Pen Guide

Pen preferences are a highly personal matter. For such a small object, there can be a great deal of variation between writing mechanisms, design elements, and small details that make the difference between a joyful writing experience and a hard slog. So we’ve created some resources to help you find your way around the wonderful world of pens.

Pen Types

There are a few different categories of pens to be aware of:

Fountain pens have a nib that uses capillary action to draw down ink to write with. They use a water-based ink that flows out very smoothly.
Ballpoint pens have a small ball bearing in the tip that turns and draws ink out of the cartridge. They use an oil-based ink that doesn't smudge.
Rollerball pens have the same mechanism as ballpoint pens, but similar to a fountain pen, they use a smooth-flowing water-based ink.
Gel pens also use a ballpoint mechanism, but they use a gel-based ink that is known for being very vibrant and smooth. Gel ink takes longer to dry and can smudge more easily.
Felt tip pens and brush pens have porous fibers that draw down ink to write with. Unlike other pens, felt tip pens may use a variety of different ink types.
Pointed pens are used for calligraphy or drawing and feature a metal nib that is dipped in a bottle of ink.

Pen Guides

Looking for a great pen to give as a gift, or for an affordable pen you won't be afraid of losing? Our pen guides help you navigate the options.

Out-of-the-Ordinary Pens

Choosing Calligraphy Tools

Our Favorite Gift Pens

Affordable Everyday Pens


Fountain Pen Ink Chart

Looking for just the right shade of ink for your fountain pen? Our ink comparison chart shows them all side-by-side.

Calligraphy Ink Chart

Looking for a calligraphy ink? Our ink comparison chart shows them all side-by-side.