How to choose the pen that’s right for you. A comparison between ballpoint, rollerball and fountain pen

Choosing the perfect pen is never easy. In fact, there is no one type that is better than the others in absolute terms. On the contrary, the choice is subjective: it must start from the specific characteristics of the pen to evaluate those that best suit personal needs and writing style. Here is a small comparison between ballpoint, roller and fountain pens, which can be useful to help navigate your way to the best choice.

Ballpoint, roller and fountain pen, choosing between the three most used types of pen (h2)

Once you decide to buy a pen, it is never easy to choose the one that best suits your writing style and needs. This is for a very simple reason: there is no objectively better type of pen; instead there are pens that are better suited to a particular way of writing or to the specific needs of those who buy them.

Starting from this important premise, we can consider and recommend some criteria that facilitate the choice of the perfect writing instrument. In fact, there are different types of pens that differ from each other in the build materials, ink transmission technology and type of writing. Today the three most used are:

  • ballpoint pens;
  • rollerball pens;
  • fountain pens (stylus).

Obviously, the first encounter with a pen is visual. For this reason, aesthetics are essential in falling in love with a pen, even before the sensation of touch, when we come into contact with the materials used for its manufacture. Having said that, beyond aesthetics and the feeling of comfort that a pen transmits, it is also important to know the characteristics (at least the main ones) of the three types, to understand which may be the most suitable for your writing style and your requirements.

A comparison of stylus, rollerball and ballpoint pen

Currently, the most widely used pens in the world are ballpoint pens, also known as “biro” after the Hungarian writer, László Bíró, who contributed to their invention in the 1940s. At the core of this type of pen is the sphere, a meticulously polished steel ball with a maximum diameter of 1.6 mm that “rolls out” the ink deposited from the plastic straw (the ink chamber) through a ring that holds a set of tiny ridges. This very simple and agile mechanism has made the ballpoint pen the most used in the world. Generally, this type of pen is recommended because it adapts to many materials, the ink dries quickly and the ink reserve lasts a fairly long time. The only negative is represented by the fact that in the long run, if you write a lot of text, ink can accumulate around the tip, resulting in paper stains.

In principle, it can therefore be said that the strong point of the ballpoint pen is the practicality of the instrument, the ease of refill and in general its simplicity. Obviously, these characteristics of the ball mechanism make it less attractive and interesting from other points of view. In fact, the fountain pen, which has a fairly complicated transmission mechanism, also has an almost unique ability in terms of expressiveness and fluidity of the stroke. The stylus has a greater smoothness than the pen and the line of the stroke is more varied: the nib (which is the true soul of the fountain pen) tightens and widens according to the movement of the writer’s wrist. Thus, in addition to making one’s writing more beautiful, in a certain sense it also shows the state of mind of the writer.
Having said that, the fountain pen requires special care and attention in maintenance, especially if the pen is not used continuously. You should keep this fundamental aspect in mind when choosing which pen to buy, just as it is important to know that it’s not easy to write with a fountain pen since it must be held at an angle and the nib must never be in a vertical position. In short, the fountain pen may certainly create beauty and variety of the stroke, but it is an impractical, very demanding and delicate type of pen.

Finally, to have a complete picture and therefore be able to choose the best type of pen to buy, we must not forget the famous roller. Rollerball pens are a variation of ballpoint pens. While still adopting the mechanism of a rolling sphere to transfer ink onto paper, they use a different ink based on water or gel, and not oil, which allows a more fluid and continuous stroke, which is more pleasant and also functional. However, the ink takes longer to dry on the paper, the roller pen refill lasts only a short time, and without the cap the ink quickly dries out and the pen no longer writes. Another aspect for which the roller may be not recommended in some cases is due to the fact that the roller saturates the paper much more, if it is used to write with thinner types of paper, then the ink can pierce it, thus staining the support and the underlying sheet.