In an era where communication is done through email, novels are written in word processors and bright ideas are dictated on your cell phone, you’d think there’s no more use for pens in the office world. While you may rarely need a pen these days, there’s something to be said about using them in favor of typing digitally. Taking notes on pen and pad in a meeting looks miles more professional than tapping them into Evernote, signatures always look better in ink than scribbled on a tablet and even the briefest handwritten letter looks more meaningful than any email could ever aspire to be.
In short, writing with a pen shows that you’re distinguished and give a damn about good taste, so take your handwriting seriously, and use a solid pen. From affordable disposables to luxurious fine writing utensils, these are some of the best pens for carrying out your daily office tasks, from note-taking to working on the Penske File.
Best Everyday Pens
Staedtler Pigment Liner
Though their intended application is for sketching, Staedler Pigment Liners make great writing pens because of the bold, crisp lines they make on the page and their smooth writing action. Staedler also advertises an 18-hour cap-off time, meaning if you’re the forgetful type, you won’t be out a pen if you accidentally leave off the cap.
Ohto Slim Line
At 0.3mm, the Ohto Slim Line is one of the finest-point ballpoints around. Besides being handsome, the Slim Line’s thin aluminum body is small enough to tuck away in smaller notebooks, and Ohto’s longstanding Japanese craftsmanship means it can hold up to a lot of abuse.
Craft Design Technologies Tradio Plastic Fountain Pen
Designed by Japanese stationary company Craft Design Technologies, the Tradio Fountain Pen is based on Pentel’s plastic-nib Tradio fountain pen but puts it in a cleaner, simpler and more elegant package. The CDT Tradio has the same kind of smooth writing action as a traditional fountain pen, but the plastic construction it makes it a lot easier to stomach if it becomes lost or broken.
Delfonics Wooden Ballpoint Pen
With a 0.7mm tip, the Delfonics Wooden Ballpoint Pen has a smooth writing point that makes taking notes a pleasure. A pen’s lackluster clicking mechanism can be a dealbreaker for some pen aficionados, but this Delfonics pen has a satisfying click, perfect for writers, maybe less so for office mates. The pen’s wooden body is incredibly light, making it a perfect travel companion, and the natural finish is beautiful when sticking out of a chest pocket, especially with the silver accents.
Skilcraft Ballpoint Pen
Skilcraft’s line of pens are a surefire upgrade from your standard pack of throwaway BICs. These pens were designed and made for the US government, with the specification that they write continuously for a mile without fail between a temperature range of -40°F and 160°F. Additionally, a majority of Skilcraft’s employees are visually impaired or have a disability, so besides buying a quality writing product, purchases support a worthy cause.
Other Notables (left to right)
Marvy Uchida Le Pen ($2): Le Pen’s superfine point makes for an incredibly writing tool that is stylish and sensible.
Uni-ball Jetstream 12-Pack ($24): The Uni-ball Jetstream combines the thick, vivid lines of a gel pen with the quick-drying abilities of a ballpoint pen to create the ideal writing instrument for left-handed people, who are prone to smudged handwriting.
Zebra F-701 ($7): This sleek steel pen has the look of a pen three times its price, but with the standard reliability of a pen that you’d buy as a 50-pack.
Monami 153 12-Pack ($5): A staple in Korean offices, the Monami 153 is a workhorse made to get the job done, and it’s one pen you won’t mind losing now and again.
Best High-End Pens
If you aren’t so keen on plastic nibs and don’t want to spring for a more expensive fountain pen, the Pilot Metropolitan is one of, if not the best entry fountain pens. The Metropolitan has a hefty but streamlined body reminiscent of fountain pens 20 times its price and has a smooth writing action.
Kaweco Classic Sport
The Kaweco Classic Sport lives up to its name: it’s based on a design from 1935, but is compact and sleek, perfect for everyday use. The gold-plated steel nib is a step up in quality for new fountain pen users, and the Kaweco’s iconic hexagonal shape will keep it from rolling off any uneven surfaces.
Fisher Original Astronaut Space Pen
Designed in the ’40s and eventually used in NASA’s Apollo missions, the Fisher Space Pen is without a doubt one of the most iconic writing utensils of all time. Thanks to a pressurized ink cartridge, the Fisher can be used at any angle in extreme temperatures.
Caran d’Ache 849 Popline
“Chic” and “trendy” tend to get thrown around a lot when a Popline is whipped out. While the pen is decidedly attractive, the pen has functionality to match — a refillable Goliath ink cartridge is good for filling in up to 600 A4-sized pages. Get a color for every outfit, because the Popline is a fashion accessory as much as it is a writing tool.
Grovemade Brass Pen
For under $100, Grovemade’s brass pens, also available in aluminum ($80) or titanium ($120) make a great future heirloom. The body is weighty because of the brass, and the pen’s facets feel good in the hand and prevent the pen from rolling off the desk. The brass will patina like a quality leather good, and it writes damn well, too
Other Notables (left to right)
Tactile Turn Bolt-Action Pen ($99): An extra-smooth clicking mechanism makes this a great fidget device as much as it is a great pen.
Shinola x Ensso Minimalist Fountain Pen ($79): Two design-conscious brands worked together to create a pen that is both durable, functional and beautiful.
Machine Era Pen Solid Brass ($38): A substantial brass pen you’ll be happy to show off, but hesitant to lend.
Schon DSGN Pocket Six ($118): This pen is so artfully made you might forget it’s a pen and use it as a decorative piece on your desk.
Best Luxury Pens
Though we admire almost all luxury fountain pens, they sometimes have a tendency to look a little bit stuffy. Waterman’s Carene is a perfect example of what a contemporary fountain pen should look like. Most notably, the 18-carat solid gold nib of the Carene is integrated into the pen body, making for a sleek, attractive writing instrument.
Montblanc Meisterstück 149
Montblancs are synonymous with fine writing instruments, but if you’re looking for the top-of-the-line pen from the Hamburg brand, you’ll want the Meisterstück 149. The Meisterstück Series has been Montblanc’s flagship range for over 90 years and the 149 was introduced in 1952 as the very top of the range. If nothing but the absolute finest writing instruments will do, this is your pen.
Writing with a fountain pen just makes you feel like you should write as legibly as possible. The Lamy 2000 has been around since 1966 and for good reason; Lamy’s pens are made in Germany and provide the same amount of luxury as a fountain pen worth triple the price
Other Notables (left to right)
Ystudio Desk Fountain Pen ($220): For the craftsmen behind ystudio, the art of making a pen is as invaluable as the pen’s ability to convey messages and feelings through ink.
Dunhill Sidecar ($435): Inspired by a 1930s Steib sidecar, this Dunhill pen is smooth and curved like an elongated bullet, and makes writing feel like a luxury.
Graf von Faber-Castell Ballpoint Pen ($225): The use of mixed materials in a Graf von Faber-Castell elevates this pen from disposable ballpoint to family heirloom.
Chopard 1860 Rollerball ($685): If the intricately designed cap doesn’t scream “high-quality pen,” then feeling the smooth resin barrel in your hands will do it.