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Pens, Ranked

*sense of humor required

Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.

Like cameras, umbrellas, and getaway cars, the best pen is the one you have with you. We writers tend to have a dozen pens with us at any given time, though—when the muse comes to you and whispers profundity into your ear, which pen do you grab to write your masterpiece? This month, the Hacks for Hacks team looked at hundreds of pens, from ball points to gels to smear-resistant models for lefties. Using our scientific rating criteria, we ranked the best pens available.

  1. Pilot Precise V7. I have one of these in my pocket at all times. Versatile and affordable, the V7 is perfect for everything from a novel to a grocery list. Don’t take it on an airplane, however, as the differences in altitude and cabin pressure will cause some leakage. As long as you’re on solid ground, though, the Pilot V7 will remain a trusty friend your whole life long.
  2. The fancy pen you got as a graduation gift. Doesn’t it look nice on your desk? Don’t you feel like an author just looking at it? These are stylish, and will never run out of ink because you can’t bring yourself to actually use it.
  3. The pen you swiped from work. Why buy a box of pens for ten bucks when you can get the same model that your boss overpaid for, for free? Didn’t get that promotion? Then by God, you can recoup your lost salary one ink pen at a time.
  4. The complimentary pen from the swanky resort you stayed at. What, this old thing? I saw you staring at it. It must’ve accidentally fell into my suitcase as I was packing up when I took a holiday there. You should definitely go, but you know, they don’t let just anybody into Cabana Bay Motor Lodge at Universal Orlando.
  5. The quill pen from your wedding guest book. So elegant. A perfect compliment to your special day. The classic style reminds you of how beautiful she looked, and the feather evokes how your heart still soared whenever you saw her. But the thing about quill pens is that the ink, like your love, runs out far too quickly.

  1. a pen made of woodThat sweet multicolor pen you had in sixth grade. This pen has six colors! You made some absolutely sick Spirographs with that baby back in the day. You drew a whole comic book with a single pen! But then Kaitlyn stole your thunder because her mom got her a pen with twelve colors.
  2. Astronaut pen. It can write upside-down! Yes, that’s worth twenty-five bucks!
  3. Invisible ink pen. Perhaps growing up reading the Hardy Boys gave me unrealistic expectations of the ubiquity of invisible ink pens in real life, but when you need to leave clues that will uncover your terrible secret, accept no substitutes.
  4. The white, cap-less, dried-up Bic ball-point pen in your desk drawer that you can’t bring yourself to throw away. Once upon a time, this had blue ink, and still does if you shake the hell out of it and scrawl on a nearby napkin to get things flowing. You have lots of pens, and you don’t even remember how you got this one; why don’t you just throw it out? But we both know you can’t. And that’s why it’s ranked #2.
  5. A computer. Superior to pens in every way. I can write faster, more legibly, and the ink doesn’t smear. Anybody who uses anything else for a serious piece of writing is a chump. That’s why I used it to write this column. If you disagree, feel free to write your reply in ink in the comment box below.

Which pen do YOU think is the best? Make your case in the comments!

About Bill Ferris [1]

After college, Bill Ferris [2] (he/him) left Nebraska for Florida to become a rich and famous rock star. Failing that, he picked up the pen to become a rich and famous novelist. He now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and looks forward to a life of poverty and ridicule.