How to Choose the Perfect Pen for Any Purpose

Posted on November 30, 2017 by Alyssa Ochs

Whether you're writing a letter, signing a document, or jotting down notes, pens are an essential tool in daily life. Even in this modern, digital age, pens still have an important place at work, in the home, and on the go.

It's easy to quickly dismiss pens as being simple and all the same. But there are actually many different kinds of pens that serve a wide variety of purposes and preferences. There are lots of factors to consider when choosing a new writing instrument, such as color, grip type, special inks, and pocket clip types. Beyond the basics, having the right pen for the job can even have a surprising impact on your productivity, creativity, and bottom line.

Since buying a new pen can be an overwhelming process when you consider all the options available today, we put together this pen buying guide to help you choose the perfect one.

Topics Covered in this Pen Buying Guide

1. Learn about Different Pen Types

The first logical step to making any good decision is to consider all the possibilities and educate yourself. There are many different kinds of pens on the market today, but we're going to focus on the three most popular types for office use.

Ballpoint pens use thick, permanent, non-water based ink that does not thin while you write. Ballpoint pens use a small rotating ball made of brass, steel, or tungsten carbide to dispense the ink as you write. Standard ballpoint pens come in fine, medium, and bold options depending upon the desired thickness of your line.

Roller ball pens use water-based ink that takes very little effort to get flowing, allowing for a smooth write. These pens utilize the same type of ball as a ballpoint pen, but because the ink is much thinner, it floods the ball and "drags" a pool of ink across the paper as you write. The smaller the point size of your pen, the less ink there is to drag, thus producing a finer line. Roller ball pen ink is usually not permanent. Like ballpoint pens, you can choose the desired thickness of your lines with roller ball pens.

Gel pens use water-based ink with a viscosity or "thickness" that can fluctuate (not the thickness of the line, necessarily, but the thickness of the liquid ink itself). When a gel pen is not being used, the ink tends to have a higher viscosity, or thicker ink. When the ball starts to rotate, the ink thins down and is "dragged" in a similar manner as roller ball ink. Micro, medium, and bold are the standard terms used to describe the line thickness of gel pens.

2. Pick the Right Pen for the Job

Now that you understand the most common types of pens for office use, it's time to really think about what you will using the new pen for on a regular basis. Remember, the most expertly crafted pen in the world won't get the job done if it's not suited for what you need.

How will you put your new pen to use?

Occasional Note Taking

Ballpoint pens are great for dependable, easy to maintain, and have a long life span. These are some of our best ballpoint pens for everyday use.

Creative Journal Writing

Roller ball pens provide a very comfortable writing experience, which makes them perfect for journaling. For an easy flow of writing and a richer saturation than standard ballpoint pens, consider these roller ball options.

Signing Official Documents

Gel pens offer a smooth and attractive appearance with clean and precise lines. Here are some recommended gel pens for signing all your important documents.

3. Consider Who the Pen is For

Perhaps you're looking for a new favorite writing utensil for daily use, buying bulk pens for the entire office, or searching for a special gift for your boss. Some pens are primarily decorative and make wonderful gifts. Meanwhile, other pens are designed for heavy duty use and can withstand being dropped and kicked around every once in a while. If you are buying pens in bulk, you'll also want to consider price to stay within your budget. Ergonomically designed pens are a great choice for office use to support the well-being of your employees and co-workers.

4. Pen Features to Consider

Gel pens are the pens of choice for many people because they provide the best of both worlds—the smooth flow of a roller ball plus the performance of a ballpoint. However, everyone's pen needs and wants are a bit different.

There are many pen features to consider and options to weigh as you browse through our collection of pens. For example, you'll want to compare pen weight, size, ink color, material, and writing quality before making a decision.

Here are some other important factors to consider and our top picks.

Ergonomically Designed Pens

Rubber Grip Pens for Comfort

Refillable Pens for Extended Use

5. Understand Ink and Refills

There's nothing worse than discovering that your favorite pen needs an ink refill that isn't easily available or economically practical. We carry ink refills in a wide variety of colors, brand names, and price points to help you keep using your favorite pen for many years to come.

6. Choosing Your Perfect Pen

With this knowledge in mind and a few recommendations to consider, you should now be much more prepared to compare options and choose your perfect pen.Let us know if you have any questions about our pens or need some help deciding which one is right for you. We're happy to help and look forward to introducing you to your new favorite writing utensil.


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Document printed / saved on 08/14/2018. Prices subject to change.