Help Me Find a Pen

February 9th, 2009  |  Published in etc  |  6 Comments

I need help finding the right pen. I know someone reading this has some ideas.

Currently closest to ideal: Sharpie Ultra-Fine black permanent marker


  • very bold

  • largely smudge resistant on thirsty paper

  • good level of resistance (sort of skritch-skritchy)


  • The point makes me nervous: feels fragile/doesn’t feel like it was built to be used the way I’m using it

  • leaks through inexpensive legal pad stock (which is where I do most of my writing)

Pens I’ve tried and like o.k. but are missing something:

  • Pilot G-2: I like the fatness of the barrel and the rubber grip. Too slippery.

  • Paper Mate PhD ballpoint retractable: fat, grippy barrel (plus), ballpoint liabilities: not very bold lines, wrong kind of effort to put ink on the page

Pens I do not like:

  • Bic Smoothie: weak lines, bad resistance (I have to bear down and it still slides all over the page)

  • Uni Jetstream: Also slippery, little tactile feedback. Like painting on glass with a stick of butter.

  • Paper Mate Write Bros. ballpoint pens: feel like I’m digging to China to get ink on the page

Slipperiness is a big deal to me, I guess: I don’t have a particularly disciplined hand, so there has to be some grip between point and paper or my writing goes all over the place. At the same time, ballpoints require too much hard contact to get a nice bold line.

See how this looks?


Like that. Skritchy.


  1. Ed Heil says:

    February 9th, 2009 at 11:38 am (#)

    Nothing beats Pilot V5 or V7 for me. Been around for decades. Still good.

  2. gl. says:

    February 10th, 2009 at 6:06 pm (#)

    i would have voted for the Pilot G-2, which has been our go-to pen for years now. but i’ve been thinking about returning to a fountain pen — in which case, “slippery” is very much a quality i want to avoid, too.

  3. mph says:

    February 11th, 2009 at 9:19 am (#)

    I wish I had the discipline to use a fountain pen. I really liked the disposable Pilot Varsity, but I have a hard time keeping my hand off the paper when I’m at all but my very most deliberate.

    I think I also wouldn’t mind pens coming in denominations a little wider than the 0.7mm that seems to constitute ‘medium.’

    I think I’ll post another entry on the shopping trip I took to the office supply store yesterday.

  4. Brian says:

    February 11th, 2009 at 12:49 pm (#)

    I like the uni-ball Signo 207, good grip, right thickness and cheap

  5. Quest for Pen: Pressing the ‘Easy’ Button :: dot unplanned says:

    February 11th, 2009 at 1:47 pm (#)

    […] The search for a pen goes on. […]

  6. Colin says:

    February 11th, 2009 at 3:40 pm (#)

    My pen is the uni.ball VISION ELITE. It’s one of those tiny-ball, very low viscosity inks ballpoints. While being on the pretty smooth side of writing textures, the ball is small enough, that you do get some feel of fine metal brushing paper. The ink seems to last a long time. I’ve got one fresh pen and about four in use, from the box I got over a year ago.

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