A quick-drying pen for Moleskines?
December 2, 2005 9:34 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite (preferably gel) pens for writing in a Moleskine that dry quickly and won't smudge or bleed?

I am currently using Pilot G2 (.07 mm) gel pens with my pocket Moleskine notebook. I love the flow of the ink and the deep colors, but the ink dries so slowly that jotting down a note and snapping the book shut is nearly impossible if I want to avoid smudges in the writing and dots on the adjacent page.

I'm sure there's a great pen out there, but I don't want to spend tons of money buying up new ones to test out. Bonus points if it's a gel pen and/or can be bought in a regular store like OfficeMax, OfficeDepot, etc, but I'm open to all suggestions.
posted by aebaxter to Writing & Language (35 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
While I'm not a Moleskiner, I'm a lefty and quick-drying inks are my obsession. My absolute favorite is the Zebra Sarasa gel pen. Their Jimnie Gel also uses the same ink cartridge. It's the fastest-drying gel I've yet to come across. Staples and Office Depot have them usually.
posted by zsazsa at 9:41 AM on December 2, 2005

For all my writing needs, I'm a fan of the Pilot Easy Touch.
posted by drezdn at 9:41 AM on December 2, 2005

I use Pelikan and Lamy pen products--including some of their rollerball pens for writing in such a notebook. You can buy them here and here.
posted by vkxmai at 9:44 AM on December 2, 2005

Sakura Gelly Roll Pens. They're sold in packs at Walgreens and Barnes & Noble.
posted by hooray at 9:47 AM on December 2, 2005

Moleskine-r here - I use an Itoya Xenon Aqua Roller (0.7mm) - it's a gel ink with a fine point, with a nice fat ergo grip. I get them for about 3.50 (refills are 2.50) at Uwajimaya in Seattle. Haven't seen them elsewhere, but I haven't really looked.
Also, pencils are good.
posted by dbmcd at 9:55 AM on December 2, 2005

get a fountain pen, an inkwell, and spike the ink with a few drops of alcohol -- it will dry up in un momento
posted by matteo at 9:57 AM on December 2, 2005

I second the Zebra Sarasa. It is the only pen I use anymore. They have more colors in Japan and I usually buy as many as I can carry when I visit.
posted by Alison at 10:06 AM on December 2, 2005

Sanford Uniball Onyx. This is the best pen I've found - it writes like a gell pen but it isn't, dries quickly, everything you ask for. It's never smudged in my Moleskines. At most stores they cost around 85 cents American, but they're cheaper online.
posted by louigi at 10:11 AM on December 2, 2005

Pilot p500 (0.5mm) for regular writing, Pilot c-tec g4 for extra fine details (it's a .4 mm tip). I get the p500 from my university bookstore - the c-tec g4 is available at staples. Both are around $3 and are fully worth the price. They dry instantly, don't bleed through, have incredibly fine lines, and have a silky velour-like feel when writing that I haven't experienced with any other pen.
posted by lemur at 10:11 AM on December 2, 2005

I use the Jimmie Gel and my moleskin is still getting smudgy. I'm going to try something else - thanks for asking this!
posted by agregoli at 10:12 AM on December 2, 2005

I use the Zebra F-402® Retractable Ballpoint Pen. My favorite Moleskines are the Large Plain Journals and I can write all I want in 'em, no smears, no bleeding. The pen has a good weight to it and it has a rubber finger grip so no callouses.
posted by SoulOnIce at 10:12 AM on December 2, 2005

I tend to write small and quick and sometimes doodle and like to make quick sketches of ideas. For most writing I've had a lifelong obsession about finding the finest tipped, yet reliable and smooth flowing, black-ink pen I can get. Quick drying is good, too, because I make lots of notes in a reporter's style notepad.

My favorite for the last several years has been the Pilot G-TEC-C4. Only problem is that this ia a pen easily found in any place that sells pens in most of Europe but, for some bizarre and inexplicable reasoning known only to Pilot, it's almost impossible to get in regular US outlets. I get them from some guy on eBay who sells a dozen cheapish.
posted by normy at 10:27 AM on December 2, 2005

The Sanford linked by louigi is nice. I used to use an Ion, but lost it and have realised that it cost too, given that I'd shortly lose the replacement anyway.
posted by bonehead at 10:28 AM on December 2, 2005

I've used a full spectrum of pens from the higher-end retail/over-the-counter pens, and have bore the messy ink all over my fingers as witness. After sampling quite a few, I'm down to the uni-ball signo gelsticks 0.7, which are pretty lame, feel very unsubstantial between your fingers, and are a bit slippery....

but I use them for writing in moleskin because they dry super-quick, have never, ever blotted, and are super cheap. And I lose pens all the time, so cheaper is better for things I take out of the house.
posted by naxosaxur at 10:29 AM on December 2, 2005

I try lots of pens, and use a pack of index cards rather than a Moleskine, but they impose similar requirements. I am a lefty as well.

My current favorite is a uni-ball vision exact, with is ultra smooth, non-smudging and quick-drying. Also it is not a retractable pen, which means it is safe for my pocket.
posted by Invoke at 10:46 AM on December 2, 2005

I use the small Fisher space pen on my moleskine because it closes into a size that has caused myself and my friends to dub it "the suppository pen." However this is a selection based on how nicely it fits and sits in my rear pocket, not ink quality - you might wouldn't like the somewhat restricted flow the gel-like ink has. I have no issues with it running or not drying promptly, however.
posted by phearlez at 12:53 PM on December 2, 2005

I flip back and forth between a Sanford Uniball Micro (a good cheap option), the very similar Sanford Uniball Onyx and, my current favorite, a Sanford Uniball Vision Elite. The Elite is a little nicer in the hand but also a little bigger to carry around. I didn't realize until now that all my favorite Moleskine pens are made by the same company...
posted by wheat at 1:12 PM on December 2, 2005

i find that the only pen that really complements a moleskine is a muji rollerball. the nude white cylinder - alabaster almost - is a shocking contast against the more homely simplicity of the moleskine cover, while the delightful irony of an explicitly (self referentially false, and so paradoxically impossible, implying levels of meta text in something that itself generates text) brand-less design icon complements the uber-brand, class-identifying, and yet honestly (imagine the simple contadino, moleskine in one hand, pizza in the other) authentic italian moleskine, perfectly.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:24 PM on December 2, 2005 [34 favorites]

Andrew>That was effing brilliant.

I use a moleskine and a Pelikan. I have the same issues with smudging but rather than give up my nice pen, I solved them by adding a blotting-paper card to go between the damp page and the rest of the book.

I did the same thing when I was using a pilot G2 and a Cross Ion. Works perfectly, and the card flips the book open to the current page much better than the little bookmark.
posted by Crosius at 1:52 PM on December 2, 2005

I own over 50 gel pens.... For general use, I use the Xenon Aqua Roller. I personally love needlepoint tips, so I'd recommend looking into those. At work I made them order a pack of this Foray gel pen which I've been quite happy with.

Oh, and if there's anyone in Germany willing to ship to the US, I'm currently looking for the Stabilo Bionic pen, needlepoint, in blue or black.
posted by lychee at 2:26 PM on December 2, 2005

matteo - No kidding? I will be trying this tonight!

And in an effort to try to add something to this great question... If you want to carry your fountain pen ink with you, there's always the Visconti Traveling Inkwell. I've seen it in action - very cool!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 2:35 PM on December 2, 2005

I'd seen a lot of positive feedback about the Pilot G2 recently, so purchased some. Unfortunately, I need a fine point, as I write very small. I imagine the 0.7mm has a nicer flow than the 0.5mm, but my reaction to the 0.5mm was that it was very scratchy.

I'm trying to find a cheap alternative to my Mont Blanc Starwalker Fineliner, with the rollerball refill, as I'm not crazy about carrying that pen around with me in my pocket all the time, particularly when people say "Can I borror your pen?" etc. By the way, the Mont Blanc rollerball refills dry reasonably quickly. I occasionally get a little bit of smudge when writing in my Moleskines (and I imagine left-handed writers would probably get too much smudge), but not enough to be bothered by it.

I love the look of the Pilot G-Tec-C4 mentioned by normy, but it doesn't look like they're available in Australia, dammit.
posted by planetthoughtful at 2:47 PM on December 2, 2005

Also, see answers to this AskMeFi thread for some more suggestions.
posted by planetthoughtful at 2:52 PM on December 2, 2005

I use the pocket grid moleskine and so I'm partial to the Pilot VBall Extra Fine. Get mine from Staples and Office Despot.
posted by inviolable at 3:36 PM on December 2, 2005

Not to derail, but high on my pen-related wishlist at the moment is a decent quality flat 'bookmark' style pen. I've begun using PocketMods as bookmarks in whichever book I'm reading, so I can scribble down interesting quotes, words I want to look up, stray creative ideas inspired by something in the book, etc. To make the PocketMod self-contained, I've been clipping a bookmark pen similar to those on the link above to the PocketMod so that not only do I have something to write on, while I'm reading, but something to write with.

Unfortunately, the writing quality of these bookmark pens leaves a lot to be desired, and they seem to be mostly aimed at marketing gimmickry. I'm wondering if anyone else has encountered a reasonable quality pen in the same or similar format (ie where it wouldn't add unpleasant bulk to a bookmark)?

And to add some relevant on-topic content: a what-pen-to-use-with-my-moleskine 'hack' I've been using for some time is carrying around a pocket-sized moleskine notebook in my shoulder bag (I generally use the larger size for serious writing) that exists for no other reason than to try various pens while at the store to see how they work with moleskine paper, in terms of smudging, ease of writing, etc. I've also thought about cutting out pages from this notebook, stapling them together, and carrying those pages around in the pocket of my larger moleskine for the very same purpose.
posted by planetthoughtful at 4:01 PM on December 2, 2005

Like wheat, I am fond of the Sanford UniBall Micro, which has a very slim metal clip that can be slipped into the gap between the binding of the notebook's pages and the cover over the spine. The pen then lies right along the spine outside, and as if it were designed this way all along, it's just precisely the same height as the notebook (if it's one of the pocket-size ones). Very handy.
posted by letourneau at 4:34 PM on December 2, 2005

I used to use Uniball Visions/Vision Elites exclusively for daily use, but also noticed that they dry quickly. I've since switched to Uniball Jetstream pens. They're readily available at places like Staples, and they claim to be a "hybrid ink" - some kind of cross between the greasy, quick-drying ink of a ballpoint and the stark pigment of a gel pen. They are the smoothest pens I've ever written with, though they do "act" more like ballpoints than rollerballs or gel pens - something I like for sketching purposes. If you can afford the compromise in ink, then I suggest the Jetstreams.
posted by merkuron at 5:16 PM on December 2, 2005

^^^ Whoops, meant to say that the Visions dry slowly. =)
posted by merkuron at 5:17 PM on December 2, 2005

I'm motivated more by the feel of the pen on the paper than it's quick-drying properties (if any), but the pen that complements a Moleskine perfectly is the Uniball Deluxe Micro. Based on the pictures, this seems to be a different pen than the similarly named Uniball pens above.
posted by zanni at 9:34 PM on December 2, 2005

zsazsa: My absolute favorite is the Zebra Sarasa gel pen

On your recommendation I picked up a pack of these tonight. So far I really like them. (Really digging the Forest & Mahogany colors)
posted by Tenuki at 10:32 PM on December 2, 2005

I am fond of the Jimnie Gel rollerball from Zebra, which is acid-free and archival quality. With a blotter card bookmark like Crosius uses, it is ideal, even if it is a medium point. I even like their blue ink, and I am a black ink sort by nature.

It's fun to see all the fans of the Pilot G-TEC-C4 in the house -- I picked a couple up last week to appreciate their super-fine tips, and now I feel all trendy and hip.
posted by Sallyfur at 10:56 PM on December 2, 2005

It's fun to see all the fans of the Pilot G-TEC-C4 in the house -- I picked a couple up last week to appreciate their super-fine tips, and now I feel all trendy and hip.

Damn you Sallyfur, and your ability to buy Pilot G-TEC-C4's!!
posted by planetthoughtful at 11:25 PM on December 2, 2005

Somewhat off-topic, but I would recommend looking at a good pencil for this. I like a Staedtler Mars Lumograph Pencil in 2H. It keeps a sharp point for a long time, and unlike pens your writing is really permanent (you are depositing graphite, which can only be removed through rubbing, but a pen's ink will fade over time). If you also carry a pocket knife you'll be all set.
posted by ny_scotsman at 8:31 AM on December 3, 2005

The Fisher Space pen used to have some ink issues, and it's still not exactly a rollerball. But they seem to have reformulated the ink lately (at least the black) so that it's now a smooth, very dark, consistent line. It writes better than anything with a ballpoint refill I've been able to find. The refills fit any pen that takes a "Parker style" refill, too.

I can't speak for the blue ink. It was never great, and I don't want to shell out the bucks to try one and be disappointed. Those refills last a long time, but they're hefty on the wallet, even more so than a Cross Ion (but they don't smell badly like Ion ink).

Btw, the fine refill works best in smaller Moleskines, I think. The medium the pens come with is just a really big ball:)
posted by pragmatik at 9:12 AM on December 11, 2005

Just to bring this back, my favorite pen right now is teh Foray .5mm Gel ink.

As a moleskiner and a creative writer, I get abouto 1 smudge per 10 pages. Dries quick and writes extremely legibly
posted by subaruwrx at 4:38 PM on November 6, 2006

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