Back To School: The Best Pens for Every Job

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While it’s easier than ever to digitally take notes and send messages on your smartphone, the art of physically writing is still very much alive. The best pens can be a great tool for everyday use, whether for signing a receipt, making a grocery list, studying for an exam or leaving a note for a loved one. And, since we still often find ourselves using them on a daily basis, it makes sense to have a pen which you’re comfortable and confident writing with. 

When deciding on the right pen for your needs, it’s worth considering the following features:

  • Grip – A comfortable grip encourages a better user-experience by relieving stress in your hand. Finding a grip which suits your hand’s posture and writing style can make hours of writing a far more enjoyable task. Unlike the wrong one, which will make it a torturous experience.
  • Ink Transfer – Having a pen which offers smooth ink transfer will avoid unwanted blobs on the page as you write, as well as helping to prevent smudges, too. 
  • Construction – Some pens are designed to be reused and refilled, but others are made to be thrown away once the ink has run out. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find that reusable models are more durable, although there are plenty of throw-away options which will comfortably withstand day-to-day use. 
  • Tip – Most of our favorite pens have a 0.5 millimeter to one millimeter tip, which is small enough for precision writing but large enough to comfortably read. 

You might already find writing by hand to be a soothing activity, but it also has benefits that you may not have noticed. Writing your notes by hand instead of typing them can help with memory retention and recall, which is why it’s great to write in a notebook if you’re studying. Plus, having to focus on handwriting helps eliminate distractions. If you’re in a meeting, writing in a notebook prevents you from being able to play a game on your phone.

Chantel Keona
2 years
Nice pens.

Chantel Keona
2 years
Nice pens.

Additionally, writing with a pen is more reliable and legible than writing with a pencil, which tends to be fainter and less consistent. You also can’t sign any documents with a pencil. But there’s a lot of elements to consider when it comes to this seemingly simple writing utensil. Of course, a lot of it comes down to your personal preferences. 

We’ve rounded up the best pens available to order online. There are options to suit everyone, whether you prefer a gel or swear by ballpoint. Whichever pen you choose, it should write smoothly, be comfortable in your hand and suit your handwriting style.

1. Sharpie S-Gel Medium Point Gel Pen

The Sharpie S-Gel Medium Point Gel Pen utilizes the brand’s famous no-smudge technology to provide a smooth and secure writing experience. It’s designed to prevent unwanted bleeding and smudging, which is often experienced with other gel pens. The lower section of the pen, close to the 0.7 millimeter tip, is surrounded with a contoured rubber grip which is designed to improve comfort when writing.

Pros: If there’s a brand you can trust when it comes to avoiding unwanted smudges and smears, it’s Sharpie.

Cons: The closing mechanism is a little tough, and when not fully closed, may lead to accidental marks.

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Sharpie S-Gel Medium Point Gel Pen

$12.99

2. Arteza Rollerball Pens

Arteza makes the best pens for journaling, sketching and drawing, and this product includes 20 of the brand’s fine tip pens in blue or black. The fine 0.5mm pen tip is ideal for artists and anyone with small handwriting. The premium ink and pen design will last a long time, and you can trust these pens to transfer ink smoothly and with precision. The acid-free ink is resistant to fading.

Pros: Premium pens with fade-resistant ink. Fine 0.5mm tip.

Cons: Ink takes several seconds to dry, which can result in smudging. Ink will soak through thin paper. More expensive than our other picks for the best pens.

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Arteza Rollerball Pens

$16.99

3. BIC Round Stic Xtra Life Ballpoint Pens

Do you need to buy a large number of cheap pens for work, school or the home? Then you can’t go wrong with these Xtra Life Ballpoint Pens from BIC. Sixty pens come with each order, and each individual pen will last for days, weeks or months depending on how often you use them. The one millimeter medium point creates smooth and clear lines on the page, and we haven’t had any issues with reliability. The translucent sides let you see at a glance how much ink is left.

Pros: Affordable, bulk pens. Long-lasting ink cartridges. Creates smooth medium-sized lines. Little to no smudging on the page.

Cons: Pen caps can easily be misplaced. May present a minor choking hazard for very small children.

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BIC Round Stic Xtra Life Ballpoint Pens

$4.97

4. BIC Atlantis Retractable Ballpoint Pen

No list of pens would be complete without the Notorious BIC. And while BIC has a huge selection of pens, the BIC Atlantis is our absolute favorite by a country mile. The Atlantis is a smooth-writing, retractable pen that improves on some of the features of the Round Stic by adding a comfortable textured grip. The pen smoothly retracts using the satisfying clicker. It’s a ballpoint pen which is designed to write as smoothly as a gel pen. It’s also a great value as four pens are included in this pack. The medium-thickness, one-millimeter tip is ideal for everyday use but too thick for journaling or sketching.

Pros: Super comfortable textured grip. Writes as smoothly as a gel pen. Reliable ink transfer and spring.

Cons: Metal clip isn’t especially functional. If you’re prone to fidgeting with your pens, the body can break with strong pressure.

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BIC Atlantis Retractable Ballpoint Pen

$2.97

5. Paper Mate InkJoy 550RT Ballpoint Pens

Paper Mate InkJoy 550RT Ballpoint Pens have a one-millimeter point, which is thicker than most average writing pens. However, the ball bearing in the nib, which releases the ink, ensures a smooth flow of ink, ideal for taking meeting notes and enduring hours of revision. Additionally, the pen is surrounded by a full-length grip for greater user comfort, especially when it’s being used over longer periods.

Pros: These pens are surrounded with a full-length grip which offer increased support and comfort during use..

Cons: If the clicking sound of a retractable tip annoys you, this isn’t the pen for you.

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Paper Mate InkJoy 550RT Ballpoint Pens

$35.00

6. iBayam Journal Planner Pens

There are 18 iBayam Journal Planner Pens included in this pack. Each pen is a different color, making this set an ideal choice for journaling, color coding things or creative doodling. The tips are 0.38 millimeters thick, which is less than your average writing pen and better suited to neat writing and fine detailing.

Pros: This colorful set comes presented in a reusable, transparent case which makes selecting the right pen especially easy.

Cons: You may find that some of the pens don’t show up very well on certain colors of paper.

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iBayam Journal Planner Pens

$7.99

7. PILOT Dr. Grip Refillable Ballpoint Pen

The chunky latex grip on the PILOT Dr. Grip Refillable Ballpoint Pen makes it surprisingly comfortable to write with. This in-hand comfort means it can help to relieve stress on your hand when you are writing for longer periods of time. Although this pen comes with blue ink, red and black refills are available to order.

Pros: The ergonomic design of this pen’s latex grip makes it more comfortable to write with than many other styles of pen.

Cons: Some users may find this pen is too chunky if they’re used to thinner models without a grip.

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PILOT Dr. Grip Refillable Ballpoint Pen

$6.30

8. Zebra Pen Z-Grip Retractable Ballpoint Pen

Zebra’s ballpoint pens have a comfortable textured grip, a clicker and a convenient metal pocket clip. The transparent plastic case lets you see how much ink is left in the pen, and the ink itself is low viscosity and designed to resist skipping. Various package sizes are available.

Pros: Good value, 24 pens included. Transparent casing to see ink level. Comfortable rubberized grip.

Cons: Non-refillable.

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Zebra Pen Z-Grip Retractable Ballpoint Pen

$7.79

9. uni-ball Roller Pens

If you prefer pens with caps to clickers, Uni-Ball makes some of the best options. These pens have a stylish matte black outer and a cap with a metal clip. Uni-Ball pens can have a reputation for being smudgy, but these 0.5 millimeter, micro point roller balls write smoothly and finely. The ink is resistant to water and fading, making it a good option for legal documents to prevent fraud. This box includes 12 pens.

Pros: Value 12-pack. Writes finely. Ink resists water and fading. Pens are made from recycled electronics.

Cons: Rollerball can occasionally skip.

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uni-ball Roller Pens

$9.88

10. Paper Mate Profile Retractable Ballpoint Pens

The best pens for everyday use tend to have tips in the 0.5mm to 1.0mm range. However, this can be too small for people with larger handwriting, which is why we like these retractable ballpoint pens from Paper Mate. The vivid black ink transfers smoothly to the page, and the 1.4mm tip creates thick and smooth lines that are easy to read. The large cushioned grip prevents your hand from tiring out with long-term use.

Pros: Comfortable grip pens with retractable tip. Produces thick, legible lines.

Cons: Tip and grip may be too large. Not ideal for fine lines.

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Paper Mate Profile Retractable Ballpoint Pens

$8.99

11. Asvine Matte Black Forest Fountain Pen

For a professional-looking pen worthy of the boardroom, consider the Asvine Matte Black Forest Fountain Pen. Its sleek, matte-black design flows across the whole pen and down into the finely detailed nib which is also black. An ink converter comes included, but a bottle of ink must be purchased separately. Alternatively, you can purchase pre-filled Hongdian cartridges which are also compatible.

Pros: There are few pens which have as much style and class as this all-black fountain pen.

Cons: You must order a bottle of ink or pre-filled cartridges for this fountain pen as no ink comes included.

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Asvine Matte Black Forest Fountain Pen

$15.99

12. Paper Mate Flair Pen

Writing with a Paper Mate Flair Pen is a smooth and comfortable experience. The 0.7-millimeter, nylon tip is large enough to offer a flow similar to a felt-tip pen, yet small enough to use for long periods of writing. These pens are available in a range of colors, making them well suited to creative journaling and doodling. But, they can also be purchased as a multi-pack of black alone if you’d prefer to stick with the original.

Pros: The 0.7-millimeter, nylon tip offers a consistent flow of ink, making this pen extremely comfortable to write and draw with.

Cons: You might find the line thickness of this pen is too large for certain font styles and intricate drawings.

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Paper Mate Flair Pen

$14.88

13. Parker Jotter Ballpoint Pen

If you wanted a pen that you could actually give someone as a gift, the Parker Jotter is a stylish and sleek option with a legendary pedigree. The Jotter, in production since 1954, is made from stainless steel. Of course, it’s not all looks. It writes smoothly and precisely. This option has a click top that clicks up and down with a satisfying sound. This option is a ballpoint, but since these pens are refillable, you can replace it with a gel if desired.

Pros: Sleek steel design, refillable. Writes smoothly.

Cons: Pen is thin and may be somewhat hard to grip for some. A premium pen that may not be ideal for everyday office or school use.

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Parker Jotter Ballpoint Pen

$12.00

14. PILOT G2 Rolling Ball Gel Pens

If you prefer gel pens, then this pack from Pilot is a great option. Twelve blue gel pens are included in this pack. The pens write finely, smoothly and last a long time. These pens also have a comfortable, ergonomic grip. Plus, unlike some other options, these pens are refillable. Most pen tips come in either 0.5mm or 1.0mm, but these gel pens come in a mid-range 0.7mm.

Pros: Smooth and fine gel pen. Comfortable ergonomic grip. Refillable. Value pack of 12.

Cons: Ink sometimes dries slowly on the page, which can result in smearing.

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PILOT G2 Rolling Ball Gel Pens

$13.48

15. Scriveiner Black Lacquer Rollerball Pen

The Scriveiner Black Lacquer Rollerball Pen has a truly unique appearance. Its black lacquer body is highlighted with 24-karat trims which add to the overall luxuriousness of the writing utensil. This pen makes a fantastic gift and comes presented in a box which is ready to be gifted to the lucky receiver.

Pros: This luxury rollerball pen comes presented in a beautiful gift box, making it an ideal present for budding authors.

Cons: The top-quality materials used to make this pen are heavier than many alternatives, so it may take some time to adapt.

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Scriveiner Black Lacquer Rollerball Pen

$32.99

16. Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Durable Pen

Being able to write anywhere, and in any weather conditions, is easy with the Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Durable Pen. This pen can, as the name suggests, write in the rain, as well as underwater and at any angle, too. Although it has the appearance of a standard writing pen, it’s actually much more durable than most. You can also trust that the ink inside this high-quality writing utensil won’t leak, evaporate or blow up in your pocket.

Pros: Come shine or rain, writing is always possible with this weatherproof pen.

Cons: This pen is only available with black ink.

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Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Durable Pen

$24.94