When it comes to journaling, it is important to choose a pen that is easy to use and works for whatever journaling needs come up. As it is an activity that often benefits from different color combinations, line weights, inks, and other qualities of pens, finding a few different options is worth it. Toward that end, here is a compiled list of 10 of the best pens for journaling on the market today.
Not every pen on this list will be essential, and some overlap with others to cover different aspects of journaling. Truthfully, choosing pens to journal with is mostly personal preference; these are simply pens recognized by the community as providing a great writing experience or covering a hard to deal with niche.
While going through this list, consider grabbing a “daily-driver” pen that can be turned to for any and all writing. Then, accessory pens that accent or highlight different aspects of that pen are great to have around as well.
Pilot G-2 pens are some of the most popular in journaling communities for good reason. They are a master in balancing price, quality, and flow in pens, constantly affordable and available almost everywhere.
These are pens that write well and almost never skip, meaning that you should be able to keep going and going with them. The ink comes out thicker than some other pens on this list and occasionally takes a few seconds to dry, but it is still a wonderful writing experience. Once the ink is dried out, it will not go anywhere or smudge, which is an important quality.
Many people take comfort in how cheap these pens are, as they can afford to lend them out to friends and coworkers or keep a few extra at their desk or in their bag. At this price point, there is little reason to not split a pack between your desk, bag, pocket, and home to always have a wonderful writing utensil nearby.
G-2 pens can bleed through the paper if it is thin and you write heavy, but this should not really be an issue for most people. While you can occasionally find G-2 pens in a variety of sizes, the most common is a .07 nib. This can be thick for many people, so seek out a 0.5 for daily use.
G-2 pens are available almost anywhere pens are sold, often even in grocery stores and gas stations. With how ubiquitous they are, you likely have a few lying around your house already. If you are interested in shopping online, they are also available in packshere. Be sure to grab your favorite color!
Pigma Micron pens are wonderful pens that come in a variety of sizes, ranging from some of the smallest nibs on the market to large brush pens intended for calligraphy or drawing. They can be expensive due to being created in Japan, but not prohibitively so.
The ink from these Pigma Micron sets is wonderful, drying quickly with almost no bleeding and leaving a gorgeous, smooth finish. The ink is one of, if not the, best reasons to buy these pens. Initially created for artists and inkers, the ink translates exceptionally well to writing, especially at the smaller sizes.
When looking at sizes to buy for writing, starting with their 3 to 5 sizes is recommended.However, for first-time buyers, a small pack with a variety of sizes may be best. This allows you to try out different sizes and see what uses exist for the pens even beyond basic writing in your journal.
These pens are praised for their quality and durability, justifying the slightly higher price point that accompanies them. They should never die or skip until they have run out of ink.
Pigma Micron Sets are available in a variety of colors, each of them subtle and usable enough for everyday use or for making certain text stand out. For daily journaling or as an everyday pen, however, their black ink is one of the best. If you are interested in grabbing multiple colors, look for a variety pack that includes some extras.
These pens can bleed through the page if you are not careful, so be warned. For most writing, this will not be an issue, as the pen will only bleed if let in a single spot for too long. Be sure to keep the pen moving and there should be no problems.
Buying Pigrma Micron sets is best done in packs, and there is a large variety available. Starting with a pack of just their black ink pens is recommended, and then expanding to a colorful pack once you have tested the pens is a good idea. They are available in most arts and crafts stores, generally among the art section. You can also grab them onlinehere.
Staedtler Triplus Fineliners are perfect for adding in extra color to spreads, text, or drawings in your journal. Often available in large packs covering an enormous part of the color spectrum, these pens are mostly available in fine-tipped varieties, making writing easier.
These pens are the highest recommendation for adding color to normal writing. Using them feels almost exactly like using any other high-quality pen, but the colors tend to pop very well while also staying legible.
A bit on the pricier side, these pens make up for it in ease of use and quality. Across the entire spectrum of colors, these pens never skip or mess up a mark and last for years even among rough conditions.
Depending on the color you are using, these pens can ghost, or show up through the other side of the page, quite easily. This is mostly true for darker colors on the spectrum, and if you journal on thicker paper this will not be an issue. The ink dries quickly, especially when compared to other colored inks, and the colors come out extremely well.
These Staedtler Triplus Fineliners fall in a sort of in-between category between everyday use pens and accessory pens. The writing and ink are comfortable and smooth enough to use every day for all writing, but they shine the most when used to highlight the differences between black text and their colors. They are also more expensive than other everyday pens, which means that it can get pricy if you use different colors for most of your writing.
Despite that, they are hard to beat for adding color to journal spreads, making text stand out, or providing accent marks to journals. They are not the best for coloring in large areas due to the fine tips - these next pens are perfect, though!
Staedtler Triplus fineliners are available in most stationery and large stores, although they can get pricy at certain retailers. Consider buying a large pack that covers all of their available colors if you plan on using a large variety, as this will be significantly cheaper in the long run. They are available online here.
Paper Mate is a brand that has been around for a long time in the stationery business, and for good reason - they provide cheap, high-quality items that cover a large variety of needs. Their Flair Felt-Tip pens are no exception.
Writing with these felt-tipped pens for the first time is an oddly pleasant experience, mixing the ease and thickness of a pen with the soft pressure of a marker. Once you get used to it, it is amazing to write with. The lines are soft and easy to control, the colors are vibrant, and the line thickness can be altered easily with pressure.
The pens come in a large variety of colors and have a good, simple aesthetic. They are also fairly cheap, meaning they are one of the easiest ways to inject color into any journal. The varying line thicknesses they can produce mean these pens are just as viable at writing as they are coloring in a large section.
Because the pens are felt-tipped, they can often bleed through thin paper. Normal printer paper or other notebooks should be fine, assuming you do not color on the whole page, but it is worth keeping an eye out for.
Buying these pens in variety packs is almost always the best plan. While these are not the best for daily writing due to bleeding and feel, they are great to have around for other journaling uses like making text stand out and drawing.
These pens are widely available and there is a strong chance you have a few of various colors lying around your house or office right now. Buying a pack is easily done in most stores, and they are also available onlinehere. If you plan to use them just as a normal, daily writing utensil, consider grabbing just the black pens in bulk instead.
Writing with any Faber Castell pen is a wonderful experience, as they are an incredibly high-quality brand. They have a host of different premium products that are sure to step up your journaling and pen game, but their Manga Pitt pens stand out as a worthy first buy.
The Manga Pitt pens have incredibly quick-drying ink which prevents all smudging, meaning you can continue to write and draw without worry. The ink also dries a beautiful, deep black that is fairly unique even among other black pens. Writing with these pens can be hard to describe to someone who has not written with premium ink before - the pen feels almost soft from the ink coming out.
It is a unique experience that truly makes writing and inking a wonderfully smooth process. These pens are great for all journaling necessities, even as a daily writing pen, although that can become pricy.
Often, these pens are sold as four-packs that vary in size from a very small nib all the way to a brush pen. For writing purposes, the very small and fine sizes are best. Writing will stay clear thanks to the quick-drying ink and the nibs are perfect for detailed work.
The brush pens from the Manga Pitt series are wonderful for filling in large areas quickly or sketching out large pieces in your journal. The ink dries fast even when applied in heavy amounts such as this, making writing with the brush pens feel almost like painting. It takes some getting used to but can result in beautiful calligraphy and handwritten titles.
These pens can be found at most arts and crafts stores and some stationery locations in a variety of combinations and pack sizes. They are also availableonline.
Zebra Mildliners are a sort of highlighter pen that fulfills a niche part of journaling. While these are not great for writing, they are absolutely perfect for highlighting text or adding flat colors anywhere on a journal page.
Mildliners are brush pens that serve as highlighters or colored markers. The key to them is that their colors are not abundantly bright, meaning they can fit with almost any journal style, and the colors do not bleed through the page. For adding subtle hierarchy to text or highlighting notes, these are incredibly difficult to beat.
They also come in a large variety of colors, so you can highlight in a color-coded system. Or choose one and use it sparingly. Many journalist’s favorite color from the Mildliners is the gray. It is just dark enough to highlight text easily without obfuscating any of the text and provides a unique look that you cannot get from any other highlighter pen.
Zebra is a Japanese company but the pens stay surprisingly affordable even after importing to the United States. While this means they are not freely available in many stationery stores, they are availableonline.
Uniball micro rollerball pens are wonderful for daily writing everywhere. These pens are incredibly cheap but can write with the best of them, producing sharp text and lines that dry quickly.
Chances are good that you have a few of these lying around from offices or that you have borrowed and forgot to give back. This is another benefit of the price point, as using these pens does not result in worry about waste or letting others take the pen for a spin.
Similar to a Pilot G-2, these pens pack a lot of positives into a cheap package. Deciding between the two pens is largely personal preference, but it is important to consider some key differences.
These Uniball micro rollerball pens are often available in slightly smaller sizes such as 0.5, resulting in smaller writing. The ink does not flow as well as Pilot G-2s, but it dries incredibly quickly and should not smudge or ruin later on. The colors are vibrant and the blue is especially nice.
Picking up a pack of these pens is never a bad idea. At the worst, you have solid pens to hand out to others as necessary or use in a pinch, but they can easily do all of your main journal writing.
One common complaint among users of this pen is that it can get scratchy or dry after not being used for a little while. This can result in words that are missing marks, or whole letters that may need to be redone. This problem seems to be one of quality control, and most pens will never run into this issue; however, it is frustrating when it happens. If you happen to get a bad pen, simply draw on a scrap sheet for a few seconds to get the ink going again. Once the pen is writing, it is hard to beat the experience.
They are available in black, blue, and red. While three colors do not offer as much choice as some other pens on the list, these are the three most used colors and should provide more than enough coverage for journaling, especially when combined with some accent pens mentioned in this list.
They are available almost anywhere pens are sold, as well asonline.
Tombow drawing pens are great for using a variety of line weights and thicknesses while writing. Originally intended for artists to sketch and ink with, these are high-quality pens that often result in beautiful, consistent text.
The ink from the pens is smooth and dries quickly, meaning little to no smudging. The consistency of these pens is incredible - the ink will almost never skip or stall, so these are great for journalists writing in cursive or creating large spreads in the journal. The ink shares the almost soft quality that previous pens like the Faber Castell touted.
These share many qualities with the Pigma Micron Set or the Faber Castell pens earlier on this list. However, these tend to be cheaper and the ink dries slightly slower. For the drastic price difference, this is often a worthwhile trade.
Sizing for these drawing pens ranges from extremely fine tips to traditional pen thickness and use a 1, 3, and 5 scale. Buy these pens in a pack and choose which one suits you best, but starting with the 3 size is recommended. That is roughly equivalent to a 0.5mm pen.
The different sizes are wonderful for naturally introducing hierarchy into text and each can easily serve as a daily writing utensil. For instance, using the 1 size for most writing, the 3 size for highlights, and the 5 size for titles is an easy way to vary usage and create an interesting-looking journal page.
Because these are artist’s pens, they do not smudge or bleed easily. These are great for thin paper and for journalists interested in injecting more color and types of pens into their journals.
Traditionally, these pens are best in black ink but come in a variety of different colors. The black color packs are available in select arts and crafts stores, but Tombow is a less popular brand than some others so it could be a difficult find. These pens are also available onlinehere.
Fountain pens are seen as a luxury or unnecessary expense these days, but they still unlock a whole new side to journaling and handwriting. If you are a journaling enthusiast or love different pens, finding a fountain pen that works for you is a worthy endeavor. Toward that end, the Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is a wonderful introduction that is cheap and should last a long while.
Fountain pens take ink either from a well directly nearby, or a refillable cartridge. Because the ink can be changed to any that the user sees fit, it is impossible to talk about the ink quality when critiquing a fountain pen. Instead, the build quality, ease of use, and provided nib are the most important things to look for.
The build quality of a pilot metropolitan is wonderful, especially for the price point.While obviously more expensive than a traditional rollerball or other pens, it is important to consider that a fountain pen could replace all other writing utensils. Ink colors can be changed easily, line thickness can vary depending on nib or writing style, etc. It takes some getting used to, but fountain pens are investments.
Using a fountain pen has, traditionally, been more cumbersome than using a normal pen. However, through the use of replaceable ink cartridges like the Pilot Metropolitan has, the usability of these pens has become much better. Keeping different cartridges filled with different inks and colors is now as easy as keeping multiple pens around.
Finally, the nib is one of the most important parts of any fountain pen. This is where the writing actually happens, and different nibs result in different writing and line styles. Where other pens need different sizes to achieve different weights, many fountain pen nibs can produce a large variance in size. This can be difficult to manage as a beginner, but it quickly becomes a boon to using fountain pens over others.
The nib on the Pilot Metropolitan is great for most beginners and can support any writing style. It is important to note that, depending on the type of ink you get for your fountain pen, drying time and smudging could become an issue. Still, the luxurious and flowing feeling that fountain pens provide is hard to replicate with any other type of pen.
Fountain pens are more difficult to find in most stores than other pens, but occasionally you will find one in large retailers. The Pilot Metropolitan is also availableonline.
Tombow dual brush pens are great for any and all accent work in a journal but are best suited for calligraphy and cursive writing. These pens are unique in that they are technically two in one; one side of the pen is a large brush pen, while the other is a finer tipped pen that is still best used for coloring and providing accents.
However you use these pens is up to you, but the most popular application of them is using the brush side. This can be used for creating large, beautiful titles, filling in large areas of a journal with color, writing calligraphy, and a variety of other choices.While unsuitable for daily writing, these pens provide significant options for highlighting and accents in journaling.
The colors available for the dual brush pens really set it apart from other competitors. Tombow’s colors are fantastic, and all the ink dries quickly and prevents smudging. They can be used on a variety of papers, although heavy colors can occasionally bleed and ghost through thin paper. If you plan on doing a lot of work with these or other color heavy pens, consider grabbing a notebook with thicker paper to protect your work.
As with Tombow’s other drawing pens, these provide a uniquely consistent flow while writing that is hard to match with any other pens, especially at this price point. Especially on the brush side, there will be no skipping or missing marks.
The duality of the pens is a nice bonus, although how much use you get out of both sides can vary dramatically. Some people will naturally flock toward the brush side and go large, while others will use the smaller pen side to create thicker, colored text. Both are great and applicable in a variety of situations.
One of the most unique aspects of these pens is their blending ability; you can mix colors and brush sizes across the spectrum and create unique pictures and accents that truly mold to your personal style. While the use of these definitely errs on the side of drawing rather than writing, they can find a place in any journal.
Dual brush pens are available in most arts and crafts stores as well as online here.
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