What Sizes do Ballpoint Pens Come In?

Ballpoint pens generally come under three main categories. Fine ballpoint pens have tips made to write a line that is 0.8 mm thick or less. Medium ballpoint pens have tips made to write a line that is between 0.9 and 1.2 mm thick. Lastly, broad ballpoint pens produce a line that is 1.3 mm or thicker.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing the tip size that is right for you. However, certain people like one over the other and each tip size has its own pros and cons.

Initially, it is worth noting that ballpoint pens usually come in fine and medium tips. Since the ballpoint pen ink is oil-based, it is rather viscous and thick. Therefore, unlike a rollerball that pools ink and drags it, the ballpoint pen creates a very uniform line. As a result, ballpoints themselves generally produce thicker lines than rollerballs, so fine and medium tips have become standard for everyday ballpoint usage.

Fine tips are great for small writing that needs to be precise, such as when you need to write up a check. Since the words are already so small, it is helpful to have a finer writing utensil so the writing can look as clean as possible. Fine tips are also great for details in drawings. Ballpoint pen art has risen recently with artists like Gabriel Vinícius blowing up on social media. While broader tip ballpoint pens can cover more surface, sometimes when drawing details like hair and eyes, a finer tip is necessary to make the drawing as realistic and detailed as possible. Lastly, fine tip ballpoint pens are better for writing symbols or characters. Particularly in Asian languages, there are many overlapping perpendicular and parallel lines. For example, in Chinese characters, known as hanzi, there are some rarer characters that have up to 57 strokes. Needless to say, a finer tip pen would be helpful to make all the strokes visible and crisp. This same concept applies to Japanese characters known as kanji, or Korean characters known as hanja.

Above: The portable and utility-driven Fisher Space Pen Bullet ballpoint Pen.

Medium tips are what will be the most suitable for when you need a pen that is adaptable to many different needs. That is why medium tip ballpoints are often seen in communal areas like schools and doctor’s offices. For alphabetic languages, medium tip ballpoints are often the preferred ballpoint tip because the characters are less complicated than those in languages written with symbols. Furthermore, if you have medium sized to large handwriting, medium tips may be a better bet than fine tips as fine tips create a line so thin that the writing may be less visible.

Most ballpoint pens come in fine and medium tip, but almost all have refills that can allow it to switch from one tip size to another. One of the bestselling ballpoints here at Goldspot is the well-known Fisher Space pen that uses a pressurized cartridge to push thixotropic visco-elastic ink through the ink reservoir and onto the tungsten tip. While most of the pens from this brand come with a medium tip, it can easily be bought with a fine tip refill, so if that is your preferred tip size, feel free to interchange it. Fisher Space pen ballpoint refills also come in a variety of fun colors such as purple, turquoise, and burgundy. They, of course, also have the necessary staples such as black, blue, and red, making them a perfect pen for both everyday use and more creative endeavors such as ballpoint art.

Retro 51 Tornado Ballpoints are also a great option that you can find here at Goldspot. With a variety of wraps and designs, you can find a pen for any occasion. The coolest thing about this pen though, is that it can take both a rollerball refill or a ballpoint refill depending on the type of ink you want. Since ballpoint ink is thicker, it produces a different line than the ink of a rollerball.

Another popular ballpoint pen that is very popular here at Goldspot is the Lamy 2000. This tried-and-true German brand’s ballpoint pen is known for its long history starting way back in 1966. Made with fiberglass and stainless steel, many people consider this ballpoint pen to be one of the most modern of all time. While the color options are more limited than the Fisher Space Pen, this pen actually comes in three point sizes: fine, medium, and (drumroll please)... broad.

Broad tip ballpoints are rarer because, as stated earlier, ballpoint tips are already broader than rollerball and fountain pen, so there is less of a need for a broad tip pen. However, there are still some stationery companies that cater toward this need. For example, Monteverde manufactures broad tip ballpoint refills in blue and in black compatible with Cross ballpoint pens. These are great for signatures because they allow for a bold and crisp line which can be necessary on documents. They can also be used for art where a lot of space is meant to be covered or if shadows are meant to be drawn since they produce a much thicker line than fine and medium tips. Broad tip ballpoints can also be great for ballpoint calligraphy, which some artists have been venturing into recently. Since calligraphy often uses bigger font sizes than traditional writing, a broad tip allows for a less time-consuming process.

Some companies even manufacture an extra-broad steel tip ballpoint refill such as Faber-Castell. This would most likely be used for art. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Monteverde’s soft roll ballpoint refill comes in extra-fine for those looking to crosshatch lightly with thin lines or write in extremely small font sizes.


At the end of the day, the ballpoint is the perfect everyday pen, and something great about them is that one ballpoint pen can have multiple tips as long as you buy ballpoint refills in the sizes that you want. For example, you can have just one Fisher Space pen but with three different sized refills, the world is your oyster. Good luck on your ballpoint journey and stay inky!