11 Best Pens for Bullet Journals That Don’t Bleed

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Bullet journaling is slowly picking up pace as a hugely productive habit which begins with you and a blank journal, and your creativity and effort can help you go from there.

From maintaining emotion calendars to jotting down thoughts and tasks, your creativity can create a powerful task management system which doesn’t need any batteries to work at peak efficiency. Your creativity is also put to work.

However, with the use of a bullet journal, comes the question of pens. While it is an arbitrary choice for many bullet journal novices, those who have been bullet journaling for a while know that it’s not as easy as simply buying any pen and getting to work.

As it so happens, pens can bleed, ghost, give erratic ink flow, and some pens on the market are downright undependable or unusable.

Image via Matt Ragland@mattragland

With this, we begin today’s journey into bullet journaling pens – pens which will always give you the required performance. Pens are critical to bullet journaling efficiency and clarity – hence, we present reviews of 11 of the best pens on the market. All of these suit different requirements, but are all extremely reliable.

Once we’re done, we’ll walk you through choosing pens for bullet journaling, making sure you pick the best pens and enjoy your bullet journaling experience to the fullest. Let’s begin!

Best Pens for Bullet Journal

Image via Estée Janssens@esteejanssens

  1. Paper Mate Flair Porous-Point

This pen gives you perfect grip, and comes in a set of 8 colors – perfect for your bullet journaling needs, but these will definitely find much more use as you get used to them. While their ink is strong, the pen features Point Guard technology which makes sure the ink does not bleed through the page.

Sale
Paper Mate Flair Porous-Point Felt Tip Pen, Medium Tip, 8-Pack, Core...
  • A true classic
  • Felt tip provides bold and expressive lines great...

Experience

This pen comes with ultra fine (and hence, slightly delicate) tips which ensure your handwriting is as clear as it can possibly be. These pens write well – they also ensure that you don’t get any smudges or blemishes on the page. Further, these pens can last for months even if you do bullet journaling regularly. This pen is best for precise filling, drawing, or fine details in sketches.

These provide a medium point line, but at the same time, are not too heavy while being written with. The water based ink takes hardly any time to dry, and the ink does not seep through pages no matter how much ink you manage to get on the page. These pens are also wonderful for when you have to edit documents, papers or applications.

Pros
  • Gives precise handwriting and details in sketches and diagrams
  • Lasts for months on end even with constant use
  • Ink simply won’t seep through regardless of the ink you might be having on the page
Cons
  • Slightly more fragile than you’d expect pens to be
  1. Pilot MR Retro

This is the first fountain pen on this list. While no longer in much use in academia or professional spaces, you should definitely consider switching to fountain pens when you have long writing tasks at hand, especially if you like long accounts and entries. These feel nearly weightless after hours of use – you’d find it very difficult to switch back to ball-point pens!

Experience

This pen is a very inexpensive yet effective way to maximise your bullet journaling efficiency. While other pens may be more precise, this gives you superior comfort while writing and jotting things down. Also, the tactile, somewhat antique feel of a fountain pen is unmatchable by the ironically heavier ball point pens. The pen ships with a squeeze guard and a black cartridge.

For those new to fountain pens, the pen ships with a small guide on how to refill. It’s finished with a high quality stainless steel nib, and with the accent ring, adds to the “retro” feel of the pen. The quality is top-notch, however there is some extra care required to not allow ink to spill. Blemishes are uncommon as well. It makes for a sophisticated and elegant writing tool.

Pros
  • Fountain pens have unmatchable look and feel, great to touch and use
  • Can virtually be used with any color of ink you can get your hands on, you can use multiple cartridges to give different colors without changing pens all the tim
  • Comes in a variety of colors, high quality construction
Cons
  • It’s somewhat easier to mess up, inks need to be handled with care
  1. Sharpie Pen, Medium Point

These pens have been on the market for ages, and they make a lot of sense when it comes to bullet journaling. This is because they can give felt-tip like lines, but can also write like a regular ball-point just as well. No smudges, no bleeding, just pure performance. While available in a multitude of colors, it’s best if you stick to black for journal entries, layouts and boundaries.

Sharpie Pen, Medium Point, Black, 4-Count
  • 4 Pack of Black Ink Pens
  • Perfect for taking notes, journaling, writing...

Experience

This pen has been around for forever. What makes them the de facto choice for so many is the ink, the body style and the bold impact they leave on the paper. The black ink is felt-tip but doesn’t have any of the smudging and random stray ink patterns that they make. It’s versatile enough for use in post-it notes, flashcards, and entries in your bullet journal.

An effortless overall experience, precise and high quality legible ink, as well as a comfortable build that ensures use which your hands enjoy rather than resist are what defines this pen. Further, if you’re concerned about safety, you should know that this pen has been certified as non-toxic by the AP. A fulfilling, effortless, high quality writing experience is guaranteed.

Pros
  • The tip is very versatile, can be used for drawing layouts as well as multiple journal entries
  • Gives crisp and legible text
  • Effortless to use even for long periods of writing
  • Comes in a number of different colors
Cons
  • Might be too thick to be used by those desiring a fine tip
  1. Tombow Dual Brush Pen

Brush lettering is gaining pace as a fun and colorful way in which your bullet journaling experience becomes that much more interesting. The Tombow Dual Brush is a perfect way to start as well as a great tool for those who’ve been using brush lettering for long. The colors can also be combined to create new shades – a top choice for the more artistic bullet journal writers.

Sale
Tombow 56185 Dual Brush Pen Art Markers, Bright, 10-Pack. Blendable,...
  • Ideal for fine art, brush lettering, faux...
  • Set of 9 colors and 1 blender pen, with flexible...

Experience

Colored, alcohol based inks are often associated with a pungent odour, harmful acidic and poisonous inks. They also tend to bleed across pages – the Tombow has none of these problems, and delivers an equally colorful experience. They use water-based inks and hence are more prone to being faded after a long time. Better for bullet journals than archives, then.

Even if you end up spilling water, you can rest assured – your inks won’t bleed to lower pages of your journal. You can create complicated patterns and draw complex elements with ease using these pens. The black ink is simply stunning and wonderful to use as well. The tips are strong enough for heavy use, and the colors themselves are punchy and vibrant.

Pros
  • Comes with high quality inks which don’t bleed, even under spillage
  • The brush tip is strong enough for sustained use
  • Much safer than comparable alcohol based inks, give equivalent performance
Cons
  • Not long lasting enough for serious artwork, best for short lifetime pieces and bullet journals
  1. Tombow Fudenosuke

The Fude, as it is known in bullet journaling circles, has gained something of a reputation. The pigmented, black, water based inks are not only perfect for bullet journaling, but are also equally useful for all sorts of artistic activities. An increase or decrease in pressure can give you fine, extra-fine or medium levels of width – so a single pen can effectively do the job of three!

Sale
Tombow 62038 Fudenosuke Brush Pen, 2-Pack. Soft and Hard Tip...
  • Contains both the soft and hard tip Fudenosuke...
  • Features a flexible brush tip for...

Experience

The Fude is in a league of its own, so to speak. Artists and cartoonists swear by this pen, as it can provide a smooth, consistent line as and when required – but at the same time, the width can be adjusted simply by changing the way you hold the pen. These pens are among the best bullet journaling pens – you can create priority lists by changing pressure to get different widths.

Further, this pen can be had in a hard tip or the soft tip. The hard tip is useful when you need a consistent and prominent line – boxes, layouts, word bubbles, and so on. The soft tip can be adjusted much more by applying pressure, and hence, it’s best for variance among strokes in terms of length and speed. For long journal entries, we recommend the soft tip.

Pros
  • Comes with two kinds of tips which are both useful in various situations
  • Changing pressure somehow transforms the width and effect of the line that you draw
  • Black pigment ink is wonderful in color, inks are archival
Cons
  • The soft tip, while pressure variant, can break easily if too much pressure is applied
  1. Staedtler Triplus Fineliners

This set of pens gives you the freedom to draw and write as you deem fit. This is made possible by the fine tip of this pen, which has all of the colors and the writing quality of the more famous “rollerball” pens. It differs from rollerballs by not allowing the ink to bleed over to the next page. The pencil-like triangular shape is one of the truly unique features, allowing for better grip.

Sale
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens, .3mm, Metal Clad Tip, 20-Pack,...
  • Assembly Required: No, Ink Color: Assorted, Tip:...
  • Features: Acid-free Ink

Experience

The pen is available as a standalone set in black as well as a set of 10 or 20 colors. We’d recommend to go in for the colored set, because that’s where you see the magic. This pen comes with an ultrafine 0.3mm tip, which allows you to create superb details in your journal without much effort. The ink is also laudable – it dries fast and lasts long.

Scores of bullet journal writers swear by this pen for minute details. The metal-clad tip adds a level of sophistication and strength to the pen. However, since this is a very fine pen, the nib can easily break if you’re not careful with the pressure you apply. Otherwise, this pen is wonderful and our top choice when it comes to ultrafine detailing and drawing pens.

Pros
  • Triangular shape gives you wonderful grip over the pen
  • Metal-clad tip on such a lightweight pen isn’t something you’d generally expect
  • Colors are punchy, the detailing comes out just right
Cons
  • Very prone to being broken, handle with care
  1. Pigma Microns

If you’re looking for a pen which can give you the best drawing experience across ultrafine widths, look no further than the Sakura Pigma Microns. It comes in a set of 6 pens, ranging from 005 being 0.2mm to 08 being 0.5mm. These pens are known to be very chemically stable, fade resistant as well as waterproof. Their drawing performance is also one of the best on the list.

Sakura 13 Pcs Pigma Micron Fine Line Pen Set Assorted Colors 05#...
  • Artists, writers, and illustrators reach for Pigma...
  • Pigma Micron pens are acid-free and archival,...

Experience

These pens give you nearly the best writing experience of any pen in this range. For minute details, each of the six pens comes out on their own. They comply with ACMI standards of non-toxicity and are marketed as being archival – many bullet journalists agree. Not just bullet journalists, many anthropologists, cartoon artists, scientists, architects also swear by it.

The quality of the ink is simply outstanding. Further, the pen does not bleed through most kinds of paper – but for really thin paper, we’d advise some caution. The pens last for ages without any trouble. If you like to doodle or draw a number of illustrations in you bullet journal, you won’t go wrong with these at all.

Pros
  • The width range is perfect for the vast majority of drawings and doodles
  • The inks are archival, high quality, last for long periods of time
  • Weighty feel gives you a much better drawing experience than lighter pens
Cons
  • May bleed through some thin paper or damage it by ink
  1. Marvy Le Pen

If you want the best comprehensive bullet journaling experience, you’re best off buying a set of Marvy Le Pens, simply because they’re incredibly well suited for drawing and writing. The inks are known to last through extreme cold or extreme summer. They can give your handwriting a unique touch because of the inks, and you drawings also come out accurately.

Sale
Marvy Le Pen, 0.3 mm Micro Fine Tip, Assorted Colors, Pack of 10
  • Extra fine point for thin straight lines
  • Ink is water and rub resistant

Experience  

The Marvy Le Pens are some of the brightest and most vivid pens you’ll come across. The colors are punchy and bold – a far cry from the generic, dull and bland ball point pen you might’ve gotten used to in college.You also don’t have to worry about smudging, blemishes or bleeding through the pages. They also do not take much time to dry.

They are also certified as non-toxic, and do not have the irritating odour certain other brands of pens have. If you’re a student, you’ll have fun taking notes in class with these too. Your handwriting comes out very legible and accurate. For those who are into doodles and drawing, these pens offer the best compromise between accuracy and heft.

Pros
  • The dye based ink is vivid, poignant and breathes life into any drawing or journal entry
  • Smudge, blemish and bleeding resistant, but only in the absence of water
  • Proven to be chemically safe and non-odorous
Cons
  • The nib sometimes goes inside the pen if used under too high a pressure
  1. Staedtler Pigment Liner Sketch Pens

While the products above were all pens of some sort, we now come towards sketch pens. Sketch pens are a cool addition to your bullet journaling toolkit, because they’re the best for highlighting things and making your journal come alive. Pens just can’t deliver the solidity and feel of a sketch pen. The Staedtler Pigment Liner happens to be an amazing sketch pen.

Staedtler Pigment Liner Bonus Sketch Set of 6 Liners for the Regular...
  • Pigment liner bonus sketch set of 6 line widths
  • 4+2 free pack in stand up easel case

Experience

The Staedtler Pigment Liner comes in a set of 4 or 6 sketchpens – all have a different width. The pens go from a width of around 0.1mm to 0.7mm, and are all having black ink. The thickness is precise, and applying pressure does not imply that there will be smudging or weird dots all around the journal when you’re sketching or drawing.

These are often recommended for bullet journaling because of their ink quality, the legibility and crispness of the drawing or sketch you may make, as well as their inherent heft and feel while drawing. Bullet journal stencils often have limitations, but this sketch pen is perfect for use if you prefer drawing with stencils. A wonderful addition to any bullet journal enthusiast’s tools.

Pros
  • Sketch pen ink quality is outstanding
  • Comes with a thickness suitable for all kinds of drawing applications as well as professional use
  • Can be used very well with bullet journal stencils
Cons
  • Sketch pen inks are notorious for having bleeding issues if used carelessly
  1. Faber-Castell Manga Pitt Pens

If you’re serious about drawing and detailing, this set of pens is probably one of the best on the market. It comes with a wide variety of pens which are all different in color (subtly), and comes with a medium-heft felt tip pen as well as a somewhat thinner felt tip pen. The colors are all tones of grey and black, and allow you to draw complex structures accurately.

Faber-Castel PITT Artist Manga Brush Pens, Assorted Colors, 6-Pack
  • FABER-CASTELL-PITT Artist Pens: Manga Drawing Set
  • Portray your manga illustrations with these...

Experience

For those of you who like to have some extra detailing in your bullet journals, this is perhaps your best bet. The colors are all on point, and the finish is waterproof and incredibly precise. The brush tips make a consistent line and the colors are nice for adding small details to doodles. They are known to bleed on thinner pieces of paper, so be careful.

They make a lot of sense for those wanting to detail watercolors, due to their waterproof ink. You can also use these to trace other drawings accurately.

Pros
  • Colors are rare, and are all wonderfully finished
  • Small details these pens add are next only to professional artistic tools
  • Brush tips are all consistent
Cons
  • Known to bleed, so make sure you keep some padding or absorbent material between pages
  1. Paper Mate Flair Felt-Tipped Pen

The last item on our list is by trusty old Paper Mate. Their Flair series of felt-tipped pens have consistently been rated as some of the best on the market, and the reasons are aplenty. 12 vivid colors, 0.7mm thickness for drawing a perfect medium line, and comes with a water based ink which allows it to not bleed under any condition.

Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens, Medium Point (0.7mm), Assorted Colors,...
  • Add a blast of fun to all your writing with 16...
  • Medium Point felt tip (0.7mm) produces bold,...

Experience

Pick up any random review of the Flair series online, and you’ll know exactly how good they are. Scores of people use them daily to draw, doodle, design, color and make their world more colorful. This makes them perfect for your bullet journal as well! You can make those perfect weighty medium thickness lines and point guard ensures you won’t have any fraying on tips.

Drawing over multiple times might cause some bleeding. Also, the inks are somewhat smaller than the almost-infinite ink tanks that older models used to have. Otherwise, it remains a top choice, no matter how you choose to draw.

Pros
  • Colors are bright, vivid and solid
  • Medium thickness is perfect for giving emphasis and drawing shapes
  • Does not bleed unless excessively used
Cons
  • Ink runs out very quickly

Conclusion

This wraps up our list of the 11 best pens you can use for your bullet journal needs. Some prefer the dependability of a ball point, others have artistic bents and prefer pigmented inks. In any case, the pens above will perform much better than any random pen you can pick up from the market, and you’ll find yourself buying them again and again once you’re done.

With this, we bring our reviews to a close. We’ve managed to cover a wide variety of pens, from felt-tips to sketch pens, ball-points and fine line pens. Whether you like to draw, doodle, sketch, or keep your bullet journal precise and to the point, these pens above are the best in the business. Make an informed decision – and enjoy bullet journaling!

Image via Noémi Macavei-Katócz@noemiphotography

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