The little things that make teachers happy: a Diet Coke during planning period, treats in the workroom, no line at the copy machine, and the best pens for note-taking during the staff meeting. I don’t think that it’s an exaggeration to say that a good pen has the power to be mood-altering. I’ve scoured the web for the highest-rated and best pens for note-taking and then personally reviewed them to give you the most thorough feedback possible before adding these to your Amazon cart. Below are the best of the best pens for note-taking, so you never have another smudge!
1. Fineliner Color Pen – “The Party-in-Your-Pencil-Pouch Pen”
From the Manufacturer: “24 Pack Bright Colors and Fine Point Pens – Perfect for drawing lines & details, journal, note taking … Smooth, Soft, and Crisp – Our Product was designed to provide you with a delicate yet firm feel, giving you a crisp, clear line every time! No skipping!”
Our Take: This pen comes in 24 colors. It has a super-fine tip, finer than a Flare pen. It writes more like a marker than a pen but does not bleed through the page. This is a great pen for those who like to doodle when note-taking or those who like to journal. This pen definitely makes note-taking fun, and it’s a favorite for students who like to get artsy in their notebooks.
Real Customer Review: “I’m a teacher and love color variety. This is wonderful to color-code as well as fine details on my adult coloring pages. I recommend these for all those on a budget and who love color.” (C Wilkerson)
Buy it: Fineliner Color Pen at Amazon
2. Paper Mate InkJoy Gel 0.7mm – “The Most-Reached-For Gel Pen”
From the Manufacturer: “Dries 3X faster* to reduce smudging and smearing. Smooth, colorful ink keeps the ideas flowing across the page and brightens your writing. Ergonomic comfort grip wraps the entire gel pen. 0.7mm medium point spreads ink beautifully. Available in 14 bold colors.”
Our Take: This pen is also a student favorite and one of the best pens for note-taking. It is colorful, comes in six colors in a pack, and has a click-top. This is a gel pen, making it different from the Fineliner pens, which feel more like markers. Since it is a gel pen, it feels a bit more serious but allows you to be creative with the color choices. It also does skip occasionally, as some gel pens tend to do.
Real Customer Review: “As a college student, I take TONS of notes. These are my absolute favorite pens I have ever bought. Great colors and I swear, they make my handwriting better. Very smooth and the ink does not bleed through paper.” (Hailee J)
Buy it: Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pen 0.7 at Amazon
3. Riancy Black Gel Pen – “The Modern Aesthetic Pen”
From the Manufacturer: “Premium Gel Ink Pens: you will receive 6 pieces simple wheat-straw patterns retractable gel ink pens with black ink, 0.5mm tip writes fine lines, ink flows smoothly and provide you comfort when writing. … Color Variety: these black ink gel pens are cute in appearance, which are adorable, vivid and eye-catching, giving people a vibrant feeling, bringing a lot of fun and vitality to your work or study.”
Our Take: I love that this pen has such a modern monochromatic aesthetic. I picture this pen living in Kim Kardashian’s pencil holder made of stone. It has a click-top and a fine point. It is a gel pen but does not smear. Overall, this pen is a solid choice for those who like a classic black gel pen but want it to look cool and sleek in their hand.
Real Customer Review: “I was a little nervous buying off-brand pens from Amazon, but I LOVE these pens! They write smoothly. They’re gel. I love the design. They’re simple and attractive. I will be buying more!” (Heidi)
Buy it: Riancy Black Gel Pen at Amazon
4. Aechy Double-Headed Porous Pen and Curved Marker – “The Doodlers Delight”
From the Manufacturer: “One Pen, Two Tips: Dual-tip highlighter pen design, roller end for drawing mark lines, and 0.4 mm fine tip for writing, detailing, and drawing. Combine them and you’ll get an excellent tool for your study & artwork.”
Our Take: This pen is the most unique note-taking pen that I’ve ever used! This pack comes with eight colors. It has a double head: On one head there is a fine point and the other has a stamp that you can use to make dotted lines, hearts, flowers, and more. There are many opportunities to make notes more organized with the stamping option. This pen is a top choice for doodling, scrapbooking, or journaling.
Real Customer Review: “I love these pens. They make note-taking and calendars exciting. I gave some as a gift and kept some. My biggest complaint is how hard it is to draw a straight line. The pen seems to automatically veer off. The yellow color is very light. It is hard to see when on paper. Overall these are really fun though. The picture and description were accurate. Shipped as advertised.” (Jamie Busby)
Buy it: Aechy Double-Headed Porous Pen and Curved Marker at Amazon
5. Pentel EnerGel Liquid Gel Ink 0.5 – “The Business Boss Pen”
From the Manufacturer: “The EnerGel RTX offers a luxury feel and a smooth, effortless writing experience. High-performance ink technology combines the best qualities of liquid and gel ink. Fast-drying liquid gel ink is great for left-handers—no smears, no smudges, no globs. The sleek and stylish barrel design features stainless-steel accents for a professional look.”
Our Take: This pen is super smooth and effortlessly glides onto the paper. It is fine-tipped, writes with a comfortable grip, and has a click-top. It is a dark color on your page and does not smear or bleed. This pen was a great choice and one of the best pens for note-taking for those who like to take their notes with a black pen. It has thousands of positive reviews on Amazon.
Real Customer Review: “Smooth writing experience. The ink flows continuously and I don’t experience any interruption in ink flow even if I frequently drop the pen. I write tiny so the needle point is perfect for me as the ink does not bleed, making my handwriting (almost) readable. The rubber grip makes it easy to hold and use. I already bought the refills as I really like the writing experience.” (JD)
Buy it: Pentel EnerGel Liquid Gel Ink Pen 0.5 mm at Amazon
6. Pilot G-2 0.7 mm Gel Pen – “The Tried and True Pen”
From the Manufacturer: “The Ideal Pen for Overachievers: The smooth writing, long-lasting Pilot G2 Premium Gel Ink Pen features a comfortable rubber grip, and is available in ultra fine, extra fine, fine, and bold point. … Longest Lasting, Refillable Gel Ink: Proven to be the longest writing gel ink pen among top brands, the smooth-writing, retractable G2 gel ink pen is a classic choice for all your writing needs.”
Our Take: This pen has a fine point, writes solid lines, and is comfortable to hold. I did not experience any skipping with the gel ink. This pen also lasts a long time. This is one the classic best pens for note-taking and has thousands of positive reviews.
Real Customer Review: “These are the best pens, only ones I buy. Smooth writing, well-shaped grip, last forever, and dry quickly.” (Taylor)
Buy it: Pilot G-2 0.7 mm Gel Pen at Amazon
7. Amazon Basics Retractable Gel Pen – “The Smooth-Like-Buttah Pen”
From the Manufacturer: “12-pack of gel ink pens pre-filled with black ink; ideal for everyday general-purpose writing. Premium quick-dry ink provides smooth, smear-proof results, Fine-point writing tip with 0.7mm thickness, contoured rubber grip for comfort and control; pocket clip to attach to notebooks or pockets.”
Our Take: This pen was super smooth to write with. It has a click-top and fine tip. It does not smear and does not skip. The Amazon brand is just as good as a brand-name competitor. For those who like their notes to be in classic black ink, this is a great choice for a gel pen with click-top.
Real Customer Review: “Great pens! They write nice. Good for writing in journals, writing checks, just about everything. Great value for the money!” (Glen Moon)
Buy it: Amazon Basics Retractable Gel Pen at Amazon
8. Sharpie 0.7 Gel Pen – “The Monochromatic Pen”
From the Manufacturer: “Gel pen with no smear, no bleed technology, intensely bold gel ink colors offer always-vivid writing. Contoured rubber grip for a comfortable writing experience, Medium Point (0.7mm).”
Our Take: Sharpie is a brand we can rely on. This pen is fine-tip and comfortable to hold with a rubber grip. The pen also has a modern, monochromatic look to it. It does not smear and does not bleed. I did notice that it can occasionally skip, but that was rare. I have some students who say that this Sharpie pen is their favorite pen.
Real Customer Reviewer: “Smooth glide, comfortable grip, and fine print with no smudge. I love pens with 0.7-size tips, and this has become a favorite of mine over the past few months. I highly recommend this pen for anyone who may write for long periods of time and who need a comfortable grip.” (B Aaron)
Buy it: Sharpie 0.7 mm Gel Pen at Amazon
9. Uniball Jetstream RT Ballpoint Pen 0.7 – “The Best Ballpoint Pen for Lefties”
From the Manufacturer: “RETRACTABLE BALLPOINT PEN: Our black ballpoint pens combine the smooth, vivid writing of gel ink with the quick-drying, smudge-resistant properties of a ballpoint ink pen … PREMIUM PERFORMANCE: Our innovative black pens are great for all of your personal writing and professional writing needs, including journaling, writing, drawing, and any archival-quality project.”
Our Take: This pen was very smooth to write with. It has a click-top with a comfortable rubber grip. It comes in an assortment of professional colors. This ballpoint pen is especially popular for lefties. Over and over again, lefties gave their stamp of approval.
Real Customer Review: “True to their advertising, the ink dries very quickly and does seem to actually get into the paper or what you’re writing on. … This pen is close to being perfect. My main complaint is it feels a little bit lightweight on the top end compared to other pens that I’ve liked but good feel and comfortable to write with.” (kniteman)
Buy it: Uniball Jetstream RT Ballpoint Pen 0.7 mm at Amazon
10. Bic Ballpoint Pen Atlantis – “The Trusted Classic Pen”
From the Manufacturer: “Retractable ball pens, super smooth ink lets ideas flow freely, clear barrel with a soft, contoured comfort grip, medium point, smooth click action.”
Our Take: This pen writes flawlessly. It is smooth and fluid with a click-top. It has a comfortable rubber grip and does not bleed or smear. The ink color is not as dark as a gel pen. It is a trusted classic. They come in a three pack for $3.24.
Real Customer Review: “These pens write nice. I got tired of the gel pens because they do not always dry quickly depending on the type of paper used and then the gel ink smears. These Bic Atlantis pens use the traditional roller ball and for the most part non-smearing quick drying ink. The gel pens write nice but I am tired of the smearing. So buy these Bic Atlantis and you won’t have to hardly ever worry about smearing.” (ed)
Buy it: Bic Atlantis Ballpoint Pen at Amazon