If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t heard much about bullet journals, or you might have arrived here from an exhausting list of other websites that poorly explained what it is. It’s actually pretty simple; it just seems complicated when someone tries to explain the minutiae in blow-by-blow detail.
As the name suggests, bullet journals generally use bullet points at the core of their functionality. You have a blank journal — no lines or predetermined settings on the pages — and you basically plot out the past, present and future with terse illustrations or scribbles that help you recall information later on. The highly personalized nature means that no two bullet journals will be the same, and some people use symbols while others incorporate sketches to record their notes. Some use them primarily for recording ideas. Others stick to short-term to-do lists and big plans, and others yet do a little bit of everything. The idea behind bullet journals is that they’re a forgiving medium to store all of your hectic little thoughts for later review.
The key is to keep it short and sweet with each entry. However, a surprising aspect of keeping such a document is the pen of choice. Up to this point, pens have probably been an afterthought for you, but if you’re keeping a bullet journal, you’ll find yourself exploring gel pens, rollerballs, ballpoints, felt-tips, technical pens and everything in between to find the one that best suits your writing and drawing preferences. In this technology-laden day and age, it’s easy to forget about the inconveniences of writing with a poor instrument, and this is why it’s important to find a pen with the right glide, thickness, density and overall feel for your unique note-taking requirements.
Here, we’re going to review 15 of the best bullet journal pens to boost you along in the right (write) direction.
Best Bullet Journal Pen in Category
Micron Sakura Pigma — Best Black Pen for Bullet Journal
We wanted to pick a dual-tip offering here, but to be honest, this fine-tip pen pack is so sweet on its own that it’s worthy of this Best in Category title.
Durable, long-lasting and beautiful, this black ink solution from Micron does exactly what Micron does best, and it’s why professionals trust these pens for their high-profile projects. Give this product a check if you need a swell fine-tipped solution for your bullet journal.
Tombow Dual Brush Pen — Best Colored Pens for Bullet Journal
This was a close call with the multicolored Sharpie set, but what ultimately won over Tombow’s offering was the inclusion of fine and brush tips on every pen.
There aren’t any real drawbacks to worry about, and the ink secures itself to the page in non-acidic, no-bleed fashion. These are bright, colorful and long-lasting solutions for your bullet journal.
Best Bullet Journal Pen Reviews
This lightfast inking instrument from Staedtler isn’t just for “lining pigments”. Its sole purpose is to be used as an all-in-one writing and quick sketching solution for art and ideation.
It’s check-safe, won’t wipe off credit card signature boxes, and it brings water- and UV-resistance in tow. You can also leave the cap off for up to 18 hours without ruining the tip or the ink inside, and the clip is just the cherry on top.
It has a long write-out length, meaning it doesn’t need pauses to re-wet the tip during extended use. It also doesn’t smudge or smear. And it comes in a pack of six with tip sizes ranging from 0.05mm up to 0.8mm.
Coming in its own case and everything, this is meant to be more a personal business pen that tells the world you’ve moved on from disposable writing instruments.
Of course, it’s also from Pilot, and they make some of the finest pens for bullet journals on the whole. The Retro model is designed to do everything and survive the years with a brass barrel and stainless steel fine-tipped nib. This also means that your writing will look very slender and graceful.
Like all MR pens from Pilot, this one comes with a squeeze converter, and you can easily swap out the ink cartridges as needed over time. Finally, the barrel itself comes in a snazzy variety of colors with a patterned midsection to bring a retro-esque look in pastel-hued style.
These days, pens — especially fountain pens — are usually associated with an artificial environment such as an office space.
Well, that all changes with the Dryden bamboo fountain pen, which of course is hand-crafted from pure bamboo along all but the grip and fountain nib. Even the pen cap itself is made from bamboo. Only the clip is metal, and it has to be if you want it to flex without breaking.
The instrument comes in its own bamboo case with the eponymous Dryden logo on it, but that’s just for good looks. How, you wonder, does it actually function? It’s not a terribly expensive pen on the whole, but you’re receiving an instrument that does what fountain pens do:
Also provided is a consistent ink flow for long writes, a matching gift case and a one-year warranty. Keep in mind that the bamboo build means the instrument is light, and some may not find this appealing because it throws off the gait of one’s hand except while performing rapid scribbles as with a signature.
Although this is quite the statement of style in its own right, this fountain pen is designed to function as nicely as it looks.
It incorporates something known as “ErgoComfort technology” that’s supposed to support your hand through hours of writing and prevent tiredness or cramping from setting in. And the nib allows for a very smooth glide over the page. The profile is as thin as you’d expect from a fountain pen, and it doesn’t blotch, bleed or stutter while writing.
This pack of black ink artistry pens isn’t Dryden-level quality, but it doesn’t need to be when the range of effects hits the sweet spot of your inner artist with boldness options to create thick, cloud-like drawings or thin, elegant writing.
They’re advertised as great for the mobile artist, and they should make a fine addition to your bullet journal if you’re keen on recording notes with imagery more so than words. To top it off, the dried result is water- and smudge-proof, and the ink itself is pH-neutral.
The only complaint that some users had was the learning curve to use these pens, which was cited as slightly unintuitive but not insurmountable with practice.
While a blister pack of six pens in a magenta package may not seem so convincing, this is one of the most satisfying pen packages that you’ll find on the market. Micron is a renown provider of quality writing instruments, and this product with no doubt do a great job of drawing as well.
These black ink pens come in multiple nib sizes that jump in 0.05mm bites from 0.20 up to 0.50mm. This allows you to draw thick, thin or anywhere in between for the finest touch to your artwork or your handwriting. It’s all up to you.
Micron’s products, including this pen set, are frequently used by professionals.
This is a package that doesn’t quite do full-blown calligraphy but tries to get close to it with a pen that otherwise functions like a standard fine-tip marker.
It’s all in how you use it, and the flexible elastomer tip is where all the possibilities lie. It’s a black ink offering from Tombow, and it’s a mighty fine two-pen set with hard and soft options in the package.
One of the really great details about these particular pens is their response to user input. Most pens are what they are; there’s no modifying how the ink is applied without swapping nibs or scribbling over an area to emulate effects that aren’t natural to the pen.
The one complaint that really sticks out is how quickly the pens run out of ink, particularly the soft-tipped one. Now, some people say that these aren’t great for calligraphy, to begin with and that the benefit of the nib is therefore nullified. But other reviews show that this is subjective.
This is fine and dandy, but for those who exercised the calligraphy aspect of these Fudenosuke pens, the longevity was rock-bottom within a few days. It’s an expected side effect of a brush-like writing instrument even if we can admit that it is a little short.
How does a 10-pack of multicolored pens sound to you? If you’re looking to bring a little more color to an otherwise drab bullet journal, this offering might just be the answer.
Although it does fall a little more on the costly side, that’s the price of quality, and there’s plenty of that in this set of nine bright colors with a blender pen for grading the colors together. They all use fine and brush tips in a single package for a mix of elegant application and consistent, thin-profile writing.
We have no answer for that last part, but by this point in human history, we imagine that some Einstein must have figured out how to correct this old problem. Unfortunately, it seems that we as a society haven’t yet embraced the left-handed artist in all of us since these pens are cited as not working so hotly when a lefty attempts calligraphy with them. The cited reason comes down to a lefty’s tendency to push on upstrokes instead of pulling, which results in frayed ends.
If you’re looking for a multicolor solution that keeps it fine and consistent, the Triplus should do the trick.
In this pack of 20 colors, you’re getting 0.3mm pens with acid-free ink. It’s a simple pack with a simple product, and there’s little more to say.
It’s worth noting that the colors show up bright and vivid on paper, and this is a great set of affordable inking instruments for just about any purpose. However, your bullet journal will surely love these. This one gets a quick and easy recommendation.
The wonderful thing about roller-ball pens is how they glide over the page as you write or form images. And with this multipack of brightly colored pens, you’ll find yourself doing plenty of both.
The ergonomic triangular barrel, which is standard with Triplus products, should make the hold and grip easier while you fill your bullet journal with thoughts and plans for the future in color-coded fashion. The nib is pressure-stable, meaning that you won’t accidentally recess the ball into the socket with continued use. You can also leave the cap off for days at a time without fear of drying out the ink.
A consistent issue that users have with Staedtler’s Triplus set is the scratchiness and general lack of consistency with the ink trail. This isn’t unusual for typical office pens anyhow, but knowing that these are just that is understandably a detractor despite the low price.
Micron is a well-known company that produces professional-level inking instruments at an affordable asking price. This certainly isn’t the most affordable set out there, but for what you get, this 16-pen package is a steal.
Micron delivers a set of four assorted colors that are designed to survive archival, meaning that the ink is acid-free and should be used on paper that matches this quality. However, it also means that whatever you scribble down with these should last a lifetime and then some.
These are chemically stable, resist fading and aren’t fazed by water. There shouldn’t be any issues with smearing, smudging or bleeding with these pens. Basically, they handle everything like a champ and lend no reason to not like them.
Normally, we associate Sharpies with crusty offices that have a few drying pens laying around with ornery workers who’ve had one too many cups of coffee. Well, that stodgy and gray imagery is fast replaced with the Sharpie art set, which comes in fine-tipped style with a variety of colors to boot.
There are 12 in a pack, and unlike some Sharpies you’ve used, these don’t bleed through the paper. In fact, they dry quickly and are resistant to just about everything you throw at the page.
For the most part, these are flawless pens, but it’s worth noting that you may run out of ink rather quickly. Of course, at the asking price, this seems hardly an issue worth fussing about.
Any time you see the term “fineliner“, you know that you’re about to get some seriously detailed artwork packed into your bullet journal.
These fine-tipped pens from Tanmit are incredibly affordable, coming with a whopping 48 pens to a pack at less than the cost of a single Dryden fountain pen.
That’s a good deal if you ask us. These are designed to be used for literally anything: planning, grocery lists, sketches, you name it. They all ship in 0.38 mm fineness, and you can expect the usual arrangement of resistances to smudging, water-smearing, and fading.
The one complaint to look out for is the inaccuracy of the colors when compared to the labels on the markers themselves. The actual result might be a little bit darker than what you expected.
This huge set of 100 Soucolor dual-tipped pens is perhaps one of the best deals that we’ve reviewed on here.
Not only is this a very affordable deal, but each pen has both a fine and brush tip. This makes them great for drawing, writing, calligraphy — you name it. They’re safe, dry quickly, don’t smudge and should maintain consistency over the years ahead. To top it all off, they come tucked neatly in a carrying case.
Of course, at such a great value, there will be some issues. For one, each marker does indeed introduce a little bleed. You might also find that you’re getting a random hodgepodge of colors that don’t seem to have any certain parity or theming among each other, and you might not get the same colors with every purchase of this product.
Gel pens just wouldn’t be gel pens if they didn’t come in a million different colors, and this 60-pack set does just that.
Geared more for kids but still suitable for adults, you’re getting fine-tipped inking that glides over the page and provides a thick, opaque coat of colorful goodness. You also have neon and multicolored options included, allowing for some really funky combinations to brighten up your bullet journal and make you look forward to the tasks on your to-do list.
There’s hardly a negative word to say about these pens other than the lack of ink consistency, which sometimes betrays the feeling that you’re running out of ink when you’re really not.
Best Bullet Journal Pen Buyer’s Guide
Why Does the Chosen Pen Matter for Bullet Journaling?
Bullet journals are basically journaled books with blank pages. You draw the depictions of calendars or form lists and illustrations with the blank space to create your own personalized form of note-taking that speaks to you.
In this way, it’s important to find a pen that not only feels good while you’re doing this but also communicates the notes clearly and in a way that resonates with you personally.
Color, glide, density, and style are all important to a successful bullet journal, which in turn can be more successful than keeping ordinary journals.
Does the Type of Pen Actually Matter?
It does. For example, you may prefer a very thin-profiled ink trail to conserve space on your pages, in which case you should opt for fine-tipped pens. Let’s say that you also prefer a smooth, quick glide over the page while writing. So you’ll want your fine-tipped pen to be a roller-ball type (not to be confused with ballpoint).
Perhaps you want to alternate it with a thicker pen, however; you might go for gel pens for a more viscous application with a solid ink signature. You could always just stick with pencils, too, but bullet journals are usually celebrated with fancier inking instruments than your traditional, stodgy office pen or graphite tracing stick.
Are there general rules for keeping an effective bullet journal?
Believe it or not, there are. Consider the following:
- Use different types of bullet points to add context to your notes, ideas and to-do reminders
- Don’t strike through finished items on a to-do list; simply X out the bullet
- Keep the notes short and sweet
- Create a symbol system with a key; this allows you to communicate complex ideas quickly
- Form short-, medium- and long-term goal pages
- Swap pens when working with different forms of note-taking so certain details are effectively conveyed
It’s rather ironic that in a day and age where pen and paper are phasing out in favor of computers and smartphones, one person just had to come up with a concept that seems totally commonsense and contradictory to the changing times.
Bullet journals have existed in smaller forms over the decades, but they never gained mainstream appeal, especially to any degree that they would affect the market and deserve their own special term. Perhaps the concept wasn’t as profound in a time when people were used to taking their notes that way, and it’s just now leaving an impression because it’s different from the new norms. What we know is, it works wonders, and scientists have proven that the raw level of interaction that’s brought on by hand-writing notes is more likely to encourage memorization.
Going forward, the discussion of where paper-and-pen technology will go is, well, not difficult to figure out. If you own a Wacom tablet or smartphone (specifically the Galaxy Note series), you can utilize a stylus to electronically write and draw your notes in digital format.
Before jumping on a purist bandwagon to say that this must be detrimental somehow, let’s keep in mind that this does abide by most of the rules of handwriting-based memorization:That texture creates an additional stimulus that helps ingrain the notes better, but hey, not everyone cares enough to forgo the sheer convenience of doing it all right on their handset.
However, with the advent of wrist-wearable bracelets that project functional keyboards onto tabletop surfaces, it’s possible that this will carry into stylus-based journal-keeping in the near future. This means that you could turn the floor, wall or ceiling into a whiteboard of sorts to record information on a life-size scale. For now, this hasn’t yet become a mainstream reality, but it’s in the works as you read this. See, technology isn’t so bad after all.