5 Best Pens for Note Taking at College Classes

A good pen for note-taking at college should has a smooth and consistent ink flow to make writing effortless and legible. The pen should be comfortable to hold for long periods. I normally choose a pen with an ergonomic design to prevent hand fatigue. The pen should also be reliable, not prone to leaking or drying out quickly. A fine or medium tip is ideal for clear, precise writing without smudging, especially for those who write small or need to fit a lot of text on a page. Durability is important, as students often use the same pen regularly. If you are a left-handed writer make sure that the pen has a quick-drying ink formula to avoid smearing. Affordability is also key, given the frequent need for replacements in an academic setting.

I always choose the Sharpie S-Gel pen (#2 on this list) for note-taking because it offers a smooth and consistent writing experience. The pen has a quick-drying gel ink which is perfect for preventing smears and smudges.

Top Picks for Note-Taking Pens Reviewed

1. PILOT G2 Premium Refillable & Retractable Rolling Ball Gel Pens

This is America’s no. 1 selling pen, topping Amazon’s bestseller charts for pens. Great colors, thickness, long-lasting dries, and super fast. It is the best overall pen for note-taking on this list. The PILOT g2 refillable gel pens are a best seller and Amazon’s Choice for colored pens. It comes in a pack of 20 fine-tip pens that claim to be the longest writing gel pen on the market with gel ink that won’t smudge or bleed. The fine-point pen is retractable, so you won’t make a mess in your bag when it is not in use, and it features a sturdy clip so you can attach it to whatever you would like.

The PILOT g2 is refillable, so it is eco-friendly. When you run out of ink, which will take a long time, re-order cartridges, and you will be back and ready to go! This pen features a comfortable rubber grip that makes it very comfortable to hold in your hand, helping you write a long time without fatigue. But if this isn’t your style, there are many other sizes, designs, colors, and finishes to choose from.

This PILOT pen is America’s no. 1 selling pen and the best overall pen. It performs well, and the ink dries quickly, making it ideal for note-taking. The ink colors help you organize your notes in new ways, while the pen is easy to read, and smear-free.

2. Sharpie S-Gel

 generic gel pen on an open notebook in a college setting

These pens are no-nonsense. Sleek in design, and quick drying, these gel pens will get the job done when you’re taking notes and then some! The colors are basic, but the pens come in a pack of 12, so you’ll never be without a pen. The Sharpie S-Gel Pens are the best gel pens on this list. The set comes in a 12-pack with black, red, and blue colors.

There will be no special color coding with these pens, but they make up for it in great performance, functionality, and comfortable grip to fit with ease in your hand. The ballpoint ink features no smear, no bleed technology. The bold gel ink is easy to read because it has a medium point that will write smoothly for great readability.

Its sleek design doesn’t look like a Sharpie, and its contoured rubber grip feels great in your hand. And you can choose from multiple ballpoint tip sizes, colors, and designs, so you never have to settle. You won’t be disappointed with its performance – and you’ll start spreading the word that Sharpies aren’t just for permanent markers anymore. They are in the pen game now.

These ballpoint pens are perfect for no-nonsense note-taking making them the best pen for that type of student. The most “fun” color you’ll get in this set is purple, but if you are focused, you probably won’t want to switch colors, making it perfect for taking notes, and the gel finish will be easy to read long after the lecture.

3. Uni-ball Jetstream

This pen is the best for left-handed writers because of the quick-drying ink and the best note-taking pens. The super ink features trademarked technology you won’t find elsewhere! This ballpoint pen is another one of Amazon’s Choice products. It is a great retractable ballpoint pen with fantastic ink flow.

You can get the ink pen in different colors, different quantities, and different styles – fine point or bold point, both of which will enhance your writing. These are great pens for note-taking, especially the best pen for left-handed writers because of the quick-drying ink. The ink in the ballpoint pen won’t smear or smudge when you move your hand because of its trademarked super ink, which features technology you won’t find in another product.

The uni-ball super ink is water-resistant and fade-resistant. The embossed grip on this ballpoint pen fits easily and comfortably in your hand, and the stainless steel accents help elevate the look and feel of this pen. The ink is smooth to the touch, easy to read, and doesn’t skip on the paper for a smooth writing experience with your ballpoint pen.

4. Paper Mate InkJoy Pens

The InkJoy pen set comes with 14 in a pack, and it’s almost like you’re writing with the colors of the rainbow with this pen set. It is the best pen because of its vivid colors, high performance, and sturdy tip – making it a great overall best pen. Write with the colors of the rainbow and then some with the Paper Mate InkJoy Pens. These are hands down the best-colored pens for taking notes with, and there are more than 14,000 reviews to back that claim up. They dry three times as fast as other pens, though it may vary based on the colors. Still, that means they won’t smear when you’re writing fast in class, which is a great feature in pens.

The ink flow is smooth so that you won’t have blots or missed lines on the page, and your hand will feel good with the ergonomic grip to help you write with ease the entire class. There are 14 options to choose from, and each will deliver a strong, bright stroke on the page. It is available in 0.5mm and 0.7mm, so no matter how thin or thick you want to write, the InkJoy pens have you covered!

You can even highlight these pens with ease – even that won’t make the ink smear! So when you’re taking notes, you can go back and consider the points that jump out to you the most without rewriting them.

5. Schneider Slider Basic XB Pen

These glide smoothly over paper, with steady ink flow throughout your class, helping you write faster and longer. The selection of colors is a perk too! The Schneider Slider Basic XB pen has the smoothest stroke and comes in an eight-pack with different colors to elevate your notes. You can choose different color packs, and the Visco glide advanced ink technology they use gives a smooth writing experience no matter what surface you’re using. The rubberized grip helps the pen sit comfortably in your hand. The tip is wear-resistant, and made of stainless steel to help reinforce the integrity of the pen.

The ink is waterproof, and it will dry quickly and stay legible even after highlighting it. These pens are CO2 neutral for the eco-friendly student, meaning they don’t contribute more to the carbon footprint.

The easy ink flow will help you start writing immediately without taking a few test strokes to warm the pen up. The ink won’t blotch, explore, or drip when you’re working because it is a paste and not a liquid.

Buyers Guide

black pen on open paper notebook in a college room

Note-taking is an essential part of college, and you want to have the right tools by your side to make sure you can do the best job possible. Pens may not seem like the most complicated supply to purchase – after all, all you need is something that will write! – but there’s more to it than that. Let’s take a look at some of the features to keep in mind when you’re looking to buy the perfect note-taking pens.


The type of pen and ink will make a difference in how the ink looks, the stroke, and its dries. Fountain pens tend to smear more than others, while ballpoint pens and felt tip pens dry faster because the ink sets quicker. Keep in mind that you will want something that doesn’t smear when considering note-taking pens.


The thickness of the pen will make a difference in the size of the ink stroke. This is called point size. It is the measure of the tip of the pen. Extra fine pens and thicker pens may be harder to read because of the ink flow from the pen tip, so you’ll likely want to stay in the fine to medium range tip for the best readability when writing your notes.


When you’re taking notes, lighter colors may be harder to read. You’ll likely want to stick to darker colors during note-taking and leave the more fun colors for organization purposes!


Oftentimes, the pen comes in a set, helping your notes by providing you with more tools and a greater value for your money. You can get smaller quantities if you don’t need a lot, or the price per piece goes down when you buy in bulk.

Dry time

Fast-drying pens are in high demand for all students when taking notes, but these are especially critical for left-handed students when writing. This will prevent smudging or pages from sticking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s explore some commonly asked questions when you think about how to choose the right pens for note-taking. Ultimately, as long as the pen writes, it will be doing its job! But taking notes is important for your learning, so you will want not just a good pen but the best pen.

Why does the type of pen matter?

It is about preference and performance when you think about the best pen for note-taking. Whatever pen you choose will be fine – but you want better than fine. You want the best pen. So consider the ink type, width, style, color, and more. This will help you identify if you prefer gel pens to ballpoint and more. Ultimately, your notes are your own, so you want to make sure you can read them with ease.

Why Should I Avoid Fountain Pens?

Fountain pens can be a little bit messier than ballpoint pens, so if you tend to be a fast and messy writer, these types of pens will not complement your writing style. You will want to choose a different pen for note-taking.

Are gel pens good for note-taking?

Yes! Some of the best picks and highest-rated pens for taking notes on Amazon are gel pens. They have made the formulas much better, making the ballpoint tip more sturdy to dry out quickly when you are taking notes.

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