10 Best Pens for Bullet Journaling 2023

Putting pen to paper is a long-established annual trend for the start of the year.  Indeed, it's the time of year when a large number of people take up journaling and bullet journaling, start a fresh notebook or a new annual diary journal. 

However, whilst opening this new notebook, journal or diary is a thing of joy, buying a pen, the best pen for journaling, is equally as important.  This is because not all pens are equal in terms of performance.  Pick something poor quality and it can adversely affect your journaling and diary noting experience.

Why Picking the Right Journaling Pens Matters

Before and since setting up The Ink Pot in 2019, we have tested many…..many pens.  Pens of every style, colour and finish.  This is so we can ensure the quality of our luxury notebooks: each dotted notebook or lined journal, is matched by the experience of the pens and brush markers we offer. 

Every single one has been tried and tested by us and rest assured; we are very picky when it comes to pens!

But why go to so much effort? 

Well, you might have the best journal in the world – and we like to think our personalised journals are – but pick a poor-quality pen and your journaling experience is likely to be disappointing. 

From drawing and doodling to writing and making short notes, having the right pen in your hand significantly increases the joy these activities bring.

The Most Common Pen Complaints:

  • Skipping

Most bullet journal enthusiasts rely on journal pens that offer continuous, precise lines.  After all, there’s nothing more annoying than seeing gaps appear in an otherwise smooth, solid line of ink – also known as pen skipping.  Whilst ballpoint pens are notorious for this, poor quality gel pens can also suffer from this issue. 

A good gel pen ensures a smooth mark making experience; where the nib never dries out and the line remains consistent no matter the angle it’s held against the paper.

  • Feathering

Poor quality ink is more often than not the reason for ‘feathering’.  This is when the paper absorbs too much ink, which seeps out from each pen stroke.  Pen feathering means lines and writing look furry, not crisp and clean.  

Pens with acid-free inks that are the right consistency – i.e., not too runny – will prevent this.  As will high quality paper.  

  • Smudging

Pen smudging occurs when the ink doesn’t dry quickly.  It’s a common complaint of left-handed writers, who are generally more likely to drag their hand across the paper as they write.

The best pens dry fast, thanks to pigment ink.  Unlike liquid dye – used in cheaper pens – pigment ink is high quality and dries fast, diminishing the chances of smudging.

Before Choosing The Best Pens for Journaling

There are additional factors to consider before purchasing any pens for your journaling kit. 

You can ask yourself the following:

  • Is simplicity of style your favoured creative journaling aesthetic?
  • Do you love colour?
  • Are you super creative and are aesthetic journaling ideas your priority?
  • What is your budget? Take it from us, sometimes buying a less expensive pen can prove a false economy; so, use your budget wisely.  Buying fewer, but higher-quality pens is usually better for your wallet in the long run.
  • Have you read the reviews?
  • How versatile is each pen? e., is it possible to draw, letter and write with it?  Can you use it for many different spreads or is it only for a single type of layout?
  • Is this a brand you have used / enjoyed previously?
  • Will you get good use from these pens? Only buy pens you know you will use often.


Whether you’re new to the world of journaling, or an old pro, the right pen makes a huge difference to your experience.  

Here is our pick of the pens:


If you love a simple aesthetic, want a notebook for writing thoughts and feelings, or just noting down dates, then we suggest you start off simply. 

A good black pen is the perfect place to start.

  1. Micron Pigma Pen (Black)

Pigma Micron pens feature fine tips in different sizes – so they can be used for even the most detailed / precision drawing and writing. 

The archival ink is permanent, waterproof, acid-free, chemically stable and, better still, doesn’t smudge or fade. 

This is a great place to start using if you are looking for a pen that gives a smooth, consistent fine line.  It works well for writing, doodling and detailed drawing. 

  1. Sakura Gelly Roll (Black)

Like the Pigma Micron, these gel pens also feature archival ink and, thanks to Sakura pens unique gel ink technology, the ink flows evenly and consistently at all times.  Each black pen creates beautiful, crisp clear lines with its fine tip, which works well for writing, doodling and drawing.

  1. White Gelly Roll Pens (Sakura)

If simplicity is your goal and a monochrome aesthetic is key, then we say don’t forget to add a gelly roll white pen to your shopping basket.  Why?  Well, it’s an incredibly versatile pen, that’s perfect for bullet journaling basics. 

Use it for writing on dark coloured, or black paper, or to add definition to your drawing and doodling.  It can also make an effective ‘eraser’ if you make a mistake.  Simply use it over the top of your black ink error!

As with all Sakura gelly roll pens, this features the very best gel ink technology, which ensures the smoothest writing and drawing experience.


If colour is your thing, then you can’t go wrong choosing any of the following pens.  We say, have fun letting your inner Henri Matisse out!

  1. Sakura Gelly Roll Moonlight Pens

Thanks to its patented, water-based gel ink, these colour gel pens give gorgeous, vivid, paint-like results.  These don’t bleed through our 160gsm paper notebooks planners and they show up clearly on every paper colour.  They are fine tip pens, which produce a clear, crisp, thin line, without any need to apply pressure as you use them.

There’s a huge choice of colour – to appeal to every level of artist out there and the vibrant colours don’t fade.  The fluorescent pens even glow under ultra-violet light.  These are pens to please the creative soul. 

  1. Tombow Dual Brush Pen

These offer the best of all worlds.  On one end you have the option to use the flexible brush tip: perfect for calligraphy.  At the other end is a fine tip; great for making consistent lines and adding details to a drawing. 

It’s the ink quality that raises these above the ordinary.  They use water-based, non-bleed, non-toxic, acid free ink.  Which is why Tombow Dual Brush Pens are so popular. Add to this the extraordinary array of colours to choose from and it’s easy to see why a Tombow brush pen is a welcome and versatile addition to any bullet journaling pen collection. 

  1. Ecoline Brush Pen

If painting is your thing and watercolour your ideal medium, then these Talens Ecoline Brush Pens are for you.  These feature flexible brush nibs and are filled with concentrated watercolour ink that is rich and vibrant and perfect for blending – just like real paint.  The addition of a colourless blender pen, to mix or subdue your colours, makes these far more convenient than carting around paint tubes and pans.  Intrigued?  Take a look at hand-lettering artist, Amanda Arneill and her in-depth review.

  1. Posca Paint Pens

Posca pens, by Japanese brand Uni, were originally a favourite of graffiti artists.  This is probably because they are odourless, water-based pigment pens that are soluble when wet – so you can mix your colours easily, but entirely waterproof when dry.  They also work well on every surface.  We love the extra fine nib Posca pen set as it can be used to add beautiful vibrant colour to your journal pages. 


  1. Schneider Pens Metallic Markers

If you want pens that add a beautiful metallic sheen to your page design, then these metallic pens should be first on your list.  We love them because they look brilliant on every type and colour paper and add a fabulous finishing touch to any doodle or drawing.  One of our favourite ways to use them is to outline calligraphy writing, for that little extra eye-catching touch.  We also love how quickly they dry, which means there’s no smudging on the page.


  1. Zebra Mildliner Pens – Highlighter 5-Pack

Like many innovative pen technologies available today, the term ‘mildliner’ originated from Japan.  It means a highlighter colour range that is uniquely soft and sophisticated.  A Zebra highlighter set offers an unparallel elegant colour range and each Zebra pen comes with dual ended tips – one chiselled, for highlighting and the other a bullet tip for writing.  These won’t bleed or smudge and really are a cut above all other highlighters on the market.  They always have a place in our pencil case!


  1. Faber-Castell – Neon Markers

If you love neon, then these neon pens from Faber Castell will give you that bold pop of vibrant colour you seek.  They feature a high-performance, water based ink that’s odour free.  It doesn’t bleed, smudge or feather and there’s no shaking and pumping to get them going.  Simply pop the lid and get writing or drawing. 

We hope that this guide provides a good basis to start from when it comes to building your best pen collection for journaling.  Whether you’re journaling for manifestation, journaling for mental health or journaling because you just like to write, we test pens, so you don’t have to.  Our in-depth research means you can begin your journaling journey, safe in the knowledge that whatever pen you choose, it will provide a first-class experience!  Happy journaling!