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Article: Fountain Pens versus Ballpoint Pens | Which should you use for daily writing?

Fountain Pens versus Ballpoint Pens | Which should you use for daily writing?
fountain pen

Fountain Pens versus Ballpoint Pens | Which should you use for daily writing?

Handwriting and the physical art of conveying ideas from mind to pen and paper have become less popular in today's digital age. People who enjoy writing on paper, however, still exist. If you're one of these people, you know by heart the importance of choosing the right pen and adding it to your stationery. S0, fountain pens, or ballpoint pens?

Before you can actually start writing, there's one crucial decision to make. Well, let’s look at the differences between the two and see which pen is better suited for your needs.

Fountain Pens and Ballpoint Pens | Looking back at history

Fountain pens and ballpoint pens have been around for quite some time now, and their popularity is only increasing. So, what's the difference between them? The short answer is that fountain pens use liquid-based ink, while ballpoint pens use oil-based ink. However, there are other differences too - for example, fountain pens are more durable, while ballpoint pens are better for quick note-taking.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. If you're looking for a pen that will last longer and be more versatile, go for a fountain pen. If you're just looking for a pen that writes well and is less messy, go for a ballpoint pen.

History of Fountain Pens

fountain pen versus ballpoint pen
Wood Fountain Pen with Bottled Ink

Fountain pens have a long and rich history that dates back to the 16th century that is closely related to the history of handwriting. At its inception, penmanship was of utmost importance, and ink was used mainly for writing letters. Fountain pen ink cartridges were developed not until the 18th century, which made writing on paper more convenient.

The precursor for the fountain pen is the dip pen. It is simply a pen that you dip into the ink and was used for everyday writing before it was replaced by fountain pens. Today, these can be used as calligraphy pens. Related to dip pens are quill pens. A quill (or quill pen) is a writing instrument that uses ink to make markings on a writing surface and is constructed from a large bird's flight feather.

History of Ballpoint Pens

Ballpoint pens (ball pens, for short) have a long and illustrious history, dating back to the early 19th century. They were originally designed as a pen that could be used on both paper and cloth, making them very versatile. Today ballpoint pens are still widely used for writing, but they are also popular for drawing and sketching.

Varieties include a rollerball pen and a gel pen. While ballpoint pens have thick oil-based ink, rollerball ink is water-based. The ink is similar to that used in fountain pens. The ink used in gel ink pens is made up of a water-based gel with pigment suspended in it. The ink stands out more clearly on slick surfaces because it is thick and opaque; you can also choose the ink color.

How do they work? | Fountain Pens and Ballpoint Pens

A fountain pen works by producing a line of fine writing using ink from a cartridge. A ballpoint pen uses disposable ink cartridges that are filled with either liquid or gel ink. The ballpoint pen is more popular because it is easier to use and less messy. When choosing the right pen, it is important to consider the type of writing you will be doing and the pen's comfort.

Fountain Pens versus Ballpoint Pens: What’s the main difference?

A fountain pen writes with water-based ink that is deposited by an internal pump, while a ballpoint pen writes with liquid ink that flows from the tip of the pen. A fountain pen has more precision and control when writing, while a ballpoint pen works better in less-than-perfect conditions.

Time to settle the score | Fountain Pens and Ballpoint Pens

It's time to settle the score - fountain pen vs. ballpoint pen. Which one should you choose for your specific needs? When it comes to pen type, ballpoint pens offer lower maintenance and versatility. They can be used for quick note-taking, sketching, and even writing on hard surfaces like glass. Fountain pens, on the other hand, are known for their fine ink and smoothness in writing.

We surveyed the writing community and asked pen enthusiasts about their opinions and we organized them into categories:

Writing Quality

When it comes to writing, there are a few things you need to take into account; the line quality, the color and depth of the ink, and the smooth writing experience.

Line Quality. This category is quite disputable since the results are highly based on what type of paper you use. Since the fountain pen's ink is water-based, it would likely cause bleeding on low-quality thin paper. That's a hassle especially if it ruins your script. A ballpoint pen will deliver a more consistent performance using various paper types, even on low-quality paper as it uses fast-drying ink. However, if we use good quality paper, the fountain pen will emerge as the winner.

Color and Depth. Fountain pens will give off more ink onto the page than ballpoint pens. The result is that their lines are a more vibrant and deeper color. You'll have a hard time copying the richness of a fountain pen with a basic biro.

Smoothness in Writing. Because of the two distinct inks utilized, the ballpoint pen has no hope on this one. Ballpoint pen ink flows less freely than fountain pen ink because of its thick, oil-based nature. When writing with fountain pens, the smooth ink flow generates less surface tension. You can press a fountain pen lightly on a page and the ink will flow through the tines because of how they're engineered. To expel the ink, a ballpoint pen requires more downward pressure. The fountain pen has won by a landslide. The quality of handwriting brings the largest score. When choosing a pen, you need to consider its functionality.


When it comes to writing, fountain pens are often considered the better option. The amount of pressure you need to apply using a fountain pain is significantly less compared to using a ballpoint pen. This helps your hand in the long run. For beginner writers, you might need to give yourself some time to get used to using fountain pens. A guide with tips and tricks can come in handy with this one.

However, there are some benefits to using ballpoint pens too - for example, they're more practical when it comes to everyday note-taking on paper and are low maintenance. Plus, you need not worry as the ink will be drying more quickly.


There are pros and cons to both fountain pens and ballpoint pens - but in the end, it comes down to convenience. Fountain pens offer a luxury writing experience that many people prefer, while ballpoint pens are more convenient as they don't need ink cartridges. With a standard ballpoint pen, you could draw a line up to 3 kilometers long. So, when it comes to the time span, the ballpoint pen will undoubtedly last longer - making it good as your everyday writing pen. On choosing your everyday pen, you might need to check your periods of writing. Bottles of ink for fountain pens are also available at the market to suit your needs.

Price Differences

Price differences are a reality in the pen market and there is no getting around it. While pricey fountain pens tend to be more expensive, they offer a lot of advantages over ballpoint pens. Heavier fountain pens make for a better writing experience and also last longer than lighter models. Ballpoint pens come in different styles and a variety of colors, making them more versatile. They can be cheaper but may not provide the same level of ink flow as fountain pens do.

Fountain pen ink is considered more luxurious than ballpoint pen ink- perhaps because people believe it looks nicer on paper. However, there are also budget fountain pens that you can buy for a cheaper price.

Environmental Impact

There are a few different types of pens that have their own unique environmental benefits and drawbacks. For instance, disposable ballpoint pens use oil instead of ink (which has an environmental impact) and fountain pens require less ink and paper to write with. However, the ballpoint pen requires frequent refilling which has its own set of negative effects on the environment.

Why use a fountain pen?

fountain pen without cap
Wood Fountain Pen

Fountain pens are more than just a beautiful writing instrument; they're also functional for daily use. They also enhance your experience of handwriting. You'll save yourself from the dreadful hand cramp that commonly happens when you tightly grip a scratchy ballpoint pen thanks to the nature of flowing ink. Surely, there are a lot of reasons why you should use a fountain pen.

There are also different types of fountain pens depending on the choice of nib. Most nibs are available as fine or medium nibs. A fine nib pen makes a fine writing instrument used for writing smaller and more accurate scripts - the best for cursive writers.

What is a ballpoint pen?

A ballpoint pen is a pen that uses pressurized ink to write. The ink is pressurized from a cartridge and then released through a small ink cartridge to the pen tip. Ballpoint pens come in both rollerball pens and ink cartridge versions.

The parts of a ballpoint pen are the cartridge, pen body, and cap. The cartridge contains ink that is pressurized when you write with the pen. The pen body is typically plastic or metal and has a clip to fasten it to your pocket or a pen loop. The cap seals the refill cartridge whilst you are writing so that the ink doesn't leak out. The ballpoint pen socket is the component of a ballpoint pen that holds the ink cartridge.

Line Thickness

There are three basic types of ballpoint pens. Ballpoint pens with tips that are 0.8 mm thick or smaller are also called fine tip pens. The tips of medium ballpoint pens are designed to write lines that are between 0.9 and 1.2 mm thick. Lastly, a line with a thickness of 1.3 mm is created by broad ballpoint pens.

Other types of pen

Photographer: Kelly Sikkema | Source: Unsplash

Aside from the fountain pen and the ballpoint pen, there are a wide range of pens that suit different needs.

A reed pen, which is made from bamboo, is a writing instrument made by cutting and shaping a single reed straw.

A brush pen is usually used for drawing, painting, and sketching, as well as lettering and coloring. A synthetic fiber tip on a brush pen mimics a brush. Similar to this is a drawing pen where you can accurately use depending on the amount of pressure you apply.

A stylus is a touch-screen-specific pen that you use. Stylus pens are slimmer, more precise substitutes for fingertips, and are typically made of tips manufactured from conductive rubber or capacitive hard plastic. They are suitable for handwriting in its digital form.

A felt-tip pen, similar to a marker pen, holds quick-drying ink conveyed to a writing surface by means of a felt nib. These pens have their own reservoir of colored ink and are sealed off by a cap.


So which pen should you use for daily writing? This question has been debated for years and there is no definitive answer. In fact, ballpoint pens have become increasingly popular over fountain pens because of their convenience and low-cost ink refills.

However, among the categories presented, from line quality to environmental sustainability, fountain pens emerge as our winner. Although everything comes down to your personal preference and what you value most in a pen, it's best to make an informed decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better for writing - fountain pens or ballpoint pens?

For writing, both fountain pens and ballpoint pens have their pros and cons. Fountain pens offer a richer ink flow that makes your writing look smoother. Fountain pen ink also does not mix with other types of ink so it lasts longer and allows for a more precise and elegant writing experience. On the downside, fountain pens can be harder to hold for long periods of time as they require refilling often. Ballpoint pens are easier to hold for long periods of time, do not require refills as often, and can leave less ink on the paper - though some people find that ballpoints leave behind less ink on the paper which can affect the quality of your work.

What are the benefits of using a fountain pen?

It offers a pleasurable writing experience as ink is drawn up from the fountain pen nib and then expelled through the tip of the pen. Fountain pens are also known to be more comfortable to write with, as most people find them easier to get used to after a few uses. After a few practices, you can definitely make expressive lines. In comparison to ballpoint pens, fountain pens are more ecologically friendly.

What are the benefits of using a ballpoint pen?

There are a few benefits to using ballpoint pens over fountain pens. They are usually cheaper to buy and they last longer than fountain pens. Additionally, ballpoint pens can be used in various conditions, like rain or snow, without any extra care. They still produce a consistent line when compared to fountain pens, but may have less ink capacity.

How do I choose the right pen for my needs?

There are a few things you need to keep in mind; the type of paper you'll be writing on, your style, and your composition. If you will be writing on thin paper, a ball point pen is more suitable. Fountain pens work best at thicker paper like sketchbook paper. You might also want to choose a pen compatible for your handwriting style. If you have a lot of curves, varying widths, and glorious strokes, a fountain pen works best. If your handwriting is mostly of straight and uniform strokes, a ballpoint pen might be a better choice. The type of composition you are working on should also be considered. If you generally draw or sketch, ballpoint pens work fine. If you are writing essays or long texts, a fountain pen might suit you better.

Which type of pen is best for me, based on my personal writing style and needs?

If you are a fountain pen user, a flex nib pen is a solid choice as it allows for wider writing strokes. A flex nib pen has a flexible ink reservoir that allows you to make wide strokes with minimal pressure.

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