I've always loved stationery. From color-coordinated sticky notes to file desktop storage and folders for every subject, it made sense why back-to-school season was my favorite time of year growing up (and it wasn't because of school). Naturally, it came as no surprise when I started becoming increasingly passionate about pens over the past few years.
It's no secret to me that different pens impact how neat or messy my handwriting is, but while I was able to grin and bear it in the past, I've found that now I can't even do that. I've spent the better part of the past two years buying and trying pens of every tip size, ballpoint and gel style, color and brand. While I've come to a conclusion about which ones have made it into my top three favorites, I'm always on the hunt for a new one (despite the hundreds that are currently in my house...but we don't have to talk about that).
This time, instead of scouring the internet and trying my luck at finding ones with good reviews, I decided to consult the experts: writers, editors and authors! Below, find 16 different pens that are approved by the pros.
Best pens, according to writers, authors and editors
"A good pen often stands between me and my next great idea," says Dhonielle Clayton, bestselling author of "The Marvellers." Clayton is still fond of handwriting the first draft of her novels, so using the right pen is important to her process. She says these pens help her find her creative rhythm.
"I love the thin 0.5 mm ballpoint, allowing for smooth lines, no smudging and no bleeding through the page. The grip is sleek and comfortable for long writing sessions and the color saturation is gorgeous and rich," she raves. "These pens are magic!"
Shop TODAY SEO writer Jannely Espinal is also a fan of these pens. "I love the Muji pen for its smooth touch and ability to ink words with precision," she shares. "As someone who writes cursive, this pen is excellent to craft quick notes on your agenda. It writes elegantly and the fine print won't make your letters look all cluttered."
Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, New York Times-bestselling author of young adult thriller "Ace of Spades," is another fan of PaperMate pens, but prefers this thicker ballpoint style.
"As a writer with dysgraphia, I struggle a lot with pens that have comfortable grips," she shares. "My favorite pen to use is the PaperMate InkJoy Ballpoint Stylo Bille because they are bigger than the average pen and are therefore easy to hold/makes writing on paper feel really fluid."
Shop TODAY editorial director Adrianna Brach isn't a fan of pencils, so she decided to give this erasable gel pen a try and was pleasantly surprised with the results. "It really impressed me. I love being able to erase ink because I absolutely loathe pencils," she says.
Leigh Bardugo, New York Times-bestselling author of popular book-to-Netflix adapted series "Shadow and Bone," loves the Le Pen from Marvy Uchida.
"I think I picked up my first Le Pen at Muji during a trip to New York City — and I still have it because they are somehow enchanted to never run out of ink. This is the pen I reach for when I'm taking notes at a meeting or on a call, or when I'm revising a new manuscript and need to map things out away from my keyboard," she tells us. "It's compact, writes smoothly and it has never betrayed me by exploding on an airplane."
While this isn't a traditional sort of pen that probably comes to mind, it's a favorite of author Stephanie Garber. Before her first book was released, the "Caraval" writer was gifted a hot pink Sharpie on her birthday by her sister. She still has the same one and even says it still works.
"It might not seem like a practical pen, but I always like to have a hot pink sharpie nearby because I think it makes anything it touches a little more fun.”
These affordable pens ring in at less than $7 for a 60-count, and they're a favorite of Shop TODAY production associate Jillian Ortiz who says she prefers them over any other pen she's used before.
"It doesn’t bleed and makes it easy to write clearly and concisely. I hate pens that leak ink and then it smudges all over your hands as you write on the page. They’re so cheap and the best, in my opinion!" she raves.
Another favorite of Brach's, she calls the Sharpie S-Gel with a 0.7mm point her everyday pen. "It glides seamlessly while I am taking tons of notes in meetings and gives off that bold, inky look without the bleeding."
This has been a personal favorite of mine for the past few months. It's designed with comfort in mind and was even recognized by the Arthritis Foundation. I've found that I can write with this pen for hours without experiencing any dreaded hand cramping. While it's only available in black ink, it comes in four fun shell colors.
Tracy Deonn, author of New York Times bestseller "Legendborn," is another fan of uni-ball pens but specifically calls out this version. "When I'm crafting new worlds and new stories, I always have a uni-ball Jetstream nearby. I love how smooth it writes and how quickly it dries–when the ideas are coming fast, I don't have time for smears or splotches!" she says.
Shop TODAY senior SEO editor Jess Bender takes after her dad and his affinity for pens. Growing up, she says she only had two types of pens in the house: pens her dad brought home from his office and these specific rollerball pens from uni-ball.
"They glide onto the page so easily, their ink lasts forever and they make my terrible handwriting look slightly more readable," she says. "I just bought a new eight-pack for the office so I can continue my pen snobbery at work!"
These Amazon bestselling fine point pens are a favorite of Elena Armas, author of "The Spanish Love Deception." Often used by artists for drawing, they come in several different colors but Armas is partial to the rose hue that matches her book cover.
"They write smoothly, never smudge and feel fancy even when writing a to-do list," she raves.
This colorful bunch is a go-to for former Shop TODAY commerce writer Hannah Baker. Described by the brand as "the first erasable fine point marker pen," with these, you no longer have to worry about carrying around a bottle of correction fluid for your ink errors.
Kai Harris, author of "What the Fireflies Knew," is a fan of these PaperMate medium-point pens. "This has been my go-to pen for years because it's fast-drying and inexpensive (which works well for everyday use), but also writes smoothly with thin, crisp lines that are perfect for professional writing (including signing books)," she adds. "I typically use the black pen, but it's also available in a variety of colors if you want to have fun!"
Shop TODAY market assistant Audrey Ekman is a fan of these pens from Pilot. "The classic Pilot G2 wins my proverbial pen bracket every time. I love how lusciously bold, inky and satisfying a G2 is to write with," she says. "Thinner pens tend to yield illegible chicken scratch from me, but something about the smooth and broad strokes of a G2 actually improves my handwriting... magic!"
Brach is also a fan of the pens, but prefers the fine 0.7mm point over the thicker 1.0mm point.
These pens are a staple for Shop TODAY SEO editorial assistant Sierra Hoeger who says she's bought them every year since her first year of college. "They're simple, no frills, yet come in fun colors that make note taking even more so!"
After receiving a bright pink version of this pen as a birthday gift from her dad, Chloe Gong made it her go-to writing utensil when she "wants to feel fancy." The bestselling author of "These Violent Delights" and its sequel "Our Violent Ends" admits that even though typing is easy, "there's something especially satisfying about a smooth ink nib pulling my words out.”