I still write quite a bit by hand. In fact, I wrote 2 novel drafts by hand. That’s why I want a good ink pen that can withstand my tortured prose (lol). Below are good pens for writing in a variety of categories.

The magic of pens isn’t necessarily what they do—they do one thing, they write. Rather, it’s how they do it. There are hundreds of different types of pens and for good reason–writers have a variety of preferences that factor into the decision of picking a great pen. When picking the best pen, the most important thing to acknowledge is that these choices are highly personal.

Often, finding good pens for writing comes down to the answers to a few questions:

Do you prefer something smooth?

Do you like a thin line, or something with a bit more bulk to it? What thickness of paper do you prefer?

How long do you typically write for? Do you know if you’re a ballpoint vs felt-tip person? (Or, are you both? Neither?)

Through answering questions like these (and more), you can start to evaluate what type of pens will best suit your needs. Many writers find they have different pens for different purposes: they write long form with one type of pen, outline with another, journal with a third, and keep a fourth in their bag ‘just in case’. Some writers value quality and aesthetics, while others weigh affordability and practicality more heavily. 

Here are some criteria that many writers use when finding their perfect writing tool to help with your search. 

Note: Affiliate links are included in a few of the products below.

What is the smoothest pen for writing?

The Pilot Razor Point II is a felt-tip pen rated highly in its smoothness. This super fine line tip doesn’t catch and is a perfect pen for easy, everyday writing. It also dries quickly and is great for anyone worried about smudging. This smooth felt-tip is ideal for thicker paper, as some reviewers have noted it has a tendency to bleed. It is also noted to have a comfortable grip, so the Pilot Razor Point II is an ideal pen for longer writing sessions. The thin, consistent, and clean lines this pen brings make it an ideal smooth pen for writing. 

What pens do professional writers use?

Professional writers all have their own preferences when it comes to pens, with various writers preferring different types. Some love the timelessness of a fountain pen, while others gravitate towards an unfussy ballpoint or classic gel. Three favorite pens that professional writers have recommended are the Paper Mate Flair, the Sharpie Fine Point Pen, and even the simple but classic BIC Round Stic Xtra Precision.

Which cheap pen is best for writing?

A pen does not have to cost a lot in order to provide a smooth and comfortable writing experience! While it can be easy to pay a premium for a pen, there are some great affordable options. There’s a reason the BIC Clic is one of the most recognizable pens out there–besides being a classic retractable ballpoint pen it’s also incredibly affordable. If you prefer the way a gel pen writes, the Muji Gel-Ink Ball Point 0.5 mm is a great budget option. 

Is rollerball or ballpoint better?

Whether a writer enjoys a rollerball or ballpoint pen more is usually a very individual and personal decision. That being said, there are some fundamental differences between the two that can help a writer figure out their preferences. Ballpoint pens are oil-based and are known for being quick-drying and less expensive. These pens don’t smudge or bleed easily, and the ink tends to last longer. A rollerball pen is water soluble and tends to write more smoothly and doesn’t require a lot of pressure, meaning it can be more comfortable for longer periods of writing. 

What pen writes like a pencil?

There are plenty of writers who prefer the look and feel of pencil and those people also know that there are times when ink really is the best option.  The Fisher Space Pen Cap-O-Matic is a smooth pen that writes with a relatively fine line. Constructed from brass and steel, the pen has a nice weight to it while still being compact enough to carry around. Reviewers have compared the Cap-o-Matic to writing similar to writing with lead, and some went as far as to say it’s the perfect pen for those who usually prefer to write with pencil.

What is the best rollerball pen?

The Baron Fig Squire is continuously touted as the best rollerball pen for writing–and some even say it’s the best pen overall. At $59, this is definitely one of the more expensive pens on this list, but it continuously lives up to the hype and price tag. It is known to be incredibly smooth, doesn’t bleed or smudge, writes comfortably and feels great in hand. It looks stunning, is a fantastic tool for writing, and makes for a great gift. 

What are the best gel pens?

The Papermate Inkjoy is a smooth gel pen for serious writers. It’s smooth, doesn’t smudge or bleed, and produces lines that are almost objectively perfect in thickness. It also brings a bit of nostalgia to the table for those who spent the 90s writing with pastel-colored Gelly Pens (but in a practical form). Another great option is the Pilot G2 Retractable, another smooth pen that produces consistent, albeit thick, lines. 

What is the best ballpoint pen?

The OHTO Horizon Needle Point Knock is a beautiful ballpoint pen that writes smoothly and evenly, and is often referred to as the best ballpoint pen out there. It takes the familiar form factor and elevates it slightly. The OHTO writes similarly to other high-rated ballpoint pens, but absolutely knocks it out of the park when it comes to the feel. The lines are smooth and perfectly thin and consistent, and the pen itself is sturdy but still maintains a lightness. This pen is the perfect pick for the ballpoint lover who might be writing for hours on end that needs something that just feels great.  

What is the best, most expensive pen?

Pens can get expensive quickly. While there are pens that can retail for anywhere between $1,000-$50,000, most of that cost is going to brand, materials, manufacturing process, or a mix of the three. It’s hard to draw the line as to when incurring an additional cost is actually worth it, and when it’s a name or material you’re paying for.

Montblanc has been in the luxury pen business for over a century, and has become known for producing high-quality pens that are a pleasure to write with (and equally a pleasure to look at). With a selection of ballpoint, fountain, rollerball, and fineliner pens, there’s something for almost every writer at the luxury level. Overall, the Meisterstück Ballpoint Pen (available in various premium finishes, including platinum and gold), tends to be the favorite from this brand. Montblanc makes for a great gift, or a wonderful reward to yourself for hitting a writing goal. 

What is the best pen for lefties?

The Uni-ball Jetstream is consistently acknowledged as the best ballpoint pen for lefties. It’s no nonsense and no frills, and what it may lack in looks it makes up for in comfort, smoothness, and quick drying. A step above ballpoint pens you’ll find in hotel rooms and doctor’s offices, the Jetstream is so great because it takes the familiar format and elevates it just enough to be an improvement. It’s solid, unassuming, and with its soft rubber grip, is comfortable for hours of writing. 

What is the best disposable fountain pen?

The Pilot Varsity gives you the sophistication and feel of a fountain pen with the cost-effectiveness of a disposable pen. This is a great pen for someone wanting to break into the world of fountain pens without the upfront investment of dealing with having to replace the ink, and many users of the Pilot Varsity find themselves upgrading to something more permanent after they find how enjoyable and luxurious writing with a fountain pen can be. 

What is the best pen set for bullet journaling?

For bullet journaling, the best pen is one that doesn’t bleed through the pages, doesn’t smudge, and allows for a balance of creativity and agility while writing. The Sakura Pigma Micron pen is a felt tip pen that perfectly fits these parameters. These pens give off precise points and lines, and come in a wide variety of thicknesses which can really come in handy when designing various bullet journal layouts. There is no smudging or bleedthrough on these pens, ideal for writing on back-to-back pages. If you fall in love with these and want to take your bullet journaling further, the Sakura Pigma Micron comes in a 73-pen pack, featuring tons of color and pen tip options (though it will cost you quite a bit). 

For those just getting into bullet journaling, or who want to spend a lot less while still getting a high quality (and very colorful) pen set, the STABILO Point Fineliner 30-pen set comes highly recommended by bullet journalists, artists, and writers alike. 

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