The Best Writing Pens

The Best Writing Pens- Tracy from shares what's in her pen case!

I love pens & handwriting. You may know this already. If you’re following me on snapchat (tshutterbean), you might have seen me write a few things. BTW- Here’s that envelope template that I’m obsessed with.  If you’re a pen snob/handwriting lover,  you’ll understand it when I say that not all pens are created equal.  A bad pen can create a bad handwriting day, and no one wants those. Those days bum me out.  Someone asked what my favorite pens are and here they are!

These are the things I keep in my favorite pen bag:

The Best Writing Pens- Tracy from shares what's in her pen case!


1. Papermate Flair This pen is one of my all time favorites! I always go back to this pen. If I’m writing in a journal, or making a list, I pick this one up. The felt tip gets me every time.

2. Precise V5 RTThis is the pen that got me into ultra fine tip pens. I’m more of an inky/bold type of pen person who writes really large, but I like how clean this one is…really good flow.  It helps encourage me to write smaller and take my time. Love the retractable aspect because I don’t want to worry about not putting a cap back on. This is the pen I use when I’m writing checks.  I also really LOOOOOOVE the Precise V7 RT. It’s a thicker version and more in my pen comfort zone.

3. Sharpie Pen (Fine)- Since I’m always use washi tape for labeling things, this one works well for the very SMALL labels. I love that it doesn’t smear. The only thing is that it’s so petite in my giant hand. I sometimes feel like I’m gonna smash the tip.

4. Precise V7 Rolling BallAnother staple. I always go back to this pen. I tend to stockpile and have little hoards of these pens throughout the house. If someone is borrowing a pen, I give them this one….and they always say— “Ooh! I love this pen. It’s inky, but not toooooo inky. I like using the blue version of this pen every once in awhile too.

5. Uniball Vision Elite- When my handwriting needs to be shaken up a bit, I go back to this inky gem. The only thing that I don’t like is that is can smear and sometimes you can see run through the other side of the paper.  If I have a leak in my pen bag, this pen is usually the culprit. That doesn’t stop me from using it, though!

6. Stabilo Write 4-All One of my friends introduced me to the Stabilo line a few months ago. Talk about love at first sight! I have the Write-4-All in my bag because it works well on washi tape, and if I have to write Cooper’s name on something, I know which pen to pick. I really love the Universal pen as well. The only problem is I like the permanent ink (which is hard to find!) over the water soluble ink.  It writes like a dream. The Write 4-All is a little stiffer- and has less flow opportunity. Look at me…I’m getting all “technical.”

7. Sharpie IndustrialDon’t leave home without one! Seriously. I even have a few in my car! I accidentally bought a pack of industrial pens but I freaking LOVE THEM. I think they last longer…

8. Sharpie Chisel TipI do all the writing on my labels for meal prep with this pen. I LOVE my capital letters when I use this one and I normally hate them so there ya go.

9. Zig Art Graphic Twin Pen– Brush End- The brush end of this pen feels amazing. It’s so inky and you can do really good swoops with it. It can be a little watery at times but I appreciate the inkiness.

10. Zig Art Graphic Twin PenSkinny EndI like this side a lot! I think my handwriting works well with it because the pen is kinda long and it gives me good leverage. This pen is great for a sketchpad because it’s a two-in one.

11. Pentel Brush Pen- This one is a game changer! If you’re looking to do some hand lettering or fake some calligraphy, you’ll appreciate this one. Do be careful when you’re using it though, if you squeeze too hard some ink might spill out.

12. Koi Coloring Brush Pen I don’t use these one as much for writing as I do coloring. Remember the coloring book post I wrote? I use the whole coloring set to color all my coloring books in. They are so satisfying.

The Best Writing Pens- Tracy from shares what's in her pen case!

What are some of your favorite pens? Let’s discuss!! I freaking love this stuff.

  • Emily @ Life on Food

    Oh my how this is a dangerous post. I love pens too. I collect color ones. You can find them all round my house. Love!

  • Jane M

    My Lettermate came 2 months ago! I find it hard to use STILL with the letters G or Y – but it sure is a lot of fun. Now I have to see about all the pens you mentioned! Our daughter is getting married and I would at least like to address the SAVE THE DATE envelopes and the SHOWER invites as well! I need a whole lot of Practice!

  • Jenna

    I LOVE THIS POST!! The Papermate Flair is my fave, too! I am obsessed with office supplies and pens. My family and friends make fun of me, but I don’t care. The right pen can make such a huge difference in your handwriting! I am a stickler for great penmanship 🙂

  • Azizah A. (@GourmetPens)

    Awesome. I was super excited to see this post on here!! Who doesn’t love good pens?!

  • Carolyn

    Aside from my loves you mentioned (V5s, Stablios, fine Sharpies and flair pens FTW), I still find myself reaching for my first pen love: the humble regular Papermate pen (solid black or solid blue pen + cap). I still love the smell of the ink, the smoothness of the flow, and the random ink blotches when they get old. I’m also loving Sanford Liquid Expressos in extra fine (decent substitute for flair pens with a snugger-fit cap) and there is a chisel ultra fine line I’m loving so much the label has worn off.

    And a newcomer to the list: the Papermate Ink Joys. They’re not half bad. The action is good, the barrel is mostly-comfortable, and the colors in the 10-pack are perfect for obsessive note taking.

  • Ariana

    My faves are the Sakura Micron 01 or 005, and the Pilot G-Tec C4. I have only seen them in art stores, but they aren’t expensive. Archival, acid-free ink is important for my purposes, and I also love all the fun colours the Pilot comes in!

  • krystal

    I’m writing with #1 right now! It’s my favorite pen, basically, ever – especially as a left-hander. I’m interested in trying some of the others. I generally use the flair and my stockpile of Sharpies (<-they're sacred).

  • Molly

    Pilot G-2 pens are my favorites! They are apparently really popular where I live because lots of businesses use them too. It’s a retractable gel pen that comes in a variety of tip sizes; I love the fat 1.o and my mom loves the super thin .38.
    Though there are definitely days I’d just like to write with a regular Sharpie as they always make my handwriting look good!

  • Kelsey

    I use colored Le Pens for everything- especially for keeping my planner organized.

  • Kelsey

    I love fine tip pens and I am fiercely loyal to Zebra pens, I love the F-301 fine tip in black. Great weight and great line, high five for pen fanatics!

  • jessica

    the absolute BEST writing pens ever are the gel pens from muji. they are pure gold… i’m not sure if this store exists in the US, but if it does i highly recommend that you try them out! they have black (which i use for taking notes, etc.) but also tons of other pretty colours. (in sizes .38 and .5 for every occasion !)

    • Tracy

      I’ll have to try them. I’m not normally a gel pen lover- I find them super inconsistent but if these ones have good flow then I’m all for them!

      • Michelle W.

        I’m not normally a gel pen lover either (start.stop.start.stop.ugh) but gel pens that come from stores in Japan are on another level.

        • Tracy

          I totally believe you! I’m gonna pick some up the next time I go to Daiso.

  • Lisa dai

    i love pencils. i collect them from my travels too.
    general’s cedar pointe
    rainbow pencil by duncan shotton-moma
    the soho hotel-london
    thompson hotels-nyc
    translation pencils made from re-claimed chinese newspapers-found in austin
    only mechanical pencil i found i like is from pentel, graphgear 1000
    who likes pencils? any other good ones to try?

  • Andrea

    Thank you so much for writing this post! Amazon should give you credit for all the pens I’m about to buy! I’m a kindergarten teacher and I’m always stocking up on pens. The Papermate Flair is my favorite for lesson planning, but I’ve heard the fine tip Le Pens are also amazing. Thanks again for writing this post! 🙂

  • Tracie M.

    In my purse at this moment I have:
    4 Pilot Precise V5 – blue, green, red, black, and purple
    4 Pentel Energel – 3 in 0.7 needle tip and 1 in a .5 (1 black, 2 blue, 1 purple)
    1 Papermate Flair in purple
    1 Sharpie Fine Point marker
    1 mechanical pencil
    1 highlighter

    I have a serious pen problem!

  • Deanna

    I’m a super snob about pens partially because I hate black pens that aren’t super black, and mostly because I’m left handed so a pen that doesn’t smear is worth it’s weight in gold. My favorite pen of all time is the EnerGel Liquid Gel Pen in either weight. Im planning to stock up on all the colors and try the new pearl gel pens when I’m in the US to visit in a month. I can’t seem to find them in New Zealand and NOTHING here compares.

    I’ve been dreaming about going to Tomales Bay oysters ever since your post, and it’s finally happening! Do you think I need a reservation for the middle of April, likely mid-week?

    • Deanna

      I just read a previous comment you’re not a fan of gel pens, but if Cooper is a leftie, he probably won’t like roller ball pens. They suck for us south paws. They stick, stop working 1/2 way through a letter, etc., all because we’re pushing the ball instead of pulling!

      • Tracy

        Oh that’s good to know! He’s already shown a preference for sharpies…but I wonder what he’ll end up using in school.

  • Jamie

    I love writing instruments with a passion. I’m also a fan of Flair pens (m), but the ones I guard like a hawk at work are Pilot G-2 pens in 07 – I have blue, black and purple but they come in a LOT of other colors and are retractable and refillable. If you aren’t familiar with, you might want to avoid them… = )

  • Silvia @ skinny jeans food

    If you love pens as much as I do you have to try this one:
    Rapidosketch Tech Pen W/Ink .50mm/1 or .35mm (on amazon, $16 with prime)

    They are like rotring technical pens with refillable ink and a really fine tip.This type of pen has been used by architects for making technical drawings. They are bit more demanding because they have to be filled with ink, and kept in use or they dry up, but they are so lightweight to write, no pressure needed, so precise, no smearing when used with a marker, no bleeding. It is definitely my top pen.

  • Emily

    LOVE this post! My current favorite pens for everyday use are the Pilot G-2 07s and Bic Velocity Gel 0.7. I also am a fan of the uniball vision elites. I have to say that in general gel pens are my favorites, but I do hate it when they start to dry up and become inconsistent. I love Sharpie pens as well!! I also have to say that the free pens from my fiance’s credit union (brand unknown) are amazing and I fear the day they no longer have them!

  • Helen L

    Uniball Power tank …. is my every day ‘go to’ pen. Usually in blue at 1.0. The pen I am waiting to find at a reasonable price and better quality is one with a bit of fashion glam and refinement, to carry in my handbag.

  • Paula

    I love this post so much! I’m a teacher and I only mark essays and other writing assignments with the Sharpie fine tips. I can also never mark in red because I think it is too negative so I love that they come in other colours like purple, blue, orange and some really great lighter pastel colours as well.

    I am curious to try the Papermate Flair and see if I like it for marking. I wish I had your handwriting style for when I do comments so that the kids would take the time to read all of them 🙂

    • Tracy

      I always loved the teachers of mine who had the best pens 😉 I noticed those things back then! I think you’d like the paper mate flair in colors- purple & green are my favorites.

  • Lisa

    The Pentel Energel are a hybrid gel pen so they are much more consistent than regular gel pens. I am also a leftie and these are the best pens because they write well and don’t smear.

  • Vicki

    My favorites for work are Pilot G-2’s in a .5. I am liking the Uniball Signo for fine writing in my Bullet Journal and for color work.

    I have a massive collection of pens and I just keep accumulating more. I wonder if there’s a name for those of us who love writing instruments? Book lovers are bibliophiles. We need a name, too. 😉

  • Cindy

    My favorite is Tul medium needle point blue ink.

    • Kim

      Yes! I was hoping someone would mention TUL. Their needlepoint pens are the only ones I write with now!

  • Meredith

    If you don’t already, you must listen to the Pen Addict podcast! It is amazing. Be forewarned, it will make you want to spend all of your money on pens and stationary.

  • Dayna@kaleidoscopebrain

    TRACY!!!! I am an industrial designer (product designer) and I do a lot of drawing, and have a lot of expensive and not so expensive markers, pens, felt tips, pencil crayons, pencils, ETCETERA! Anyway, I loved this post and hearing about more/new pens!

  • Celeste

    THIS is why you’re my favorite!!!

  • Julia

    YAY! Love this post – I’m a pen freak, too. When I was little my favorite treat was a trip to the University of Colorado bookstore with my dad – to buy a new pen! I currently buy Pilot G-2 0.5 pens in bulk – they are my faves. I’m also a chemistry teacher – one of my favorite labs is about separating out the dyes in various pens – so beautiful and so fun! And my students love that I also have whiteboard markers in every color under the sun…

  • Ashley

    I’m obsessed with Pilot G-2 with the extra fine tip (05). They have different tip widths (07 is too thick for me and I’m afraid of how fine the ultra fine 01 is). It’s retractable, so I can put it in my purse or a pencil cup and not worry about dinging the roller ball. It’s gel ink, so it dries quickly. It doesn’t bleed through paper (more than normal ink). And it comes in black, blue, or red. The thicker widths come in fun colors like green, purple, and pink….but for whatever reason, those stop working on me after a month. The 05 is perfection always, though!!!!
    By the way, I love these posts and I always love seeing your handwriting, no matter which pen.

  • Lynn

    I make comics that I color with watercolors so I have to look for pens that won’t bleed. My current favs are Zebra brush pens, which you can get for cheap at a Daiso store. I can get them online but last time I was in Seattle I bought about 20 pens from Daiso heh heh.

  • Lauren

    I love the Pilot V Razor Point Extra Fine – my go to for almost everything.

  • Meg Siobhan

    Oh my word, #11 is stunning!!

  • sarah

    Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 🙂

  • rachel

    I write a lot at work. It has to be black and permanent ink. I need totally non smudgy as a left hander this is essential and retractable as the pen is in and out my pocket all day long. I am yet to find the perfect pen to meet my yearnings. I love a fibre tip but yet to find a retractable one!

    • Tracy

      That’s good to know! Cooper’s a lefty so I gotta figure this out for him!

      • Rachel

        Generally gel pens are a no for me as they smudge. Roller balls are OK unless I’m trying to write super quick. Depends how he holds his pen but a triangle shaped barrel or soft touch barrel all help me too

        • Deanna

          Try the EnerGel. Seriously,I’m a leftie that doesn’t do the over the top writing method signature of lefties (I was ambidextrous until I was 8 so I write like a normal person, but with the wrong hand), and the EnerGel fine point doesn’t smear. It dries instantly. Hence my love, nay, obsession. They’re not paying me, I just love them that much.

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  • Colleen

    Uniball Onyx fine tip. That is all.

  • Michelle W.

    I LOVE this post. I am a big fan of a lot of the ones you mentioned. Have to have several black fine point and extra fine point Sharpies on hand (they are good for practically everything!). And I just bought my first Pigma Micron pens awhile back and I really like them for drawing and artsy sort of things. Also, I got some Dual Tip Tombow markers for Christmas and have been having fun creating with those!

  • lws

    Le Pen! It is by far the best and comes in such a great variety of colors.

  • Tiff

    Sharpie pens are my entire world. I almost broke a student’s arm last week when they picked mine up off of my desk. Lol

  • Lauren

    What a great post!

    I really love Staedtler Triplus Fineliners for a finer marker-type pen–they write beautifully, don’t dry out (even if you leave the cap off accidentally), and come in a million colors.

  • Kate

    1000 thank yous for this post!! The PM flair is my favorite too, but I hadn’t used them in years. I recently asked the person who orders our office supplies where I work to order a set of Flairs for me, and two weeks later asked for another set of additional colors! I’d forgotten how much I loved them.

    I do have an embarrassing problem of doodling, especially in meetings, and the Flair pens are great for doodling! Although I’m pretty sure I have co-workers who find my doodling and pen obsession immature or childish; sometimes I’m sensitive to what they think and other times I don’t care, and think “who cares, as long as I do my job well…”

    I love your list and have saved the post. I want to get a lettering book to learn lettering styles and also a book to inspire me to do more purposeful handwriting (i.e. not just lists and doodles) and having a resource of great pens will be wonderful to rely on and to inspire me.

    And I’m happy to see so many other people who love pens and handwriting. I didn’t realize until recently how relaxing handwriting can be and what a boost to the learning process it is; I’m not young, and I took handwritten notes in school and college, using laptops had not been invented yet. I now find writing my to do lists and work notes, versus typing them, really cements my understanding and/or memory of whatever I wrote.

    I love knowing that other people, who are younger than me, find value in handwriting.

    Thank you so much!!! Happy writing, listing, noting, doodling …..


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  • Priya

    Tracy, how do you feel about an old fashioned fountain pen? You know, with an ink cartridge? Because a Lamy fountain pen with black ink is amazing (specifically the safari with a medium nib). Truly gorgeous. I’ve had mine since I was at school in the mid 90s! Quality pen.

    • Tracy

      My problem is how slow the ink dries in a fountain pen. My hand will smear it. I also kinda feel weird about a metal nib. I don’t want to cut through the paper (I push down hard when I write) so I can never get the hang of it.

  • write my paper for me

    Great list of pens! Thank you a lot for sharing this 🙂
    At this time I’m working as a freelance writer, and that’s why I have a lot of free time to write my novel in anti-utopia genre. All my last pens was very bad quality, so I was needed to change it for every 100 pages.
    Now I’d like to purchase something from this list because this pens looks amazing.
    Did someone use any of this pens? What’s your thinks about that?
    I’ll be grateful to hear your answer!

  • Noah Enholm

    If precision is vital to you, this Pigma Micron pen will never let you down. As one of the most flexible writing devices, its versatility is beneficial to a wide range of professionals in a variety of sectors.

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