Sure, this is a technology site, but sometimes you have to get a little retro. That is the case for my preferences in note-taking. I tend to do a fair amount of writing into paper notebooks. To do that, I use a pen.

Fountain pens are pretty pieces of art, but too messy and fiddly. Ballpoints are OK, but feel a little harsh as you write. Roller balls are OK too, except the quality of the ink is a bit “smeary” for my tastes. “Felt tip” pens are usually too blunt and “mooshy”, but read on…

I’ve spent a fair amount of time using the Pilot® Razor Point®. They are fiber tipped pens that get very close to being usable and they are relatively inexpensive. However, just like roller balls, they seem a bit smeary.

The perfect pen for me seems to be another fiber tip pen, the Pigma Micron 03 (0.35mm). They move smoothly across most paper and lay down an easy-to-read, permanent, dead-black line. They never smear and work pretty well on flimsy paper. I’ve never noticed any bleed-through. They come in multiple, well-defined widths and are favorites for drawing as well as writing.

Sakura Pigma Pen
The Sakura Pigma 03 Pen

If you’re looking for colors in a specific width, purchasing from an art supply store is usually easier than trying to find them on Amazon. They might even be a little cheaper if you get a good deal on shipping.

An almost perfect alternative is the Sharpie® Pen. I can’t find any specifics on the line width, but it looks and feels just like the Micron 03. It’s barrel is just a little less comfortable in my hand when writing. Otherwise, it would be a tie between these two. As a bonus, they can sometimes be found for a lower price than the Sakuras.

The Sharpie Pen
The Sharpie Pen

When you just have to put something on paper, these are the way to go.