Just seven really excellent pens

Our recommendations accommodate lovers of gel ink, ballpoint ends, and fountain nibs.

Given how ubiquitous smartphones are, it’s not hard to imagine why handwriting is in decline. Yet, no matter how tech-oriented we’ve become, you’ll likely still need to jot down a few notes here and there. If you’re looking for a new favorite pen, here are a few great options. Keep in mind how thick the tip is, as well as what kind of ink it uses. These range from .01mm (which is very fine) to .07mm (which is a lot thicker).

Easy writing: Muji Gel Ink Ball Point Pen

Water-Based Ink

Simple and smooth. Amazon

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This Muji pen is incredibly simple, but many people would say it’s their favorite. It writes smoothly but doesn’t smudge, which is hard to find among gel pens. It’s also one of the most affordable pens you can find considering how well it works. You might notice that the ink runs out faster than usual on this pen, but the ink cartridges are easy to replace.

For precision: Pentel Tradio Pulaman

Crisp Lines

This instrument is ideal for calligraphy. Amazon

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This fountain pen is a lot of fun to use, especially if you tend to compose in script, or like to experiment with different typefaces in your handwriting. It’s like a micro ink pen, but the tip is sharp, so you’ll feel it writes smoothly. It has a medium point, but is still thin enough that you’ll be able to use it to jot down plenty of notes, or even a full journal entry.

Functional design: Lamy Safari Fountain Pen

Great Value

Comes with blue rather than black ink. Amazon

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The Lamy pen is a little heavier than the others on this list, which many people find they prefer. For a fountain pen, it’s relatively affordable and the ink is consistent and doesn’t leak. The writing tip comes in medium, fine, and extra fine.

Fine lines: Le Pen .03mm Point Set 4/Pkg-Basic

Lightweight With Color Choice

Elegant and practical. Amazon

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Despite its fancy French name, this is still a very simple and reliable pen. It’s thin, looks elegant, and comes in black, blue, and red. It’s a good option for people who like to take colored-coded notes, but don’t want to carry around a bunch of thick markers. The fine point tip makes it ideal for note-taking and, despite being ink-based, it won’t bleed through your pages.

Multi-purpose: Tombow 66403 MONO Drawing Pen, 3-Pack

Choose Your Thickness

An instrumental you’ll want to write with. Amazon

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The Mono Drawing Pen is a versatile writing tool. You can use it for jotting notes, everyday lists, and, as the name suggests, for drawing. It is smudge-free and doesn’t have any odor (like many ink-based marker pens tend to). It comes in three sizes: 01 (the finest), 03 (which you can comfortably use for writing), and 05, a thicker tip that’s still convenient to draft notes with.

Clean writer: Pentel EnerGel NV Liquid Gel Pen

Comfort And Control

Won’t leave smudges. Amazon

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If you’re looking for a reliable and affordable liquid gel pen, the Pentel EnerGel is a good pick. It has a smooth feel that makes it effortless to use and the liquid gel leaves very minimal smudges. It’s thick enough (0.7 mm) to feel even when you’re using it, and comes with a small grip that will help keep your hands from getting tired.

For the minimalist: Tombow ZOOM L105 Ballpoint Pen

Elegant Choice

Pick the style that best suits you. Amazon

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Gel ink or liquid ink writing tools are not for everyone, and if you’re looking for a reliable yet attractive ballpoint pen, the Tombow Zoom L105 is a good option to try. You’ll notice it’s a little heavier than the other ones on this list, which helps keep your hand from becoming exhausted or tense. The tip is .05 mm (an average size). This pen seems designed with the minimalist in mind and comes in a variety of colors, including navy blue, lime green, silver, black, and white.