Ballpoint pen in a variety of bright colors, plus blue and back. Great for artistic purposes or for color-coding items. Click tops keep the retractable tips hidden when not in use. Streamlined barrels fit nicely in the hand, and are easy to control. Made by a trusted brand. Pack of 20.
Mixed opinions on how well the pens write, as some colors seem to be smoother than others. Occasional dried-out pens upon arrival noted.
Affordable, classic ball-point ink pens that write smoothly. See-through barrels make it easy to see when ink levels are low. Available in black and blue ink, plus they come in inexpensive multi-packs that are perfect for buying in bulk.
Some reports of faulty pens that leaked ink or dried out prematurely. Some users wish the ink were a bit darker.
Customers rave about the rich color of the ink, and how long the pens last. Barrels are see-through, to help keep track of ink levels. Pens have caps and rubberized grips. Available in different bright colors and with fine or medium points. Pack of 12.
Pens have been known to leak, and the ink has the tendency to smudge if you touch it before it dries. Fine points aren't as smooth to write with as the medium points.
Feature soft, rubber grips that make them extremely comfortable to hold and easy to control. Black ink. Barrels are transparent so you can see ink levels. Retractable tips with easy-to-click tops. Pack of 24.
Ink occasionally builds up on the tips, resulting in smears and streaks. Pens occasionally skip while writing.
Crafted in brass and stainless steel with a retro design. Refillable, and comes in several attractive colors. Writes smoothly and feels nice in the hand. Available in ball point, fountain nib, and gel roller. Comes with an attractive storage box; makes a nice gift.
Ink leaks have been reported. A bit challenging to replace the in cartridge, especially in the nib model. Finish is prone to scratches.
Even in our increasingly digital age, you still need to sign a check, leave a quick note, or do some journaling. The ever-classic ink pen never goes out of style; a decent ink pen will work seamlessly at the bank and at your office desk, so it’s always best to keep a few in your regular bag.
Before you go down a rabbithole of pen products, there are some factors to keep in mind. What will be the primary purpose of your pen? If it’s for quick note-taking or scribbles, a ballpoint would probably suffice. But if you’re regularly signing documents or prefer to write by hand, you might look into a fancier fountain pen.
Regardless of your pen preferences, at BestReviews we’re pleased to help inform your decision. Keep reading to find out more about the different kind of pen styles, features to keep in mind as you shop, and price ranges.
Ink is an ancient substance, dating as far back as 2500 BC in ancient Egypt and China. Some variation of the pen has existed as long as written language has existed. An early form of the pen was a reed pen, made from a stick of reed with a sharpened, slit end. Reed pens were eventually phased out by quill pens, taken from the flight feathers of large birds. While both pens were dipped into ink, quill pens (which were created around the seventh century) were able to retain the ink better. Quills remained popular until the creation of the ink pen as we know it today. Around the late nineteenth century, the ballpoint pen was patented and has since flourished into different styles, shapes, and colors. Today’s writer has a number of pen styles to choose from.
Ballpoint pens are ubiquitous pens. There’s a chance you have one of these somewhere at the bottom of your bag. The world’s most popular writing tool, the ballpoint pen was initially made to replace the fountain pen. Ballpoint pens have a tiny metal ball at the tip. Ink is stored in a plastic reservoir, which is protected by an outer shell made from plastic. As the ball rolls, it dispenses new ink onto a surface. There are different kinds of ballpoint pens. For example, retractable ballpoint pens have a mechanism at the top that exposes or hides the pen tip.
Fountain pens came before ballpoint pens. They were the first ink pens that didn’t require a dipping pot and the first to include an ink-releasing reservoir. Instead of the ink feeding into a rolling ball, a fountain pen has a pointed metal nib. Ink drips down the metal nib and to its point, flowing onto the paper. Though fountain pens aren’t nearly as popular as ballpoint pens, quite a few writers enjoy the experience of using them. Fountain pens have style; they have an elegant silhouette and a pleasing weight in the hand. Plus, some writers find that ink flows much more easily out of fountain pens than ballpoint pens. Fountain pens are more expensive than ballpoint pens and call for careful maintenance.
Felt tip pens, also known as marker pens, aren’t too different from markers. As the name suggests, the tip is made from a semi-soft, porous material. Felt is a common, but so are porous ceramics. A polyester cylinder serves as an ink reservoir and is covered by a shell of plastic. Felt tip pens don’t require as much pressure as ballpoint pens. They may bleed a little on paper, but they’re less likely to smear.
There’s no need to press on a fountain pen’s tip too firmly. The ink should flow smoothly and easily. Pressing too hard could damage the metal tip.
Black ink pens are universal. Dark blue ink is common, as well. Those who need ink pens for professional, formal purposes may want to stick with conventional colors.
On the other hand, people who frequently hand edit (like teachers and copyeditors) can benefit from a plethora of ink colors. You can buy colorful pens in bulk or individually. Even if you don’t opt for a multipack, it’s good to keep a few red or green pens next to your black ones.
It’s not uncommon to find ink pens with rubber or silicone padding toward the tip, meant to ease hand cramps. Ergonomic padding is found primarily on ballpoint pens, but you can also purchase pen pads separately. A pad is not a bad idea for someone who writes by hand extensively.
The ink in ballpoint stick pens has a tendency to dry out, particularly if the pen hasn’t been used in a while. Try scribbling on a firm surface to get the ink rolling again.
Fortunately, quality ink pens are available in any pricing tier. That said, you could pay anywhere from $3 to $25 for an ink pen.
Inexpensive: For less than $10, you can find a number of ink pens. Some of these pens will be ballpoint, and they will mostly be sold in bulk. If you’re looking for some no-frills ballpoint pens, you can easily find a box of 60 in this price range. You can also find packs of two or three pens with generous rubber padding here.
Mid-range: For basic writing needs, there’s no need to spend more than $10 on ink pens. In the $10 to $20 range, however, you’ll have more options. This is where you’ll see colorful ink pens and felt-tip pens in packs of ten. Select fountain pens are available here, too.
Expensive: Any pen above $25 is likely a fountain pen, which can make a pleasing gift for the scribes in your life. Just don’t forget to buy an extra ink cartridge.
Some people still use dip pens (pens with a metal nib that require a small ink pot), particularly visual artists.
Prevent your pens from drying out. You can do this by storing them with their caps on and the tips pointing downward. You may also try dipping the tips in candle wax to seal them when they’re not in use.
Consider using an ink pen for artistic purposes. The versatile ballpoint pen is useful for artists of all skill levels. We recommend using a pen with ink that flows easily.
Tailor your pen choice to your written language. A medium pen tip (think 1.0 to 1.2mm) is standard for writing the English language. However, if you’re writing with characters (such as in Mandarin or Japanese), a fine tip pen of 0.5 may be more suitable.
When it comes to ink pens, we know that you can never have too many options. That’s why we also like PILOT’s Precise V5 RT 5-Pack. This multicolor pen set glides smoothly on any page; all it needs is a second or two to dry without smudging. The pen’s fine point produces bold words on the page without bleeding over. And since they’re retractable, there’s no worrying about a lost pen cap. If you like to color code as you write, take notes, or edit, PILOT’s set is a solid purchase.
Uniball’s 207 Retractable Gel Pens are another fine choice. These ink pens write smoothly and include a rubber grip. Buyers love the bold ink and the rubber grip.
Q. Is it possible to remove pen ink stains?
A. With some elbow grease, many ink stains are removable. First, blot the excess ink with a dry paper towel or napkin. Try leaving a water-based stain remover on the stain for 15 minutes. Then, blot the stain and put in a washing machine. If the stain persists once the garment is out of the wash, repeat the spot treatment until the stain fades
Q. Can ink pens freeze?
A. If the ink is water-based, then yes, ink pens can freeze in extremely cold temperatures. As long as the pen is kept in a dry, enclosed space, freezing should not be an issue
Q. How long will an ink pen last?
A. This is entirely dependent on the quality of the pen, the frequency with which it’s used, and how it’s stored. A ballpoint pen kept in a cool, dry place can last several years, provided the ink doesn’t run out. A well-kept fountain pen may last for decades.
BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.