Open Thread: What’s Your Favorite Pen?

When I was a kid, I loooooved going back to school shopping. New pens! New folders! All that crisp, white, lined paper… It seemed like everything had possibility and promise. (Yes, I was a dork.) These days, I still love getting new supplies, but it seems like too many of them let me down — I’ve literally thrown about 5 different brands of pens across the room because they work inconsistently, or stop working. And a good pen is really important.  To be clear, all I want is something that I can pick up from my pencil cup or my desk, and use it for something simple like signing my name or writing a brief note, WITHOUT having to scribble somewhere else to make sure the ink is flowing.  Is that really too much to ask?  (Let’s not even get into something more arduous, like taking notes for an extended period or writing a letter… sigh.)

So I thought we’d have an open thread: what is your favorite pen? (Pictured: Ball point pens by Caran d’Ache, available at Plastica for $23 — they also seem to be available at Amazon for a bit cheaper, though. Hat tip to Daily Candy.)

My favorite used to be the Pilot Precise V7 Fine Point Blue Rolling Ball. I liked the bright blue color (more royal than navy, but still “plain blue ink”), I liked that you could buy them in bulk for a reasonable price, and I liked that you could see how much ink is left. Maybe it’s just my bad luck, but it seems like every pen in the last pack I got was a dud.

Next, I really really liked the DIVOGA retractable gel pens, which I received for review from the company — they wrote fantastically, beautifully smooth, AND they looked pretty? Sign me up. Perhaps my ink supply is getting low on all of my pens, but it seems like I spend half my time drawing circles on scratch paper, trying to get a steady flow of ink — but it seems a bit suspicious that all 3 died at once.

I’ve had inconsistent luck with the Pilot G2 (but it’s currently my go-to pen that I keep in my purse). I also was really excited to try the Sharpie Liquid Mechanical Pencils, which promised to write like a mechanical pencil but turn to a permanent ink after 24 hours — and found that it just works like every erasable pen I’ve tried (which is to say, poorly).

So readers: what are your favorite pens? Which brands do you swear by?

Update: It looks like the top pens recommended by the most readers are:
- uni-ball Vision Elite
- Pilot Precise V-5 Retractable
- Pilot G2
- Le Pen

I’m going to try them out and will try to do a follow up report. :)

(L-#)

Comments

  1. uni jetstream 4 & 1 0.7mm ballpoint/0.5mm sharp.

    i travel to asia a lot for work and they have the most wonderful pens there. especially in japan. smooth even lines and great design. love them!

    • I lived in Japan for 10 years … and it was a sad, sad day when my stash of Japanese pens finally ran out.

      • GRA! Try www[.]jetpens[.]com
        They have free shipping for orders over $25. I first starting using uni-ball signo gel pens when I saw them in a Japanese market’s paper/book store (the larger Mitsuwa and Nigiya markets have the little stores in front). When I couldn’t get to the store often enough, I ordered a large supply of pens and refills at the jetpens website. They’re very reliable and even take paypal and have a BBB accredidation, FWIW.

        Hope you can find your pens again :)

    • In Asia right now. Bringing back a HUGE stash of pens. : )

  2. Consultant :

    I swear by the Pilot Better Retractable Ballpoint Pen, Black Ink, Fine Point. Office Depot stopped selling them in stores but they sell them on their website. The fine point makes my handwriting look neat. Plus, having a rare pen lets me spot when someone “borrowed” a pen without asking.

    • This exactly. I like the fine tip over the more typically available medium tip. Discovered them while working in a quality control lab – you could write more, more neatly, in a small space. Definitely my favorite, but could only find in an large count box the last time I looked for them.

    • YES. This is the only acceptable pen. I used to hoard these at work when they seemed to be in short supply, but we’re better stocked now. Everyone at my office loves these (but some of the heathens use blue instead of black ink).

  3. Anonymous :

    I have strong feelings about this. My favorite is the Papermate Flexgrip Ultra Retractable Medium Blue Pen. They changed the style within the past year or so, and although I don’t like the new design as much, it is still my go-to pen.

    • YES! I used to be a fan of the Papermate stick pens, but I love the Flexgrip. I get very grumpy when I can’t find one and have to use something else. And absolutely only blue, never black. I think it’s a lawyer thing, the blue pens, so you always know what is an “original” signature. Also, I prefer the clicky-tops, rather than the cap variety. One less step and all. #thingsIneverthoughtIwouldcareabout

    • Is it weird that I have no feelings — literally none — about what kind of pen i use?

  4. office supply enthusiast! :

    I love the Pilot V7, too, but I like the retractable ones even better (Pilot Precise V7 RT)!

    • karenpadi :

      I love the Pilot Pens. I hand wrote the CA bar exam using the “Precise Grip” version:

      http://www.amazon.com/Pilot-Precise-Rolling-Extra-2-pack/dp/B00347A8BM/ref=sr_1_71?s=office-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1310582797&sr=1-71

      I wish I could use the retracting pens…but I am a “clicker”.

    • Ditto this, though I prefer the Pilot Precise V5 Retractable. I finally convinced the firm to buy me some, so I don’t have to fund my own expensive pen habit. Kat, ditto on the non-retractable Pilot Precise V7 (again, I prefer the V5′s) — my last two boxes have been total crap.

      • office supply enthusiast! :

        It is actually the V5 I like not the V7 (oops). Regardless, a word of warning: NEVER take these pens on airplanes! The change in pressure seems to make them leak or release an excessive amount of ink — VERY messy.

        • Former 3L :

          OH GOD do they make a mess on airplanes. I often end up with ink on my face. Nevertheless, my Pilot Precise V5s (black preferred) are by far my favorite pen (also because all the art students in college used them, both for taking notes and for doodling doodles that were really too involved and gorgeous to be called doodles).

  5. Papermate felt tip pens. I don’t know why. If the lid comes off, they make a mess. But that is my pen of choice. I use all different colors. Again, I don’t know why. I just do.

    When I was a new attorney I went through this phase of having “nice” pens. Mont Blanc, Waterman, etc. I lost everyone I had. Plus I tend to chew on my pens (I know, yuck), so I gave up on the whole nice pen thing.

    • If you want more color options, consider Le Pen – very similar to those papermates, but a little thinner and come in amazing colors.

      • Where do you get the LePen. I am intrigued. I like a little color in my day.

        • le pen pens are amazing!!! i get them at dick blick, i imagine any art or office supply store with drawing/drafting type tools would have them. they come in lots of beautiful colors, too.

        • I get them in independant stationery stores in NYC, but they are also available on Amazon.

          • I second this. I absolutely love Le Pens. If you like felt-tip Papermates but don’t like the rough dragging feeling they tend to have then you’ll probably love them too. The only downside is that if you tend to press down hard while you write, they’ll go flat after a while and so you’ll have to hold the pen at just the right angle to get them to continue to write.

        • somewhere(less)cold :

          I just got some at AC Moore and am using them for massive amounts of thank you notes as motivation to get writing.

  6. Staples Icebreaker pens! They write soooo smoothly and are comfortable in the hand even if you’re writing for hours.

    http://www.staples.com/Staples-Icebreaker-Ballpoint-Stick-Pens-Medium-Point-Blue-Dozen/product_807981

    If I can’t get those, I’ll settle for Pentel RSVPs. Those are the only pens I like.

    • Ditto on the RSVPs! In HS and now in college that was all I’ve used. And, it seems, at least half my class agrees they’re the best – I took a look around the room one day and was really suprised how many people were using them!

      • I only buy Pentel RSVP, but only in fine. They’ve never randomly stopped writing, you can see how much ink is left so you know whether you should start carrying 2 of them, and they’re not so thin that they feel awkward in your fingers when you write more than a line or two. The only complaint i have is that sometimes you have to twirl the tip on a scrap piece of paper to get a blob of ink off, but that’s only really after a while of writing.

  7. Lindsay S. :

    I likewise have strong feelings about my pens. I can only get these online, so I buy in bulk and guard them with my life — Pilot BeGreen Precise V5 Roll Ball Pen Extra Fine. You will LOVE them. They write smooth, dry quickly (so there’s no smear), you can see how much ink is left, and you’re not constantly drawing circles on your paper. They are also satisfyingly dark and black.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001C8FWNY/ref=pe_57250_20496990_pe_vfe_dt1

    • Corporate Tool :

      I have that same one in my hand right now. Love. It.

    • I use V5s in purple, green and turquoisy-blue when I’m making changes on a document for someone. The colors are so bright you can’t miss the edits, but they are “kinder” than red. I read somewhere that most people equate red ink with harsh criticism; hopefully my purple, green and turquoise read as constructive criticism.

  8. I like Uniball Onyx MICRO only – the fine tip ones drive me nuts.

    • YES. Love the micro; hate the fine. But I’m a blue pen girl; black pen signatures can mimic a photocopy.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      The Uniball Onyx and Vision Micros were my favorite, until the HR Supply Manager with a power trip decided that they were “too expensive” and stopped allowing them to order them. It really pissed me off – do you know where your salary comes from, Supply Manager?! It comes from me billing all the damn time, which includes WRITING, so please explain to me why I can’t have a pen cheap enough to be sold at a darn drugstore?! ARGH. It’s so petty of me, but I hate not being able to have my favorite pen.

      We have Pilot G-2s now, and they are ok. I miss my Uniballs though.

      • I just get petty cash and buy my own pens. HR can’t stop me and at least at my office, it’s permitted to use petty cash for office supplies. But if the pens are cheap, you could just pay for them yourself and hoard them like Milton’s stapler.

    • I used to be quite evangelical about the Uniball micros. But I am starting to like the Uniball fines…I am becoming slightly less rigid in my pen choices over time. They have a light blue one that I adore.

      In actual fact, though, I just use whatever comes out of my desk drawer first (which could be that freebie pen that I got at the last seminar I attended at some hotel).

      • Definitely the Uniball, and I prefer the fine. And green is fantastic for commenting and marking up documents or without looking like you bled on them or are channeling your fourth grade teacher.

  9. Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coletto in .3 or .4 size – retractable, multiple colors (that you pick yourself – I have medium blue, green, and purple) in one pen. Available at specialty online retailers and Japanese bookstores only. Sometimes I use the Muji pens in .39. After I discovered that pens can be this thin, I can’t use anything else – writing with the Uniball micros that we have at work now feels like scratching with a dull crayon. On the other hand, I enjoy Le Pens (periwinkle!) in fun colors for personal correspondence.

    I used to love those Pilot Precise pens in HS (esp the purple one!). My grandma loves the Pilot G2 pens (thin, black) and asks me to buy her a pack a couple of times a year.

    This is probably the most personally identifying thing I have ever posted on this website. DORK. :)

    • I use Muji pens in .38 and now cannot use a ballpoint pen without recalling in horror at the size of the line!

      • I’ve been known to refuse a ball point pen being handed to me and take out my own. NO, I’m NOT crazy! I just find ballpoints offensive! lol :)

  10. Pilot G2 is what I have in my folio and purse at all times. My one complaint is that it will smear, so I hate using it for signing birthday cards.

    • I am also a fan of the Pilot G2 pens, but I generally do not use them for signing cards because of the smearing issues. For cards I tend to just use a regular ballpoint pen.

    • anonx1000 :

      My favorite, too – very fine – but ditto on the card issues, so I also use something else for cards.

    • Pilot G2 in extra fine point–they smear much less than the fine point.

    • Ruthy Sue :

      I also use Pilot G2. I work in construction and conduct a lot of training, and I’ve found that the pink and purple G2′s are the only ones that won’t get stolen from the training sign-in sheet! Plus, if it does get taken everyone knows who it belongs to. I use these (in blue & black) for the rest of my work needs and I’ve always had good luck with them

    • This. The G2 has been the most reliable purse-pen for me, but I hate the smudge.

      My office stocks the Staples store band icebreaker pens, and I’ve had pretty good luch with those too (and they don’t generally have the smudge issues).

    • Alanna of Trebond :

      Love the Pilot G2s. I have a neurotic note taking style in which I use blue and black Pilot G2s, usually one that is the 0.-7 style and one that is 0.05 (finer tip)

  11. Research, not Law :

    Papermate stick medium blue ballpoint. Yep, the cheap ones. They write smoothly, have a nice color, and the ink isn’t so thin to smear or so thick to clump. Plus, I don’t care if I lose them! I have found that, like the pilot ballpoints, the quality has gone down. Every once in a while, I find an old one in a drawer or purse – and it really is superior.

    • I think you’re right about the quality going down. My sig. other just brought home these exact pens in black from his office. I’m having a horrible time getting the ink to flow.

  12. Uniball Vision Elite – great feel and color options, comes in narrow (.5mm) and regular (.7). Very rarely do cheaper pens come in blue/black ink, and this has a blue/black, a nice bright blue, and tons of other colors!

    • Maine Associate :

      This is my go-to pen in blue 0.5.

    • Love those. When I taught, I used them for grading in all different colors. Now I use them to make treatment calendars for those darn plaintiffs.

    • Uni-ball 207 Premier. Retractable with a cushion grip. They are gel ink, but not clumpy/smeary. Our inhouse office is only allowed to purchase certain items (the cheaper, the better), so I just buy my pens and refills.

      Added benefit is knowing whether someone has “borrowed” my pen.

    • Agree. The micro Uniball Vision Elite. In blue-black.

    • They also come in red and purple! I have a box of 4 different colors of these in my desk drawer, special order.

    • These are my favorite general writing pens. I also do a lot of mind-mapping, etc., and I love the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. They last a surprisingly long time, feel great in the hand, and come in great colors.

  13. Valleygirl :

    PSA: Target has the 3/4 length selves Merona cardigan on sale for $15 each (so I loaded up). My local store (and online too) has a lot of colors available. I’ve had pretty good luck with these in the past – light weight enough for summer at the office and no issues with fading/buttons coming off in the wash. Also for any of the plus size ladies – I’m a size 20 and 5’10 and the xxl fits great with respect to size and torso length.

    http://www.target.com/Merona-Essentials-Cardigan-Sweater-Fresh/dp/B004H2I306/ref=in_de_detail-item-display

  14. Pilot’s Dr. Grip Center of Gravity Retractable Rollerball, hands down. I have been a passionate, serial monogamist with pens since I was a little kid (my last few genuine letters to santa included detailed pen requests), so I take this stuff seriously (but fully acknowledge the ridiculousness of it). I’ve been hooked on this one for a while now and have gone through a few sets of ink refills.

  15. I don’t just have a favorite pen, I have a favorite pad of paper.

    I like the uniball vision fine (.7mm) pen in blue, but I can’t seem to find it in blue anymore so I’ve settled for black. I get them by the 12-pack at Staples: http://www.uniball-na.com/main.taf?p=2%2C3%2C2

    And I like Mead Cambridge yellow lined pads, the kind with the rings at the top and perforation: http://www.amazon.com/Cambridge-Premium-Wirebound-Letter-Canary/dp/B002XJUU0G/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1310580152&sr=8-17

    I know… I’m a huge dork when it comes to my office supplies.

  16. OMG, I love this thread. I don’t hate the Uni-ball micros and my office will buy them for me. I have some of the Pilot G2s at home but think they take too long to dry. Definitely going to check out some of these recommendations! Such a dork.

    • P.S. I also have to consider the pen cap. I twirl my pen in my right hand in a certain way that if the cap isn’t tightly on there, it will go flying across the room. Yes, I learned this the hard way (many times).

  17. I’ve used the same pen for the past dozen years – the Pentel Sign, black ink, fine point. It’s been called a few different names but I LOVE it and use it exclusively. It’s slightly marker-ish, and just perfect. Everyone always tries to steal them! Similar to the Papermate Felt Tip, but smoother and sort of inky-er.

  18. Zebra F-301 steel pens are great and walk the line in-between cheap enough so you aren’t upset if you lose it v. not just a boring old plastic pen.

    I recently also picked up some Pilot EasyTouch pens in blue, which are not bad.

    • Anonymous :

      I LOVE Sharpie Pens in fine point. They’re different than the marker, but don’t smear and have a nice dark line that shows up great on photocopies.

      I also keep a Waterman fountain pen in my desk loaded with blue ink that I use to sign documents. My signature looks nicer with that pen than any other. :)

    • Have to agree. The Zebra F-301 is my go-to for most scenarios.

      And I have to also recommend JetPens – fantastic service and a wide selection of really wonderful pens. I have to limit myself to visiting the site rarely, or I’d be swimming in pens by now. They have all sorts of gel and rollerball style pens that you just can’t find outside of Japan and I’ve discovered some really great, super-fine point pens there. The Pilot Hi-Tech-C was a recent-ish find there – LOVE it!

    • I second the Zebra F-301!! They have a clean and classic look, write ever so reliably, come in 4 different colors and a few different thicknesses, and are refillable. I think adults often look ridiculous with gel pens (they hearken back to middle school yearbook signings) and they’re often too wet/messy.
      (I’m extremely picky about pens, too…but the very first time I wrote with this one, I actually copied down the name of the pen on the back of my restaurant receipt so that I could buy them myself! I’ve also notice them on certain TV shows — for their clean lines, not as product placement.)

  19. the best pens are ones i get for free. not because they’re free, but for some reason they always seem to work the best! i’ve been studying for the bar, so i’ve definitely been doing lots of writing. this free bic i got from a wacom booth at a convention hasn’t failed me yet. i’m pretty sure it’s this guy:
    http://www.bicworld.com/us/products/details/12/round-stic

    except mine has a lovely neon green cap/bit by the tip which is nice and cheery.

    i definitely tend to prefer ballpoints to gel ink as the latter tends to smear and make a mess all over the paper and my hands.

  20. love that so many people have strong opinions about their pens! :) i’m totally psyched to read everyone’s comments (i always am, but particularly on this one…)

    • Runnin' for it :

      I’m also suprised to see so many people have strong opinions about pens. I saw the headline and thought that the large number of comments was going to be threadjacks and replies to threadjacks, but, no- they are people discussing their pens!

    • When I was in school, I think my favorite time of the year was going to buy school supplies. I loved having all of those new folders, markers, etc. and picking out the new Trapper Keeper. ;-)

    • Kat – notebooks next! I think everyone has opinions on the “best” of those too…

      • Yes, I’d like to hear thoughts on people who use one black, hardcover notebook for everything (which seems common amongst the male partners) vs. legal pads for each client and other variations.

    • This is seriously hilarious! I am also one of those crazies who orders my pens in bulk since my firm won’t pay for them. It’s worth it to me. In law school, if I forgot the right pen in my bag, I would stop studying, etc., and go get one out of my car (where I always had a stash). Anyway, my pen of choice for close to a decade is the V5. Love it.

  21. This is so topical for me, as my staff and I can’t figure out how to order pens for our department through our new ordering system. Waaahhh! It has made me realize how much I depend on having my favorite pens around – Pilot G-2 07 roller ball pens with the rubber grip.

    For meetings I usually use a nice pen – you know, a cross or a waterman or some other refillable pen. But I keep these in my folio because I am really terrible about losing pens and I don’t want to lose the really nice ones.

    • Oh, and I love writing with an extra fine point Sharpie, in black. Very comfortable to use and my writing looks great. But it ends up all over my hand.

  22. My favorite pen in the universe is actually the one pictured, the Caran d’Ache ballpoint! I worked at a bookstore right before law school and bought one there on my employee discount. Refills last forever, and it writes so smoothly and feels lovely in my hand. I also like the Uniball Deluxe Micro. I keep those around to lend to people.

  23. Zebra Sarasa gel pens – less clumpy than the Pilot gels in my opinion. I got former co-workers hooked on them too, and when I got a new job in October, I was giddy to learn I could order myself the kind of pen I wanted. Like really giddy.

  24. Uniball Super Ink with fine point.

  25. My comment is stuck in moderation…

    I don’t just have a favorite pen, I have a favorite pad of paper.

    I like the uniball vision fine (.7mm) pen in blue, but I can’t seem to find it in blue anymore so I’ve settled for black. I get them by the 12-pack at Staples. The micro is just too chicken scratch for me.

    And I like Mead Cambridge yellow lined pads, the kind with the rings at the top and perforation. I know… I’m a huge dork when it comes to my office supplies.

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