The Best Pens for College in 2023

Copious note-taking is an inevitable part of the academic experience. Accordingly, students need pens that can keep up with their writing speed.

It’s also critical that the pens that they use have a steady ink flow and sufficient clarity on the page.

Choosing the best pens for college can be difficult simply because of the vast number of options that are available. Only with extensive testing of dozens of these options is it possible to determine which pens will perform best under pressure.

In testing, metrics such as comfort, ink flow, durability, ease of use, and others were considered to arrive at this list of the 10 best pens for taking notes.

Best Pens for College:

1. Pilot G2 Retractable Premium Gel Ink Roller Ball Pens, Bold Point

Pilot G2 Retractable Premium Gel Ink Roller Ball Pens, Fine Point, 2-Pack, Black Ink (31031) View at Amazon

For many students, Pilot G2 Retractables are the best pens for note-taking.

These premium gel pens are extraordinarily comfortable to hold, and they are long-lasting. The pilot has conducted testing to demonstrate that their gel pens are capable of outlasting the competition.

A roller ball ensures smooth travel across the page. All of the usual colors like black, blue, and red are represented, but there are other options too so that it is possible to color-code notes.

Fans suggest that these are the best gel pens for school because of the comfortable rubber grip and the retractable tip.

They say it’s wonderful not to have to worry about accidentally getting ink all over items when the pens aren’t in use. Critics say to take your time letting the ink dry, especially with bold pens.

Comfortable to hold and with a smooth glide across the page, a Pilot G2 is always a winning choice.

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2. uni-ball 207 Retractable Gel Pens, Ultra Micro Point (0.38mm)

uni-ball 207 Retractable Gel Pens, Ultra Micro Point (0.38mm), Black, 12 Count (1790922) Packaging may vary

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The uni-ball Retractable Gel Pens are considered by many to be the best black pens for note-taking. The Ultra Micro Point is an advantage to people who have small handwriting or who need to fit a lot of text into limited space.

Thanks to the gel ink, these pens leave a bold statement. Proprietary uni Super Ink is included in each pen. This ink is designed to resist fading and water damage. It is pigment-based to ensure strong adherence to the page every time. A translucent ink window makes it easy to see when a refill will soon be needed.

People who have used this uni-ball product remark that it is amazingly smudge-free and that it can make anyone’s writing legible. The pen’s ability to write on absolutely any surface also is a plus.

While this uni-ball option is not the cheapest, many people swear by them in both professional and academic settings.

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3. Zebra Ball Point Pen F-301

Zebra Ball Point Pen F-301 (9 Pack) View at Amazon

Each pen features a durable, stainless steel barrel and a 0.7-mm ballpoint. The addition of a non-slip grip makes these pens comfortable in the hand.

The Zebra’s slim barrel is one of the features that place it among the best pens for college notes.

It’s so easy to tuck the Zebra into the pen holder on a journal or notebook or into the small pocket of a purse or bag.

Solid construction from quality materials makes these pens the ones that you can trust.

Many people swear by Zebra pens in their academic and professional lives. The slightly heavier weight of the pen itself and the way it glides across the page both are admired.

It also is worth noting that many people appreciate how professional and elegant these pens look. They can easily take you into a career setting.

Still, some critics wish that the refills weren’t so expensive. In many cases, they cost more than buying new pens.

The on-the-go college student is certain to appreciate the durability and reliability of the Zebra ballpoint.

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4. Uni-Ball Jetstream Retractable Ball Point Pens,0.7mm

Uni-Ball Jetstream Retractable Ball Point Pens,0.7mm, Black Ink, 3-Count

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A package of three of these pens is pretty expensive. Nonetheless, they deliver excellent performance over the long haul, which means that you can trust them to be the best writing pens for college. These pens are capable of moving quickly across the page. Critically, the ink dries in seconds, which means fewer smears and smudges, even for lefties.

The uni-ball Jetstream is dressed up with stainless steel accents and an embossed grip. The 0.7-mm ballpoint is the perfect size for taking notes. Equipped with uni Super Ink, you can trust this pen when you need to write something that will resist water damage and fading.

Fans of this pen say that they love the dark ink and the smooth action of the pen across the page. The quick-drying ink also is mentioned as a major advantage. However, critics say that these pens go through ink far too quickly.

These pens may be expensive, but their performance typically justifies the cost, particularly for college students who need to make notes.

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5. Pentel EnerGel RTX Retractable Liquid Gel Pen

Pentel EnerGel RTX Retractable Liquid Gel Pen, 0.5mm, Metal Tip, Assorted Ink, Pack of 5 (BLN75BP5M) View at Amazon

When it’s time to go beyond basic blue and black ink for note-taking, consider buying a pack of these Pentel EnerGel pens. These pens initially may seem costly. However, these colorful pens for note-taking definitely make a difference on the page.

These Pentel pens are equipped with high-performance ink technology that relies on a proprietary blend of gel and liquid for smoother writing and better staying power. Despite being a liquid gel, this ink dries quickly without smearing and without dispensing globs.

These are the best-colored pens for studying because they come in a set that includes black, blue, red, green, and purple. Fans of the Pentel EnerGel product are really enthusiastic about its smooth writing, comfort in the hand, and quick-drying ink. Nonetheless, this model has had issues in recent years with the plastic barrel breaking.

The fantastic Pentel EnerGel RTX Retractable Liquid Gel Pen is a solid choice for college note-taking and studying.

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6. Sharpie Stainless Steel Grip Pen, Fine Point

Sharpie Stainless Steel Grip Pen, Fine Point (0.8mm), Black, 1 Count View at Amazon

The price for a single pen initially may not seem reasonable. However, when you understand the quality construction and materials that go into this Sharpie, you’ll see that it’s worth the price.

This is a stainless steel pen so you can trust it to last for a long time. Throw it in your backpack, drop it on the floor, step on it, and generally treat it poorly. It will still be one of the best fine-tip pens for note-taking. Additionally, this pen is filled with acid-free, archival-quality ink that looks bold on the page yet doesn’t bleed through paper.

The ink is AP certified and resists fading and water damage. A soft grip makes this pen comfortable to hold. Many people agree that this is the best fine-point pen for note-taking. The ultra-fine tip, quick-drying ink, and smooth writing are admired. Still, many people are alarmed by the price of a single pen.

Though its price is high, many students wouldn’t dream of note-taking without their trusty Sharpie Stainless Steel Grip Pen.

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7. BIC Atlantis Exact Retractable Ball Pen, Fine Point (0.7 mm)

BIC Atlantis Exact Retractable Ball Pen, Fine Point (0.7 mm), Black, 12-Count View at Amazon

BIC advertises this model as being among its smoothest writing pens. This box of 12 also is an affordable choice. These are among the best pens for college students because one click retracts the tip. No more worrying about stray ink stains.

Available in blue or black, these pens are designed for precision and clear writing. A full grip area gives your hand plenty of padding yet also lets you maintain control.

Even if you’re undergoing a marathon note-taking session, your hand is unlikely to get fatigued. The ink dries quickly, which means minimal smearing, even for left-handed writers.

People who have used the BIC Atlantis love the extra-long grip because it makes the pen so comfortable in their hands. The fine-point tip also is remarked upon as being ideal for writing in small places. However, some are disappointed that refills aren’t available for these pens.

A retractable pen may be indispensable for the busy college student. With this selection from BIC, it’s possible to enjoy smooth writing for only a little money.

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8. LAMY Vista Fountain Pen Demonstrator, Clear Fine Nib

LAMY Vista Fountain Pen Demonstrator, Clear Fine Nib (L12F) View at Amazon

Because it’s a fountain pen, this writing instrument belongs to a different class. This also means that it’s a more expensive option. However, because it’s a fountain pen, you could keep it for decades.

This is the best fountain pen for note-taking because it has a nib of polished steel. Accordingly, this is a durable choice that promises excellent value. The fine nib is a great choice for note-taking as it allows you to write in a smaller hand. With a barrel made of ABS plastic, this is a durable pen.

Many users appear to agree that this is the best fountain pen for college note-taking. They love the smooth way that it glides across the page, and they say that it’s a functional and reliable fountain pen at an affordable price. Critics do say that the fine tip on the Lamy is more like a medium tip on other pens.

A fountain pen is a classic and timeless writing instrument. This Lamy model is an excellent introduction to art.

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9. Paper Mate Gel Pens, Fine (0.5mm)

Paper Mate Gel Pens, Fine (0.5mm), Black, 12 Count View at Amazon

Paper Mate is a well-known brand name, so it comes to an as little surprise that they make some of the best pens for note-taking. With a 0.5-mm tip, each of these pens makes it possible to be small and precise without losing any clarity.

Because these are gel pens, they promise greater smoothness when compared with ballpoint ink. A contoured comfort grip is ergonomically designed to fit well into your hand. The tips are retractable, and the ink looks incredibly vivid on the page.

While black is the most commonly used color in this model, colors like blue, green, and red also are available. A translucent window lets you know when ink is running low.

Fans say that these pens offer tremendous value for the money. The fine point makes it easy to get detailed, and these pens are easy to hold onto. The most frequent complaint appears to relate to how quickly these pens run out of ink.

An affordable, reliable solution for college note-taking, these Paper Mate Gel Pens are worth every penny.

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10. Muji Gel Ink Ball Point Pen, 0.38-mm, Black,10pcs x 3set

Muji Gel Ink Ball Point Pen, 0.38-mm, Black,10pcs x 3set

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These made-in-Japan pens feature 0.38-mm tips for the very finest writing. Equipped with black ink, you receive 10 of these pens for a good price range. Nonetheless, these are among the best gel pens for taking notes because they render clear, well-defined lines and the tip moves very smoothly across the page.

With incredibly smooth functioning and vibrant ink, these are a popular choice with many people. Despite being quite bright, the ink does not bleed through most papers.

The tip is equipped with a mechanism that prevents reverse flow so that the ink does not dry out.

People who are fans of these pens say that they wouldn’t write with anything else.

College students who must take copious notes say in their reviews that they have gone back to pen-and-ink note-taking because they love how these pens work. Nonetheless, some people do wish that these products were equipped with a rubber comfort grip.

If you’re looking for a bargain that offers great value, give these Muji pens a try.

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Making the Decision

Choosing the best pens for note-taking in college comes down to personal preference. Accordingly, it’s wise to test several models before choosing a favorite. While some may feel quite comfortable in your hand, others may not, even with a rubberized grip.

Always consider materials and durability when making your buying decision. Each of the 10 options presented here has been extensively tested and found to be a worthy product that stands up to regular use. Now, it’s time for you to decide.

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