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The Best Pens - 2021

Last updated on September 28, 2020
Best Pens

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Our Picks For The Top Pens

Show Contents
Our Take
  Best Overall

Arteza Fine Point Rollerball Pens, 20-Count

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

Arteza

Fine Point Rollerball Pens, 20-Count

Overall Take

Smooth, No SmearingStrong lines with no smudging are the hallmarks of this pen.

  Runner Up

Paper Mate Write Bros Medium Point Ballpoint Pens, 60-Count

Paper Mate

Write Bros Medium Point Ballpoint Pens, 60-Count

Overall Take

Reliable and SturdyThese reliable ballpoint pens provide a consistent, dark line for a longer time.

  We Also Like

Cross Classic Century Lustrous Chrome Ballpoint Pen

Cross

Classic Century Lustrous Chrome Ballpoint Pen

Overall Take

Sleek Executive PenThis streamlined pen feels as good as it looks.

  Strong Contender

Sharpie S-Gel Medium Point Gel Pens, 4-Count

Sharpie

S-Gel Medium Point Gel Pens, 4-Count

Overall Take

Great for LeftiesThe formulation of the gel prevents smearing.

Avatar
Guide written by Tod Caviness
Last updated on September 28, 2020

We’re deep in the information age, and as the name implies, we have more ways to communicate than ever before. We text, we post, we send voicemails and emails — and those of us who use voice assistants may not even have to lift a finger to do any of them.

But if you’re trying to get your thoughts recorded quickly and with style, there’s still no better way to do it than with pen and paper. If you doubt the enduring popularity of the old reliable pen, just look at the range of products out there. Entire aisles of office supply stores are devoted to them, from disposable ballpoints to sleek executive vanity pens.

So what’s the right pen for you? Those who use pens regularly will tell you there’s no “best” type of pen. But there is a best one for your particular writing style.

Ballpoint pens have been around for a while, and they are still among the most popular. That’s largely because of the oil-based ink, which dries quickly on most any type of paper. The tip (or nib) at the business end of these pens is a ball that rolls along you write, creating friction which allows the ink inside the chamber to flow out. While cheaper pens of this type can blotch a bit as the ink chamber empties, decently-made pens are usually fairly consistent. one thing to watch out for is durability: Dropping the pen directly on its tip will damage the ball and render it useless pretty quickly.

Rollerball pens work much the same way but use a water-based rather than oil-based ink. That creates a bolder and darker line, which is great for those who prefer more of an expressive look. On the downside, this ink might bleed through if your paper is thin enough, and tends to dry less quickly. (Left-handed writers, in particular, want to watch out for this, as their hand may drag across their writing and smudge the ink.)

A more recent type of writing implement is the gel pen, which also uses water-based ink. In most pens, it is a thicker formula that goes on smoothly with a certain feel that users swear by. The formula also holds pigment better, so you can find gel pens in a range of different colors. Smudging can be a problem with cheaper pens of this style, and they may run out of ink a bit quicker.

There are also less common pen styles such as the felt-tip pen, which uses water-based ink and a fibrous nib to give an even thicker line. And of course, lovers of boutique writing can still buy old-school fountain pens. The elegant mechanism of these pens and the viscosity of the ink produces a feel that can’t be replicated, but they do require plenty of care and refills.

The Best Pens

1
  Best Overall

Arteza Fine Point Rollerball Pens, 20-Count

Those who like a smooth, gliding feel will love this pen. The lines go on bold and thick but without undue smearing. The profile of the pen makes it easy to hold and control.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Arteza
Model
2
  Runner Up

Paper Mate Write Bros Medium Point Ballpoint Pens, 60-Count

These are the old reliable pens that have served students of all ages for years. The pen itself has just enough texture to aid in your grip, and the dark ink goes on with a satisfying drag. You can expect each of these pens to last for awhile.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Paper Mate
Model
3
  We Also Like

Cross Classic Century Lustrous Chrome Ballpoint Pen

This pen has a nice smooth feel that suits its metallic profile. Refills are available and they are very long-lasting. Overall, this is a solid writing implement that looks great on any desk.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Cross
Model
4
  Strong Contender

Sharpie S-Gel Medium Point Gel Pens, 4-Count

Unlike a lot of gel pens, this one tends not to smear. That is great news for lefties who might drag their hands back over the print. The thick build makes them easy to grip and write with.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Sharpie
Model
5
  Also Great

PILOT G2 Rolling Ball Fine Point Gel Pens, 12-Count

The ink goes on bold but dry with these popular gel pens. A cushion on the lower half of the pen allows for a firm grip. A light press is all it takes to get the ink flowing.

Features


Specifications

Brand
PILOT
Model

Our Pen Buying Guide

We’re deep in the information age, and as the name implies, we have more ways to communicate than ever before. We text, we post, we send voicemails and emails — and those of us who use voice assistants may not even have to lift a finger to do any of them.

But if you’re trying to get your thoughts recorded quickly and with style, there’s still no better way to do it than with pen and paper. If you doubt the enduring popularity of the old reliable pen, just look at the range of products out there. Entire aisles of office supply stores are devoted to them, from disposable ballpoints to sleek executive vanity pens.

So what’s the right pen for you? Those who use pens regularly will tell you there’s no “best” type of pen. But there is a best one for your particular writing style.

Ballpoint pens have been around for a while, and they are still among the most popular. That’s largely because of the oil-based ink, which dries quickly on most any type of paper. The tip (or nib) at the business end of these pens is a ball that rolls along you write, creating friction which allows the ink inside the chamber to flow out. While cheaper pens of this type can blotch a bit as the ink chamber empties, decently-made pens are usually fairly consistent. one thing to watch out for is durability: Dropping the pen directly on its tip will damage the ball and render it useless pretty quickly.

Rollerball pens work much the same way but use a water-based rather than oil-based ink. That creates a bolder and darker line, which is great for those who prefer more of an expressive look. On the downside, this ink might bleed through if your paper is thin enough, and tends to dry less quickly. (Left-handed writers, in particular, want to watch out for this, as their hand may drag across their writing and smudge the ink.)

A more recent type of writing implement is the gel pen, which also uses water-based ink. In most pens, it is a thicker formula that goes on smoothly with a certain feel that users swear by. The formula also holds pigment better, so you can find gel pens in a range of different colors. Smudging can be a problem with cheaper pens of this style, and they may run out of ink a bit quicker.

There are also less common pen styles such as the felt-tip pen, which uses water-based ink and a fibrous nib to give an even thicker line. And of course, lovers of boutique writing can still buy old-school fountain pens. The elegant mechanism of these pens and the viscosity of the ink produces a feel that can’t be replicated, but they do require plenty of care and refills.

DWYM Fun Fact

Pens can be a status symbol for high-powered executives, and there are none that make a greater statement than the Aurora Diamante pen. The Italian company Aurora makes only one of these fountain pens a year, and its casing is encrusted with 30 carats of diamonds. The nib? Eighteen-carat solid gold, of course. Unsurprisingly, it is the most expensive writing implement in the world at a price tag of $1.3 million. Definitely not the pen you want to forget to take out of your pocket when you do the laundry.

The Pen Tips and Advice

How you write and how often your write might be big factors in determining what kind of pen you use. Where you use them isn’t usually a concern — unless you’re doing it on a plane. Seasoned travelers already know that pens can leak or even explode while in flight. This is due to the change in air pressure, which can push ink out of the pen. The pens most at risk for this are those with water-based ink, especially rollerballs and fountain pens. Gel pens and ballpoint pens are less likely to experience any severe leaks, but it can happen. You can buy pens that are specifically engineered to be airplane-safe, but if you don’t want to shell out the extra dough, you can seal your pens in a plastic bag until you land.