Purpose and Pens

Pens fall into one of four major types: Ballpoint, rollerball, gel, and fountain. Advanced ink and porous point pens are options as well, but we will stick to the basics.


By far the most common variety of pen. Ballpoints are special because of their ink: Thick enough to not spill and quick drying so it does not smudge.

If you are looking for a utility pen that can stand abuse and will write for ages, a ballpoint is the way to go. Be sure to ask for ballpoints that do not dry up easily. We have all experienced that pen with a full ink reservoir that will not write – that ink has gone dry!

Vic Hollefreund explored details of how ballpoint pens were invented in Vic’s History of Office Stuff in May of 2014.


Stand-out lines and exceptionally smooth writing: Rollerball pens are an experience no writer can go without. Their liquid ink flows more quickly and easily than the thicker stuff in a ballpoint, which is why lines written by a rollerball look so strong without applying high pressure to a page. Rollerball ink is also available in a variety of colours, so they are perfect for personalized writing and dramatic effect.

With so much ink flowing on to a page, it can be easy to smudge. Liquid ink will also leak through thin paper. Nonetheless, writing with a rollerball feels exquisite and every letter jumps right to the reader’s eyes.


Gel ink is a similar product, but we treat it separately. Gel ink flows easily on to a page because it is a liquid, just like rollerball ink, but smudges less. They are reliable and consistent like a ballpoint, but write smoothly and are easy to control like a rollerball.

Bright and rich colours make gel pens a very personal statement. Royal purples, stop-sign reds, and any other colour you can imagine is out there. Gel ink is permanent and acid free, making it perfect for archiving, professional portfolios, legal documents, or scrapbooks.


DontLendSome things never fall out of fashion. There is no more personal writing implement than a fountain pen. When choosing a fountain, it is all about feel. If a pen feels and writes better for you, then it is the right one.

Fountain pens adapt to how you write. The writing tip, or the “nib”, will mold itself to the way you write. With time, your fountain pen literally becomes an extension of your hand.

Writing in comfort is what fountain pens do best, so components are customizable. The barrel, nib, and ink are all meant to work for the way you write.

The “barrel” – the area of the pen that you grip – can often be replaced with one of different size or weight. Thick barrels are not necessarily heavy. Experiment to find what suits you best.

The writing tip, commonly called a “nib” can be flexible or stiff, wide or narrow, and a variety of shapes tailored to your style and the kind of letters you wish to produce. Some work best for handwriting, while others are suited for intricate calligraphy.

Last, and never least, fountain pen ink is bought separately and is available in a variety of colours. Every word you write represents you in vivid colour.

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