Best Pens for Note Taking [2024]

Choosing the best pen for note taking is like having your best friend sitting next to you in every class. The best pens for note taking make even the most mundane classroom subjects more interesting, and even fun to learn about! If chemistry is boring you out of your mind, rest assured that your notes don’t have to follow suit. With endless ink colors and styles to choose from, the top pens for note taking can totally transform your outlook on studying.

Whether you’re a high schooler, college freshman, or simply a student of life, a good pen can make all the difference in your learning and writing experience. Aesthetic notes can also lead to improved focus, increased motivation, and better memory recall. It’s no surprise that people who prioritize high-quality notes tend to have higher academic scores. We’re sharing a plethora of information in this article, with tips on what to look for and links to some of the best pens for writing notes on the market!

Taking notes with one of our best pens

Our Considerations for Note-Taking Pens

When shopping for the best pen for taking notes, type, color, and performance are all aspects to consider. Generally speaking, you want smooth, consistent good ink flow, a comfortable grip, and a variety of ink colors for a pleasing aesthetic. Extra credit if they dry fast at a reasonable price. The best pens for note-taking should enhance your studies and elevate your notebooks!

A pack of our good pens on top of notebooks

Type of Pen

We’ll be covering all different types of pens in the next few paragraphs, from the best ballpoint pens for note taking and rollerball pens to gel pens, brush pens, and fine liners. And of course, we’ve worked in some fountain pen picks as well. The best note taking pen for you will depend on your preferred pen tip, line thickness, and method of refills. We will not be reviewing any pencils.

Ink Color

If your dream notebook is all colors of the rainbow, focus on best gel pens for note taking. These pens offer the widest variety of ink colors, from deep matte and pastel shades to glittery hues. Many students choose to use black pens for basic notetaking and use gel or brush pens to accent or color-code important sections. Fun colors will take your notes from drab to fab!

All of our ink colors for our pens

Ink Flow

Gel pens and rollerball pens use liquid-based ink and are known for their good, smooth ink flow. Ballpoint pens use thicker, oil-based ink to produce precise, thin lines. For the practiced writing student, fountain pens provide a distinctive type of line at varying thicknesses depending on the pressure and tip used. The best ink pens for note taking need to have a consistent and reliable ink flow.

No Smudging or Smearing!

There’s nothing worse than studying for a test with barely legible notes. If you’re a left-handed student or take notes at warp speed, consider pens with quick-drying ink to prevent smearing. Best pens for notes and certain ballpoint pens tend to dry the fastest and smudge the least. When using brush pens or fountain pens with broad nibs, allow a moment for the ink to dry before closing your notebook.

Compatibility with Highlighters

There’s nothing like a little color psychology to take your studies to the next level. No desk is complete without a handful of highlighters, but they must be compatible with your pens to work their magic. Avoid tracing notes with colored gel pens or pens with a larger tip, otherwise, you’ll have a page smeared with ink. Best pen for notes or pens with fine tips work best with highlighters, as the lines are thinner and the ink dries quicker.

A fountain pen on a notebook

Good Writing Experience

There are endless options on the market for students looking for something to take notes with. At the end of the day, what we care about the most is a good writing experience (and pretty ink colors, obviously). Whether it’s a gel pen or a black ink Sharpie, the best pen for notes will personalize your notetaking experience. All the pen brands we’re about to share are either sold by Goldspot or come highly recommended, so you (and your study sessions) are in good hands.

The Best Ballpoint Pens for Note-Taking

Fisher Space Pen Cap-o-Matic

When you have no idea what to pack for class, this pen has got you covered as one of the most reliable writing instruments around. This pen is designed to write in all conditions, including underwater, upside down, and in zero gravity. The Fisher Space Pen refill is made of semi-solid ink and pressurized with nitrogen. As the standard writing tool for American astronauts, this pen will certainly get the job done in chemistry class.  

Pilot Dr. Grip

Available in rollerball pen and ballpoint pen modes, the Pilot Dr. Grip Center of Gravity was engineered with one word in mind: ergonomics. Take notes in style and comfort with smear-resistant Advanced Ink and a wide barrel with a cushioned grip. Fun fact: it’s actually recommended by the Arthritis Foundation for ease of use.

Caran d’Ache 849

Creative writing majors, this one is for you. Stylish and available in a slew of bright colors, the Caran d’Ache 849 has a distinct and comfortable hexagonal barrel. Available in fountain pen and ballpoint pen modes, the light metal body and classic clip easily attach to your notebook. Each includes a Goliath ink cartridge with a stainless steel tip.

The Best Gel Pens for Note-Taking

Pilot G2 Rectractable

Perfect for everyday notetaking or jotting down a quick list, G2 pens are known for their good writing experience. These ballpoint and rollerball pens boast bold ink colors at a great price. This gel pen ink is among the top brands and is a good choice for all your writing needs at home or in the classroom. With a 100-year reputation behind Pilot pens, the G2 Retractable is a no-brainer best pen for busy students.

Pilot Frixion

Raise your hand if you’re an overachieving student who can’t stand to make a mistake. Make this your new mantra: write, erase, repeat. The Pilot Frixion family of erasable gel pens is a stylish and colorful alternative to the pencil. Similar to the Pilot G2, this pen is retractable and features thermo-sensitive ink that erases with friction without damaging the paper. The Pilot Frixion is where luxury and mistake-free notetaking meet. It pairs seamlessly with the Rocketbook Wave Smart Reusable Notebook.  

Uniball Jetstream

Some of the best black pens for notes, these ballpoint pens use a tiny revolving uni ball to dispense a hybrid ink onto your page. The Jetstream is the best of both worlds, with the smooth, bold writing of a gel pen and the fast-drying, smudge-resistant aspects of a ballpoint. The embossed grip and stainless steel accents give this pen a sturdy yet classic look.

Sharpie S Gel

The savvy of Sharpie meets the smoothness of gel ink in this price-friendly pen. The sleek metal barrel design and professional look match its consistent performance. The contoured rubber grip is comfortable during long classes. With no smudge, no bleed technology, and bold ink, Sharpie pens are a classic staple in any student’s arsenal.

Sakura Gelly Roll

Quick history lesson: Sakura invented the original gel pen in the 1980s. Since then, it’s been a favorite amongst students of all majors and interests for its bright color options and the unique properties of gel pen ink. The creamy Gelly Roll ink is waterproof, archival, fade-resistant, and chemical-proof, so you can refer back to your notes throughout the semester.

The Best Fountain Pens for Note-Taking

Platinum Preppy 

If you’ve been curious about fountain pens at a ramen noodle price, the entry-level Platinum Preppy pen is a great refillable choice. This pen brand offers all you need for efficient notetaking on a budget. The Preppy accepts Platinum cartridges or a Platinum converter to refill with bottled ink. Available in several colorful designs, these top pens make great gifts for students of all ages.

Kaweco Sport

Perfect to pack in your bag on the go, Kaweco Sport writing instruments have a compact, timeless design. This pocket-friendly pen is good to take notes with on the bus or in class. An opaque inner cap helps seal the pen while closed, keeping your stainless steel nib fresh with ink. The plastic body is sturdy enough for everyday writing but light enough to not add extra weight to your bag or purse, adding it to our list of best pens for note-taking.


If you need a good starter fountain pen at a fraction of the typical price, look no further. Thanks to the transparent barrel design, the TWSBI Eco pen offers a satisfying note-taking session for people who like to watch the ink slosh around as they write. Even after writing hundreds of notes in lecture halls, you can maintain this pen easily with the included wrench and silicone grease. The inner cap seal keeps the nib fresh with ink.

Pilot Vanishing Point

This is hands-down one of the most unique best luxury pens on the market. The Pilot Vanishing Point is one of the few fountain pens with a retractable nib making it a great choice for all your writing needs. The one-hand click-action mechanism makes for speedy note taking, and only Pilot can manufacture a sublime gold nib at such a reasonable price. The Pilot Vanishing Point pen is one of the best pens for taking notes if you have the budget.

Lamy 2000

Seen in the Museum of Modern Art, the Lamy 2000 fountain pen is revered for its design awards. The fiberglass and Makrolon barrel is built for performance that lasts, engineered for the serious notetaker or lifelong student. The large ink capacity makes it perfect for lengthy classes where you need to write a lot. If you are a kinesthetic learner and tend to retain information by writing, this best pen might be a useful investment.

The Best Rollerball Pens for Note-Taking

Retro 51 Tornado

Art majors, this one is for you. With whimsical styles and aesthetic colors, you’ll never get bored taking notes with this trend-setting rollerball pen. The stainless steel barrel and knurled twist top offer hours of writing and inspiration that flows. With so many artistic looks, the Retro 51 Tornado transports students beyond the classroom and into worlds of imaginative design.

Pilot Precise V5

The patented technology of the Pilot Precise V5 offers a seamless writing experience every time. This rollerball pen’s extra fine tip delivers smooth, skip-free notetaking for students who love precise lines. Choose from black, blue, red, green, purple, turquoise, or pink inks to add some pizzazz to your notebooks. Available in capped and retractable options.

Best Note-Taking Pens-Honorable Mentions

When it comes to note taking, it’s best to think outside the (pencil) box. Colored cool pens, felt tip markers and multi-function pens can take your notebook aesthetic to the next level! With some creative color coding, they also increase the likelihood that the information you’re recording sticks. Let’s go over some general tips and recommended products now.      


If you want to emphasize key points or add visual aids to your notes, add some markers to your school pack. You might use a blue color for main points, pink for definitions, and so forth. Most markers use water-based pigments that work well on paper, but we recommend using permanent markers for labels and long-term referencing. Tombow USA sells pretty dual brush pen markers with smooth fine tips.


With their felt or plastic fiber nib, fineliners are great for creating neat and organized notes. They work well for diagrams, headings, and underlining important information. Sakura of America makes good pens for notes that come in a range of tip sizes and colors. They make some of the most reliable permanent, fade-resistant ink on the market. The archival quality makes them a great choice for preserving key takeaways from class in your notebook.

Brush Pens

Perfect for writing stylish headings, brush pens are versatile in their ability to create both thin and thick lines. If you have pretty handwriting, these are good pens to give your notes more dimension. You can draw the letters in one color and then layer on other colors for added depth. Faber-Castell makes high-end brush pens with waterproof India ink. A studio box of 12 makes a great gift for notetakers with an artistic flair.

Multi-function Pens

Say you want to take notes, highlight text, and draw attention to specific sections without keeping up with 3 different writing tools. Enter multi-function pens. The InkJoy Quatro is a solid choice from Papermate, with 4 vivid shades in one pen. BIC Highlighters have super bright fluorescent ink and make great note taking markers, available in yellow, blue, green, pink, and orange.

Writing notes with one of our best pens for note taking

What Makes a Good Pen for Taking Good Notes?

A good pen has the power to make your note taking experience a total joy or a downright drag. The best pens for note-taking are consistent, comfortable, and offer you plenty of options. They should be consistent in ink flow without skipping or smudging. They should be comfortable enough to prevent hand fatigue during long classes, with rubberized grips and ergonomic shapes. They should also go beyond the standard blue or black ink. Different ink colors are ideal for headings, highlighting, and color coding. While more expensive pens often offer better performance, you can find price-friendly options that still provide a pleasant writing experience.

Your Favorite Type of Pen

Depending on your specific notetaking needs, it’s a good idea to experiment with different pens to see which types you like best. If you don’t mind a learning curve and purchasing refills, a fountain pen might be a perfect match. If you’re a meticulous writer with an eye for detail, you might prefer a ballpoint pen. If you can’t get enough color in your notebooks, consider gel pens your new best friends. Next, let’s dive into the different types of pens to point you in the right direction.

Fountain Pens

If you take pride in your handwriting and prefer a distinct, elegant look, the fountain pen is a trusty classroom companion. Fountain pens require occasional cleaning and are a bit more high-maintenance compared to other pens. They also may not be ideal for fast note taking. We recommend you use high-quality paper for best results. Since the liquid ink flows from a refillable reservoir, you can expect a consistent writing experience with varying line thicknesses depending on how much pressure you use.

Ballpoint Pens

Widely available at a good price point, ballpoint pen ink dries quickly on almost all types of paper. They are durable and don’t smudge easily, making them a good choice for the everyday notetaker. Ballpoints provide consistent line thickness but can lead to hand fatigue in long lectures. Consider alternating your ballpoint pen with other pen types we’ve discussed in this article.  

Rollerball Pens

A balance between fountain pens and ballpoint pens, rollerball ink is known to flow freely. While this leads to an uninterrupted line, it might not be ideal for left-handed notetakers due to the frequency of smudges. The water-based ink makes for less precise notes compared to ballpoints. Rollerballs are a great choice for students who want a smooth writing experience without the maintenance of a fountain pen.

Gel Pens

Gel pens get an A+ for versatility, suitable for notetaking, doodling, and annotating important information in vibrant colors. Gel ink pens dry quickly, reducing the risk of smudges during class. Some brands like the Pentel Energel come with refillable liquid gel. While they are prone to skipping if the ball tip gets clogged, gel pens offer a vivid writing experience in nearly every color imaginable.  


Ideal for underlining, drawing diagrams, and straight lines, fine-liners use water-based or pigment-based ink. They tend to last longer than other pens and don’t dry out quickly. While they aren’t the best choice for lengthy note taking, fine-liners are a great choice for adding detail and personality to your notebooks. With marker pens, the beauty is truly in the details.  

Brush Pens

Using brush pens comes with a learning curve, but it’s well worth it if you love calligraphy-style notes. The flexible tips and water-based pigment of brush pens allow for thin and thick lines. Great for creative headers, titles, and highlighting, brush pens are a fun way to add emphasis and aesthetic to your favorite subjects. They also make beautiful (and thoughtful) gifts for the back-to-school season.

All of our favorite pens laid out over notebooks

A Smooth Writing Experience

There is a short list of ingredients that go into a smooth writing experience. To buy the best pen, you want to consider the pen type, pen brand, and your own personal writing preferences. Rollerball pens and ballpoint pens use a small uni ball to dispense ink, while fountain pens use liquid ink from a reservoir. Established pen brands like Pilot Pens, Pentel Pens, and Uniball Pens as mentioned above have a reputation for smooth writing. What feels smooth to one person may not be for another, so trust your judgment when it comes to the best fountain pen under 300. The right pen for you is the one that feels comfortable in your hand and allows you to write smoothly without much effort.

A Comfortable Grip and Design

When you spend all day in a classroom, there’s nothing more important than the comfort of your dominant hand. Look for top pens with a barrel design and a comfortable grip that matches the natural shape of your fingers. Rubberized or textured grips are comfortable and provide a secure grip. A fine tip is best for small, neat pen notes, while a broader tip may be better for larger strokes. When possible, test out different pens before buying to see which types feel right in your hand.  

What’s Your Top Pen for Note Taking?

Even though we live in the digital age, handwritten notes aren’t going anywhere as it’s widely known that they improve conceptual understanding for students and writers. Taking notes by hand is associated with brain activation and memory, not to mention the appeal of aesthetic notebooks! Consider the type of paper you’ll use, the kind of lines you prefer, and your writing style. You may find that a combination of different types of pens works best, including the best pens for journaling. Whether you’re in class, in a coffee shop, or at your home desk, the best pens for note-taking should make studying fun.

We hope this article is helpful in finding the best pens for note taking!

What type of pen looks the most interesting to you?

About the Author

Madeleine is a copywriter and video script whiz for creative and inventive brands. As an empathy-based marketer, every website, landing page, blog, email, and video she writes showcases her clients at their best. Some say she's a mind-reader, but she's really just an expert listener with one goal in mind: to inspire readers (and viewers) to take action. A true logophile, she's the one who (unabashedly) keeps a hard copy thesaurus on her desk. When she's not on set or crafting copy, you can find her nose in a book sipping a matcha latte.

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