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The Best Bullet Journaling Pens For Writing & Illustrating Your Bujo

The best pens for journaling – this list comprises the best bullet journal pens for your needs. Whether you’re experienced or new to bujo, there are bullet journaling pens here to suit every budget and level of expertise.

The Best Pens For Journaling in Your Bullet Journal in 2022

Image shows a selection of the best pens for bullet journaling, on top of and beside a journal. There's a green star-shaped candle next to the journal, on a white background.
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Are you looking for the best pens for bullet journals? I have you covered! I’ve curated this list of the best pens for journaling that I’ve come to love and use regularly. 

having the right tools can have a dramatic impact on the spreads you’re able to create.

It’s worth noting that some of the items on this list may seem a little pricey, but not all bullet journal pens are made equal, as I’ve discovered to my detriment.

Those with a higher price point are usually high-quality pens, which translates to ease of use and superior results, ie. vibrant colours and minimal smudging.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a bullet journaling beginner, having the right tools can have a dramatic impact on the spreads you’re able to create.

Finding the best pens for bullet journal spreads goes far beyond black pens and colours!

Read on for a breakdown of the different kinds of pens you may want to try out, as well as my personal recommendations to help you find create the right pen collection to suit your budget and needs.

What Are the Best Pens For Bullet Journalers?

While journaling is not about being a perfectionist, whatever our personal style is, we naturally want to make our journals look polished. And there’s nothing worse than having a spectacular idea but the wrong tools for the job!

But finding the best pens for bullet journal spreads is a bit of a minefield – it’s goes far beyond black pens and colours!

It depends entirely on what project you’re working on.

Naturally personal preference plays a part, but there are some thing to look out for and be aware of too. I put together this guide to take the guesswork out of expanding your collection of journaling pens.

In this post we’ll be looking at:

  • Fine liners
  • Fude pens
  • Brush pens
  • Blender pens
  • Felt tips
  • Gel pens
  • Erasable pens!
  • Markers
  • Fountain pens
  • White pens
  • Metallic pens
  • Colouring pencils
  • Watercolour pencils

All of these options and choice have their pros and cons, and just to really make your head spin – sometimes the same quality can be an advantage in one situation and a disadvantage in another! It’s all relative and depends entirely on what project you’re working on.

You’ll often hear that to start journaling all that’s required is a notebook and a pen. And this is technically true – but as with all hobbies, the more seriously you want to take it, the more you might be willing to invest in order to make the most of your new passion.

You’ll quickly realise that you actively want to build up a collection of different pens for different purposes. 

And you can trust me when I tell you that if you do have a love affair with bullet journaling, and you’re in a position where you’re able to add each of the above items to your pen collection – you will use them all.

With that in mind, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer scale of what’s on offer.

What Are the Best Bullet Journal Pens For Beginners?

This is a bit tricky, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll start small and very quickly realise that you actively want to build up a collection of different kinds of pens for different purposes – they’re ideal for doodling, headers, writing powerful planner quotes, and more! 

So while I can tell you what I started with (and I will!), I find it hard to say you can get by with just x, y, or z. Because within a very short space of time of beginning bullet journaling, I discovered that without a variety of tools I just couldn’t create spreads the way I wanted to!

I’ll include some examples to show you what I mean as we go. In the meantime, I would recommend starting out with some: 

  • Fine liners
  • Fude pens
  • Colouring pencils
  • Brush tip pens

Here’s an example of the sort of thing you can create using these mediums:

December spread in a bullet journal.

You’re bound to have a ballpoint or gel pen already laying around the house, so with these additions you’ll definitely be able to start getting creative. And then, assuming you fall in love with bullet journaling – which you will! – you can add more as you feel the need.

What Kind of Pens Are Good For Bullet Journaling?

There’s a variety of different pens for different techniques and results, which we’ll look come to shortly. But within each of those categories, what are the best kinds of bujo pens? Well, a good pen is one that won’t smudge, ghost, or bleed. 

I’m sure we’re all aware of smudging, but what about those other terms? Let’s go over what they actually means for anyone who is new to journaling.

Journaling Pens That Don’t Bleed, Ghost, or Smudge

Before investing in a collection of pens, it’s worth familiarising yourself with a few important terms relating to the best pens for bullet journal writing and drawing. 

This will ensure you purchase items that can perform in the way you need, so you don’t end up wasting money on pens you won’t actually use.

  • Bleeding

Bleeding is when ink soaks through ha page to the other side. It’s inconvenient because it blemishes your creation on the other side, and can even make it difficult to write on top of without tearing the paper.

  • Ghosting

Ghosting is where you can see pen on the other side of the page, especially with thin paper, even though it’s not actually bled through. Again, this is problematic because it interferes with whatever you’re working on on the other side of the page. 

  • Ink feathering

Ink feathering is often a problem with fountain pens and is where the ink feathers out from your writing, instead of leaving clean lines. Here’s an example:

An example of feathering ink; the image shows the tip of a fountain pen hovering over some writing on a piece of paper, with the ink feathering.
An example of feathering ink.

What Are the Best Pens For Planners and Journals?

These are some of the first pens you’ll want to get your hands on when you start bullet journaling.

Okay, here are my recommendations for the best pens for journaling and bullet journaling.

Best Fineliner Pens For Journaling and Bullet Journaling

Fineliners are a staple in bullet journaling. They’re ideal for making little notes, but also perfect for drawing fine lines in intricate and delicate patterns and doodles.

These are some of the first pens you’ll want to get your hands on when you start bullet journaling. You’ll find you reach for them very often, and so it’s probably worth investing in a good set.

I’m currently using the Sakura Pigma Microns which work perfectly for my needs.

Sakura Pigma Micron

These are a classic black ink choice for a waterproof fineliner that won’t smear, feather, ghost, or bleed through most paper. Micron pens offer a crisp, precise line in a variety of tip sizes, from ultra fine pens (0.25 mm) to bold, more like a felt tip (0.7 mm).

These fineliners are ideal for both writing and drawing doodles in your journal, and are super popular for bullet journaling.

Staedtler Triplus Fineliners

Another popular choice for colourful fineliners, Triplus Fineliners also come in a handy case with a stand.

Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens

These are pricier but worth it if you’re looking to invest – they offer an ultra smooth writing experience, and are waterproof with unrivalled high quality pigments.

Uni Pin Fineliner

Ideal for high precision work, these are really durable and in addition to black, they also come in grey and brown.

The ink is water, light, and tamper resistant (cannot be washed away with solutions used by people to fraudulently tamper with documents). 

They’re available in tips ranging from 0.03 mm to 0.8 mm.

Best Fude Pens For Journaling

Another error I made when I first started out journaling (and later rectified with a Fude purchase), was attempting to create small-ish calligraphy style headers using my brush pen. Brush pens are amazing, but they’re just not designed for neater sized writing.

I wanted to practice hand lettering and beautiful fonts, but made the mistake of using a brush pen, as seemed to be recommended everywhere.

I later became aware of fude (fudenosuke) pens – and realised my error. (By the way, the correct pronunciation is ‘foo-den-OH-ski’.)

Fude pens are essentially a smaller version of a brush pen – and therefore much easier to work with for beginners. Plus they’re ideal for smaller writing like daily headers in your bullet journal. 

This is where a Fude comes into its own. 

Tombow Fudenosoke Brush Pens

The classic Fude, I can’t recommend these highly enough if you’re getting started with calligraphy and hand lettering. They come with a hard or soft tip, and not only in black, but a variety of colours too.

Zebra Fude Pens

These are not so well-known but still a great buy, and they come not in two nib styles but three: soft, medium, and hard tip.

Pentel Brush Sign Pens

The flexible nib of this pen is comparable to a Fude in size. Extremely durable and in a variety of richly saturated colours, these are ideal for creating gorgeous headers in vibrant colours.

A washi tape wardrobe spread in a bullet journal.

Best Brush Pens For Journaling and Hand Lettering

Brush pens are very versatile.

Alongside Fineliners and Fude pens, brush pens are some of the best planner pens and among the most popular options for bullet journaling.

As mentioned above, while these are great pens, they’re possibly not the best option for total newbies. However, they can help you achieve some truly beautiful journal entries and I recommend getting your hands on some to practice with in due course.

Brush pens are very versatile, especially if you buy water-based pens (as opposed to alcohol-based). Using a water-based ink provides a lot of flexibility when it comes to techniques, as you’re able to layer and blend colours.

A pen test page in a bullet journal.

Tombow Dual Brush Pens

With a flexible brush one end and bullet nib the other, these are enormously popular in both the bullet journal and brush lettering communities. They’re perfect for two-tone calligraphy, and they boast self-cleaning nibs which means they can’t be ruined through blending colours.

Faber Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens

Another excellent choice, these brush pens are pricier than Tombow because they contain pigmented India ink, which means it’s highly saturated and vibrant. 

These brush pens are fab for creating visually impactful designs, however they’re less forgiving to work with: the colour is fast (won’t fade) and quick-drying – but will not blend.

Another bonus for these pens is that once the nibs become worn and start to fray, they can be pulled out and flipped around for longevity!

Blender Pens For Journaling and Hand Lettering

I mentioned above that brush pens can be blended, and one of these little gems is perhaps the easiest way to do so.

Tombow Dual Blender Brush Pen

The Tombow dual blender pen has two ends, just like the dual tip brush pen, for seamless blending of fine and bolder strokes. (It also works with all water-based pens, not just Tombow!)

While the result is not quite the same as using water, these pens provide a very simple way to create striking two-tone headers. (Be aware that being too enthusiastic may cause some paper to pill.)

Tombow do also sell water brush pens, however these are less ideal for a journal because too much water will damage the paper.

An example of pilling paper from too much water saturation.
An example of too much water on the page causing the ink to bleed.

The Best Felt Tips and Markers For Bullet Journaling

Crayola Supertips

These are a great, multi-purpose option for bullet journaling beginners. 

They’re finer than markers typically tend to be, come in a ton of different colours, and are relatively inexpensive. 

As well as being great for general colouring, they’re also water-based so they can be blended, and they have a flexible nib which allows for brush lettering.

Erasable Pens!

Pilot Frixion ColorSticks

With a medium felt tip that is erasable(!) these pens are perfect for my fellow perfectionists. 

I love the way they effortlessly glide across the page.

There’s a small eraser built right into the lid of each pen, or you can buy a separate larger one that works with all pen colours. Either way, fixing your mistakes has never been so easy and won’t damage your journal – win!

Pilot Frixion Rubber

The Best Gel Pens For Journaling

I adore a gel pen. Before I ever got into journaling, gel pens have always held a special place in my heart – I just love the way they effortlessly glide across the page compared to rollerball pens. 

But I’m not a fan of smudging. With that in mind…

Sakura Gelly Roll

Great pens…but you must give them time to dry before they become waterproof.

Pilot G2

Again, these are popular pens with lovely vibrant colours and excellent online reviews – however they’re also prone to smudging.

They embody the spirit of journaling.

My choice for awesome gel pens that will not smear? These underrated bad boys:

Zebra Sarasa Gel Ink Pens

These are awesome for being smudge proof.

Best Fountain Pens For Planners and Journals

Fountain pens are not a necessary tool for bullet journaling. However, they are a lifestyle statement and for me, they just embody the spirit of journaling.

A fountain pen is a writing experience. They can improve your writing, they’re better for the environment, and they’re a refined expression of your creativity.

Pilot Metropolitan

Ideal for beginners, this elegant pen is inexpensive and glides smoothly across the page. 

Lamy Safari

Another great choice, the Safari comes in a wide variety of colours and nib selections.

Faber Castell Grip

A fantastic entry level fountain pen, it comes in several different colours and gets excellent reviews.

Best White Pens For Bullet Journaling

Sakura Gelly Roll White Pens

This is a brilliant addition to your bullet journaling pen collection. It’s ideal for creating high-shine spots on 3D lettering – and also for fixing mistakes instead of using Tipp-Ex!

Vibrant, vivid, spectacular colours!

Uni-Ball Posca Paint Pen

I’ve not personally used this white paint pen but it does have good reviews online and is a good opaque alternative to more translucent white gel pens.

Best Metallic Pens For Journaling

Kuretake Fudebiyori Metallic Brush Pens

Vibrant, vivid, spectacular colours! These brilliant colours will undoubtedly bring your journal pages to life, though they don’t contain especially quick-drying ink so you’ll need to allow for that in order to avoid smudging.

Stabilo Metallic Markers

Another great choice, though possibly not quite as richly metallic as the Kuretake Fudebiyori pens.

Uniball Signo Metallic Gel Pens

A good alternative if you’re looking for a finer metallic pen.

Best Colouring Pencils For Bullet Journaling

While not technically a pen, I can’t not include colouring pencils. Why?

For me, they’re an essential, key element of creating beautiful bullet journaling spreads.

Because one of the first things I noticed when I started creating my own spreads is that while using pens for adding vibrant colour to my designs, something vital was missing.

There’s no subtlety when you use only pen – that’s something that can only be achieved with pencil.

In the following example from my early days of journaling I wasn’t happy with how this birthday spread looked because using pencils would have enabled me to introduce shades of colour for a more 3D effect.

Unfinished birthday spread in a bullet journal.

I was able to slightly improve the spread once I’d got hold of some pencils, by adding a little bit more colour, but in a lighter shade:

Bullet journal birthday spread.

I now use pens for a lot, but pencils for at least as much. They introduce nuance when you want to fill a white space without overpowering the page.

For me, they’re an essential, key element of creating beautiful bullet journaling spreads.

Depending on how much you’re ready to invest, I recommend one of the following two options:

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Colouring Pencils (budget)

Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils (premium)

And for a metallic effect, try these:

Crayola Metallic Coloured Pencils

Faber-Castell Metallic Coloured Ecopencils – Break Resistant Colouring Pencils

Pens That Didn’t Make the Cut…

Uniball Signo Gel Pens

These have great review online, however in my opinion they smear far too easily when compared with some other brands.

Papermate Flair Felt Tip Pens

Also super popular, but I’m not such a fan as they kind of stick to the paper and don’t flow as smoothly as I’d like.

My Personal Favourite Pens For Bullet Journaling

To wrap up, these are what I’m currently using and loving:

  • Sakura Pigma Micron
  • Tombow Fudenosoke Brush Pens
  • Tombow Dual Brush Pens
  • Pentel Brush Sign Pens
  • Tombow Dual Blender Brush Pen
  • Zebra Sarasa Gel Ink Pens
  • Sakura Gelly Roll White Pens
  • Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils

I hope this guide will help you to confidently invest in a good range and variety of new pens, for all your bujo needs!