be difficult to work with where pens and paints ghost or bleed through. The Pilot Hi-Tec-C is one of the most well reviewed pens for anyone who uses Moleskine or thinner paged books.
With smooth writing, affordable price points, and easily available nearly everywhere the Hi-Tec-C is a great choice for anyone taking notes or using notebooks that may have thinner paper quality. It can ghost or bleed through still, though the ink itself seems to be fairly well behaved without any large blobs or hard starts/stops.
The ink capacity however could be better as depending on how much you write or journal, you may need to stock up on a few pens as the ink storage isn’t as robust as other pens in the same category.
- Easily available.
- Good writer.
- Can run through ink fast.
Best erasable pen
If you didn’t have one of these pens back in the early 2000’s when ‘erasable ink’ was all the rage, you can relive that moment now with the FriXion. Except this actually works and does the job a lot better now than it did back then when it was new technology.
The FriXion pens come in a rainbow of colours, are smooth writers, and as the name implies it uses friction to erase pen lines. Depending on how much and how thick you’ve written, it does the job very well. Whether you need to take notes with pen or fill out documents and you messed up, you can just erase and do it all over again.
They’re relatively inexpensive for a pack of colours or just plain black/blue if needed, and again, depending on how old your writing is – don’t expect it to completely erase everything. They are well worth picking up though, as the writing experience is consistently wonderful and the colours are beautiful.
- Smooth writer.
- Comes in multiple colours.
- May not erase everything depending on how old the ink is.
Best EDC pen
Fisher ZGMB Space Pen
If you’re an Everyday-Carrier: someone who carries your pens everywhere while traveling, hiking, flying, and more – look no further than the Fisher Space Pen. It’s impervious to nearly anything, including writing upside down.
The shape and size fits most hands, you can post the cap for some length or keep it unposted as a smaller pen. The ink beautifully flows no matter what you’re doing and can even withstand being used in space. Not that you’ll be in space anytime soon, but on the off chance you’re an astronaut reading this article – it has you covered for space travel use in zero gravity.
These pens have been around for a number of years and are still being used today. On planes, outside, in the rain, upside down – they won’t fail you. The only real issue is that they aren’t as durable as they seem and tend to collect some scratches and dents fairly easily if you’re prone to dropping your pens or tossing them in with multiple other things in a bag.
The pens themselves come in multiple colours and write like a dream, for the cost and quality they’re worth looking into. Even if you’re not an astronaut.
- Writes in almost every environment.
- Smooth writing.
- Fits well in most hand sizes.
- Scratches and dents easily.
Why trust us
Our team has spent over 10 hours reviewing and researching different types and brands of pens for anything from everyday uses to hobby collecting and calligraphy writing. Top Amazon reviews, personal use, and other trusted review websites ensure that we’re giving you the best pens covering all ranges of use.
Frequently asked questions
What are the best pen brands?
Montegrappa, Pilot, Montblanc, Sheaffer, Aurora, Uniball
Are Cross pens good?
Cross fountain pens can be hit or miss depending on which Cross pen you purchase. The lower cost models might not perform as well as more expensive ones, and the fountain pen nibs are generally very smooth.
Why are Japanese pens so good?
Handwriting is seen more as an art form in Japan than in western countries, and they have a stricter quality assurance system in place for their pens. They take great care in their pens, including the inexpensive styles.
Rollerball vs. Ballpoint: What’s the difference?
Ballpoint pens use a thicker oil-based ink, whereas rollerballs use water-based ink that flows more smoothly, much like fountain pens. Ballpoint oil-based ink lasts much longer than water-based inks.
How to write with a fountain pen?
Fountain pens are easier to write with than rollerball or ballpoint pens since there is far less pressure needed to lay down ink on a page. You can use whatever grip you use writing with anything else, though some pens are better suited for certain grips.
Do people still need pens?
Yes. Work, notes, or every day lists are done using pens. Biro Company for example sells 14 million BIC ‘Crystal’ ballpoint pens a day.
Is a Muji pen worth it?
Yes. They’re inexpensive and generally produce smooth writing and good pigment regardless of what you’re writing on.
In case those pens didn’t appeal to you, or you want some other recommendations, here are a few that didn’t make the list but are still worth your consideration:
Uni-ball Vision Needle
We listed this as an alternative to the extra-fine pen at the top of the list, for those who wanted a thinner grip.
Jinhao Shark Fountain Pen
This is a plastic fountain pen with an extra-fine hooded nib. A great, affordable intro for novice pen collectors. However, experts may not be impressed.
LAMY Safari Fountain Pen
A smooth writer, this is an affordable alternative to more expensive models of fountain pens. Not ideal for calligraphy, as the nib doesn’t flex.
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