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Which ink pens are best?

A reliable pen can go a long way, as there will always be a time where a pen is needed to sign something, jot down notes or write a novel. There are a wide range of ink pens out there, from ballpoint to felt tip, and some are far better than others. If you are looking for a professional and stylish pen, the Cross Calais Ballpoint Pen is the top choice.

What to know before you buy an ink pen


The most common type of pen is the ballpoint pen, which was created to be the successor to fountain pens. Ballpoint pens consist of a plastic outer shell that surrounds the plastic reservoir of ink. Located at the tip of the pen is a small metal ball and as the ball rolls, new ink is dispersed onto a surface.

Fountain pens offer that classic feel. Instead of using a metal ball, fountain pens use a metal nib, where the ink runs down the nib to the point. While fountain pens offer more of an elegant touch to your writing, they can be more expensive and be messy if not taken care of properly. 

Felt tip pens have a partially soft, porous tip, which is why they are commonly called marker pens. A plastic shell covers the polyester ink reservoir, where the ink is dispersed out of the tip.

Mechanical vs. traditional

There are mechanical pens for nearly every type of pen, even fountain pens. If you want something where the tip is retractable, then a mechanical pen is the better fit. They’re great because they reduce the chances of the tips getting ink in your bag or pocket. However, traditional pens tend to be more affordable.

What to look for in a quality ink pen

Ink color

Black and dark-blue ink are the most common colors in pens and if you have a writing task that is more formal, these are the best colors to go with. However, if you’re a teacher, editor or someone that grades and edits papers in some type of fashion, red ink is common to use. There are other colors, such as green and orange, you can purchase if you just want a variety of colors. 

Ergonomic comfort

Many pens have some type of rubber or silicone grip near the tip so you have a better grip while writing. Ergonomic padding can make it more comfortable for your hand when extensively writing.


While it’s common for people to just simply throw out their pen when it runs out of ink or stops working, a refillable pen can save you money and reduce the amount of pens you’re tossing out. Simply add another ink reservoir inside of the pen to continue writing with it. Pens typically are labeled if they’re refillable or not. Refillable pens tend to be slightly more expensive than disposable pens.

How much you can expect to spend on ink pen

Ink pens range from $1-$25. You can find ballpoint pens with rubber grips for less than $10. Pens with extra features usually are in the $10-$20 range, and for a professional feel when writing, there are fountain pens that cost $25 and more.

Ink pen FAQ

Is it possible to remove ink stains?

A. It will take some effort, but it is possible to remove ink stains. First, blot the stain with a dry paper towel or napkin to absorb excess ink. Apply a water-based stain remover on the stain and leave it on for 15 minutes. Blot the stain again, then put it in a washing machine if the stained item is washable; otherwise, hand-wash as best as you can. If the stain persists after the washing is done, repeat the spot treatment until the stain fades.

Can ink in pens freeze?

A. Water-based ink pens can freeze in very cold temperatures. With proper storage in a dry and enclosed space, freezing will not occur.

How long does an ink pen last?

A. Fountain pens tend to last longer than ballpoint pens, which can be for decades. However, longevity relies on how the pen is stored and used and how good the quality is. A ballpoint pen can last several years if kept in a cool, dry area.

What’s the best ink pen to buy?

Top ink pen

Cross Calais Ballpoint Pen

Cross Calais Ballpoint Pen

What you need to know: Experience a fountain-pen touch with this professional ballpoint pen.

What you’ll love: This pen has a durable build with a chrome detail, securely keeping the ink ready to go. The pen is refillable so you can buy various colors and refill when needed.

What you should consider: It’s heavier than a typical pen.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top ink pen for the money

Paper Mate InkJoy 100RT Retractable Ballpoint Pens

Paper Mate InkJoy 100RT Retractable Ballpoint Pens

What you need to know: This pack of retractable pens gives you a variety of colors from which to choose.

What you’ll love: This pack of 20 pens has more than 10 colors to choose. The ink comes out smoothly.

What you should consider: Some colors may come out more smoothly than others.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Pentel R.S.V.P. Stick Ballpoint Pen

Pentel R.S.V.P. Stick Ballpoint Pen

What you need to know: This transparent pen lets you see how much ink you have left, while having a grip that feels nice.

What you’ll love: This is a pack of 12 pens with different colors and sizes to choose. The sturdy tip helps the pen not jump when writing on bumpy surfaces.

What you should consider: Some have reported occasional leakage from the pen.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Ade Hennis writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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