How To Select A Writing Instrument
A pen becomes a very personal possession for most people. Using a fine pen or pencil makes writing more enjoyable. As a gift, it can become a useful and treasured part of the recipient's daily routine. When bought for yourself, it makes a personal statement and becomes a faithful tool. Some writers favor a fountain pen, others a ballpoint pen or roller ball. And, of course, there are times when only a pencil will do. Choose the mode most comfortable for you.
Fountain Tip

The fountain pen is an elegant, and very personal, writing instrument. The nib, or writing tip, determines smoothness and flexibility. With time, the nib conforms to your writing, and lending your fountain pen can alter the nib. Nibs are available in several sizes. Medium points (M) are good for most handwriting. If your handwriting is small or condensed, select a fine (F) point. Broad points (B) look great but can be tempermental and must be held flat to keep the ink flow sufficiently feeding the point. Extra-fine (XF) points are also available, but tend to write less smoothly. Fountain pens use bottled ink or cartridges, and most easily convert to either. Writers with a light touch can use almost any make or style of fountain pen; those who tend to bear down when they write should choose a pen with a firm nib.

Roller Ball

The Roller Ball is perfect for those who want the flair of a fountain pen and the convenience of a ballpoint pen. Roller balls use a liquid ink that has a smooth and fluid flow, and most have caps to keep the ink from drying out. Like the ballpoint, they work very well for carbon copies.


Ballpoints are the most popular writing mode because they suit all writing styles. A good ball pen writes smoothly without skipping on most surfaces, even glossy or coated paper. They have a thick paste ink that is long-lasting and does not dry out when the point is exposed, which is why most ballpoint pens do not have caps. The points are exposed by either a push-top or twist mechanism.


Professionals who need a precision drawing or sketching tool will come to rely on a good mechanical pencil, which delivers a clean, consistent line. Most mechanical pencils have self-feeding systems, which means the lead automatically advances into the point with a push-top or twist mechanism. Mechanical pencils must be loaded with correct size lead, or the leads may become jammed inside the mechanism. The most common lead sizes are 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm.

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