Finding your perfect pen - PEN TEST BLOG

As a planner junkie... you might find yourself nerding out in the pen aisle of your local art store or office depot...I want you to know, you're not alone ;) If you are anything like me, the way a pen's ink flows onto your page can make or break your planning experience (Yes, I admit it... no shame!) If you also find yourself with a pen obsession, but at a loss as to which pen to choose or overwhelmed by choices, this blog is for you. I have pulled together 18 common pens and tested them for stroke and bleed-through. As with anything, please note that this is a very personal preference, and some bleedthrough will depend on what pressure you use when you write, for reference, I tend to be medium/light-handed.

Each pen will include my personal review, link, manufacturer description, images of the tip as well as an example of how it writes on our 70# planner pages. So without further ado, here is the lineup! 



1. Pilot G-2 .38

The G-2 gel-pens are the only retractable pens in our series and the .38 has a very fine tip and not much ink released, which is great for not smudging, but I personally like a thicker line. It feels great in my hand and is very comfortable to write with. No noticeable bleedthrough.

From the Manufacturer: The G-2 pens are great gel ink pens that are retractable and are filled with Dynamic Gel Ink Formula. The ink is water-resistant, smear-proof, acid-free, and archival safe. The pen features a nice contoured grip to keep you comfortable for all those long writing hours. Refills available.


2. Pilot G-2 05

The mechanics of this pen are the same as #1, with the main difference being the tip is larger, which allows for a slightly thicker line (which I love) - the extra ink, also creates a smoother writing experience (not so scratchy) This pen is one of my favorites! No noticeable bleedthrough. 

3. Pilot G-2 07

 Again, this is a variation of # 1 & 2. This pen lets out the most ink out of the 3, which I love, but can also lead to smearing if not allowed to dry long enough. There is VERY slight (barely noticeable) bleedthrough. 


4. Uni-ball Impact Signo 207

This pen is so juicy! Another version of a gel pen, the Uni-ball lets out quite a lot of ink, so be sure to let it dry well as it can smear. I love the way this pen feels in my hand, but the ultra-smooth  lines it created were a bit to thick for my preference for small everyday writing. There was very faint bleedthrough. 

From the Manufacturer: Create crisp, clear strokes with uni-ball 207 Impact Gel Pens. These gel pens feature acid-free ink that offers three-way protection against water, fading, and fraud. The pens also boast sleek metallic accents and a comfortable padded grip.


5. Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica 06

This is a great pen! Comfortable to hold with a rubber grip, near-perfect line and smooth flow and no noticeable bleedthrough - I will be using this pen a lot! 

From the Manufacturer: Archival Roller system with smooth, pigmented ink delivered through the long-lasting ball delivery system. Acid-free, archival-safe ink is ideal for sketching, drawing, manga art and so much more. The Tungsten Carbide Roller tip guarantees a consistent line from the first to last Drop of ink. Pigmented ink is light-fast, bleed-proof, water-resistant and fade-resistant.


6. Sharpie Finepoint

The sharpie has a felt tip, which is great for no smudging at all. I LOVE this pen for drawing and writing, it's not as fancy as some of the other pens and has a super minimal design (no rubber grips & a smaller straight barrel) but what this pen lacks in comfort, it gains in the quality of its lines. This is another go-to for me. No bleedthrough.

From the Manufacturer: The new Sharpie Pen makes a bold, vivid mark like only a Sharpie can, but won't bleed through paper. A unique extruded plastic tip assures durability and line-width consistency, while the fine point delivers crisp lines and precise writing.

Quick-drying, permanent, acid-free ink is smear-resistant, water-resistant, and fade-resistant.


7. Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine Rolling Ball

Another Gel pen in our lineup, this one is great for everyday use although it has been my experience in the past that the pilot pens do like to leak on occasion, so be aware! Overall, the flow of this pen is comparable to the G-2 05, but I prefer the retractable style and rubber grip over this style. There was no very minimal ghosting on the other side of the page - barely enough to call it bleedthrough. 

From the Manufacturer: There is a fine line between good and great and that line is drawn with Pilot Precise. Precise rolling ball pens are designed to deliver a premium, precision writing experience. Precise combines Pilot's exceptionally smooth writing ink, premium metal accents, and iconic look for a truly sophisticated writing experience. Precise is ideal for those who truly enjoy superior writing performance.

  • Precision tip delivers a precise, clean line every time
  • Unique liquid ink formula maintains consistent flowing strokes
  • Incredibly smooth, skip-free writing
  • Visible ink supply lets you see how much ink is left


8. Le Pen Marvy

I wanted to love this sleek, sexy little skinny pen so much, and I will say, the writing was very similar to that of the Sharpie, but at the end of the day, the barrel was just too skinny for my personal preference and it just didn't feel as nice to write with, it was lightweight and looks as cute as a button though and can this pen comes in lots of color options-so it would be great for color-coding! No bleedthrough. 

From the Manufacturer: Uchida LePen Micro Fine Plastic Point Pens - The LePen delivers smooth writing with micro-fine plastic point and a sleek barrel design. Ink is acid-free, smudge-proof and nontoxic.



9. Gelly Roll 06 Sakura

This is another pen that comes in MANY different color options (great for color-coding) including silver and gold. I have not found the Gelly Roll pens to be the most reliable, but when they are working, they write beautifully with a nice juicy thick (but not too thick) line––Be careful of smearing though, they can take a second to dry! There was very minimal bleedthrough. 

From the Manufacturer: The ink in Gelly Roll® Classic pens is archival, waterproof, fade-resistant, and chemical proof, making it ideal for legal documents, scrapbooks, and any written document where permanence is important.


10. Staedtler Permanent Lumocolor F

If you like a thick line, this is the pen for you, however this pen was by far the worst offender on bleedthrough (the only one you can visibly see in the bleedthrough picture below) I would not use this pen for everyday use, but it would be a beautiful pen for signing cards and it claims it is smear free!

From the Manufacturer: 

  • Universal pen for use on almost all surfaces
  • Excellent smudge-proof and waterproof qualities on almost all surfaces
  • Dries in seconds, therefore ideal for left-handed users
  • DRY SAFE – can be left uncapped for days without drying up (Test ISO 554)
  • Line width fine approx. 0.6 mm, Refillable


11. Papermate Liquid Flair XFIne

The Papermate was great, another perfect every day go-to. It was a bit on the fine side fore my preference, but if you LOVE a sharp, crisp line, this would be a great pen for you! No bleedthrough. 

From the Manufacturer: 

  • Ink is quick-drying and won’t bleed through the page – so your writing and doodling will always be mess-free
  • Brighten up any page with 8 vivid colors
  • Translucent window lets you see how much ink is left, so you're never caught empty-handed
  • Smear-resistant ink keeps work neat


12. Tombow Fudenosuke

I LOVE all things Tombow, this pen is brilliant, I literally have no idea how to pronounce it ;). It is a brush tip, so it gives more of a calligraphy style look, which might not be ideal for everyday writing in your planner, but I love using this one to write out events like birthdays, special events, etc that I want to have a little flair. Slight ghosting on the other side, but not bad. 

Fudenosuke Soft Tip Brush Pen features a flexible brush tip for different lettering and drawing techniques. Create extra-fine, fine or medium strokes by a change in brush pressure. Great for calligraphy and art drawings. Soft tip – water-based, pigmented black ink. Odorless. Non-refillable.

  • Soft Brush Tip
  • Great for calligraphy and art drawings
  • Water-based, pigmented black ink
  • Fine line
  • Odorless


13. Micron Pigma

I have used Micron pens for years, since college and I do love them, they are great for sharp lines and precision. I initially started using them for drawing, but they really are a great all-around pen. Due to the felt tip, they do take some extra care, and they are not as "juicy" of a line, but that means they will not smear and they stay put once the ink is down. The 005 is really much to fine for daily use, (great for fine detail drawings!) I would opt for the 03 or 05 if I was looking for a daily use pen in this set. VERY minimal ghosting on the opposite side.

From the Manufacturer: This permanent, fade resistant, chemically stable, pigment-based ink will not bleed or run if liquids are spilled on or applied to the document after the ink has dried.

  • Archival quality Pigma® ink on paper
  • Waterproof
  • Fade and chemical resistant
  • Seven point sizes
  • Will not smear or feather when dry
  • Does not bleed through most papers
  • Meets ACMI non-toxicity standards

13. Micron Pigma 005

14. Micron Pigma 01


15. Micron Pigma 02


16. Micron Pigma 03


17. Micron Pigma 05


18 Micron Pigma 008

Here is the opposite side of the page, as you can see, the Staedtler Permanent Lumocolor F was the only pen with significant bleedthrough.  

I hope this was helpful to all you pen-lovers out there! Drop a line below and let us know what your favorite pen is!! 

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