The twenty-first century has its advantages except for when it doesn’t.
Taking notes on a laptop or tablet can be quick and effective, but studies show it can also be distracting, preventing you from really focusing on the topic in front of you. For notes that need your full attention, grab a pen and paper. Your productivity will thank you!
Of course, not all writing utensils are created equally. When you’re taking notes by hand, you’re going to want something that writes well, feels comfortable and is reliable. We’re rounding up some of the best pens for note taking because what you’re writing with really can make a difference whether the notes are going to lead you on your next big venture or you’re jotting down a quick message to a colleague.
Best of the Best | The Pilot G2 | $18 for 8 pens
When you’re taking notes and need something dependable, the Pilot G2 is an obvious go-to.
You can’t go wrong with more than 7,000 positive Amazon reviews. One reviewer said they go through a pen or two a week at college and this is THE pen. Their hand doesn’t cramp up and the ink dries quickly. If that’s not convincing, another reviewer said they’ve been using the G2 for more than a decade.
This pen is the people’s choice, and that’s maybe because it checks all the boxes: smooth gel ink, a comfy grip, it’s long-lasting and it comes in a variety of points, sizes and colors.
For the Lefties | Sarasa Fineliner | $7 for 4 pens
If you feel like the world was not built for left-handed people, you’re not alone. But luckily somebody has thought about the dreaded note-taking task that often leaves lefties’ hands stained with wet ink.
The Sarasa Fineliner pen was specifically designed for left-handed writers with rapidly drying ink. Zebra Pens, which perfected the ink cartridge you’ll find in the fineliner, says the ink, in most cases, dries in under a second. There’s no way you’ll walk out of a meeting with a stained wrist with this pen.
This pen comes in a variety of colors, making for a perfect addition to your desk.
Color-coded Note Taking | Schneider Slider Edge XB | $15 for 8 pens
There’s a time and a place for colored pens, and the time and place is when notes start getting complex and you need to keep it all organized. The best way to catalog information or make sure you’ll be able to find something days or weeks later is to alternate pen colors.
The Schneider Slider Edge XB comes in a pack of 8 different colors so you’ll never be without an option. They’re ballpoint pens, so they glide smoothly across the page, and have the fine-line precision of a felt-tip pen (without the smear).
Best Travel Companion | Lamy Pico Ballpoint Pen | $41
Big ideas once started small — and that's the beauty of the Lamy Pico Ballpoint pen. The Pico is an innovative pocket pen with a sophisticated push mechanism that allows it to collapse to just a size of just 4” and then fully expand to 5” in one fluid motion.
The collapsible pen has a metallic body that lends it a nice weight so you won’t lose any of the feeling of a really great pen in its travel-sized form. Perfect for your carry-on, laptop bag, or pocket!
The Comfiest | Zebra Fortia 300 | $6
When you’ve got a lot of writing to do, you’re going to want the comfiest pen.
The Zebra Fortia 300 is a retractable ballpoint pen, but most importantly it comes with a non-slip rubberized grip, which reviewers say keep the pen steady (that’s a good factor for comfort). It’s thin and lightweight, but still feels great in your hand, so you won’t have to worry about all that writing taking a toll on your hand or the pen.
Budget Friendly | uni-ball Onyx Rollerball | $6 for 12 pens
We all have that trusty pen on-hand that’s easy to replace because it seems like everybody else seems to love them too. When I find a good cheap pen, I stock up. The uni-ball Onyx Rollerball is that pen. It has a minimal design, a rollerball ink cartridge (which means no leak or smearing) and is very affordable. You can pick up a dozen of these for $6.
Not only is this pen a budget conscious option, it’s also environmentally friendly. Uni-ball made this pen with 80 percent post-consumer recycled electronics. Pick this up in multiple colors (black, red, and blue), at $.50 a pen, you’ll almost have to share these.
Best Bang For Your Buck | Caran d'Ache 849 Ballpoint Pen | $24
You know that feeling when you’re using a truly great pen? It’s a little heavy, but not too heavy. The ink flows smoothly, but doesn’t make a muddy mess. A finely-designed pen will improve your handwriting and it might even improve your note taking.
This pen will run you $24, but it’s oh-so-worth it.
The Caran d’Ache 849 Ballpoint Pen hits all the marks of a good pen: it’s 100 percent aluminum, making it the perfect weight, has an ink cartridge that can go for 600 pages and has the best ‘click’ sound. Each of Caran d’Ache’s pens are made in Geneva, Switzerland, where the company has been based since 1915.
The Finest Lines | Pilot G-Tec | $8 for 3 pens
If you like thin, clean lines, you can’t get better than the Pilot G-Tec. Its ultra fine gel tip is just 0.4mm in size, making it perfect for precise, intricate lines. It has the permanence of black ink, but the feel of a super fine mechanical pencil.
Even better: The smear-proof bio polymer ink means you won’t have to worry about smudging your notes.
The Smooth Writer | Lamy LX Metallic Ballpoint Pen | $35
With its sophisticated looks and smooth writing style, the Lamy LX Metallic Ballpoint Pen is truly worthy of being the tool you use to chronicle your biggest ideas and dreams.
It comes in a variety of metallic colors that will give your notebook a serious upgrade, *and* you even get a cylindrical storage case so you’ll never lose your favorite pen again.