The 9 Best Pens for Journaling and Bullet Journaling in 2020

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The right pens can completely transform your journaling experience. Some pens are perfect for creating precise lines or writing in small spaces, others are ideal for adding colorful details to your pages. If you like to add a bit of calligraphy to your bullet journal pages, then brush pens are essential. And of course, you always need basic pens for your everyday journaling.

Here, you’ll find the best journaling pens for various journaling styles, creating exciting page spreads, and adding decorative elements to each of your journal pages. The pens have a variety of nib sizes (the part of the pen that comes in contact with the paper) to allow you to create lines and embellishments of different thicknesses. No matter your journaling style or preference, you’ll find the best pens for your needs in this list.

Best Overall: Sakura Pigma Micron Blister Card Ink Pen Set

Sakura Pigma Micron Blister Card Ink Pen Set
Courtesy of Amazon

Perfect for journaling as well as writing and illustrating, Sakura Micron pens are one of the most reliable and most popular drawing pens. And with good reason: the pens glide across the paper leaving smooth, clean lines. Pigma Micron pens are rich in pigment, waterproof, fade resistant, and don't leave smears on most types of paper. Ink stays on the top layer of the paper rather than absorbing through which means no bleedthrough. The Sakura Pigma Micron Blister Card Pen Set includes six nib sizes: 0.20mm, 0.25mm, 0.30mm, 0.35mm, 0.45mm, and 0.50mm. The pens are great for doing fine detailed line work where precision is important. All pens in the set have black ink.

Best for Brush Lettering: Tombow Dual Brush Pen Set of 10 Grayscale

Brush pens are great for brush letters, faux calligraphy, illustrations, watercolor illustrations, and journaling. The Tombow Dual Brush Pen Set in Grayscale includes 10 pens in varying shades of gray for a monotone look. The brushes are made from smooth and resilient fibers, can take on pressure, and maintain their original shape even after use. The ink is water-based and blendable. No worries if you like to mix colors — the tips are self-cleaning so the markers won’t be permanently stained when you do. You can clean the tips by simply brushing them across a piece of scrap paper. The pens can be used on regular paper with normal writing, but drawing or painting on cardstock is ideal to avoid bleed-through.

Best Gel: Papermate InkJoy Gel Retractable Pens, 0.7mm, Pack of 14

Create bold lines in bright, beautiful colors with the Papermate Inkjoy Gel Retractable Pens. Because the pens are retractable, you don’t have to worry about them drying out because you left them uncapped. On paper, however, the ink dries three times faster than other pens, which dramatically reduces smearing. The ergonomic comfort grip wraps around the entire pen barrel, making it easier to hold as you jot your notes, plan your schedule, or create your journal templates. The assortment of colors gives you the opportunity to add variety to your journaling pages. Pen tips can be used to create controlled and fine lines, making the gel pens great for small or large journaling projects.

Best for Everyday Use: Sharpie Pen, Fine Point, 4 Black Pens

Sharpie pens are the perfect mix of quality and affordability. Designed with a fine tip and soft grip, Sharpie pens will easily become your go-to for everyday journaling. Not to be confused with the markers created by the same company, your writing with Sharpie pens will be bold and smooth, but won’t bleed through to the other side of the page. The fine point allows you to create smooth sharp lines or write clearly and legibly in smaller spaces. Quick-drying ink prevents smearing and is water- and fade-resistant. Sharpie pens are a quality writing instrument at a great price that can’t be beat.

Best Fountain: Pilot Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen

If your journaling includes a lot of writing, a fountain pen is a must-have. Fountain pens provide an easier writing experience and you can’t get any better than the Pilot Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen. The pens are created with a durable brass barrel, premium matte finish, and polished accents that will add a bit of sophistication to your journaling experience. The pen comes with a cartridge, a converter, and a carrying case. If you prefer a fountain pen, you’ll want to pair with a journal that’s created with fountain-pen friendly paper to avoid bleed-through.

Best for Dramatic Lettering: COPIC Markers Gasenfude Nylon Brush Penblack

The Gasenfude Nylon Brush Pen has a narrow and flexible synthetic brush that you can use to create dramatic lettering. The nib features a super fine point for creating thin lines and details. Or, if you press down on the brush, you can create the broad, strong strokes for more dramatic lettering. The brush pen is perfect for creating page and section headers and other dramatic effects in your journal. The rich, solid black ink is also perfect for creating shading effects and bringing character to lines drawn on your pages. The ink is bleed and smear resistant and can be used with other COPIC markers to bring life and creativity to your journal entries.

Best for Color Coding: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens, 20-Pack

If you’re looking for a set of colorful fineliners to add to your collection of journaling pens, the 20-pack of Staedtler Triplus Fineliners are the perfect choice. The pack includes an array of colors including yellow, orange, pink, violet, brown, and gray. The 0.3mm tip size will allow you to write and draw fine lines with amazing precision. The inks have amazing, vibrant color quality that almost pops off the page. There’s no skipping when you write and the ink dries quickly, without leaving any smears behind. You won’t have bleedthrough on copy weight paper, though you may be able to see the colors from the other side of the pages on thinner types of paper. Staedtler Triplus Fineliners are great for writing, drawing, and sectioning pages.

Best Glitter: Caliart Glitter Pen 48 Glitter Gel Pens

Caliart’s set of 48 glitter gel pens are perfect for adding some sparkle to your journal pages. The set includes a nice range of vibrant colors including 34 unique glitter coloring pens and 24 neon glitter gel pens, all with a 1.0 mm ballpoint tip. Ink flows smoothly and evenly from the tip of the pen to your paper, without pooling, bleeding, or fading. The pens can be used for a variety of journaling techniques including sketching, doodling, coloring, outlining, and embellishing. 

Best for Bible Journaling: Pigma Micron Inductive Bible Study Kit

The Pigma Micron Bible Study Kit is a perfect set of pens for those who enjoy taking a fresh and creative approach to Bible study with Bible journaling. The set includes a total of 8 pens: Sakura’s 05 Pigma Microns and 01 Pigma Micron. The Micron 05 colors include blue, light green, orange, pink, violet, and yellow; and the Micron 01 note pen colors include black and red. The colors offer great contrast, allowing you to highlight the most meaningful passages in the Bible text. The pens are great for detailed lettering and offer minimal to no bleedthrough, even on lightweight Bible pages.

Our Process

Our writers spent 10 hours researching the most popular pens for journalling on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 16 different pens, screened options from 14 different brands and manufacturers, and read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.