Open Thread: What’s Your Favorite Pen?

favorite pens2017 Update: We still think this is a great discussion of favorite pens, but you may also want to check out our latest discussion on our favorite office supplies.

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. :)

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  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:

      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.

    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.

    • 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.

      • Agree! Agree! I LOVE uniball VISION ELITE and have them delivered direct to the office.

    • 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.

    • Love these too!

    • Thanks for the PSA! I just ordered three colors.

      Well, not really colors. Black, white and gray. I am allergic to color!

      • AlwaysFreezing :

        Do any of the Target shells work to make this ala a sweater set? I’m thinking maybe the “ruffle shirred edge tank?” And sizingwise – I’m 5’7, usually a 10/12 – probably a medium?

    • Thanks! Target has been having great stuff in the Merona line lately.

  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:

    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.

  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:

    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.

      • I thought I was the only one with this problem! And then I get sharpie flakes everywhere.

  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.

    • Consultant in NoVA :

      Zebra Sarasa gels are my new favorite pens.

    • Thank you!!! I used to love these pens, but forgot the name of them. I have been using the Pilots, but 1 out 3 has been leaking lately, so I was looking for a good substitute.

  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.

  26. Any recommendations for Android apps?

    or any advice on what to install first? E.g., anti-virus software

    • Advanced Task Killer. It allows you to close running applications that may be slowing down your phone. The Dolphin browser is way better than whatever your phone comes installed with. SMS Backup sends all of your text messages to a folder in your gmail account – really great for recovering the address of that restaurant you went to three months ago. WeatherBug is better than the Weather Channel app imo.

    • Lookout (anti virus and phone finder), the google docs app (you can take a picture of text and convert it to pdf or word), and shoot me (a screenshot app). If you use drop box, you can also use that to backup any photos you take.

    • somewhere(less)cold :

      Call Confirm, so you don’t accidentally call people when flipping through the screens.

    • Swype keyboard (it’s in beta, google for it since it’s not in the market) or Better Keyboard. Google Shopper, Google sky map and second the rec for Lookout.

    • runner's high :

      Second Lookout and the WeatherBug app.

      Recommendations: Barcode Scanner (for QR codes), ColorDict & ColorNote, FxCamera (sort of like Instagram), Shazam, Twicca (color-coded Twitter client), and Wapedia.

      • thanks, all — I’m a newbie, in case you can’t tell. I kinda miss my flip phone.

  27. I’m a V5/V7 girl all the way. Love how easily the ink comes out without you having to grip the pen very hard – very useful for taking notes continuously for 8 hours. The G-2 is ok and I keep it in my purse because my purses somehow devour pen caps.

    For the field, I’ve been using what the office currently stocks and I’ve had no complaints – they clip to your clipboard, ink lasts forever and they’re ballpoint, which is very important as you don’t want your field notes to run/smudge. The BIC ecosolutions, Papermate Comfortmate and BIC Soft Feel Med are all very good.

  28. I love the uni-ball vision elite! For what it’s worth, they say they are made in Japan.

  29. What was going on with the “ASH” (Kat in Glasses) post on the main page? Anyone notice that but me? It seems to be gone now.

  30. Sharpie pens! They are different than the markers, but they are great pens. Fair warning, one of the 5 or so I have did break and it was a horrific mess, but other than that they are amazing. Even the non- blue or black colors are very readable if you like to color code.

  31. Fave pens :

    I love my Retro 51 Tornadoes. I have a fun Hawaiian print one in my purse at all times and a more sedate blue one for the office. I’ve managed not to lose either one, which is a miracle.

  32. aquarienne :

    My favorite is also probably the most ubiquitous. Paper Mate medium point ball point pens. In blue. They always write, and even in situations where the cap is misplaced, they don’t dry out.

    I prefer Paper Mate over all other brands, though, so if I can’t find the above, any other Paper Mate will work.

  33. Accountress :

    I used the Pilot G-2 .7s that my office stocked, and wasn’t a fan because it was just… blue. But after getting work reviewed by a senior and a manager (both of whom I have a great deal of respect for) in turquoise and purple inks, respectively, I decided it was time to invest in some brightly colored pens to match my personality.

    For my purple moods, I use Pentel EnerGels in the 0.7 Needle Tip, and for pink, the Bic Atlantis. I use them for everything- it’s so much easier to spot my review updates when somethings been reviewed by multiple people.

  34. (Least) Fave pens :

    And also, I despise my office’s Paper Mate Stick Ballpoint pens. They are the worst!!

    • Yes!! These must be the cheapest available, because they are my office’s standard pen!! I’m left-handed, and when I use these the entire side of my hand will end up covered in ink and my notes smeared. Hate them with a passion.

  35. Yankee-Peach :

    Sharpie Fine Point users represent! They are super hard to find. Whenever I see them at Target or CVS, I buy everyone on the rack. After years of searching, it’s such a relief to know my perfect pen really does exist.

  36. Used to be a V5/7 fan until they kept exploding ink after flights (Boyle’s law in action).
    You must try Pentel EnerGel 0.7 blue retractable needle tip.
    Smooth, reliable and never explode.
    Haven’t looked back.

    • Yes, a fellow lover of Pentel EnerGel! I’ve loved these for years, though they seem to be getting harder to find.

  37. My fave pens for the last few years have been BIC’s round stick comfort grip pens with green ink! I use it for everything…though I always keep a black ink one nearby for contract signing.

  38. I don’t know where this pen came from (it just appeared, as most of my pens tend to do… and disappear) but it’s a Uniballl Signo RT. I love it! I prefer pens without caps – the pens that click – because I cannot keep track of caps at all.

    I used to love the Pilot G-2 .7. I’d get the multi-color package… but they seem to be dying out on me at a ridiculous rate recently, so I need to switch and avoid the silly frustration.

  39. ohmydarlin :

    Uniball Vision Elite was my favorite for a long time, but I’ve just recently fallen in love with Paper Mate Silhouette Elite – they’re lovely to look at too, white barrel, sturdy, minimalist…

  40. My absolute favorite is Uniball Vision Elite in the 0.8 or 1.0 version in purple because I like a bold line when I sign documents (and the color because few people have the same color and cannot forge my signiture). I have many more expensive pens but always come back to the Vision Elite

  41. I can’t believe I’m the first to cast a vote for Paper Mate’s Flair pens. I love my Flair pens. There’s something about writing with a felt-tip pen that I find quite satisfying. Plus, they come in a million colors. Ever since I discovered that I could special order them at work, I haven’t been able to write with anything else.

    • Diana Barry :

      Yessssss! Paper Mate Flair UF point. :)

    • I love these too! My work won’t order them any more, so sad. I used to have them in black, blue, green, red, purple, pink …

  42. I know a lot of people swear by the frixion for their calendars for its erase-ability. I like the Pilot g-2, but I find they run out of ink so fast.

    • I completely agree. The idea of a pen that erases cleanly is amazing. Now they just need to find a way to fit more ink into that barrel.

  43. uniball signo micro-point 207.

    after finding them, i cannot write with any other pens. they’re mildly expensive for office store brands, but they’re really amazing. i never have problems making them write.

  44. I have been waiting most of my adult life for this question. (No – I am not kidding…though I sort of wish I was.)

    The day before taking the bar exam, I went to Staples where I engaged in an extensive product comparison right in there pen section. My results for smooth writing, comfortable grip, and smudge free paragraps (I am a lefty so that last part is important.)

    The Big Atlantis Ball Pen. 1.0 mm. Retractable.

    I prefer black, but blue is just as wondeful. This pen is legit. I have our receptionist special order them for me.

  45. ElevenElle :

    Ok, I love office supplies as much as the next Type A-er, but I love a free pen. =) *currently writing hundreds of flash cards with my free Lexis pen*

  46. Kathryn Fenner :

    A slim Cross ballpoint, or a Parker Jotter–both are refillable and use high quality, smooth ink that doesn’t dry out or smear, can be used on checks and i find very comfortable to write with….

  47. My current favorite pen is my recent indulgence: a Michael Kors Very Hollywood scented pen. It’s so girly I could die. It sometimes gets dull sitting in a cube so the happy melon colored pen with gold trim is always a great pick-me-up. The scent makes me want to write old fashioned memos instead of typing/emailing them!

    A bit of a splurge at $25, but well worth the daily smiles it brings to my face.

    • Cute! That’d be a great gift. What color is the ink?

      • It’s black. I think that’s the best part– I can use it all the time without feeling too much like a teenager!

  48. Tul retractable ball point pen. They are the best!

  49. I’m surprised this has only come up once (that I could see): fountain pens!!

    (Okay, I might be a little obsessive about this… I collected fountain pens for a long time and own probably 150. So you might gather that I REALLY like fountain pens! I got stopped once going through security and the INS – back when it was still the INS – because the guards wanted to know what all the metal sticks were in my bag, and when I explained they were pens, the guards were pretty baffled about why someone would have 15-20 pens with them at one time….)

    I like too many to come up with one answer, but I like Lamys and Pelikans a lot – the Lamy Safari is a great starter pen. Or, there are a ton of Chinese-produced pens for cheap that are great value, too (for ex. Hero pens).

    Having said that, I do have a deep fondness both for Sharpie pens and for the plain old Paper Mate sticks (in part because my dad used to work for the company that owned Paper Mate, and got to a lot of their products home. Remember when Eraser Mate pens came out? We got a ton of those for free, which was way cool when I was in junior high).

    I have never managed to get on very well with gel or rollerball pens – I find them either too stingy with the ink and scratch, or too generous with the ink and blob.

    Anyway. I could go into WAY more detail, but that’s probably already a lot more than is necessary!

    • Oh, I would love to be a fountain pen fan, but as a left-handed writer it would just get too messy (see my question below).

      Re Eraser Mates – I remember really wanting one when they came out but my teacher wouldn’t allow them because she wanted to encourage tidy writing and wanted to see any mistakes we made – so we weren’t allowed to erase or use white-out! I was so jealous of my friends who had them.

      • I know of lefties who use fountain pens – some manage it with very dry-writing pens and fast-drying ink. (You can also get “oblique” nibs designed for lefties.) But a lot of them sort of “hook” their hands over their writing, so they don’t smudge (which I imagine would be a pain to learn to do if you don’t already write that way), so yeah, it’s not ideal.

        • Lefty FP user :

          Ditto most what Anna D. said!
          I’m a lefty underwriter and I routinely carry and use a dozen or more fountain pens. I rarely have issues with nibs or ink, and I use everything from very fine to very broad, including italics, obliques and flex nibs.
          As far as ink, there are literally hundreds, and I’ve only had a few that are really unusable for writing. The Fountain Pen Network forums are an excellent resource if you’re curious. There are many threads about left-handed users.

          • Hmm, I will have a look because there is something so very satisfying about using a “proper pen”.

    • AnonInfinity :

      Oh! I was like “Where are the fountain pen fans?!?!?” I love them. My favorite “workhorse” pen is the Pilot Vanishing Point, fine. I usually use Nantucket Blue ink from Noodlers, but also love a deep black.

      WHen I don’t have a FP filled, I always go for the fine-point Sharpies. I can’t wait to get a real job so I can afford more FPs!

    • Oh, thank you! I thought I was the only ‘Ette who still used fountain pens. Call me old-fashioned, but you will pry my Lamys and my Parkers from my cold dead hands.

      That said, although I love fountain pens, they’re not very easy on my wrists. On a daily basis I like either Pilot V7s or Uniball Eyes in micro. Plus they come in all kinds of funky colours, which I adore.

  50. Sally Bowles :

    I rotate between Pilot V Razor Points and Sharpie Fine Points. The Pilots manage to somehow get a bit dull after a while, but I love them while they last. I especially like getting the package with all different colors because sometimes a girl just needs to write with a purple pen.

  51. Lawyers Are Picky :

    Jimnie Gel Roller. Blue Ink. Medium Point. They don’t smear or take forever to dry.

  52. Any other left-handed ‘Ettes here? Any tips for pens that do not smudge on your hand? I am pretty much resigned at this point to always having pen smudges on my hand, but if anyone has any great ideas, I’d love to hear them. After all, pen smudges are really not all that professional when in meetings…

    FYI, generally speaking I am a Uniball fan, but when forced to write quickly I do get smudges from them.

    • I’m with you. I feel left out when people are recommending all these liquid ink pens.

      For me the only thing that works is ballpoint pens, specifically PaperMate PhD (natch – starting using it while working on my master’s and it kept me inspired :-) ).

      I love the big barrel of this pen (I have RSI), and the fact that it’s refillable. I hope they never stop making ’em.

    • Anonymous :

      Agree. As a lefty, I cannot do any liquid ink. Papermate ballpoint all the way!

    • I’m a lefty, and I use Pentel’s RSVP pens. I do get smudgedwhen I write too quickly, but usually it works jsut fine!

    • The uniball vision elite works pretty well for me but I do get the quick-writing-smudge problem as well. I used the papermate felt-tip pens before switching (involuntarily) to the uniball – I really think felt-tips are the best as the ink soaks into the paper so quickly (and you feel like you’re coloring with markers all day – fun). But alas, the supply people will not order those for us anymore.

  53. Here is my pen: the Muji Gel Ink Markable Ballpoint Pen 0.38mm. Available in stores or here:

    Seriously, the best pen ever, in so many colors (only a few of which appear to be available on the website). I have it in blue, black, red, and “black brown” (my favorite). What is funny is that the “markable part” is apparently so that “you can customize it by attaching a name tag or favorite charm through the unique hole. ” I never even noticed the hole or knew that is what it was for until I pulled up the pen online for this thread, but that seems like an interesting idea.

    I have moments of dread where this pen will get passed around with a sign-in sheet in a conference room or borrowed by someone who is in my office and I panic that I won’t get it back. I’ve been with so many pens, but this is my favorite, and I keep coming back to it.

    There needs to be a pencil thread next!

    • I just pulled out my entire collection of muji pens to see this “hole” – it seems only the ones with shiny bodies have it. I have several pens with matte bodies and with hexagonal matte bodies, none of which have this. Interesting. They used to have a very dark blue color that I loved.

      Alison, I’m guessing you are in NYC – if you haven’t already been there, check out the pen section in the basement of Kinokunia! It’s like heaven!

  54. I like the Uniball pens with a fine or micro line but I’ve also had good luck recently with the Tul pens from OfficeMax (mostly the stick ones with free flowing ink, but I do have one retractable one in teal that I use for certain things). Of course my all time favorite pen was a handout at a professional convention. It was ballpoint, which I usually don’t care for, but I never had any problems with writing with it until it died, and it was retractable but retracted by twisting the bottom of the barrel so I didn’t have to worry about nervous clicking. It also had a really nice weight and shape to it.

    When I am buying pens I typically prefer stick pens that aren’t retractable since with pens that retract by clicking the end of the pen or a button, I am likely to start clicking them “on and off” without realizing it. Fortunately, I recognized this problem back in high school so I don’t think anyone in my professional life has had the opportunity to be annoyed by nervous pen clicking. My one pen that this could be a problem with is only used for special purposes (making corrections or writing notes on print outs) or when I am alone.

  55. Anonymous :

    Any reqs for the lefties? I like gel pens, but they tend to smudge as I write. Takes me back to HS when erasable pens were all the rage. I hated them. I had blue hands all through HS. ;p

  56. justvikki :

    Staples brand Optiflow -Blue with a fine point. Smooth ink flow, with just the right width to make my horrific handwriting passably elegant script. I used to use a similiar Pilot version but found a lower quality there where the Staples brand seems pretty consistent.

    If I need a ballpoint, my go-to is the cheapy I ordered from Vistaprint with my company name and logo on them. Like the older Bic sticks, but with smoother, less clumpy ink. Blue, of course.

    • Yay that someone else loves these. I’m shocked they took so long to show up in the thread.

      Had surgery for carpal tunnel and these are the only pens I will use. Light, but thick, and the ink comes out easily without having to push too hard. Only think I don’t like is that they run out pretty quickly.

  57. I want to thank all the Corporettes who responded for feeling so strongly about pens. This post has made me feel much less mentally ill. :)

  58. My office orders ball point pens in bulk from Office Despot. I bring my own because I prefer gel. I bring a handful to all meetings and people have begun to pick on me for it. So what! (I hate to use my laptop in mtgs – all my clicking makes others’ talking hard to hear.)

  59. One of my all-time favorites is the Uni-Ball Signo DX 0.38mm in blue black ink. Super clean, sharp, and very fine lines.

  60. Somewhat related question — any thoughts on whether colored pens are unprofessional or should be avoided? I’m the only female attorney in a small firm, and we spend a lot of time reviewing/revising each other’s documents. One of the other attorneys close to my age has taken to revising documents in green instead of red, and I do like that it makes his changes distinctive. Everyone associates him with the green ink. I’d like to try a different, non-red color, but have been concerned that going with a turquoise (I’m partial to the Pilot Precise line, but can’t imagine using pink or even really purple) would be perceived as…I don’t know, girly somehow? Maybe I’m better off sticking with the blue and red.

    • I would suggest going with a dark purple. Turquoise is definitely more girly than dark purple. I’ve used this one before and I love it:

    • Okay, my mindset is that of a fountain-pen crazy woman, so this may not be helpful, but maybe brown or blue-black? You can get fountain pen ink in those colors, but you could probably also find them in gel rollers or Le Pens at art supply stores. (A slightly high-maintenance option, I realize, but a nice burnt sienna can be really lovely.) (For more high maintenance: you can also get roller-balls that use fountain pen ink cartridges.)

    • Accountress :

      Hmm, maybe you can find an orange ink that really pops?

      You might have luck by looking for refill cartridges at an office supply store, getting one in a color you like, and getting the matching pen too.

  61. I LOVE Pilot G2s. Comfortable grip, retractable, and at least in my experience (although that probably includes 20+ packs), great ink consistency. And you can see when the ink runs out. Granted, having worked in Operations/Office Management, I tend to form weirdly strong attachments to office supplies. Of everything (notepads, notecards, folders, staplers, etc), these pens are my take-to-a-desert-island favorite.

  62. Laurenica :

    Pilot Better Retractable, fine. It is a beautiful pen and always writes! I just wish it was easier to find.

  63. I am partial to the Pentel Energel retractable .7 pens, regular old Bic Round Stic pens in blue ink (of course), and my Cross Tech 3.

    I handwrote the bar exam when I took it and I had something like 17 black pens in my ziploc baggie – I used a different one for each essay to avoid hand fatigue!

  64. operaghost :

    My Zebra Jimnie Gel pens – I love them!! We stopped ordering them at work for awhile to save costs, and I begged my boss to bring them back.

  65. I’ve always liked fine point (0.5mm) pens, until I discovered there’s 0.38mm and even 0.28mm! Hello, Uni-Ball Signo UM-138 and Uni-Ball Signo (DX) UM-151, respectively.

    These are #1 pen of choice since they come in vibrant, but still functional, colors and pt size 0.38mm and 0.28mm! The refillable colors are your more basic black, blue, red, but also include variations like blue-black. There’s even a build-your own multi-pen version, 3 or 4 colors, or even a mech pencil as one of the slots.

    These pens write very smoothly tend to last til the very end of the inkwell level has disappeared. Def recommended :)

    Although…in some diary-type journals, like recycled fiber ones, all my gel and roller-ball pens don’t show up well enough. For those, I use the Sharpie pens, which are amazing and really don’t bleed any more than a fountain pen does.

  66. I’ve always said – The best pen is a free pen. I collect them from conventions, etc., and rarely purchase my own. That said – always a click-y pen, I’m not a fan of stick pens because I lose the caps.

    Pens I do purchase: felt-tip pens! They write so well and are super dependable, the best for note-taking. And they come in a million colors, which is great for when you’re a nerd and love to color code.

  67. I’m so surprised that with over 100 comments, no one has yet mentioned the “Pentel EnerGel Deluxe RTX Retractable Liquid Gel Pen, 0.5mm, Needle Tip, Blue Ink”

    I buy them at a big box office supply store and my family FIGHTS over them. They also come in 0.7mm tips, but I don’t like those as well. I keep a red and a blue in my bag at all times, and several more at my work and home desks. I may actually start hoarding these!

    And, they seem to be airplane safe.

  68. So many votes for the Pilot V5 & V7, but none for the Pilot VBall? It’s even better than the V5 & V7 (which I will use in a pinch.) Comes in black, red, green, purple, and the blue that Kat describes – in between royal & navy. The pen’s appeal spans generations and industries as well – my retired professor father & my artsy sister love these pens, too.

  69. A Sensa Cloud 9 ballpoint pen, refilled with Cross refills in blue–medium or thick. Comfortable no matter how much I’m writing, always works. I actually have three of them now. I had one for 5 years and lost it during a trial. I swore it was bad luck to lose it, and then we lost the case. :( So no I stock up.

  70. I LOVE the Uni-ball Signo retractable, preferably in Micro, blue or black ink. I hand wrote my bar exam using these last summer.

    They come in all different colors too, but I’ve only found the colors in Medium point. These are affordable and always write smoothly on the first time. (They also claim to prevent check fraud by not washing off!) Like the G2, but look fancier, write better and don’t smudge! LOVE LOVE LOVE these pens.

  71. tried and true: the papermate write bros. med. pt., the version without the special grip

  72. favorites used to be the uniball onyx and vision, and the G-2, but then about a year ago, our admin ordered these Staples Optiflow pens, and every single person in my office has adopted those as their favorite! Random and unexpected, but they really dominate.

  73. rapid buterfly :

    I used to really enjoy the Pentel Gel Ink pens, but in the last year I have converted entirely to fountain pens. If you want to try a fountain pen on the cheap, try the Pilot Varsity series, which you can usually find at Office Despot (sic) and the like. I did, and became really enamored of them. I now have many types, some as cheap as $7.00 and some rather more. The choices in inks are fantastic, and I love that they are refillable and nondisposable. They last and for me, anyway, they hugely improve my writing.

    Check out the Fountain Pen Network ( for all the info you could ever want about FP’s. It’s really a delightful community too, much like this one.

  74. rapid buterfly :

    a quick addendum – I am a left handed over-writer and find the Noodlers “Eternal” and “Warden” inks dry very quickly, even on nice paper like moleskine journal paper.

  75. love these!

    uni-ball Signo Gel RT Retr Roller Ball Pen, Red Brl, Red Ink, Med Pt, 0.70 mm

  76. Favorite right now is the muji gel ink ballpoint 0.38 mm but its only available online, in Japan, and in NY. They have a variety of colors. I also love the signo dx 0.28 mm series and 0.38 mm series. has a great selection for lawyers too and lots of the signo dx’s for sale :)

  77. Absolute best pen in the world – after fountain pens – is the cross brand rollerball. And nice designs on them and refills aren’t too expensive.

  78. At last! Someone with real exterpise gives us the answer. Thanks!

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  81. I swear by the pilot G2 05 black. I’ve never had any issues with them ever.

  82. I like TUL pens. Fine point and very smooth. Very few people seem to know about them. Available at Office Max.

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