Are Fountain Pens Good For Note-Taking?

Many people need to take notes, ranging from school learners to university students to business people and journalists. Some of them are on the go, moving between lecture theatres or covering a story, while others are in virtual or live meetings at home or in offices and boardrooms. They could use a fountain pen for note-taking in just about any situation where they use another type of pen.

Fountain pens are excellent for note-taking in all walks of life. They are more suited to people’s hands than standardized ballpoints and don’t cause hand fatigue or writer’s cramp. Quick-drying fountain pen inks are less prone to smudging and can be water-resistant, unlike ink used in other pens.

Fountain pens are more versatile than many people think. Just because they use liquid ink and have to be filled periodically doesn’t mean they are less viable options for note-taking than other pen types. Fountain pen inks have become increasingly sophisticated over the years, and some can dry faster than ballpoint ink. Using a fountain pen can improve handwriting, make your notes stand out more, and is less likely to result in writer’s cramp.

Don’t Fountain Pen Notes Smudge More?

Fountain pen notes don’t necessarily smudge more than notes written with other kinds of ink. If you use a fine or extra-fine nib and a fast-drying ink, they may be less likely to smudge than a ballpoint. Smudging depends on the type of paper used, the nib, the ink type, and how you orient the pen relative to the writing surface.

Some fountain pens write more wetly than others because the nib is broader or the ink feed within the pen is more generous. You can avoid smudging by changing your ink or the type of paper you’re using, adjusting how you hold the pen, and using a finer nib. Unlike ballpoints and other pen types, fountain pen nibs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and there is one to suit everyone.

The different nib sizes and types vary in the amount of ink they deposit on a page. The less ink, the faster it dries. The nibs of Japanese fountain pens tend to be finer than those of other manufacturers and therefore don’t transfer as much ink to the paper. Fountain pen inks can broadly be divided into dry inks and wet inks.

Wet inks flow more freely than dry ones causing more ink to be deposited as you write. Identifying the correct one for you may take a bit of trial and error, but ink manufacturers also provide helpful guides. Noodler’s, for instance, sells fast-drying all-purpose ink in a range of colors. Their Bernanke Blue and Bernanke Black dry in less than ten seconds when used with a fine nib. 

Lamy Blue by Lamy dries slightly slower than the Noodler’s but is still faster than average. Pelikan 4001 Violet dries faster than Lamy Blue. Noodler’s Polar Blue, Polar Brown, and Polar Green dry in a little over three seconds and also are freeze-resistant for cold climates and bulletproof. This means they are resistant to water, solvents, and ultra-violet light.

Fast Drying Ink For Fountain Pens

The variety of inks available for fountain pens is stunning, and many more color options are available than just the usual blue, black, green, and red.

Some of the fastest drying black inks are –

  • Noodler’s Bernanke Black
  • Lamy Black
  • Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black
  • Noodler’s Heart of Darkness and
  • Platinum Black.

Some of the fastest drying red inks are –

  • Noodler’s Fox Red
  • Diamine Syrah
  • Diamine Scarlet
  • Noodler’s Berning Red and
  • Platinum Red

For more interesting fast-drying colors you could try –

  • Orange – Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki or Diamine Pumpkin
  • Pink – Noodler’s Georgia Peach or Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu
  • Purple – J. Herbin Scented Violet Purple, Platinum Classic Lavender Black, Waterman Tender Purple
  • Turquoise – Diamine Twilight or Noodler’s Blue Nose Bear
  • Yellow – Noodler’s Year of the Golden Pig, Platinum Classic Citrus Black, or J Herbin Bouton d’Or

Just remember that if you use iron-gall inks, you need to clean out your pen more frequently to prevent them from drying inside the feed. Iron-gall inks are a special type of ink that contains pigment particles rather than dye. It is unnecessary to use iron-gall inks for note-taking as there are other kinds of fast-drying ink, but you can try them if you want.

Paper Quality Affects Smudging

Newsprint and other poor-quality papers absorb ink faster than standard office paper, copy paper, or notepaper, so they are not suitable for note-taking with a fountain pen. Writing on glossy paper with a fountain pen also doesn’t work well because the paper can’t absorb the ink, but this is also true for ballpoints. Aside from this, fountain pen ink works well on most paper types, so there is no need to buy expensive, boutique paper for note-taking.

Slightly heavier paper is better for fountain pens than flimsy paper. The thickness of the paper is measured in grams per square meter (gsm). Up to a point, the higher the gsm of the paper, the better as the ink is less likely to bleed through to the other side or smudge.

Paper towels and similar porous paper are not suitable for use with a fountain pen, but most people don’t use this kind of paper for note-taking anyway. 

Using A Fountain Pen For Note-Taking At School

Fountain pen ink writes bolder than other ink types and really makes your handwriting stand out. Since fountain pens, unlike ballpoints, don’t need any pressure to write, your hand will tire out less quickly, and you will be able to take notes for longer without getting writer’s cramp. It is also easier to form letters with a fountain pen than with a slippery ballpoint, making your handwriting more legible when you need to go over your notes for exams.

Many lefthanded people actually prefer using fountain pens with quick-drying ink to ballpoints because they end up with less ink on their hands at the end of the day. Ballpoint ink can also smudge and leave inky deposits on a lefty’s hand as they write. As a lefty, you can try holding a fountain pen at different angles to how you would hold a ballpoint and avoid your hand passing over the ink altogether.

Some lefties may hold the pen nib beneath the line for writing, while others may prefer to hold it to the side. When using the former position, which is similar to how right-handers hold a pen, there is no need to worry about the fineness of the nib, and quick-drying ink is not an issue. However, if you use the sideways hand position, there is a higher risk of smudging, so you will need to use a fine or extra-fine nib and fast-drying ink.  

It is not difficult to adapt one’s hand position to avoid smudging with a fountain pen, and lefties may even find a new hand position less restrictive, e.g., using an under-the-line writing position. When learning how to write, using a fountain pen early after the pencil stage can help school children develop better handwriting styles and less cramped hand positions.

There are no special nibs or fountain pen styles designed especially for lefties because there is no need. A left-hander can use the same fountain pen as a right-hander and equally well. Lamy ABC fountain pens were designed in consultation with education experts for children just starting to learn to write.

The Lamy pen takes cartridges, has a smooth polished steel nib and sturdy construction. Pelikan’s Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen designed for children, has an appealing modern design, a pressure-resistant elastic nib, and takes cartridges.

For older children, there is the Lamy Safari which comes in many colors, has an ergonomic grip, and is made from robust, lightweight plastic. Many adults love the Lamy Safari too.

Using a Fountain Pen For Lecture Notes

Fountain pens that take ink cartridges are the best choice for students attending lectures.

Students usually have to take screeds of notes and spend many hours writing things down. To avoid running out of ink at crucial moments, they can carry a few fountain pen cartridges with them, which quickly and easily snap into place. Fountain pen cartridges vary in length and the quantity of ink they hold but are unlikely to get used up in just one day of note-taking.

The nice thing about many fountain pens, whether they use piston fillers or cartridges, is that it is easy to see when the ink is running low. Ballpoints and pens that use other kinds of refills just surprise you by suddenly refusing to write. This can be a problem if you don’t have a spare pen handy and are in the middle of taking lecture notes.

People rarely think to carry extra ballpoint refills and will often just discard the whole pen in favor of a new one. However, this means you have to carry several pens around, whereas, with a fountain pen, you just need one and a couple of spare ink cartridges. Additionally, fountain pens make note-taking easier and more enjoyable as they do not put undue stress on the hand and wrist.

College students who have used fountain pens say that they end up looking forward to heavy note-taking sessions rather than dreading them. The variety of colored inks available for fountain pens adds more fun and creativity to taking notes and allows easy color-coding.

Some fountain pens that college students recommend are –

  • Lamy 2000 because it writes smoothly and its piston filler has huge ink capacity;
  • Lamy Safari because it’s cheaper than the Lamy 2000, durable, very affordable, and has interchangeable nibs;
  • Pilot Vanishing Point because there is no cap to worry about as the nib is retractable;
  • TWSBI Eco because of its large ink capacity and solid steel nib
  • Platinum Preppy because it’s highly affordable and comes with various ink colors for color-coding your notes.  
  • Platinum 3776 Century because of its gold nib, cool-looking design, and smooth writing experience. It is slightly more expensive than the Preppy, but some say it’s worth it.

Some people say they can write faster with a fountain pen because they don’t have to press down so hard on the paper. For note-taking, other affordable fountain pens are the Platinum Plaisir, Kaweco Perkeo, Parker Jotter, Jinhao, Pilot Kakuno, and the Pilot V-Pen. The last one is a cheap disposable fountain pen, so you don’t have to worry about it getting lost or stolen, and it has a handy viewer so you can see when the ink is low.

Using A Fountain Pen For Work and Business

In the business environment, fountain pens are associated with a certain prestige and can be used to make a personal style statement. The sky is the limit when it comes to elegance, beauty, materials, design, and price. They emphasize the uniqueness of an individual’s script and personality.

Many high-quality fountain pens are available for solid business use that don’t have to break the bank yet make a subtle statement about the user’s character and preferences. They put the pleasure back into note-taking in meetings, filling in documents and planners, and signing letters. The pens listed as suitable for student note-taking are just as good in business, but sometimes a special pen just adds that professional touch.

The Lamy 2000 is a good workhorse that comes in different nib sizes to suit pretty much anyone. For smaller hands and business travelers, the Kaweco range is stylish and reflects the brand’s slogan of “small in the pocket, great in the hand”. The Pelikan Classic is sleek and light and also suits smaller hands and gentler writing styles.  

Bigger bolder fountain pens include the famous Montblanc range, the Platinum 3776, the Pelikan M200, the Aurora Epsilon, Waterman, and the Parker Duofold. There is a fountain pen to suit every hand size, style preference, and handwriting. Many people bond with their chosen style of fountain pen and won’t write with anything else.

In this computer age, there are still novelists who prefer to use fountain pens to write their first drafts and research notes, saying that it gets their creative juices flowing. One says that they bring pleasure to her work and help her slow down enough to think deeply instead of just fast. One advertising copywriter says they write outlines for press releases with a fountain pen because it makes them slow down and really think about the words and points.

A researcher says he uses fountain pens to prepare an outline and take research notes before using a word processor to write his first draft. People who use fountain pens for their work often say they feel a strong connection between their mind, their hand, and the paper, and it is just easier to get their thoughts out when writing by hand.

Reputable fountain pen brands include Sailor, Parker, Cross, Pelikan, Sheaffer, Lamy, Pilot, Montblanc, Faber-Castell, and Kaweco. They all sell a range of fountain pens to suit every lifestyle and pocket. Another nice thing about using fountain pens in an office is that you can use bottled ink.

With an ink bottle handy, you will never run out of ink, and some manufacturers pay almost as much attention to designing the bottles as they do to their pens. Ink bottles can make gorgeous displays on your desk. With the sophisticated filler systems in modern pens, ink-stained fingers are a thing of the past as long as you don’t hold the pen too close to the nib.   


Fountain pens are excellent for note-taking, whether at school, college, university, or in the office. With a vast range of ink types of colors and many different nib shapes and sizes, there is a fountain pen to suit everyone’s writing style. Many users find them inspirational and highly conducive to expressing their thoughts on paper in various work environments.


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