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(Should I move this text to pen ?)


[edit] Pen features

(Currently no single pen has all these features ... is it even possible for a pen to have all these features ?)

Crucial features:

  • "aesthetically pleasing"
  • place where you grip "feels right" (rather than "slippery" or "painfully hard and angular"). (Some stores sell soft little round or triangular "sleeves" (?) to give any pen a nice grip).
  • dark black ink (rather than the medium gray of cheap pens)
  • ink dries quickly
  • clear window to see how much ink is left
  • nice even line width (ball point pens and roller-ball pens and ball-tip fountain pens)
  • smoothly varying line width (chisel tip fountain pens)(chisel tip felt-tip pens)(nice for calligraphy)
  • ink lasts "long enough" (?)

Other interesting features:

  • short: under 5" long, to fit in wallet or clip to side of Hipster PDA
  • ink is permanent (doesn't wash out if paper gets rained on) (-- but also see the "waterproof notebook" mentioned on Notebooks )
  • ink can wipe off laminated cards. ( "One thing you could do for repeating task lists (like weekly household chores) to save paper and time and cut down on clutter: laminate and use a wipe-off pen. That way, you go through your periodic checklist and just “clear” when you’re ready to start again. Add extra lines at the bottom for non-repeating tasks." -- Tully Monster )
  • writes upside down (I hear that all erasable ink pens can write upside down)
  • refillable ink
  • ...

The difference between roller-ball pens, ball-point pens and gel-ink pens:

  • Ballpoints use thick alcohol-based ink. Some pressure is needed to get the ink flowing.
  • Rollerballs use water-based liquid ink.
  • In Gel pens the pigment ink is in a water-based gel, and can be opaque, metallic, or even contain glitter. The ink is either flowing or not, so you usually can't get any line variation (even compared to a ballpoint) and if you're too light-handed, they can skip.

(Self promotion: more detail on this on PigPog.)

Retractable tip pens vs. pens with caps:

  • Retractable:
    • Impossible to lose the cap.
    • Can single-handedly pick up the pen, "open" it, write with it, "close" it, then put it back.
  • Capped
    • Impossible to accidentally stain my pants by accidentally pushing in the plunger when it is in my pocket.
    • Some capped pens fill the entire barrel with lots of ink. A similar-size retractable pen could only hold about half as much ink.

[edit] particular pens

(If this section grows too large, split out onto its own page(s). )

[edit] "Chinese Pens"

Chinese fountain pens are some of the best pens in the world. They come in various brands. Hero, Wing Sung and the good old Pailong. You can buy one at

[edit] Koh-I-Noor Nexus Art Pen

Best pen I have ever used. They're slightly weird looking disposable rollerball/ballpoints marketed to artists, but they are also superb writing devices. It has very deep black ink (though they come in dozens of other colors) and its tip is about .4-.5 mm. Its body is all-plastic but it's a bit fattened towards the tip so its very comfortable in the hand. Does not bleed or smear or smudge on moleskine paper or any other paper I've tried, including my favorite clairefontaines. The ink dries very fast (within 1 second) so sweaty-handed stylographers like me are safe.

The best part is how it feels on the paper: it has this slight "carving" sensation when writing which is the perfect blend of smoothness and tactile feedback (hard to explain... you have to try it to understand. The only con is that the ink doesn't last quite as long, but they're only about $3.50 a piece at art stores. Has replaced the Pilot G2 for me.--mdora

Koh-I-Noor Nexus art pens, at least the blue and black ones, use water-soluble ink, so you might not want to sign important documents with them.

[edit] Pilot X-Tec-C[y] pens?

G-Tec-C4s are halfway decent pens, but the ink they use is terribly soluble and smears very easily (much like the G2s). On the other hand, Pilot Hi-Tec Cs are fantastic. They use a similar rollerball system as the G-TEC-C4s, but they also use a much higher-quality ink. These are the only Pilot gel pens I've found that can produce a consistent line of ink and they're the only gel pens I've found that come in .25mm, .3mm and .4mm tip sizes. For designers, they're great because the ink doesn't dissolve when it comes into contact with most markers. They're a little hard to come by though. They're only sold by Pilot in Japan and Southeast Asia. Everywhere else has to import them. To get them online, JetPens is a good place to start though their supply of these pens fluctuates wildly due to extremely high demand. I don't use them for day to day writing because of the expense and I like writing with a .7mm tip (Uni-ball Signo 207s if you were wondering), but I buy them by the box for drawing. --ThePolack

[edit] Staedtler 0.3 Liquid Ball pen [1]?

The Pilot G2 gel pen is my personal best pen in the universe. Bold, smooth lines of unvarying thickness and color. Comfortable to hold, and commodity-priced (a four-pack costs $5) so you don't flip out when you lose one. No, it doesn't write upside-down or underwater -- but then, neither do I. --SFEley 15:09, 13 April 2006 (EDT)

[edit] Fisher Stowaway - good for hipster pda or smaller moleskines

[edit] Inka - looks good, haven't tried one

For years, the Fisher Space Pen was my pen of choice. Writes on anything, anywhere, anytime. Small enough to place in a pocket (which, when I was in my 20s, was really my only storage take along space) and useful for those scribbles on the fly. Then, several years ago, I started in with fountain pens. Love them. Not really portable, unless you have a poke to carry them around, or you actually have a desk to work at (I've never actually had one at work). But, my gosh, what a nice feeling to write with liquid ink. To have to care about how I make the letters in a word. I have become a handwriter again after many years of typing on the computer/pda/thumbboard. Levenger is my favorite source, although I only have two right now because 1) I really can't spend the money on any more, and 2) I only have two hands, so only two pens. My appreciation of being able to cross out things on my 'tasks' list is so much more with dark green ink. - Benjamin

[edit] Pilot Vpen Disposable Fountain Pen

Also called the Varsity in the US, and the V4 in the UK.


  • Ink flows until the last drop, unlike my Parker Frontier fountain pen
  • Ink is jet black
  • It's cheap (so I buy 4 at a time)
  • It has a window showing how much ink is left
  • When it runs out, just throw the pen away
  • As with any fountain pen, no pressure is needed to make the ink flow, so it's easy on the hand.


  • Ink can be a bit runny
  • Other people will be continually asking "Where did you get that pen?"
  • Looks cheaper than other fountain pens (but it is cheaper)
  • Disposable - an advantage to some, but not to everyone

If you're really cheap, it's possible to pull the nib unit out, and refill the barrel with any fountain pen ink using an eyedropper.

[edit] Pilot Razor Point marker pen

I use these almost exclusively, including in my ruled pocket Moleskine. They don't bleed on the paper, they're smooth, dark, and only require light pressure. They're not too expensive ($1 apiece for a dozen), so I really enjoy giving them away to friends looking for a good pen. I never got the whole G-2 thing, as I think the ink is too runny and doesn't dry near fast enough. But to each their own. :)

[edit] places to buy good pens

Some places to get a variety of fountain pens (in no particular order):

(Woefully incomplete ... am I going to regret starting this list ? I don't really want to list a pen store in every city on the planet ...)

[edit] Pen Companies


  • Bic [2]
  • Fisher [3] (makers of the Space Pen).
  • Levenger [4]
  • Paper Mate [5][6][7][8]
  • Pelikan [9]
  • Pentel [10]
  • Pilot [11] [12] [13]
  • Staedtler
  • Stipula
  • Lamy Safari pens are good "first time" fountain pens.
  • Sanford (in 2000, Sanford acquired the Parker Pen Company) (I think Sanford also acquired Paper Mate?)
  • Sheaffer [14] (now owned by Bic)
  • Uni-ball [15] (aka the Mitsubishi Pencil Company, not part of the Mitsubishi Group. Distributed in the US by Sanford, but not owned by them.)
  • Zebra [16]
  • Inka [17]
  • ...

[edit] See also

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