The first step of any project is to gather the necessary supplies. The same is true when you start a journal or a Bullet Journal. You’ve got to have a dedicated notebook and pen ready, or your journaling dreams are toast. Now as I’ve said before, there’s no wrong way to choose your notebook and pen. The only thing that matters is your mindset about keeping a journal.  But I’m of the firm opinion that starting off with high quality ( and pretty!) supplies keeps you more motivated over the long term.

So, in an attempt to make your life easier, I’ve done the work for you! I’ve been journaling every single day for over 2 years and I’ve field tested dozens of different notebooks and pens. ( To see my top picks for notebooks, click here! ) in the selection below I’ve picked the not only the highest quality but the most affordable pens on the market now. So scroll down and get started on building your ideal journal kit with any one of these 8 sure to please pens!

*This post contains affiliate links. To see my full disclosures, click here.

The Regular Joes

These pens are easy to find and inexpensive. They are the practical, no-frills old faithful of the pen world. I’m of course talking about Gel Pens. Gel Pens are known for their oh so smooth glide of ink. This is because Gel Pens contain ink suspended in a water-based gel.  This ensures that silky smooth ink flow they’re famous for.

But not all Gel Pens are created equal. I field tested several different gel pens and these two are the best bang for your buck.

Papermate Ink  Joy


The Ink Joy Gel Pens are well named as they truly are a joy to write with. They come in a wide variety of colors, but if you’re a minimalist list taker it’s exciting to note that the black version is extra dark and extra fine. These pens provide an extra smooth writing experience with no interruptions in ink flow. They also dry very quickly. As long as you wait about 3 seconds before touching the ink you should be safe from smearing.

Pentel EnerGel


The Pentel EnerGel is a lesser-known Gel Pen then say a Pilot G2 – but it provides a far superior writing experience! The Energel requires very little pressure for a super smooth ink flow experience, so don’t press down too hard! The ink dries quickly but you might want to give it a little more than 3 seconds to dry to ensure zero smudging. Overall a very affordable buy that won’t disappoint!

The Executives

Fountain Pens are the high society elites of the pen world. If they had hands they would only hold dry martinis and money for charity. Many people shy away from fountain pens as too expensive or too likely to leave ink stains on your fingers. But I’m here to tell you that when you find the right fountain pen, you’ve found a friend for life. Fountain pens provide a sublime buttery smooth writing experience that will make you want to put pen to paper more often.

The Fountain Pens I’ve chosen combine both high quality with affordability so you can feel good about going fancy!

Pilot Metropolitan


The Pilot Metropolitan is a wonderful beginners fountain pen. They are inexpensive, easy to refill and come in a variety of colors and styles. I love my Pilot Met so much, I carry it with me everywhere! These pens tend to run on the small side with high-quality metal bodies. The ink dries very quickly and I’ve almost never had a smudging issue. You can also fill these with custom inks and colors by using the adapter tool they provide with the pen. This means you don’t have to buy multiple pens to use multiple colors!

I have experienced the occasional leak when using my Pilot Met, so that’s something to look out for. But overall for the price, this is a great option for beginners! And look at all those pretty designs!

Lamy All-Star


Lamy is a high-quality no-nonsense kind of fountain pen. They have a wide body with a viewing window along the side so you can see the level of your ink. The cartridges are easy to replace even if you’ve never done so before. They also come in a small selection of colors.

One thing I’ve found about Lamy pens is that they write thicker than other pens I’ve used. The fine nib feels more like the medium nib of some other pens. I actually like this about the Lamy, because I know when I use it I’ll always get a solid flow of ink that’s super easy to read.

A Lamy is more expensive then a Pilot Met, but you can still find them under $35 on Amazon and other journaling shops.

The Calligraphers

Flexible Felt tip pens are my personal favorites. When I first began practicing hand lettering I was very intimidated by the idea of getting supplies. A calligraphy pen sounded like an extravagant indulgence. I was shocked to discover how affordable and easy to use they can be!

Here are my top pics for felt tip pens that make hand lettering super easy!

Tombow Fudenosuke


The Tombow Fudenosuke is my favorite pen of all time. This little-known gem has upped my handwriting game 100% since I started using it. The Fudensuke comes in two types of flexible felt tips: a hard tip and a soft tip. Both are flexible, but the soft tip is more so. They also have a dual brush version which sports a hard tip on one end and a soft tip on the other. On the dual brush, one side is grey and one side is black. This makes putting shadows on your lettering super easy and creates a cool 3D effect.

If you like writing headers or quotes in your journal – this is the pen for you. These pens are so easy to use, they make fancy lettering a piece of cake! AND, you can get a pack of 3 for under $10!

Pentel Fude Sign Touch

I only recently started using the Pentel SignTouch and I’m in love! The Sign Touch is a flexible felt tip pen that is durable and easy to use. Bonus: The Sign Touch comes in multiple colors, which makes fancy lettering way more fun! They also come in 3 sizes: Medium, Fine, or Extra Fine. The ink dries very quickly – I’ve never had a smudge in the 6 months I’ve used them! Great buy if you’re looking to up your lettering game!

 

The Artists

If you need more color in your life look no further! These pens are the cream of the crop of affordable fine markers.

Tombow Twin Tones


Tombow makes some of the highest quality art supplies around and the Twin Tones do not disappoint! As long as you’re not too rough with them, these pens will last forever.

Twin Tones are dual-tipped markers. One side sports a broad bullet tip of 0.8mm and the other side an extra fine tip of 0.3mm.  Even in the pastel pack, the colors are bold and vibrant. These are perfect for color coding, drawing, and decorating notebooks, planners or journals.

Staedtler Triplus Fineliners

I’ve been using Staedtler Triplus Fineliners for over 2 years. I bought one big pack of 30, and I’ve never had to buy another! The ink has never run out and they still work as beautifully as they did the first day I bought them! Fineliners have super fine 0.3mm tips that are perfect for detail work. They come in over 30 super vibrant colors. They also almost never bleed thru. Though the ink dries quickly, you do need to give it at least five seconds before you start touching it or you will get smudges.

What’s Your Favorite Pen?

I hope you’ll give these options a try and let me know how it goes! Let me know your personal favorites in the comments!

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Christy Tschopp Reply

    I have a few of the pens you have mentioned and love them all. I also use Faber-Csstell Pitt Brush pens. To me, they don’t seem to be quite as stiff as the Tombow brush pens. I also love my micron fine line pen. Great for drawing in my bullet journal and for writing.

  2. I love my Ink Joy pens. I’m in Germany and haven’t seen them anywhere here yet, but I go to France every few months and they’re available in the big grocery shops there, I usually get one of the large mix packs (I buy the ones with the caps, as they seem cheaper and sell in bigger packs with more colors)
    I have some of the Staedtler pens and like them, but I prefer the Stabilo fineliners and felt tip pens (STABILO Pen 68). They come in different packs, and I love love love their new pastel collection. They match the pastel markers!

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