Pencil-like pen, please?
November 5, 2009 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Are there any pens that write like a pencil?

I have a weird problem. It is much easier for me to write neatly with a mechanical pencil than a pen. It's odd, because my printing is very neat in pencil, but I have difficulty not ending up with chicken scratch using a pen. I'm in grad school and have to take a lot of notes by hand, which I do with pencil. The notes tend to smudge when they rub against the other pages in my notebook. I could switch to harder or finer lead, but 0.7 HB is optimal for the way I like to write, plus I'd rather have my notes in ink. Are there any pens out there that have a writing feel more like that of a pencil *and* don't bleed through (so I can use paper front and back)? Erasable is a plus, but certainly not a deal-breaker.
posted by ishotjr to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Once I discovered this pen, I haven't written with anything else. In fifteen years.
posted by jefficator at 8:12 AM on November 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


You want one of these
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:13 AM on November 5, 2009


Due entirely to this comment, I bought a dozen of these (I'm a pen whore) and they are indeed awesome.

I'm a big fan of taking notes in pencil as well, but the Jetstream is my new favorite thing to write with.
posted by peep at 8:20 AM on November 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


My mother seems to use nothing but these since discovering them (mostly due to their use for copy-editing as they're erasable). From what I've used of them, despite being like a gel-pen, they don't seem to go through paper at all, and dry really fast.

That said, I don't have much problem with a normal Pilot gel pen going through paper, which is just as well as now I use a computer more often than not I can only write so much before the cramp sets in.
posted by opsin at 8:20 AM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Check out the Pigma Micron.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:47 AM on November 5, 2009


seconding jefficator. depending on how particular/fetishist you are, there's a whole world of specialized pens out there, but the Pilot V5 is ubiquitous and inexpensive.
posted by 256 at 9:34 AM on November 5, 2009


I love the Pilot Razors (both the old ones and the V's). There's enough friction from the tip that it cancels out my shakey shakey hands a bit and they leave such an intensely black line. They bleed a little...noticeable but not annoying in my Moleskine notebook.
posted by paanta at 9:37 AM on November 5, 2009


You may want to try something with a felt-tip (if you haven't already). I recently started using the new Sharpie pens (they don't bleed! really!) and have found that they feel very similar to a mechanical #2 pencil. The tip is pretty long compared to other felt-tips so that you get a different line if you're writing straight up-and-down versus at an angle. There's more friction with the paper than with a ball-point pen, which I think might be the fix you're looking for.
posted by a.steele at 10:19 AM on November 5, 2009


I just tried the Sharpie pen about an hour ago for the first time and it was incredible and I think I'm going to go buy some.

For precision writing, while I am editing, my favorite pen is the Pentel RSVP Fine ballpoint. I find that it has a very thin line (which I like since I write small and have to fit between letters), doesn't smudge or bleed, but still has a good color and legible line.
posted by rmless at 10:49 AM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some ideas:

- Have you tried a harder graphite? I think you could start with a 2H grading, which is fairly common to find and is not very light. It will smudge less this way. In the same vein, have you considered just changing the paper to one that is not as soft?

- You could go fancy with different types of pencil, such as the Metal Pen, the Beta Pen or a Liquaphite. I have never tested them myself, though, but I guess they might not smudge a lot.

- If you want to give pens a go, try gel, rollerball, fibre-tip or fountain pens. I find my penmanship is at its worse when I use ballpoints, but of course your mileage may vary.
posted by natalinha at 11:58 AM on November 5, 2009


Felt-tips are nice for this kind of thing. I haven't tried the Sharpie mentioned above, but Copic markers are very nice. I use them for drawing every now and then.

If you go to a nice art supply store, you should be able to try out dozens of different pens/inks/etc. and see what works for you.
posted by echo target at 12:21 PM on November 5, 2009


D'oh, should have mentioned in my post that I don't like inky or gel pens, leaving me with (regular) ballpoint and felt tip, or futuristic type of pen I don't know about yet. Sorry for leaving that out!
I should probably also add that I think the issue is that I push down pretty hard when I write, and you can't do that as much with most pens, because they will then either bleed through, or even tear the paper. I am writing on regular notebook paper, and the Sharpie pen bleeds through, unfortunately.
Thanks for all the great suggestions so far. I'm especially intrigued by the metal pen.
posted by ishotjr at 12:45 PM on November 5, 2009


Oh, and I used to use the Precise V5, but because of the way I write, it bleeds. Same with Micron, though I do use those for writing cards and whatnot.
posted by ishotjr at 12:46 PM on November 5, 2009


I just wanted to chime in on the Technical Pens since you marked that answer as one of your favorites. They are absolutely awesome and will make your handwriting look like art, but:

- you cannot push down hard with these. The tips are metal and they will either bend, tear through the paper, or make imprints. They are drafting pens intended for hard surfaces, not for notebooks, so you have to be a little more careful.

- the finer tips are better - I like Rapidograph .30 or .35 (yellow or gray caps). If you use something larger, the ink won't soak in fast enough and your writing will smear. The caveat is that fine tips bend more easily, and they will eventually clog if you don't take care of them.

I used these for all my notes, lists, sketches, etc for a couple years before I got tired of the expense of replacing them all the time. You should definitely try one out, but they might not be the most practical solution.
posted by Fifi Firefox at 3:48 PM on November 5, 2009


Oops, I just checked my pens and I might have the sizes wrong (my numbers are long worn off), but definitely the yellow and gray. The beige one is awesome too (it's the smallest) but clogs really easily.
posted by Fifi Firefox at 3:54 PM on November 5, 2009


I just came in to second Fifi's point that technical pens require a certain amount of maintenance. They are awesome, but not trouble-free.
posted by lekvar at 1:37 PM on November 6, 2009


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