The best gel pen

Writing Supplies

Gel pens are a great way to take your bullet journal to the next level, as the smooth ink works great to create distinct line drawings and fonts.

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Which gel pen is best? 

Gel pens are a staple in schools and offices thanks to their bold colors and smooth writing style. They are great for making corrections or taking long-form notes. Compared with other types of pens, gel pens excel in their comfortability and practicality. 

Gel pens use water-based ink with a thicker consistency, giving gel pens their signature bold flare. Gel pen ink also comes in a wider variety of colors, perfect for artists and bullet-journalers. 

The top pick, the Moma Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen 0.5mm, is a pen from a trusted stationery brand that will keep you writing comfortably for hours. 

What to know before you buy a gel pen 

Are gel pens better than other ink pens? 

When it comes to different types of pens, everyone that spends a lot of time writing will have their preference. The most common ink pens on the market are standard rollerball and ballpoint pens, which use fast-drying ink. Ballpoint pens use oil-based ink that is fast drying but prone to clumping, and rollerball pens use water-based ink that flows more freely. 

On the other hand, gel pens are almost a cross between the standard ballpoint and rollerball pen in design. The main area of differentiation is in the ink since gel pens use a gel-ink that is less likely to smudge or feather. 

If you are interested in comparing different ink pens, check out the complete BestReviews ink pen buying guide. 

What makes gel-ink different from regular ink? 

Gel ink is fast-drying ink that takes positive attributes from both water-based ink and oil-based ink. In a sense, gel-ink gives you the best of both worlds. Gel ink is bold like water-based ink and crisp like oil-based ink. Gel ink is also water-resistant once dried. 

Of course, as with anything, gel-ink does have its downsides. While gel-ink is fast-drying, it dries nowhere near as fast as oil-based ink. When writing with gel-ink, expect some mild feathering while writing. Bear in mind that feathering and smudging depend just as much on the paper quality that you are using as it does the pen. 

Are gel pens good to use for drawing or coloring? 

Thanks to the vast array of pigments available in gel-ink, gel pens have a virtually never-ending lineup of colors. Since gel ink also comes out bolder on paper, these pens are perfect for artwork. When using cells to draw or paint, consider opting for a larger size to give your work that vivid gel finish. 

What to look for in a quality gel pen

Size 

Gel pens come in various sizes, all of which are marked in millimeters. You should choose your pen’s point size based on where you will be using it. 

If you write small or often in languages such as Japanese or Mandarin Chinese, opting for a smaller point size is best as you will be able to register as small as you want. 0.5mm and under are great for these applications. 

If you prefer bold, thick strokes in your notes, then opt for a larger point size. Around 1.0mm is excellent for delivering writing that stands out. 

Color options 

If you love bullet-journaling, doodling, or creating artwork, you should find a pen that comes in lots of color options like Tadkin gel pens

Tadkin gel pens

Gel pens made for use in schools and offices, like the Pilot Juice Up, usually will come in just the ever-classic blue, black and red colors. 

Smoothness 

Gel pens are renowned for their smooth writing experience, but all gel pens are not created equally. One thing to consider here is concerning the point size of the pen. With smaller point sizes, you will run the risk of a scratchy or forced writing experience. 

How much you can expect to spend on gel pens 

Gel pens start at around $12 and range up to $30 depending on brand and package quantity.

Gel pen FAQ

How do I reduce feathering and smudging while writing? 

A. The best thing to do to reduce feathering while writing is to change paper. The glossier paper will lead to a lot of smudges. If this isn’t an option, try writing with the side of your hand slightly elevated instead of directly on the paper. 

How do I check the ink in my gel pen? 

A. Checking the ink in your pen is as easy as looking at the cartridge. Some gel pens will even have a cartridge window so that you can gauge your ink level without opening the pen. 

What’s the best gel pen to buy?

Top gel pen 

Moma Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen 0.5mm 

Moma Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen 0.5mm 

What you need to know: These pens from the famous Japanese brand Muji live up to the brand’s commitment to simple design and quality function. 

What you’ll love: Despite the small point size, these pens write effortlessly smoothly. The ink is fast-drying, so no need to worry about having a dirty hand or smudged page. 

What you should consider: It can be a bit expensive since these pens are a Japanese import. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top gel pen for the money

Pilot Juice Up 0.4 Retractable Gel Ink Pen

Pilot Juice Up 0.4 Retractable Gel Ink Pen 

What you need to know: These gel pens from Pilot are sure to juice up your writing. They are an excellent option for students. 

What you’ll love: Even with the small point size, these pens offer a smooth and precise writing experience. The pens have a stylish metal body. 

What you should consider: There is no way to check the ink level in the pen without taking the ink cartridge out. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out

Sharpie S-Gel Bold Point 1.0mm

Sharpie S-Gel Bold Point 1.0mm

What you need to know: These fan-favorite gel pens come from Sharpie, a trusted brand in stationery. They are great for use in the office. 

What you’ll love: The 1.0mm point size of these pens produce truly bold and beautiful writing. Since the point size is larger, the writing experience is ultra-smooth and comfortable. 

What you should consider: Because these pens are bolder, ink may bleed through to the other side of the page. Proceed with caution if you use notebooks. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Addison Hoggard writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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