Selecting A Pen Is As Complicated As You Want to Make It

A pen is just like a hair style, tie, shoes you wear, the watch you wear, or the car you drive, or the colors you like. Taken by themselves these may not be important but together they can speak volumes about your personality.

All of us probably have a favorite pen and that favorite pen may be dictated by numerous things. For example, maybe a fountain pen is the pen of choice for signing documents or letters; in a meeting maybe, a person wants a pen that makes a statement; or, maybe a functional pen is called for when engaged in extensive writing. Whatever the need, there certainly seems to be a plethora of reasonably priced pens to address the limitless personal needs or preferences.

Exploring pen options is simply about addressing aesthetics; what looks and feels good to the writer while fitting that to the writing style and environment. For example, if a writer has a large flowing writing style, a broad tip (nib, rollerball, ballpoint or gel pen may be preferred). Whatever a personal preference relative to shape, color, size of pen, ink color, how broad the ink pattern/image, it all plays into your personality. Even handwriting experts can ascertain a person’s personality based upon looking at handwriting.

“Graphology, the science of analyzing handwriting for personality traits, has been around since the days of Aristotle. Today, it’s used for a variety of purposes, from criminal investigations to understanding your health. Some employers even use handwriting analysis to screen potential employees for compatibility,” says Mike Nudelman writing for Business Insider.

Mr. Nudelman talked to master graphologist Kathi McKnight about what the seemingly insignificant details in your writing says about your personality. “Just from analyzing your handwriting, experts can find over 5,000 personality traits,” McKnight says.

In a “The Atlantic” article Ms. Doll says, “Mr. Schmitz (President of Monte Blanc Pens) always carries at least two pens with him during his workday: One is a functional roller-ball, the other a fountain pen, which he reserves for moments when he wants to take time to express something.” Some people not only prefer specific pen styles (weight, color, metal versus plastic, retractable versus stick, etc.), some go so far as to prefer certain smells of the ink they use in fountain pens.

Today the choices in economical pens go beyond the 50’s when there was a choice between a cheap fountain pen, the yellow Bic stick pen and a Parker retractable.

Like most product designs, in the final analysis it comes down to compromise. There are pens that are pleasing to the eye but feel terrible when writing with them. Some pens allow for smooth writing but don’t provide a certain amount of drag that allows for more deliberate writing. To add some confusion, there are now so many different styles of ink; each ink formula has its own look and feel.

In all this discussion there needs to be some consideration as to style of paper the writer uses. For example, some paper styles allow fountain pen and gel inks to bleed through; not good.

In selecting writing instruments it’s the art of compromise. Here are some issues to consider when trying to find a pen that will become your favorite for everyday or special occasions.

Applications-As noted previously, what pen is going to be a style statement or be functional? Maybe you need a pen for both.

Appearance-If you are searching for an instrument that has a nice design feel in the hand and color that is appealing the choices are plentiful. There are rubberized grips, translucent bodies, colored bodies with accent chrome, colored accents and some that are made of metal.

Budget-There are many choices for everyday and luxury pens on the market that can range from $1.90 to $7.00 each. Luxury pens have been known to sell of thousands of dollars.

Operation-Don’t rule out stick pens; there are some great stick types that write well and feel great in the hand and some in various point and ink colors and styles (gel, ballpoint, rollerball and emulsion inks). For personal use, not found in the office supply cabinet, there are many options in retractable/click styles.

Ink Colors-In fountain pens, ink colors are boundless. In rollerball, ballpoint, gel types, the color options are available. Be aware, you can buy a pen with certain colored ink (burgundy for example) but you can only get refills in blue or black ink; this makes no sense-a new pen comes in a color that is not available in a refill; go figure.

Design versus Function-There are thin versus fat barrel pens with colors galore. Ultimately is comes down to what feels great in your hand. Felt tip pens and fine point permanent markers are not part of this discussion because most people do not use them for everyday writing.

There was a time when there was only one pen company (ballpoint manufacturer) manufacturing a pen that would write under water, on oily surfaces, and upside down. Today there are a couple of other companies manufacturing pens capable of writing in that kind of environment.

Pocket clip quality seem to be commensurate with cost. It is easy to lose a pen when the clip has been poorly designed. One could go so far as to say the clip is a nuisance.

Weight and balance of a pen is really a design function that a person needs to not overlook.

Nib and Point Thicknesses-Depending on the ink (fountain pen, ball point, gels and emulsion types) there are options of line thicknesses from 0.35mm to over 1.5mm. Some would refer to this as a fine, medium or bold writing point. There are some applications when a colored ink pen, with a very fine point, is required. And yes, there is a pen that will do that job.

Every manufacture seems to have a different take on the thickness of the point of a pen. A pen labeled as 0.7mm may actually dispense ink that appears wider on the paper.

Note: The choice of a pen is all about compromise in colors of ink, aesthetics, feel, personal/writing style application and even the type of paper-nothing is perfect.

Potpourri-Personally I prefer a medium point ballpoint pen with burgundy colored ink (the color is preferred because I am in the wine business). I prefer heavier retractable type that is relatively thin with a rubberized grip.

The ink cartridge/refill is critical to enjoying a writing instrument at all price ranges. Invariably I buy a pen that seems to have a burr at the tip which gouges and scratches on the paper. Conversely, there are actually some companies that tout a very smooth writing experience; for me a negative because I prefer a slight drag/friction on the paper because I feel more in control of my writing.

For document or formal letter signing I use a fountain pen with black ink because black ink makes for better copies.

Right now, I have 28 different pens on my desk and I, on average, probably use 3 different ones daily-gel, ballpoint, fountain. On occasion my favorite is a free promo pen. There are approximately 133 companies sell pens in the U.S. and most of those offer multiple pen formats in their collection (fountain, ballpoint, rollerball and gel). In addition there are multiple manufacturers of private label brands sold by office supply stores and used as promo items..

With the options available you surely can find a favorite and enjoy writing and doodling with a pen. If extravagance is in your budget you can always spend $300 and more for an attractive instrument whether it be fountain pen or ballpoint or rollerball. In the end however, it is the point/nib and refill/cartridge that is important, after all, writing is really about putting an image on paper.

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