When it comes to using a paper planner, nothing is more important than the almighty pen. You can write, draw, bullet, underline, circle, box, etc. all with just a pen. The pen you use in your planner is likely the single most diverse tool that you have in your planner arsenal. But I don’t suggest using just any pen. So, no, the one in your junk drawer is not likely the best (it could be though, who knows?). In order to give you the best possible experience when writing in your planner, you want a pen that writes clean and smooth, doesn’t feather, and doesn’t seep through to the other side of the page.
Other favorable attributes include: a wide variety of colors, ability to write on multiple surface types, longevity, and comfort. So, with all of these attributes in mind, here are the seven pens that I recommend using in your planner in no particular order.
These pens by Stabilo are a really good place to start if you want a lot of color options quick. They are felt tip pens. The two sets in the picture are the Point 88 (fine point) and Point 68 (medium point). I bought both because sometimes I like to write thick or thin depending on my mood, and what I ‘m writing on or about. These pens by Stabilo are also great because they do not seep through the back of the page no matter if you’re using the black ink or neon yellow. They also don’t feather, and many people use them in adult coloring books as well. The ink also works well on both matte and glossy surfaces. Although with the glossy surfaces, I’d give them a bit to dry before closing your planner or simply putting your hand on it.
With the release of the Happy Planner™ Basics line at the end of June, two sets of pens were added to the Happy Planner™ line of products. These are felt tip pens with black ink despite the exterior color of the pen. They write very nicely and have a fine tip. I have found myself reaching for these more and more when I go to write in my planner since the felt tip seems very sturdy (I press down hard when I write) and the ink flows nicely. As of yet, I’ve not had any issues writing on both glossy and matte surfaces with these.
These can be purchased in store at Hobby Lobby or online through the Mambi shop. They’re $4.99 for four pens each.
These are the only pens that I don’t own myself. But I know lots of people who swear by these gel pens. Paper mate’s own description works best in describing them.
Spread joy (not smears) with quick-drying Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pens. With vivid gel ink that dries 3X faster* for reduced smearing, it’s like a party on the page where smudges aren’t invited. With 14 brilliant colors to choose from, your notes will be bright and filled with fun. Perk alert: these colorful pens are fully wrapped with a comfort grip (because words should never hurt you) and feature a smooth style that keeps the joy flowing as fast as your thoughts.
*vs Pilot G2 based on average dry times of black, blue, red, and green. Individual dry times may vary by color.
- Quick-drying ink dries 3X faster* for reduced smearing, so smears run in fear
- Brilliant gel ink brightens all your notes
- Ergonomic comfort grip wraps the entire pen
- Smooth ink keeps the fun and ideas flowing
These can be found at any office supply store or you’re local box store. If you prefer to shop online, they can also be found on Amazon.com. Depending on the quantity per package, you can expect to pay from about $5 to $20.
Paper mate® Flair pens were the first felt tip pens I owned that didn’t bleed through the paper. These also come in a decent array of colors. For the longest time, these were my go to when needing to write in different colors in my planner. You can find them in extra fine, fine, and medium (this is what I have) sized tips. With my predisposition to pressing hard when I write, these have stood up beautifully to that and still haven’t run dry yet.
Again, you find these at any office supply or big box store near you. They can also be purchased online through Amazon.com. Depending on the quantity in the package you purchase, they can run between $3-$25.
Within the Le Pen family are the regular Le Pen’s with a smudge-resistant ink and the Le Pen Permanent with alcohol-based ink. The barrels of the regular Le Pens are very slender and lightweight which would be great for those who write a great deal. If you press hard when you write, I don’t recommend these if you do. I actually don’t use them all that often because I’m positive that if I did I wouldn’t have a nib left on these pens. While there are some color choices for the Le Pen, there aren’t as many as others offer. The regular Le Pen’s don’t bleed through paper, but aren’t suitable for slick surfaces. This is actually where the Le Pen Permanent shines. Due to the nature of alcohol ink, you can pretty much write on just about any surface. This includes glass (I actually just wrote on my window to test that theory) and other slick surfaces. The only downside to the Permanent is that it can bleed through thin paper and only comes in four colors. Le Pen’s are available in fine, medium, and broad nibs.
Most office supply stores and arts/crafts stores should carry them. They are most likely to be found near the calligraphy supplies. Should you want to order them online Amazon.com does carry them in the regular Le Pen style and the Le Pen Permanent. Prices run from about $5-$20.
The Gelly Roll pens by Sakura are great if your looking for bold, opaque color payoff and the ability to write on dark surfaces (the Moonlight Gelly Rolls only). You can find them in both fine and medium point. The biggest difference with these pens compared to the others is that it is a roller-ball style pen. This is actually the only downside to these wonderful pens. The combination of the ink and the roller-ball can occasionally cause the ink/pen to skip. Usually with a good shake to draw the ink towards the end of the tip, you can get it writing smoothly once more. They come in a good variety of colors as well as finishes: classic gel ink, metallic ink, glitter ink, moonlight (pictured above), and dual color with Silver Shadow and Gold Shadow. They don’t bleed through paper but are not recommend on slick surfaces as they can bead up.
You can usually find these in your office supply or arts/crafts store where the pens are located. If you prefer shopping online, Amazon.com offers them as well. Prices run from $5-$75 (this is a 74-piece artist gift set which includes the entire line of Gelly Roll pens).
These pens were love at first write for me. The one with the white barrel and aqua accent was my very first Acroball pen that I received in a Birchbox a few years back. They may not necessarily look all that special, but it’s how they write that’s special. No matter what kind of paper you put this pen to, it glides effortlessly across the page. Seriously. It doesn’t catch or skip. The ink is a unique gel hybrid that dries instantly and is smudge-resistant. I accidentally got some very important notes that I had written down wet, and there was absolutely no bleeding or feathering. It’s also very comfortable for long periods of note-taking with the textured, rubber grip. These only come in 8 colors and fine and medium points. While it lack a variety of colors to choose from, I highly recommend these pens even just to use on a day to day basis. They are also refillable.
You can find these at office supple and big box retailers. I also recommend checking out Amazon.com, if you find yourself using these religiously, like me. They sell them in single-color boxes of 12. Prices range from $3-$20 (a box of a dozen in a single color).
Hopefully, this list has given you an idea of what pens to look into, if you don’t already own some of them. Should I have missed any of your favorites, I’d love to hear what they are. Then, I can also do another post or update this one to include those as well. Now, head out and grab some new pens to add to your ever-increasing planner toolbox.
Note: All of the opinions and reviews are my own. I didn’t receive compensation or free products from any of the aforementioned products.
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