The best pens for your bullet journal
You’ve just purchased a notebook to start your bullet journal.
You added it to your basket, maybe thrown in some washitape and stickers for good measure, and pressed “order”.
Your bullet journal is on its way!
But then you realise, to create your spreads, you need… pens.
Finding the best bullet journal pens
There are so many great bullet journal pens out there to choose from.
Thick markers, coloured markers, gel pens, brush pens…
The never ending choice can be a little overwhelming if you’re just starting out.
But, because there are so many good bullet journal pens out there, there are plenty of options for you to create some really gorgeous bujo spreads.
So whether you’ve just started your first bullet journal, and all you need are some pens to write with…
…Or you’ve got stacks of bullet journals filled with notes and doodles, and a collection of bullet journal markers you want to add to…
This post will guide you through buying the best bujo pens for you.
You’ll learn all about finding the best bullet journal pens to add to your pen collection, including:
- The things to remember when buying pens for your bullet journal
- What bleeding and ghosting are
- And a list of the best bujo pens!
Things to remember when buying pens for your bullet journal
So, before you even start looking at possible bullet journal pens, some things you need to remember are:
- Less is more. If you’re new to the bujo world, remember to start small; just buy one or two sets of bujo pens, and you can build your pen collection as your bullet journaling confidence grows.
- Skills comes over tools. People often think you can only create amazing bullet journal spreads if you have the best equipment. But remember, good equipment alone won’t make you an amazing artist!
- It’s not just about the pens… Whilst we’re talking about tools, remember, bullet journaling isn’t just about pens. You can have the most amazing, expensive bujo pens, but if your paper is rubbish, you’ll get bleeding and ghosting.
Which is the next thing to discuss when considering what bullet journal pens to buy.
What are Bleeding and Ghosting?
When looking for bujo pens, you might see bleeding and ghosting mentioned in some of the reviews.
These are both things you need to watch out for when using pens in your bullet journal, as neither are something you want!
What is ghosting in bullet journaling?
In bullet journaling, ghosting is when you draw or write on one side of a page, and the ink shows through to the other side of the paper.
The ink does not come through, but you can still see the drawings and writing on the other side (it’s a faint ghost of the other page).
What is bleeding in a bullet journal?
If the pens you are using are particularly inky (or the paper particularly thin), some of the ink might actually seep through to the other side of the page.
In bullet journaling, bleeding is when ink soaks through the page you are writing on and comes through to the other side of the paper.
If your pen bleeds through the paper too much, you won’t be able to create a new design on the other side of the paper, and you’ll have to skip the page.
If you’re skipping multiple pages in your bullet journal, this can be quite wasteful.
But not only that, pens bleeding can mess up the designs in your bullet journal.
If your spread is supposed to be across two pages, and there is ink seeping through on the one page, you might not be able to create the spread on that page at all.
What type of pen doesn’t bleed through?
Now you know what bleeding and ghosting are, you’ll want to think about them when deciding what bujo pens to buy.
You might even be searching for bullet journal pens that don’t ghost or bleed.
If you’re looking for pens that are definitely not going to bleed, remember that the inkier the pen is, the more likely it is to bleed through.
This means that certain pen types are more likely to bleed.
Highlighters, gel pens, and ballpoint pens are less likely to bleed, as they’re not very inky.
But certain fine liners, brush pens and markers might bleed, because they have more ink in them.
However, you also need to remember that bleeding is not just about the pens you use.
It’s also about the paper you use; the combination of the paper in your bullet journal and the pens you use will determine whether there is bleeding.
The thicker the paper you use, the less likely the ink will bleed through.
So you can use one pen, and it will cause bleeding on one sheet of paper, but not in another.
What type of pen doesn’t cause ghosting?
Again, you are more likely to be able to see ink through the paper if the pens you are using are inky.
And the thicker the paper, the less likely you will get ghosting.
But avoiding ghosting completely is almost impossible.
You are more than likely to see some of your design on from previous page when creating spreads in your bullet journal.
The only way to avoid ghosting is to make sure your bullet journal has very thick paper (almost as thick as card), and don’t use inky pens like markers or fineliners.
However, this limits your choice of pens for your spreads.
So whilst we will try to avoid bleeding as much as possible and choose the best bujo pens to avoid bleeding, ghosting is likely to happen here and there.
Just don’t stress over it!
How to prevent bleeding in your bullet journal
The best ways to prevent bleeding in your bullet journal are;
- Use a bullet journal with thick, good quality paper with a high paper weight. When shopping for your journal, look for anything with paper that’s over 100 gsm (the one I bought recently had paper with 160 gsm)
- Alongside using a bullet journal with high quality paper, use good pens created specifically for bullet journaling.
- When using your pens, try not to colour multiple layers on top of each other, if you can help it.
Now you know how to avoid bleeding in your bullet journal spreads, let’s get back to buying those pens!
What to ask yourself when looking for a bullet journal pen
When you’re looking at different bujo pens, you want to make sure you’re only buying ones that are right for you.
Some questions to ask yourself are:
- Versatility– how versatile are they? Can you use the pens in different ways for multiple different spreads? Or do they only have one purpose?
- Reviews – are there any reviews of the pens online? If so, are they mostly good reviews? Read what they say carefully; a common complaint is pens bleeding through paper. But remember, often that depends on the paper in the journal being used.
- Cost – are they affordable? Expensive doesn’t always mean better. Make sure to check the reviews (and if they are more expensive, make sure they are worth the money!)
- Brand – is the brand known for being a good bullet journal supplies/ stationery brand? If so, is the brand name worth the money? Or are you paying more for it? Remember, there may be similar versions of pens and other bullet journal supplies, but without the brand name, for a lower cost (like makeup dupes).
Now you know what you need to be considering when you’re looking to buy, check out the best bujo pens below!
Which pens are best for bullet journaling?
Best pens for beginner bullet journalers
If you’re a bullet journal newbie, you’ll want to stick to the simple pens.
All you really need to start are some black fineliners and a few colours.
These Stabilo fineliners are a great choice if you’re new to bullet journaling.
There are 10 pens included in the set above, so they’re almost 60p per pen!
The black they produce is a true black, so your drawings will be clear and the lines precise.
However, you must remember that these pens are not waterproof, which means the paper cannot get wet. If the paper did get wet, the ink would leak.
But hopefully, you are not planning to get your bullet journal wet anyway!
And given the price, these pens are a solid purchase for your bujo.
Similar to the previous pens, these brush markers are worth the price; they work out as under 40 pence per pen!
They’re also very versatile because they are dual tip pens.
One side has a 0.4mm fine point tip, and the other has a soft brush tip (although this is more like a marker than a soft brush).
As each pen has both a fine point and a soft brush, these versatile pens are a good set to have to begin your bullet journal journey.
The only downfall is there are more shades of certain colours than others. For example, there are 6 different shades of pink, whereas there are only 3 shades of yellow.
But this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, as there are still plenty of shades to work with.
Just be sure to take a good look at the shades available before you purchase; if you’re planning a bujo spread filled with yellow flowers for example, you might want to look at a different set instead!
Best Fineliners for Bullet Journal
When looking for fineliners, unless you specifically search for “coloured fineliners”, you will likely only find black pens on offer.
This is why this pack is so great; there are multiple different coloured fineliners included.
These colours include;
- Dark Grey
- Light Grey
- and Sepia
So it’s great to have a set of pens available that have different “basic colours” included for sketching, other than just black.
There are also two different thicknesses in each colour; a very thin nib at 0.1mm, and a thicker one at 0.5mm.
A 0.1mm is one of the thinnest nibs you can have, so you can draw very thin lines with these pens.
And then you can also use the 0.5mm to draw slightly thicker lines.
Of course, the main downside is that there is only a 0.1mm and a 0.5mm thickness available in each colour.
So there isn’t the option to create really thick lines in a single stroke with these pens.
But, considering the different colours that are included, I’d still say they’re pretty unique.
And definitely worth it!
I also really like the Staedtler fineliners below:
These pens are great for your bujo pen collection, as they’re good for both drawing and doodling.
There are a number of pens included of different thickness, ranging from 0.1mm to 0.8mm.
The packaging is secure too, since they come in a thick plastic case, making them easy to carry around.
Although these pens are great, the only downside is the thin nib pens can be quite fragile – 0.1mm is very thin!
So if you’re using with the pens that have a less than a 0.3mm nib, don’t press too hard (or they might bend).
Best coloured fineliner pens
As we’ve already seen, Staedtler are a well known stationery brand, and these coloured fineliners are another great set to add to your bujo pen collection.
Again, they comes in a solid plastic case, which is great for storage and keeping them safe and travelling.
Another good thing is that the reviews mention these pens don’t dry out very quickly, so you can colour in plenty of spreads with them and they will last a while.
The only disadvantage is that there are only 20 colours, which isn’t great for variety, but it isn’t the end of the world (there are enough colours to doodle with!).
Best gel pens
I discovered the brand Muji after a trip to London, and it’s safe to say I love them!
This brand provides both regular black gel pens, and colourful gel pens.
I find these to be the perfect level of inky-ness; not too inky, nor too faint.
Plus, they dry down pretty quickly, which is great for preventing smudging in your journal (especially if you’re left handed!).
Best coloured gel pens
These are the coloured gel pens from the same brand.
Again, the quality is there with this brand, as they are the perfect level of inky-ness.
However, there are only a few different colours available in this set.
So, this pack is perfect if you’re just looking to write in colour with gel pens.
But if you want to create a bright spread with a range of different coloured gel pens, it might be better to use the set below;
These pens are from the well known, high quality brand Paper Mate.
They’re another set that don’t smudge; the ink dries very quickly, so your paper will be smudge free.
Plus, there are more colours available in this set than in the Muji set of gel pens.
The only thing to note is that the textured grip is listed as an advantage, but some reviewers have mentioned the rubber coating picks up dirt quite quickly.
But this does not impact how the pens work themselves!
Best fountain pens
These fountain pens are great for handwriting; the 0.58mm nib gives a smooth, medium thickness line, meaning they’re perfect for calligraphy.
The only downfall is that because they are disposable, they are more wasteful.
Best white fountain pen
This white fountain pen is perfect for adding highlights to your drawings, or white detail onto calligraphy.
It also has a cartridge refilling system with ink cartridge, so it is more sustainable than the previous option.
Whilst this one is medium (M) thickness, they also have extra fine (EF), fine (F), and broad (B) for different thickness options.
Plus, they have a left-handed (LH) option too!
Best permanent marker pens
Who doesn’t love a sharpie?!
Sharpies are a huge brand, and their products are generally inexpensive.
These sharpie pens have a sharp, fine tip, and are highly recommended with lots of good reviews.
The only disadvantage to note is they are advertised as being pens with permanent ink that marks on paper, plastic, metal, and most other surfaces, but the reviews suggest the ink is not permanent on all these surfaces.
But as we’re using them on paper in a bullet journal, that doesn’t really matter!
Best ballpoint pens
Ball point pens are a great idea for your bullet journal.
Because they are not very inky, there is no chance of any ghosting or bleeding.
So they’re the perfect pen for bullet journaling!
Check out the best ballpoint pens below:
These BIC ballpoint pens are the basic pens you need for your collection; you really can’t go wrong with them.
From the well known brand BIC, these ball point pens have tonnes of good reviews, including that they are smudge-free.
Best Colored ballpoint Pens
These pens are almost the same as the plain black ones, but come in the following colours;
They’re great for adding a bit of colour to your writing!
But if you’re looking to colour in large drawings, I recommend using a different type of pen; ball point pens aren’t very inky, which can be a plus, but it’s difficult to colour in with them as they don’t layer well.
Best Brush Pens for Bullet Journal
This set of brush pens include 2 different pens; one with a soft tip, and the other with a hard tip.
They’re great for both drawing and sketching, and also writing and handwriting.
Best coloured brush pens
This is a really big set of pens!
They’re inexpensive considering how many you get, and there’s a wide range of colours and shades included.
These brush pens are also dual tipped, and each tip has a different size (a 0.4mm fine point tip for outlining and detail and a 1-2 mm soft brush tip for shading and colouring).
So it’s actually like you’re getting double the amount of pens!
They also come in a plastic case, which makes transporting them around easy.
The only downfall is they are not a very well known brand – but don’t let that put you off.
Best Highlighters for Bullet Journal
I love the colours in this set of pastel highlighters.
They are from the very well known brand Stabilo, and have tonnes of good reviews online.
They’re great for adding pastel colours to your bullet journal.
Best bullet journal pens for handwriting
These pens are great for handwriting; this set has 8 different pens included, with a number of different sized nibs, so you can create plenty of different looks for your text.
They also dry very quickly, and are waterproof.
So it doesn’t matter if you spill something on your bullet journal by mistake!
Best Pens for drawing
Lastly, we have to finish this post with copic markers.
Copic markers are the best for drawing.
They are seriously high quality; you are able to layer up colours and blend them easily, so they’re great for creating gorgeous colourful spreads.
There are a range of different colours available, and you can get copic markers in both small and large sets.
They even have a set of various skin tone colours!
The only down side is they are pretty expensive.
But considering the quality, they are definitely worth the money
Best coloured pens
If you’re looking for colouring pens for your spreads, here is a round up of the best coloured pens for your bullet journal:
The Best Coloured Pens for Beginners:
The Best Coloured Fine liners:
The Best Gel Pens:
- Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Cap Type 9-Colours Set, 0.38 mm Nib Size
- Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pens | Medium Point (0.7mm) | Assorted Colours | 14 Count
The Best Coloured Permanent Markers:
The Best Coloured Ball Point Pens:
The Best Coloured Brush Pens:
The Best Coloured Highlighters:
The Best Colouring Pens for Drawing:
Best bullet journal pens – final thoughts
I hope you enjoyed this post all about the best bullet journal pens.
Hopefully it will help you find some amazing pens to add to your bullet journaling supplies collection!
Related bullet journal supplies articles
If you enjoyed this post, check out these other posts on bullet journal supplies: