The Best Pens for Journaling in 2021

Aug 28, 2021 | 0 comments

Looking for the best pens for journaling that are good quality, don’t smudge, ghost, or bleed? You are in the right place. Continue reading to learn more!

Bullet journaling, or journaling in general, has become popular in the last 5 years and if you are like me, you already have a stack of pens in your collection. As someone who has been journaling for a long time, I’ve come to learn what my preferences are when it comes to journaling pens.

To help beginners and those who are looking for the best pens for journaling, we made this article for you. I hope you find what you’re looking for!

(Some links are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.)

Table of Contents

What to Look for in Journaling Pens

The Best Pens for Journaling

Frequently Asked Questions

Final Thoughts

What to Look for in Journaling Pens

When you are looking to purchase pens for bullet journaling or just journaling in general, you need to consider some of the following factors.


Journaling is more fun when you add colors to it. Whether you’re a creative or just a scribbler, having more than one colored pen is a must-have. Whether you have a planner, bible journal, personal diary, travel journal, bullet journal, or art journal, the number of pens you need will depend on the kind of journaling you are doing.

There’s no right or wrong way to journal, as long as it makes you happy and gives you inner peace.

Ink Quality

You can use any ink for writing and sketching, but the thing is, there’s always going to be a pen that is superior to others. There are water-based, alcohol-based, and oil-based inks and they all work differently on various types of paper. Knowing your journaling style is one thing that can help you determine which ink type to get.

For example, if you are left-handed, you will want quick-drying inks to avoid smearing. If you want your journals to last for many years, you’ll need to have acid-free or archival ink pens so that your writing will never fade. If you like to draw and make letterings, go for inks that are vibrant and have pretty coverage. You can also get water-based inks that are blendable so that you’ll have more fun creating your calligraphy.

Smooth Lines

When you journal, you’ll want pens that are smooth, bleed-proof, and controlled. The worst pens are those that smear and smudge and it will just ruin the whole page.


For journaling, there’s a lot of options for you when it comes to pens. Yes, a regular ballpoint pen will do the job, but if you want to level up and do fancy letterings or doodles, it won’t be enough.

Felt-tip pens are versatile and are a pleasure to use, however, the nibs may soften and split when you apply more pressure when writing. Then there are rollerballs and micro-tip pens that can withstand heavy hands as they have stable and sturdy nibs.

If you like defined lines and are meticulous about line widths, high-quality felt-tip pens are great.

For stylish calligraphy and illustrations, brush pens work great.


Today, we have multi-functioning pens thanks to innovative products from art supply brands. Still, we have to know what our preferences are to get the pens that will work for us.

If you are a heavy writer, rollerball and ballpoint pens are recommended.

If you like to decorate your journals and have colorful entries, you might find gel pens to your liking.

For lettering, coloring, labeling, writing, and more, markers and felt-tip pens will be your best friends. 

The Best Pens for Journaling

Sakura Pigma 30062 Micron Pen

This pen is one of the most popular and most loved pens in the journaling world and for good reason. Pigma Micron pens give you precise lines and their quality just makes the pens versatile for any writing or drawing activity.

One pack comes with 6 different tip sizes, so you will have everything you need. These pens are great for writing, doodling, outlining, and sketching. The pens dispense consistent line thickness that will give you neat illustrations and legible handwriting. And even better, they don’t bleed or smear so you can use them on any notebook with various paper quality.

The ink is waterproof and does not feather when used with other mediums like markers and watercolors. Pigma Microns have superb archival inks so your journal entries will last long and this is one of the reasons why they are the best pens for journaling.

Just note that these pens have felt tips so the tips can fray in the long run, especially when you are heavy-handed.

What We Like:

  • Superb pen quality
  • Great for writing and illustrations
  • Can be used with other mediums
  • Bleed-proof and smear-proof
  • Ink is acid-free and fade-free

What We Dislike:

  • The tips can fray with constant heavy pressure

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner

Staedtler has amazing high-quality fineliners and comes in a sturdy pen case that will keep your pens organized.

If it’s the colors you’re looking for, these pens are for you. The pack comes with 20 pens in different colors with 0.3mm tip size that are amazing for precision lines.

The ink is vibrant and is of great quality. It does not skip when writing and dries quickly so it’s smear-proof.

The Staedtler Fineliners are great for bible and bullet journaling.

What We Like:

  • A vast array of vibrant colors
  • Superb tip quality
  • Affordable price tag
  • Dry safe technology

What We Dislike:

  • Can sometimes bleed through the paper

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen

If you are fond of lettering, this Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens will be a great investment.

The felt tips have the perfect size to give you that flourished brush calligraphy that many bullet journal enthusiasts are crazy about. The Tombow Fudenosuke is also great for headers, dividers, and boxes.

The best part about these brush pens is that they are bled-proof and you can use them together with other mediums like watercolor and markers.

What We Like:

  • Gives fine, extra-fine, and medium strokes
  • Ideal for calligraphy and art drawings
  • Ink is bleed-proof and smudge-proof

What We Dislike:

  • It runs out of ink pretty quickly when used often

Papermate InkJoy Gel Retractable Pens

If you enjoy making colorful journal entries, you will love these Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pens.

They are quick-drying and are comfortable to grip. The pens glide smoothly on paper and are well-balanced.

What We Like:

  • Quality over quantity
  • Fast-drying ink
  • The special comfort-grip
  • Retractable grip (no more missing caps!)
  • Smooth ink application

What We Dislike:

  • The color variety is limited
  • Ink is very fluid and easily spreads on paper

Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens

Looking for something special for your art journal? The Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens are amazing for colorful doodles and entries.

The Faber-Castell Pitt Pen’s quality is superb. It is water-based, bleed-proof, and odor-free. The pen is available in a 0.5mm fine tip and brush tip so you can choose. They maintain their shapes and they don’t smear or bleed. And this is one great feature that makes these markers ideal for coloring double-sided books.

Although these pens are a bit more expensive, they are worth the investment because they are long-lasting and made of environmental-friendly materials.

What We Like:

  • Little to no bleeding
  • Wide variety of colors
  • Has a variety of pen tips to choose from

What We Dislike:

  • Expensive
  • Tips are damaged when used on rough papers

Tombow Dual Brush Pens

Brush pens are great for coloring, lettering, illustrations, and faux calligraphy. And the Tombow Dual Brush Pens checks all of the boxes. It’s one of our favorites for journaling as the brushes are smooth and the ink is water-based and blendable.

It has dual tips so you can use the fine tip for writing down things on your journal and the brush tips for decorating and coloring.

What makes the Tombow Dual Brush Pens one of the best pens for journaling is their bright and vibrant colors. The ink is acid-free so you are sure that your doodles, drawings, and other journal entries will last throughout the years.

What We Like:

  • Bright pigments
  • Dual-tipped for more uses
  • Odorless and minimal bleeding
  • The brush tip is firm and more controllable
  • Comes in different sets with limited palettes
  • Acid-free ink that will last for years

What We Dislike:

  • Expensive
  • Bleeds through thin journal paper

Kelly Creates Brush Pens

This set is perfect for bullet journals as it is specifically made for brush calligraphy. They are water-based and highly blendable so you can achieve that beautiful watercolor effect without the actual watercolor mess.

The package comes with 10 different colored brush pens and they work great on black paper if you’re feeling super artsy.

What We Like:

  • Has bold and metallic colors
  • Affordable price

What We Dislike:

  • The tips fray quickly

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most trusted journaling pen brands?

There are tons of brands that offer good quality pens for journaling but these are the most trusted:

  • Sakura
  • Tombow
  • Staedtler
  • Faber Castell
  • Paper Mate

What are the different types of journaling pens?

There’s a variety of journaling pens available on the market namely felt-tip pens, gel pens, ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, markers, and brush pens.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of pens to choose from in the market but the ones listed above are what we think are the best pens for journaling.

We hope this article has been helpful for you. If you are looking for prompts and ideas for your art journal, we have a detailed article about it. Do check it out!

Lastly, enjoy journaling! It’s a fun and stress-relieving activity. Stay safe!

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