Taking Better Notes - Analog Tools for Success

Although we may be reluctant to acknowledge it, Summer is coming to a close and many of us are going back to our studies or the office after a vacation. If you love stationery and office supplies as much as we do, the silver lining to all of this is "back to school" shopping. However, for fountain pen enthusiasts, the local office supply store doesn't provide the selection or expertise to outfit your writing needs.

We pulled together suggestions from pen users that are part of the /r/fountainpens subreddit community to bring you an A+ list of pens, inks, paper and accessories that are must-haves for your everyday carry.

Ideal Instruments

Most pen enthusiasts that responded to the survey question were students who often had more than one pen. The purpose is to adapt to the needs of the situation. Some use pens with different nib sizes for making note headers, highlighting, and calling out important concepts. Keeping a couple of Preppies on hand is an excellent idea in case someone is interested in trying a fountain pen.

Lamy Safari Petrol Blue Collection

Lamy Safari

Ergonomically designed, hard-wearing and inexpensive, the Safari is a go-to for many students and professionals. The array of available fountain pen nib sizes (EF, F, M, B and calligraphy styles) adapt to your note-taking preferences.


Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens

Platinum Preppy

If you're an avid fountain pen user, you know that uncomfortable feeling when someone asks to borrow your prized pen. Hand them a Platinum Preppy to try and they'll get hooked. The pens are inexpensive enough that you won't mind if someone walks away with one or accidentally breaks the nib. You can also convert them into eyedropper filling pens to expand the ink capacity and provide simple entertainment of ink sloshing around.



Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pens

Pilot Vanishing Point

Convenient and fidget-worthy, the click-action of the Pilot Vanishing Point is a fountain pen that is "quick on the draw." The high-quality 18kt gold nib provides a next-level writing experience. If you'd like to learn more about the world's most renown retractable fountain pen, check out our Guide to the Pilot Vanishing Point.


Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop Fountain Pens

Pilot Metropolitan

Another favorite from Pilot (Japan) is the #1 pick for affordable starter fountain pens - the Metropolitan. Don't let the low price point fool you, these pens are built for long-term use. They are fitted with stainless steel nibs in fine, medium or 1.0mm stub nib sizes. Manufactured in Japan, the nibs tend to run thinner than their European counterparts. A Pilot fine point, for example, produces a thin line similar to a European extra-fine point. Students prefer using a thinner nib that have better results on cheaper paper that is provided by the school on exam booklets and worksheets.



note taking strategies

Everyone learns differently. Try adopting one of these tried-and-true approaches to taking more effective notes and see if it improves your ability to digest new information. Click links below to explore each method.

Inspired Inks

Sometimes, you can't control the paper quality or when the situation calls for a conservative blue or black ink. Keep a pen filled with one of the following inks to be prepared for when the exam booklets get passed around or you are asked to sign an important document.
Noodler's X-Feather Black Ink
Noodler's Ink X-Feather is a top suggestion amongst all the students in our survey. The ink performs exactly as advertised. It resists feathering on a wide assortment of papers, including ones that are highly absorbent and contain recycled material. Get it in a 3oz (~90mL) ink bottle or in a 4.5oz eyedropper ink bottle with a complimentary pen.
Rohrer and Klingner Salix Fountain Pen Ink
Rohrer & Klingner Salix's iron gall formula ink is a dusty blue-black that is water resistant and quick-drying. It also resists feathering & bleed-through on cheaper papers. As with any iron gall ink, you would want to make sure to keep up with maintenance on your pen and ensure it is not sitting in the pen for longer than 3-4 weeks.
Platinum Carbon Black Ink
Perfect for illustrations, sketching and visual note-taking, Platinum Carbon Black is an artist's favorite for its waterproof quality. You could write with this ink, then highlight important parts without smearing or smudging.
Sailor Ink Kiwa Guro Pigmented Black Ink
Sailor's Kiwa Guro pigmented ink has a rich, dark black color and is waterproof when it dries on paper. This ink also resists bleed-through and feathering on cheaper papers. Bring on the exam booklets! Just be sure to clean your pens out regularly, which you should be doing with all your pens.
tip - print out your own notebook using 3 ring binder, hole puncher and a printer.
If you're the type that feels right at home with a 3 ring binder to organize all your notes, then take this fountain pen friendly tip - You can make your binder fountain pen friendly by using HP 32lb laser paper and a hole puncher.

1. Download or create your own dotted, grid, lined or other templates
2. Print them on HP 32lb laser paper
3. Use a hole puncher to make them fit in your binder.
4. Write and enjoy!

Proper Paper

Utilizing the correct paper can make all the difference in the writing experience. To use a wide variety of inks and nib sizes, you need paper that can handle it! Check out these notebooks for fountain pens and papers to bring with you to class or your next meeting.
Rhodia Bloc Pads for writing in school

Rhodia Pads

Rhodia's French milled paper is some of the best quality your pen's nib will ever touch, making it a perfect match for a nice pen for journaling. The perforated pads of paper are available in grid, blank, lined, or dot grid styles. The pad sizes range from the small and portable to a full-length pad that can be used for letter writing. We like using the smaller pads around the office in place of sticky notes.


Leuchtturm 1917 journals rainbow color covers

Leuchtturm 1917

Well known for their use in Bullet Journaling, these hardcover notebooks have a dotted format, numbered pages, an index, ribbon bookmark, and a storage pocket. The paper is 


Nock Co Sinclair Notebook and Pen Case

Putting it all together

Nock Co cases are built to carry all of your everyday writing utensils and more. Built from sturdy materials and 100% made in the USA, you can protect your favorite pens stylishly and affordably. The model shown above is the Sinclair, which has room for a pocket-sized notebook and 3 pens. To carry more pens, check out the Brasstown pen roll that holds 6 pens.

Did you see a number of items in your own everyday carry on this list? If so, please comment below and let us know how they work for you. Let others know how your own particular note-taking system works and how writing with pens & ink fits into the workflow.
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