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What Are the Different Types of Pens? A Guide to Ballpoint, Fountain, Rollerball, & Gel

Kyrsten Ledger

Updated: August 30th, 2021

Pens are literally everywhere. They roll around in a drawer at home, take up space in the bottom of your purse, sit in a cup on reception desks, lie on your desk at work, and are in the hands of millions of students around the world.

You can't expect to use only one pen throughout your life. That's why there are so many options out there. Here's your guide to every type of pen on the planet, from ballpoint and fountain pens to rollerball pens, gel pens, and more!

How Many Types of Pens Are There?

You will find 25 different types of pens that can be used to write or draw. The full list includes:

  1. 1. Ballpoint pens
  2. 2. Fountain pens
  3. 3. Rollerball pens
  4. 4. Gel pens
  5. 5. Disposable stick pens
  6. 6. Click pens
  7. 7. Stylus pens
  8. 8. Felt pens
  9. 9. Novelty pens
  10. 10. Refillable ink pens
  11. 11. Multi-ink pens
  12. 12. Highlighter pens
  13. 13. Lefty pens
  14. 14. Antimicrobial pens
  15. 15. Fisher space pens
  16. 16. Reed pens
  17. 17. Dip pens
  18. 18. Ink brush pens
  19. 19. Calligraphy pens
  20. 20. Technical pens
  21. 21. Ruling pens
  22. 22. Smart pens
  23. 23. Check-safe pens
  24. 24. Surgical pens
  25. 25. Quills

Each of these pen types comes in a variety of colors. They may also be customized with a business name or have a rubber grip on the barrel. Ballpoint or click are the most popular, but there's nothing wrong with having every single pen type in your collection!

A Guide to Different Pens

Ballpoint and fountain and rollerball...oh my! Before you pick up a pen, it helps to know more about each style. Here's the ultimate guide to the different types of pens that you can use.

Ballpoint Pen

Ballpoint Pens

Meet the ballpoint pen - the world's most common writing instrument! With a stainless steel or brass ball at the bottom, ballpoint pens glide smoothly across the page. This is important if you're writing quickly, whether it's journaling or notetaking. You can also get ballpoint pens for as cheap as 25 cents each!

Key features:

  • Dye or oil-based ink (sometimes refillable) that comes in a variety of colors
  • Metal ball at the tip for smooth writing
  • Click, twist, or remove cap to write
  • Able to be bought in bulk for cheap

fountain pen

Fountain Pens

Do you want to look and feel like a boss? Pick up a fountain pen! These fancy pens are similar to quills, only the ink is held inside rather than in a separate dip bottle. The best fountain pen may be a bit of a splurge, but it's worth it if you're looking for nice gifts for authors, professionals, or students.

Key features:

  • Water-based ink (sometimes refillable) in a dark black color
  • Faux gold or chrome accents
  • Metal nib at the tip for precise, clean lines
  • Expensive price

rollerball pen

Rollerball Pens

Rollerball pens are very similar to ballpoint pens, only they use a more viscous water-based ink. This makes your words and lines more permanent and less likely to smear across the page. The ink is also typically darker, which results in an eye-pleasing print.

Key features:

  • Water-based ink in a variety of colors
  • Metal ball at the tip that glides on the page
  • Click, twist, or remove cap to write
  • Able to be bought in bulk for cheap

Gel Pens

Gel Pens

You may be thinking of the gel pens you used as a teenager to doodle hearts on your notebooks. However, gel pens are much more than that! These stylish pens come can be filled with many water-based inks in every color imaginable. The ink may take longer to dry, but it's worth it for the crisp, dark lines that are created.

Key features:

  • Water-based ink in a variety of colors (including metallic, neon, and glitter options)
  • Metal ball or felt tip
  • Click, twist, or remove cap to write
  • Affordable

Disposable Pen

Disposable Stick Pens

If you need a bunch of cheap pens, you can't go wrong with disposable stick pens. These budget-friendly pens usually have a thin stick-shaped barrel and are designed for temporary use. Get a bunch if you need pens for a busy event like a job fair, college registration, or trade show.

Key features:

  • Pointed tip that writes in a variety of ink colors
  • Thin, stick-shaped barrel
  • Click, twist, or remove cap to write
  • Extremely cheap to buy in bulk

Retractable (Click) Pens

Retractable (Click) Pens

Aah - you got to love that satisfying click noise from a retractable pen! Like other styles, this pen can write in many different ink colors. You can also choose from thin or thick barrels made from plastic or metal. Ballpoint pens usually have a clicker on top, making this a very popular style.

Key features:

  • Wide variety of ink colors to choose from
  • Clicks to write
  • Thin or thick barrel
  • Affordable to buy in bulk

Stylus Pens

Stylus Pens

We use our cell phones, laptops, or tablets for everything these days. That's why it's useful to have at least one stylus pen. You can switch between the ink and the stylus tip, which is ultimately the best of both worlds when it comes to notetaking!

Key features:

  • Writes in a variety of ink colors
  • Rubber tip that works on compatible touchscreen devices
  • Click or twist to write or access stylus tip
  • Thin or thick barrel

Felt Pens

Felt Pens

Felt pens are basically markers, but with a thinner felt tip on the end. They're very popular for pen and ink drawings as they can be used to create thicker and darker lines and shapes. Use a felt pen if you're an artist, or if you need to make sure a memo is easy to see at work.

Key features:

  • Dark oil-based ink
  • Felt tip on the end
  • Usually has a cap
  • Thinner barrel than markers

Novelty Pens

Novelty Pens

Are you looking for cool pens to give out as gifts? You can't go wrong with novelty pens, which have an unusual shape, clicker, or color. They may even do something extra like spin, light up, clean your phone screen, or stick to your desk. These wacky pens are fun for all ages!

Key features:

  • Writes in a variety of ink colors
  • Click, twist, or remove cap to write
  • Unique barrel shape, color, or clicker
  • May have something extra like a flashlight, whistle, fidget spinner, microfiber cloth, etc.

Refillable Ink Pens

Refillable Ink Pens

If you do a lot of writing, refillable pens are the luxury pens for you! You can replace the ink once it runs out, saving you from having to run out and buy a new pen in the future. Both ballpoint or fountain pens can be refillable, which is a good feature to look for if you're splurging on something expensive.

Key features:

  • Ink reservoir can be refilled once it runs out
  • Available as a ballpoint or fountain pen
  • Usually has an elegant metal barrel
  • Often comes with a removable cap

Multi-Ink Pens

Multi-Ink Pens

Why settle for one ink color when you can have 3, 4, of 5? With multi-ink pens, you can click between different colors, which often includes at least black, blue, and red, but sometimes even purple, green, or pink. These are particularly great pens for students since they can use them to take detailed notes.

Key features:

  • Metal ball or felt tip
  • Typically has a thick barrel
  • Contains 3 to 5 ink colors
  • Click down on each color to write

Highlighter Pens

Highlighter Pens

Highlighter pens are just as good as multi-ink pens when it comes to notetaking. All you have to do is click or remove the cap to switch between the pen and the highlighter. Make sure you have plenty of these pens in your office or classroom.

Key features:

  • Metal ball at the tip for writing
  • Pen typically writes in black ink
  • Highlighter comes in yellow, orange, green, purple, blue, pink, or orange
  • Click or remove cap to switch between pen and highlighter

Lefty Pens

Lefty Pens

10% of people are left-handed, and it can sometimes be a struggle to find pens that don't smear as they write. Be mindful of the lefties by looking for lefty pens that have fast-drying ink and glide smoothly on the paper.

Key features:

  • Quick-drying ink in many different colors
  • Metal ball at the tip
  • May have a special left-handed grip on the barrel
  • Click, twist, or remove cap to write

Antimicrobial Pens

Antimicrobial Pens

The COVID-19 pandemic made us all more cognizant of our health and hygiene. Prevent the spread of germs by using antimicrobial pens, which inhibit the growth of any bacteria, viruses, or fungi. These pens are a must at medical offices, restaurants, and by the register at stores.

Key features:

  • Antimicrobial properties that prevent the growth of germs
  • Writes in a variety of ink colors
  • Click to write
  • Ballpoint or disposable stick style pen

Fisher Space Pens

Fisher Space Pens

Are you planning on going to Mars? Bring along a Fisher Space pen for all your notes. Fisher has worked with NASA for years, providing pens that work in zero gravity environments and even underwater! You'll have these pens for the rest of your life since they don't run out of ink very quickly.

Key features:

  • Comes in over 85 designs and styles
  • Pressurized ink cartridges with refillable ink
  • Writes while holding the pen in any direction and on almost any surface, including underwater
  • Estimated shelf life: 100 years

Reed Pens

Reed Pens

Pretend like you live in ancient Egypt and pick up a reed pen! These styluses were commonly used on papyrus and for carving into clay. Today, you'll find wood reed pens that can be dipped in ink and used for calligraphy and art projects.

Key features:

  • No ink reservoir
  • Dipped in ink bottle or bowl to write or draw
  • Made from wood or bamboo
  • Split nib on the bottom

Dip Pens

Dip Pens

Dip, also known as nib pens, are an absolute must when it comes to creating intricate calligraphy and other works of art. While some people fill these pens with ink using an eyedropper or syringe, it's much more common to dip them into bottles or bowls filled with ink.

Key features:

  • Dipped in ink bottle or bowl to write or draw
  • Clogs if it isn't cleaned regularly
  • No ink reservoir
  • Metal nib mounted in a wood, glass, metal, or plastic holder

Ink Brush Pens

Ink Brush Pens

Ink brush pens are used for calligraphy and painting. They're beautiful in appearance, with gold, silver, jade, bamboo, or ivory handles. They also have handmade brushes using goat, buffalo, wolf, deer, tiger, or rabbit hair. Brush pens are extremely popular in many Asian countries, most notably China and Japan.

Key features:

  • Dipped in ink or paint
  • Brush on the tip that's made from soft or coarse animal hair
  • Long or short brush pens to create different line thickness
  • Bamboo, gold, silver, jade, or ivory handle

Calligraphy Pens

Calligraphy Pens

Aside from dip and brush pens, you will also find certain fountain pens and other writing tools that are used for calligraphy. There are even specially-made Japanese pens that are designed for you to create beautiful handwritten letters, invitations, and DIY projects.

Key features:

  • Ink cartridges or dipped in ink bottles
  • Look similar to fountain pens
  • Metal tip that's either flat, round, or pointed
  • Interchangeable nibs for thick or thin lines

Technical Pens

Technical Pens

Architects, engineers, and drafters love to use technical pens while working. These specialized writing instruments come with either a refillable or replaceable ink cartridge as well as interchangeable tips that allow for different thicknesses.

Key features:

  • Refillable ink cartridge
  • Needle point tip that's designed for precision
  • Interchangeable tips for varying thickness in the lines
  • Comes with white, yellow, brown, blue, or black ink

Ruling Pens

Ruling Pens

If you love to draw, ruling pens are the writing tool for you! They are designed for precision - all you have to do is adjust the screw on the barrel to increase or decrease the width of the line you're creating. Not only are these technical pens wonderful for artists, but they're also handy for engineers and architects.

Key features:

  • Usually writes in black ink
  • Aluminum or stainless steel barrel
  • Tapered tip for precision
  • Screw on the barrel that can be adjusted to change the width of the lines

Smart Pens

Smart Pens

It's not enough for our pens to just be pens in this digital world. Nowadays you'll find pens with some kind of smart technology built inside, whether it's an LED light, camera, microphone, audio recorder, or mini computer. All you need is the right USB charger, and you're good to go!

Key features:

  • Often rechargeable
  • Extra tech feature built inside
  • May work like a stylus on touchscreen devices
  • Comes with or without ink

Check-Safe Pens

Check-Safe Pens

An estimated 14.4 million people in the United States were victims of identity theft in 2019. You don't want to be a part of that statistic, so protect yourself by signing checks using a check-safe pen. The ink can't be washed off, which saves you the headache of dealing with fraud. These metal pens are excellent gifts for business tycoons or those who work in finance.

Key features:

  • Metal ball at the tip
  • Writes in black ink
  • Permanent ink that doesn't fade and can't be washed away
  • Usually made from metal

Surgical (Skin or Dermis) Pens

Surgical (Skin or Dermis) Pens

People who get plastic surgery or any other body modifications may come into contact with a surgical pen. These tools, also known as dermis or skin pens, are used by surgeons to mark the body for cosmetic or medical procedures.

Key features:

  • Felt tip
  • Contains antifungal violet ink
  • Semi-permanent to last for the length of a surgery
  • Must be sterilized before use

Quills

Quills

Back in the 6th century, authors, thinkers, politicians, and other great leaders wrote with quills. These dip pens are famous for having one giant feather that's either fake or taken from a crow, eagle, owl, hawk, or turkey. A quill was used to sign the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence!

Key features:

  • Faux or authentic feather on the barrel
  • Writes in black ink
  • Needle-point tip or interchangeable nib at the bottom
  • Dip style pen that needs separate ink bottle or bowl

What is the Most Popular Pen to Use?

The most popular pens to use are ballpoint, fountain, gel, stylus, and rollerball pens. They're found in offices, stores, and schools all over the world.

Fountain Pens Vs. Ballpoint Pens: What is the Difference?

You likely use a ballpoint pen to write every day, while the fancy pen you buy as a gift may be a fountain pen. The difference between the two comes down to price, use, and the type of ink inside the barrel.

Ballpoint Pens Vs. Fountain Pens

Grey Pen

Ballpoint Pens

  • Invented in 1943 by László Bíró
  • Affordable
  • Dye or oil-based ink
  • Ink isn't always replaceable
  • Stainless steel or tungsten ball-shaped nib
  • Barrel made from plastic or metal
  • Comes in a wide variety of bright colors and novelty options
  • Estimated shelf life: 7 years
  • Used for journaling, notetaking, creating grocery lists, signing checks, and other everyday tasks
QLP Logo

Fountain Pens

  • Invented in 1827 by Petrache Poenaru
  • A bit of splurge (may cost as much as $400)
  • Water-based ink
  • Refillable or replaceable ink cartridges available
  • Stainless steel, tungsten, or gold alloy needle-point nib
  • Made from metal
  • Comes with classy gold, silver, chrome, or brass finishes
  • Estimated shelf life: 10 to 50 years
  • Used for calligraphy, signing important documents, creating ink drawings, business meetings, and other professional or artistic tasks
QLP Logo
QLP Logo

Ballpoint Pens:

  • Invented in 1943 by László Bíró
  • Affordable
  • Dye or oil-based ink
  • Ink isn't always replaceable
  • Stainless steel or tungsten ball-shaped nib
  • Barrel made from plastic or metal
  • Comes in a wide variety of bright colors and novelty options
  • Estimated shelf life: 7 years
  • Used for journaling, notetaking, creating grocery lists, signing checks, and other everyday tasks

Fountain Pens:

  • Invented in 1827 by Petrache Poenaru
  • A bit of splurge (may cost as much as $400)
  • Water-based ink
  • Refillable or replaceable ink cartridges available
  • Stainless steel, tungsten, or gold alloy needle-point nib
  • Made from metal
  • Comes with classy gold, silver, chrome, or brass finishes
  • Estimated shelf life: 10 to 50 years
  • Used for calligraphy, signing important documents, creating ink drawings, business meetings, and other professional or artistic tasks

Fountain pens and ballpoint pens have a rich history that goes back to the 19th century. Rollerball, gel, felt tip, styluses, and all the other options are wonderful, but there's no beating a classic!

How to Clean a Fountain Pen

If you want your fountain pen to last for years, it's important to clean it regularly. You'll notice that if you don't, the ink will end up getting clogged inside of the barrel or nib. Luckily, the cleaning process is super easy!

First things first, it helps to know the anatomy of a fountain pen

Pen Anatomy

Roll up your sleeves and get ready to clean that fountain pen!

Time: 2 to 2.5 hours

What you'll need:

  • 2 cups
  • Cool water
  • White vinegar
  • Toothbrush
  • Towel
  • Q-tips
  • Eyedropper or syringe

Steps to clean a fountain pen:

  • Step One: Take the pen apart.
  • Step Two: Soak the nib in a cup of water and 1 tbsp. of white vinegar. Do the same for the barrel and/or converter. Wait for 1 hour.
  • Step Three: Attach the barrel and converter back to the nib and flush out the ink using cool water.
  • Step Four: Scrub any ink on the outside of the barrel and cap using a toothbrush and cool water.
  • Step Five: Refill the cups from step 2 with cool water and white vinegar and soak the nib, converter, and barrel for another hour.
  • Step Six: While the pieces are soaking, use a Q-tip to clean out any ink that's inside of the cap.
  • Step Seven: Dry all of the pieces thoroughly using a clean towel.
  • Step Eight: Put the fountain pen back together.

  1. Step One: Take the Pen Apart
    Step 1 https://www.wikihow.com

    Remove the cap and the nib from the fountain pen. You should also remove the cartridge, converter, and feed.

    Step 1 https://www.wikihow.com
  2. Step Two: Soak in Water & White Vinegar
    Step 2 https://www.wikihow.com

    Rinse the nib section using cool, running water and then place it into a cup of water mixed with 1 tbsp. of white vinegar. Let the nib soak for at least 1 hour. Do the same for the converter and/or barrel in a separate cup. You can soak for even longer if your fountain pen is super inky.

    Step 2 https://www.wikihow.com
  3. Step Three: Flush With Water
    Step 3 https://www.wikihow.com

    Flushing is very important. To do this, reattach the converter to the nib and use it to cycle water in and out of the fountain pen. You can also use an eyedropper or syringe if your pen doesn't have a converter. Replace the water every time it becomes saturated with ink.

    Step 3 https://www.wikihow.com
  4. Step Four: Scrub Away the Ink
    Step 4 https://www.wikihow.com

    Use an old toothbrush to scrub any ink from the barrel, cap, or any other external pieces. You can also use silver polish if you want your fountain pen to look shiny!

    Step 4 https://www.wikihow.com
  5. Step Five: Soak Again
    Step 5 https://www.wikihow.com

    Rinse out the cups that you used in step 2, and refill them with clean, cool water. Soak the barrel/converter and nib in their own dedicated cups again for another hour.

    Step 5 https://www.wikihow.com
  6. Step Six: Clean Any Extra Pieces
    Step 6 https://www.wikihow.com

    While the pieces are soaking, dip a Q-tip into cool water and use the cotton swab to clean inside of the cap.

    Step 6 https://www.wikihow.com
  7. Step Seven: Dry the Pieces
    Step 7 https://www.wikihow.com

    Dry all of the pieces of the fountain pen with a clean towel. Make sure they're totally dry!

    Step 7 https://www.wikihow.com
  8. Step Eight: Reassemble the Fountain Pen
    Step 8 https://www.wikihow.com

    Put the fountain pen back together. It's now squeaky clean and ready to write!

    Step 8 https://www.wikihow.com

Clean your fountain pen after 1 to 2 months of use, before you change the ink, or if you're experiencing blockage. This helps ensure that the pen lasts for at least 10 years.

pro tip.

Pro Tip

Always store your fountain pen with the cap on and with the pen pointing upwards in a cup. This prevents the ink from drying up in the nib.

What Are Popular Pen Brands?

Whether you're in the market for cheap pens or are willing to indulge in expensive pens, you can't go wrong shopping with the best!

Some of the most popular pen brands in the world include:

  • BIC
  • Montblanc
  • Parker
  • Zebra
  • Cross
  • Paper Mate
  • Staedtler
  • Pilot
  • S.T. Dupont
  • Sheaffer
Popular pen 1

BIC Pens

Year Started: 1959
No collection of pens is complete without BIC. This brand does it all and is famous for their affordable selection. The BIC Cristal (a regular disposable pen with a cap) is the best-selling pen in the world.

Popular pen 2

Montblanc Pens

Year Started: 1906
When it comes to luxury pens, you can't do better than Montblanc! They're known for their premium selection of ballpoint, rollerball, and fountain pens. Each one has shiny platinum or gold accents and a higher price tag. In fact, the most expensive pen on their site is $9,200!

Popular pen 3

Parker Pens

Year Started: 1888
Parker is a fancy brand that has it all - ballpoint pens, fountain pens, rollerball pens…you name it! You can also buy refills for some of their more pricey options.

Popular pen 4

Uni-ball Pens

Year Started: 1966
If you want a smooth pen that glides across the page, then Uni-ball is the brand for you. Their rollerball pens have insanely dark ink that comes in a variety of colors, from basic black ink to bold neon colors.

Popular pen 5

Zebra Pens

Year Started: 1982
Go wild and add a few Zebra pens to your collection! This brand offers not only affordable ballpoint, gel, and highlighter pens, but also more premium options like fountain pens and ink brush pens.

Popular pen 6

Cross Pens

Year Started: 1846
It's time to get fancy! Just pick up any of the ballpoint or fountain pens available from the A.T. Cross Company. These American made luxury pens come with refills and are great gifts for graduations, work promotions, and award ceremonies.

Popular pen 7

Paper Mate Pens

Year Started: 1940
You'll smile every time you pick up a Paper Mate pen! With a ton of bright colors to choose from, these trendy pens are fun and affordable. Shop with Paper Mate if you need felt tip, ballpoint, or classic retractable pens.

Popular pen 8

Staedtler Pens

Year Started: 1835
Artists should make Staedtler part of their lives asap! Why? Their brand name pens have various nibs, from traditional needle-point nibs to rollerballs to fine-point marker pens. This gives you the chance to create a variety of shapes, lines, and textures.

Popular pen 9

Pilot Pens

Year Started: 1918
"Pilot" is a great name since these pens travel all over the world! Currently, you can purchase Pilot pens in over 23 countries in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and Africa. They offer luxury pens, affordable ballpoint pens, and even special pens for holidays and causes like Breast Cancer Awareness.

Popular pen 10

S.T. Dupont

Year Started: 1872
Are you looking for fancy pens? Shop the selection from S.T. Dupont. You'll find rollerball pens with chrome accents, polished wood pens, and fountain pens with elegant detailing. These executive pens are a bit of a splurge, but worth it if you want to buy special holiday gifts for your boss or the aspiring novelist in your family.

Popular pen 11

Sheaffer

Year Started: 1912
For the most part, luxury pens typically come in black, silver, gold, gray, or navy. Sheaffer brings the personality to fancy pens with a fun selection of bold colors. If you're looking for lime green fountain pens, hot pink ballpoint pens, or lilac purple rollerball pens, this is the brand for you!

What is the Best Luxury Pen?

The best luxury pens are sold by brands like Montblanc, Parker, and Pilot. They have a higher price tag, but are worth the splurge if you need elegant gifts for the writers in your life.

Stylish Luxury Pens for Any Occasion

What Are the Best Pens for Drawing?

Person drawing

The best pens for drawing are comfortable to hold and easy to control. The tip of the pen needs to make decisive strokes, while the ink should be dark and produce bold, permanent lines that don't smear easily.

Felt pens are popular for drawing, but multi-ink pens, gel pens, and fountain pens are also excellent. Practice your technique, and you can create a real masterpiece!

Person drawing

What Are the Best Pens for Writing?

The best pens for writing are the ones that are comfortable to hold, write smoothly, and last for a long time. They should ideally have a rubber grip that rests against your finger and dark, easy-to-read ink.

Here are common writing projects and great pens to go with them!

Person writing in journal

Journaling

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, "If you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety, keeping a journal can be a great idea." You could write about nothing at all, or answer specific writing prompts to fuel your creativity. The best pens for journaling have thin barrels, fine-point tips, and comfortable rubber grips.

Recommended Pen: Premium Pen With Stylus

note taking

Notetaking

The best pens for notetaking do more than just write in black ink. Ideally, you should look for a pen that has an additional bonus feature like a highlighter and/or stylus, and maybe even a few extra ink colors that you can switch between. It also doesn't hurt if there's a soft grip on the barrel.

Recommended Pen: Quatro Pen With Highlighter

book drafts

Book Drafts

Mark Twain, H.P. Lovecraft, Harper Lee, Ernest Hemingway, and many other notable authors used a fountain pen to write early drafts of their work. Follow in their footsteps by picking up a fancy pen with long-lasting dark ink.

Recommended Pen: Montblanc Rollerball Pen

grocery

Grocery & To-Do Lists

You can jot down a grocery or to-do list using a simple ballpoint pen. This type of writing usually only takes between 5 and 10 minutes, so the sky's the limit as to which pen you grab. Pick something that can travel with you and won't get lost in the bottom of your bag. It also doesn't hurt to look for a pen with a microfiber cloth since it can clean your phone screen if you have any coupons.

Recommended Pen: MopTopper Stylus Pen

invitations

Invitations

Wedding invitations are often made on a computer, but you can still mail out handwritten invites for a kid's birthday party, family reunion, or anniversary celebration. The pen you use should have free-flowing dark ink that won't randomly run out while you're writing.

Recommended Pen: Sharpie Pen With Ink

Old Fashioned Letters

Old-Fashioned Letters

Do you have a pen pal? Write them a letter using a pen that glides on the paper and won't smear when it's put in the envelope. A classic ballpoint will do the trick, but look for something sophisticated so you can really get into the old-fashioned letter writing headspace. You could also invest in writing sets that come with everything!

Recommended Pen: BIC Worthington Twist Pen

Calendar Agendas

Calendar Agendas

People are busy and may do a ton of different things in one week. That's why it's important to create your calendar or schedule using colorful ink pens. Red, blue, purple, pink, or any other color will stand out and help keep you on track. Highlighter pens aren't a bad choice either!

Recommended Pen: Paper Mate InkJoy Pen

Applications

Applications & Documents

Whether you're filling out a job application, signing the paperwork on your new home, or updating information at the DMV, you want to use a pen that's smooth. Rollerball pens are the perfect choice since they write quickly and feel comfortable in your hand.

Recommended Pen: BIC Grip Roller Pen

Word Puzzles

Word Puzzles

Crossword, word search, sudoku, or tic-tac-toe can be a good way to pass the time on a long road trip, or while waiting for your dinner to cook at home. Use cheap plastic pens for these puzzles, so you don't feel bummed if it gets lost in the couch or under the car seat. Since the space to write in is usually small, the pen should also have a thin barrel and pointed tip.

Recommended Pen: Archer Pen

How Much Ink is Inside of a Pen?

Ink in pen

Researchers at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom tested an assortment of ballpoint pens to see how much they would write. The conclusion was that the average ballpoint pen has enough ink to write over 2,900 feet or 50,000 words.

Ink Pen

Your average ballpoint pen has enough ink to write:

  • 29,249 smiley faces
  • 6,207 signatures
  • 5,114 phone numbers
  • 971 Christmas cards
  • 169 old-fashioned letters

The BIC Cristal pen was found to write the longest. In fact, you can use one to draw a line four times longer than the height of the Empire State Building. That's a whole lot of ink!

How Do I Choose a Pen?

Now that you know all the types and the popular brands, how do you go about choosing the best pens? Ultimately, it's important to think about the following:

icon use

Use

Are you buying pens as gifts or just stocking up your office? Think about why you need new pens before you settle on the right type.

icon inkcolor

Ink Color

Black ink is the most common, but maybe you want something more unique. If that's the case, do your research and find pens that write in your favorite color.

icon comfort

Comfort

There are 4 ways to hold a pen to write, and everyone prefers a different grip. Test out your pens before you buy them to make sure they're comfortable in your hand.

icon drying

Drying Time

If you're left-handed, you don't want pens with ink that will smear on the paper. Check reviews online and see what people say about the drying time before you make a decision.

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Barrel Size

7 in 10 people struggle to read a co-worker's handwriting. It could be because they're not using the right pen! A thinner barrel is better for those who struggle with their penmanship as it's easier to control.

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Appearance

A good pen can be a reflection of your personality, so if possible, you should buy one that's stylish, sleek, and cool. A bright color, personalized message, or a few gems on the barrel can go a long way!

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Weight

Metal pens are heavier than plastic pens, which may be taxing on your wrists if you have a lot of writing to do. Keep that in mind when choosing your next pen.

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Price

You could find pens in bulk for under $1 each, or buy pens that are more of a splurge. Only you know how much you’re comfortable spending, so decide on a budget before you shop.

Stats for Success

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Americans use an estimated 1.6 billion disposable pens every year.

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BIC sells 22 million pens every single day around the world.

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An average of 4.3 pens are used by each person in the United States every year.

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89% of people own at least one promotional pen from a business or organization.

The Bottom Line

Pens, pens, pens! You likely use one every single day, no matter if it's a ballpoint, gel, stylus, or fountain pen. Now that you know more about the different types of pens, it's time to get writing!

Quality Logo Products are experts on all things printed and promotional. Let our team of awesome, incredibly good looking, and fun promo nerds help you select awesome promotional swag today!

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Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten's vast knowledge of promotional giveaways and marketing has led to several hit articles. She has also published work for PPB Magazine, a publication from the Promotional Products Association International.

References

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Bird, B. (2020, April 9). The 8 Best Calligraphy Pens of 2021. Retrieved from, https://www.thebalancesmb.com/best-calligraphy-pens-4163041

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Bekker, E. (2021, April 15). What Are Your Odds of Getting Your Identity Stolen? Retrieved from, https://www.identityforce.com/blog/identity-theft-odds-identity-theft-statistics

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Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisor. Surgical Site Markers: Putting Your Mark on Patient Safety. Retrieved from, http://patientsafety.pa.gov/ADVISORIES/Documents/200812_130.pdf

wikiHow. (2021, March 1). How to Clean a Fountain Pen. Retrieved from, https://www.wikihow.com/Clean-a-Fountain-Pen

Scribbler Planet. How Often to Clean a Fountain Pen? Retrieved from, https://scribblerplanet.com/how-often-to-clean-a-fountain-pen/

Technavio Blog. (2019, August 29). Top 10 Luxury Pen Brands Leading the Global Pen Market Growth 2019. Retrieved from, https://blog.technavio.com/blog/top-10-luxury-pen-brands

Bhasin, H. (2020, August 30). Top 10 Pen Brands in the World - Best Luxury. Retrieved from, https://www.marketing91.com/top-10-pen-brands-world/

University of Rochester Medical Center. Journaling for Mental Health. Retrieved from, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx

Bridges, T. (2020, March 23). How Far Will a Ballpoint Pen Write? Retrieved from, https://blog.penvibe.com/how-far-will-a-ballpoint-pen-write/

Paules-Bronet, I. (2017, August 15). Japanese Artist Draws 29,249 Smiley Faces to Demonstrate How much Ink is in a Ballpoint Pen. Retrieved from, https://littlethings.com/home/ballpoint-pen-ink

Advertising Specialty Institute (2020). Global Ad Impressions Study. Retrieved from, https://media.asicentral.com/resources/2020-Global-Ad-Impressions-Study.pdf

Sadlier, A. (2019, January 25). Bad Handwriting Causing a Big Problem in US Workplaces. Retrieved from, https://nypost.com/2019/01/25/bad-handwriting-causing-a-big-problem-in-us-workplaces/

Lindsay, J. (2020, May 15). Apparently There Are Names for the Ways Different People Hold Their Pen - Which One Are You? Retrieved from, https://metro.co.uk/2020/05/15/apparently-there-are-names-ways-different-people-hold-pen-which-one-are-12707106/