Choosing the Best Pen for You

Some of us still rely on handwritten records of things that happen or that we must remember. For those instances, it’s important to find a convenient, standby writing utensil. But where do you begin? Well, most of us begin by reaching and grabbing the first writing implement we come across (marketing pens, hotel pens, crayons). However, sometimes we need to rise to the occasion, and use the right tool for the task at hand.

Many writing, editing, and design professionals that I know are very picky, as is their nature, when it comes to their trusted, standby writing tools: superfine point pens (black and red), red china peel-off pencils, or simple wood pencils. Some have developed an affinity for their particular tools: a particular mind set kicks in when they grab their favorite writing tool, the physical sensation of the tool is familiar and the strokes are consistent. They typically have been favoring their standbys for quite a long time, and plan on continuing to use them for quite some time. They may even go so far as to stockpile.

I recently asked some folks what should someone look for when looking for a standby writing utensil:

  • when will it be used? is it a daily use tool, are you a reporter with a notebook, do you journal, is it a to-do list, or are you looking to make a splash for occasional/special events?
  • where will it be used? will you be writing at home, in your office, in a busy business environment, during personal/quiet time?
  • what kind of grip are you looking for, watch out for pen weight and hand/wrist tiredness
  • what kind of point are you looking for: roller, gel, ballpoint, marker, wax, pencil, etc.
  • what kind of ink do you need: black or colored?
  • showcase personality or fit in?

Some individuals purchase incredibly expensive pens to show prestige and status (Mont Blancs and Cross) in semi precious stones, precious woods, gold, platinum, and silver (sometimes, these are graduation gifts). On the opposite spectrum, some have stuck with the same writing tools they used in the good old days when they bought school supplies. Many others are victims of whatever supplies their office supply closet is understocked with.

At work I use a Bic Ultra Round Stic Grip in green ink (spotty at best), a wood pencil, and a fine tip red ink marker. I hate how spotty the Bic is and the red marker is too wet. I switch to a black ink pen whenever I’m writing phone messages down or when I’m at a meeting with outsiders because it’s legible and more “official” though typically it shows another company’s logo. I used to take my sterling silver Cross roller point pen (a gift) in black ink to the annual conference to take notes at meetings. It gave me a sense of professionalism and prestige, but secretly, I begrudged the too-wet ink, the polishing the silver needed, and how heavy/tired my hand was. My standby purse/car pen is a Fisher bullet space pen with black ink (tiny when capped, can write under any circumstances/on almost any surface). However, I’ve lost two because they’re so slick and tiny, and it takes forever to find at the bottom of my bag. Did  you keep count? That’s six writing utensils for writing and editing.

I recently came across a pen review on The titled The Best Pen. Tempting title, eh? They searched for a good pen under $5 and selected the Uniball Jetstream: “The uni-ball Jetstream is universally loved by our four experts (experts with 1,200 pen reviews between them and over 17 years of combined experience testing pens).” The Amazon link they shared is to the fine-point retractable pack of 3 for around $10 plus change. However, according to the article and the Uniball Products page there are six Jetstream models ranging in ink color and point size (.5 mm, .7mm, or 1mm). I found the review article/post interesting, even if it might be a veiled marketing ploy, and am likely going to look for that pen the next time I’m in the stationary section of a store. Don’t miss the bottom of the article (How to Use Pens Better) for some good tips on how to make your pen-writing easier on you.

How do you find your preferred writing tool? Personal trial or reviews?


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