Whether you’re creating artwork, writing, or adding a bit of colour, find the best pens for bullet journals (from ballpoints to felt tips to highlighters) here.
One thing that every bullet journal (or bujo) needs is a great pen to write in it with.
However, with literally thousands of pens on the market, it can be difficult to know which pens to choose, and what types to have in your collection.
This is especially the case if you’re new to bullet journals and aren’t sure what to look for. As such, let’s look at some of the best pens for bullet journalling and what each type can be used for.
Along with the 6 different types of Bujo pens to consider, there’s a buying guide as well – so you’ll be able to get the right ones for your specific needs.
Choosing the right pens for your bullet journalling has never been easier!
The 6 Best Types Of Bullet Journal Pens
#1 – Best Rollerball – Zebra Sarasa Black Gel Pens
These gel ink pens from Zebra have been one of my favourite writing pens for several years now, and are the perfect basic bullet journalling pen to try first.
They come in a variety of tip sizes, but 0.5mm is my preference as it leaves a nice and solid line without being too thick.
The gel ink comes out smoothly and the pen glides across the page as you write. It also dries very quickly, resulting in fewer smudges.
The pens have a rubber grip on the barrel which makes them really comfortable to grip as you write.
As well as black, the pens are available in 57 colours so you’re bound to find a colour to suit you. I’ve found that even the lighter colours, such as orange and turquoise, leave a solid and visible line.
These pens are great not only for writing but also for drawing solid lines and tables – so will be perfect for any bujo task!.
TIP – Like many gel pens, these have a rubber coating on the tip when you first receive them so make sure you scratch this off completely before you start writing. If it’s only partially removed, it will block the flow of the gel and the pen won’t write correctly.
- Solid lines – the pens write solid lines
- Writing and linework – you can use these a gel pen for writing and drawing lines
- Smooth writing – when flowing, the pen glides across the page
- Variety of colours – there are 57 different colours available
- Occasional dry pens – sometimes a pen doesn’t flow as it should
#2 – Best Felt Tip Pens – Crayola SuperTips Washable
Crayola is one of the most well-known and popular pen manufacturers, especially when it comes to coloured felt-tip pens. This set has 24 different colours that cover the entire rainbow from dark colours to light ones.
They feel very comfortable to hold, and the colours are all significantly different from each other. They glide easily across the paper and are easy to control.
The tips are pointed so depending on the angle you hold the pen at, you can colour fine lines or larger areas quickly.
The ink is washable but not light and will leave bold colours in your bullet journal. The colours don’t bleed through on 120gsm paper but can on lower thicknesses of around 60 to 80gsm. This is pretty typical for felt-tip pens in general, however.
- Pointed tips – they can draw thin or thick lines
- Variety of colours – the set has all of the colours you’ll need
- Good pigmentation – the colours are easy to see and vivid
- Washable – the ink can be easily removed from clothes
- Run out quickly – the pens can run out of ink reasonably quickly
#3 – Best Highlighter Pens – Stabilo Pastel
There are many different types of highlighters available but this assortment of pastel colours from Stabilo are some of my favourites.
They come in six beautiful assorted colours that cover the typical yellow commonly associated with highlighters, but also purple, peach, and green. I particularly like the softer pastel colours because they feel more relaxed as oppose to the standard bright neon highlighters that you can get.
I found that the chisel tip of the highlighter pen is the perfect size for highlighting my writing in one stroke and the pens don’t smudge my writing as long as it is allowed to dry first.
You may want to highlight first and write later if waiting for your pen ink to dry is tiresome.
They don’t overpower black ink either, leaving your text still easy to read. They glide smoothly across the paper and I’ve had no issues with bleed through on 120gsm paper.
A couple of these colours can look pretty similar, so be careful when choosing the highlighter you need. The purple highlighter is a little dark and although it is suitable for highlighting black ink, other colours may not be as visible once highlighted.
- Six assorted pastel colours – the colours are pretty and light
- Don’t smudge – the highlighters don’t smudge your writing
- Don’t dry out – you can leave the cap off for up to four hours without them drying out
- Chisel tip – the tip has widths of one and four millimetres
- Two colours can look similar – double-check your highlighters as the peach and pink look very similar on the page
#4 – Best Fineliner Pens – Arteza Inkonic
Arteza is popular in artistic circles for its high-quality art supplies and this set of 0.4mm Arteza fine liner pens are no exception. This set includes 48 different colours but is also available in sets of 24 or 72 if 48 isn’t the right number for you. I prefer the set of 48 as it has the right balance of colours for my needs.
The 0.4mm tips mean that these pens are best for fine work and shouldn’t be used for colouring large areas. I like to use them for drawing lines or lettering.
The pens can dry out pretty quickly so I would recommend recapping them as soon as possible and not using them for too long without allowing them to rest in the caps.
The pen barrels are triangular so they’re really easy to grip and control. They dry quickly and don’t smudge easily and are packaged in a nice tin that can be kept after opening.
- Fine point – the 0.4mm fine tip is suitable for delicate and close work – and is a great black pen for most of your needs.
- A large variety of colours – choose from a set of 24, 48, or 72 pens
- Easy to grip – the barrel shape makes the pen easy to grip and control
- Case – even after being opened, the pens can be stored in their tin case
- Dry out – don’t leave the caps off the pens for too long as they dry out quickly
#5 – Best Calligraphy Pens – Hethrone
If decorative lettering and calligraphy are part of your plans for your bullet journal, then a set of calligraphy pens is a must.
This set of eight pens from Hethrone includes all that you need for a variety of different lettering styles.
As well as traditional slanted tips, you also get pens with a more regular brush tip so you can write however you want. You get a variety of thicknesses in both options.
All of the pens have non-toxic and water-based black ink and provide dark and consistent lines.
The barrels of the pens are a little thicker than you might expect, but this reduces tiredness in your hands as you write. These aren’t pens that are designed for long and continuous stints of writing, so they should be comfortable enough for your needs.
Only three of the eight are traditional calligraphy pens though as the other five are more general-purpose black pens. The pens can occasionally leak though the paper, however, so be careful when using them and test them before you use them in your bullet journal.
- Calligraphy pen nibs – three of the pens have calligraphy style slanted nibs in different thicknesses
- Regular pens – the other five pens have are more regularly shaped
- Write smoothly – easy to create thick black lines
- Thick barrels – easy to grip and won’t tire your hands quickly
- Occasional leaks – although the pens are generally fine, they can occasionally leak
#6 – Best Brush Pens – Amteker
If you want to make artistic layouts using brush lettering in your bullet journal, this set of Amteker brush pens is a great choice.
The pens use water and ink to create watercolour-style designs in 24 different colours. You also get an extra pen so you can mix and create an extra colour of your choice, which is a lovely idea because you may well need a specific colour and now you can create it easily.
These pens will need to be used in a bullet journal with thicker pages as they could leak through to the other side of the page, but can create some wonderful designs like hand lettering. They’re most suitable for artwork rather than writing or lettering, and are non-toxic and washable.
- Watercolour pens – turn your bullet journal into a work of art
- 24 colours – make colourful layouts with these pens
- Non-toxic and washable – safe pens for all to use
- Extra pen – a plain pen allows you to create your own colour
- Can dry out – pen nibs can dry out quickly
Bullet Journal Pens – Buying Guide
To ensure you choose the right pens for you and your bullet journal, there are a few things you should take into consideration:
There Are Several Types Of Pens You Could Use
There are many different types of pens available on the market, so let’s look at some of the most commonly used ones:
- Rollerball pen – They’re easy to use and can be used for a variety of different writing tasks. Basic writing without worrying about bleeding through the page – and available in many colours.
- Highlighter Pen – Great for, well, highlighting(!). Making some things stand out, and adding colour easily to pages. Available in a wide range of colours, and with angled tips for thin or thick work.
- Calligraphy Pen – Great for more design led writing. Come in a variety of thicknesses and colours so you can really let your creativity run riot!
- Fineliner pen – Brilliant for detailed work like lettering or lines. Can be found in a variety of colours.
- Brush Pen – Give the feel of a paint brush with the ease of a pen. Lots of colours, and fantastic for colouring in and artwork of all kinds.
- Felt pens – these are great for colouring and illustrations. They can produce some very vivid colours and cover large areas quickly. Lots of colours available.
Other pens that you could also consider would be the sharpie pen (although this often bleeds through the paper), and a fountain pen. If you prefer writing with either of these, then by all means give them a go for your bullet journalling as substitutions for some of the other types. The best pen is the right pen for you – you do you!
The Pens You Need Depends On Their Purpose
Different pens are used for different purposes so if you can decide what you will be using the pens for, you can narrow down your choices quickly. This will ensure you get the right tools for your needs.
- Writing – Everyone who has a bullet journal will be writing down events or notes so a good pen for writing is essential. You can use almost any pen for this, but the best options are those with finer tips and smooth ink such as ballpoint pens and gel pens.
- Drawing And Colouring – if you want to make artistic and colourful layouts, then you will need felt-tip pens or marker pens that have vivid colours and larger tips. Permanent markers can be too ink heavy for the pages of most bullet journals so choose semi-permanent and washable pens instead.
- Calligraphy – you can make fantastic and classy bullet journal layouts using just calligraphy. While you can create calligraphy style letters with standard writing pens, it makes life easier (and quicker) to get actual calligraphy pens.
- Highlighting – highlighting text is a quick and easy way to make important pieces of text stand out. You can use light-coloured felt-tip pens for this, but the best option are pens specifically designed for highlighting as they are less likely to smudge your writing.
Some Pens Will Bleed Through The Paper Of Your Bullet Journal
This is one of the most common but annoying issues that you will encounter when writing and drawing in a bullet journal.
Heavier and darker inks can bleed through thin paper to be seen on the reverse side and this (known as ‘ghosting’) can make writing on the reverse very messy.
This is rarely an issue with ballpoints or gel pens but is a common problem with felt tips, calligraphy pens, or darker highlighters.
You can eliminate this by using lighter colours, pens with less ink, and buying journals with thicker pages.
TIP – It’s worth remembering that all pens *could* bleed through – so get into the habit of testing them on a back page of your journal (or an empty dotted sheet) before using them properly – just to be sure.
Some Pens Are More Comfortable To Use Than Others
If you’re going to be writing a lot in your bullet journal then the comfort of the pen will become important.
If your pen isn’t comfortable, your hand will cramp and writing will become uncomfortable.
Pens with ergonomic designs or rubber grips are ideal for longer stints of writing and prevent your hand from cramping as quickly. Also worth looking at are the weight, size, and shape of the pens you’re looking to use.
When buying pens it’s worth trying them out if possible first – as then you’ll see what you like best.
TIP – This is less important with pens you’re only going to use sparingly, such as highlighters or calligraphy pens.
Choosing the best bullet journal pens for you journalling needs is important to how you feel about it (and whether you carry on for the long term) but can also be complicated due to the choices available.
Hopefully this article has helped you decide what you need for your own Bullet Journal, and what you should look for when choosing them.