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Bullet journaling is a fantastic hobby allowing you to embrace creativity while maintaining productivity. You can make gorgeous spreads with artistic doodles, design cartoon reminders for important dates, and construct valuable charts and tables to visualize your daily tasks.
To construct the perfect bullet journal, you need two major items: the notebook and bullet journal pens.
Why Bullet Journal Pens Matter
The right pen is vital for bullet journaling. The best pens don’t bleed through the pages and dry quickly to prevent smearing.
Some pens may create stunning writing visual effects, but if they bleed through the other side of your journal pages, half your journal will be unusable. Pen smudges make reading your charts, lists, and calendar difficult. Smeared ink destroys the gorgeous effect you were trying to create.
What Type of Pen is Best for Bullet Journaling?
The “best” pen for bullet journaling is highly subjective. Some folks prefer particular aesthetics and will sacrifice some smearing for the desired effect, while others prefer an easy-to-use pen that won’t cause any issues.
My favorite bullet journal pens are the colored Pilot G-2 07 fine retractable gel pens. I love the variety of colors in a pack, and the smooth writing should meet all your journaling needs. The only problem with the pens is that sometimes, the ink will pool near the point, causing too much ink to hit the page when you write. When this happens, the ink will smudge and smear.
I also love Zebra retractable medium-tip gel pens. The medium tip rolls a little smoother and is less likely to smear.
More Great Pens for Bullet Journaling
Lots of pens make great writing implements for your bullet journal. Here are the top types you should consider.
Ballpoint pens are perfect for those journaling on a budget. They are cheap, easy to find, and functional.
Ballpoint pens tend to write smoothly and dry quickly, so you won’t have to worry about smudging. The thin tips don’t lay out a lot of ink, so most are unlikely to bleed through to the opposite page.
Calligraphy pens offer special effects on your writing. The most significant limitation is that the ink tends to dry slowly, so if you write quickly and lay your hand across the page, you’re likely to smear your work.
Despite the drawbacks, some prefer calligraphy pens in their journals to showcase their artistic sides. If you choose this route, take your time crafting your journal entries to avoid smearing your work.
Special Effect Pen
Bullet journals are a perfect marriage of artistry and productivity. They’re functional art, allowing us to manage our day, organize our life, and track our goals while embracing creativity.
A burst of color and special effects enhance the visual quality of your bullet journal. Consider using pens that change colors or offer striking contrasts to help specific aspects of your journal stand out.
Rollerball pens use water- or gel-based ink, making them easier to write with than traditional ballpoint pens with oil-based ink. If your hand cramps quickly from writing, you might prefer a rollerball pen for journal writing.
The downside to rollerball pens is that they take longer to dry than traditional ballpoint pens. If you opt to use this style, give each journal section extra time to dry.
Watercolor pens offer stunning watercolor effects without destroying journal paper. Traditional watercolor absorbs into papers, causing stiffness or tearing. Watercolor artists need to invest in specialty paper for their works.
Watercolor pens bridge the gap. They are easy to use and prevent you from overdoing it with water. As a bonus, they don’t bleed through paper, and when used in moderation to add special effects in various places, they won’t destroy your journal pages.
Are Gel Pens Good for Bullet Journaling?
Gel pens are my favorite type of pen for bullet journaling. They come in numerous colors and dry quickly, making it easy to run your hand over the page.
Gel pens are also the best for special effects and different color pallets. You can find glitter gel pens, multicolored gel pens, and metallic gel pens. Some brands even have white ink gel pens.
Another bonus to gel pens is that they’re easy to use. The ink rolls smoothly on the paper, requiring little force from the writer, making it easy on your hands.
What Types of Pens Should I Avoid When Bullet Journaling?
Some pens make stunning effects but aren’t ideal for bullet journaling. Here are pens that might be ideal for other projects but may not work as well with a bullet journal.
Fountain pens offer gorgeous script-like writing. Unfortunately, they are slow to dry and smear very easily.
If you love the ink effect a fountain pen offers, you can use it for your bullet journal. You must be careful not to rest your hand on the paper as you write and allow it ample time to dry.
Felt-tipped pens offer thick, bold lines, but they tend to bleed through the paper, making them unsuitable for bullet journaling.
However, felt-pinned pens are perfect for other types of journals, such as art journals, which have thicker paper.
Are Sharpies Good for Bullet Journaling?
Sharpies are generally not ideal for bullet journaling. Sharpies have thick felt tips, and although the bold ink stands out, it also often leaks through the page to the other side.
If you want the thick lines offered by sharpies, consider skipping pages in your journal. The opposite side of a page marked with sharpies won’t be very useful.
Sharpie brand has more than markers. Sharpie pens are better suited for journaling than markers. Sharpie brand gel pens or ballpoint pens are just as good as the other brands we discussed for journaling.
More Writing Instruments for Your Bullet Journal
You don’t have to stick with pens when you journal. Plenty of other writing implements can offer fun effects and give you the exact look you want.
Explore these additional writing tools for creating the perfect bullet journal.
Markers have the same limitations as felt-tipped pens. Though they offer fantastic color options, many are too thick for journal pages and bleed through to the other side.
However, if you want the colorful, subdued effects markers can offer, you can purchase non-bleed varieties for a little extra money.
Opt for water-based artist markers such as iBayam Journal Planner Pens or Zebra Pen Midliner highlighters.
Highlighters are essential bullet journal supplies. The highlighted text draws the eye, making highlighters the perfect tool for emphasizing a key date, showcasing the top priorities, and helping you visualize your essential tasks at a glance.
You don’t need fancy highlighters for bullet journaling. Head to your local office supply store and grab a variety pack of your favorite colors.
A pencil is ideal for sketching or creating rough drafts of charts in your journal. Using a pencil allows you to erase mistakes and helps you craft the perfect table or calendar. Although erasable pens are available, they are generally low quality and don’t erase as well as pencils.
Mechanical pencils are ideal. They are easy to write with, make bold, sharp lines, and come fully equipped with an eraser and plenty of lead.
Those looking to add more artistry to their journals via sketches and drawings may prefer an artist-quality pencil set, offering various grades of graphite to help you get the perfect shade.
If you want more color in your journal, choose colored pencils. However, don’t grab just any set. Children’s colored pencils are blunt and challenging to write with, creating rough lines and messy effects. Opt for artist’s-colored pencils for a more refined finish.
Artistic journalers may want to use chalk or oil pastels to create special effects. Although these tools are fun to play with, they aren’t ideal for bullet journaling as they are messy and smear very easily.
Pastels are ideal for drawing and artwork you want to add to your bullet journal but don’t work well for creating lists, charts, goals, and tasks.
Where to Get the Best Bullet Journal Pens?
Craft stores and office supply stores are ideal places to get bullet journal pens. Staples has a wide range of pen sets, pencils, highlighters, and pen refills, perfect for beginners and those who want a simple, functional journal.
Creatives looking to add artwork to their bullet journals should shop at Michaels instead. Here you can find the best watercolor pens, artist-grade pencils and markers, and other assorted bullet journal supplies.
You can grab your journal at either store!
More Tools for Bullet Journaling
Although you only need a pen and journal for bullet journaling, many people like to decorate their journals with various other items.
Consider grabbing stickers, glitter, post-it notes, and other fun supplies to create a journal that speaks to you.
Start Small with your Bullet Journal
Bullet journaling doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. Start small with a simple journal and a Paper mate pen.
When you realize you love it, explore the various effects different styles of pens can make and decide for yourself which best fits your journaling needs.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.