The Ultimate Guide to 14 Different Types of Pens

Uncover the wide variety of pen types with our detailed guide. From the daily essentials to specialty writing instruments, this guide illuminates the distinct features and uses of 14 different types of pens, catering to a spectrum of writing needs and preferences.

1. Ballpoint Pens

For many, the reliable ballpoint pen is the preferred option. It uses an oil-based ink dispensed by a tiny spinning ball-bearing included in the design. This one-of-a-kind mechanism controls ink flow for dependable writing every time.


  • Oil-based ink
  • Twist or cap mechanism
  • Available in various ink colors and thicknesses


  • Long-lasting ink
  • Smudge-resistant
  • Widely available and affordable
pen collection - Interwell Stationery

2. Gel Pens

Like traditional ink pens, gel pens consist of a barrel housing the writing mechanism, a cap, and a reservoir that can be refilled with ink. A "follower" of more dense, gelled material - typically transparent - follows the water-based ink at the tip of the ink tube.

Ink leakage and reverse flow are key problems the follower helps to solve. The barrels can be made with different designs, with some featuring rubber or plastic finger grips. Nib or pen tip dimensions are between 0.18 and 1.5 millimeters (0.0071 and 0.059 inches).


  • Gel-based ink
  • Wide color range, including glitter and neon
  • Transparent barrels often showcase ink level.
  • Ranges from ultra-fine to broad tips for varied needs.


  • Smooth, consistent ink flow
  • Ideal for creative projects and coloring
  • Ranges from ultra-fine to broad for varied needs.
  • Less prone to smearing, especially for left-handers
Gel Ink Pen Set

3. Novelty Pens

A novelty pen is a writing implement that is visually or functionally distinct from a standard pen. To amuse, promote, or serve as a keepsake are common motivations for producing such items. It could be in the shape of an animal or an uncommon object, have LED lights and music, or be themed for a specific holiday, cultural, or even company event.

If you’re looking for a trusted manufacturer to make branded novelty pens, you should check out Interwell. We offer custom-made novelty pens tailored to your preferences. And the best part? You can start your personalized order with a minimum quantity of 1000 pieces.


  • Varied designs catering to themes or promotional needs.
  • Typically utilizes ballpoint mechanisms.
  • Often paired with additional functions, like light or sound.


  • Perfect as gifts or promotional items.
  • Adds a personal touch to one's stationery collection.
  • Often a conversation starter due to unique designs.
Novelty Pens

4. Rollerball Pens

Rollerball pens unite the greatest features of ballpoints and fountain pens into one convenient writing instrument. Water-based or gelled ink ballpoint pens offer the durability and convenience of fountain pens without sacrificing the pleasant writing experience. The pen tip is a diameter ball between 0.5 and 0.7 millimeters.


  • Water or gel-based ink
  • Fine tip
  • Cap or retractable designs


  • Effortless writing with rich ink flow
  • Offers bolder, more vivid lines
  • Requires less pressure
Rollerball Pens

5. Fountain Pens

A fountain pen is a type of pen that employs a metal nib to deposit water-soluble ink onto paper. It's different from traditional dip pens since it doesn't require you to refill it from an inkwell constantly; instead, it has an ink reservoir built right into the pen. Because of gravity and capillary action, the pen takes ink from the reservoir to the nib and deposits it on paper.


  • Refillable ink reservoir or cartridge
  • Nib in different widths and materials
  • Often made with premium materials, most commonly gold, steel, or titanium.


  • Seamless writing experience
  • Environmentally friendly due to reusability
  • Line variation and expressive writing
Fountain Pens

6. Click Pens

Ink pens with a spring-loaded mechanism allowing the user to retract and extend the pen tip are called click pens or retractable pens. A click pen serves mostly practical and practical purposes. The click mechanism in a retractable pen makes it possible to write without ever taking the cap off.


  • Push-button mechanism
  • No cap required
  • Usually has a sturdy clip for easy attachment to pockets or notebooks
  • Often refillable


  • Swift and easy access
  • Available in black, blue, red, and sometimes even more colors
  • Reduced risk of misplacing a cap
  • Perfect for rapid note-taking
Click Pens

7. Stylus Pens

Modern times call for modern tools. Typically, this pen is used to describe an extremely slim and long staff, not unlike a modern ballpoint pen. The heavy curve of many styluses makes them more comfortable to hold. Stylus pens are designed for traditional writing (e.g., pottery) and touchscreens to navigate or provide more precision.


  • Soft rubber or silicone tip
  • Compatible with most touchscreens
  • Can combine with other pen types


  • Dual-purpose design
  • Ensures clean screens, free of smudges
  • Precision on digital platforms
Stylus Pens

8. Highlighter Pens

A useful tool for students and professionals, highlighter pens use translucent, fluorescent ink to accentuate important information in texts without obscuring it. These pens, specially designed for emphasizing crucial points, have become the backbone for many when it comes to efficient note-taking or document review.


  • Bright, translucent shades
  • It comes in different tip designs like a chisel or fine tips
  • Quick-drying ink formula
  • Most highlighter pens are water-based.


  • Helps in easy information retrieval
  • It doesn't usually bleed through most papers.
  • Perfect for study sessions and presentations
Highlighter Pens

9. Multi-ink Pens

Multi-ink pens combine multiple ink colors in a single barrel for those who love variety. With a simple click or twist, you can switch between different colors.


  • Multiple ink chambers
  • The selection mechanism for color choice
  • Combines various pens into one


  • Multifunctional and space-efficient
  • Ideal for color-coded notes
  • Reduces clutter of multiple pens
multicolor pen

10. Calligraphy Pens

Designed for decorative writing and artistry, calligraphy pens have specially crafted nibs for various stroke widths, creating beautiful handwritten scripts and designs.


  • Nibs can be flat, wide, or angled.
  • Capable in both heavy and thin brushstrokes
  • Commonly refillable
  • Uses refillable cartridges, bottled ink, or a converter


  • It fits well with creative writing styles
  • Presents distinct linear variations
  • Maintains a constant flow of ink for legible writing.
  • Perfect for DIY projects, invites, and artistic endeavors
Calligraphy Pens

11. Disposable Stick Pens

Disposable stick pens are simplistic yet effective writing tools characterized by their straightforward design. The term "stick" alludes to their slim, straight barrel, which is typically made of lightweight material. Being disposable, they are intended for use until the ink runs out, after which they are generally discarded.


  • Oil-based ink system.
  • Lightweight plastic barrel.
  • Typically capped to protect the ink.


  • Highly affordable for bulk use.
  • Ubiquitous and versatile.
  • Low maintenance and easily replaceable.
Disposable Stick Pens

12. Felt Pens (or Marker Pens)

Felt pens, often known as marker pens, are defined by their dynamic, bold writing and porous tips made of compressed felt fibers. Because these fibers absorb and distribute ink well, your brush strokes will be evenly saturated and consistent. The ink has a direct effect on the pen's ability to write. Permanent inks last longer than water-based inks and don't smudge as quickly, but they can still smear. These pens are excellent for taking notes and drawing because of the felt tip and vivid ink.


  • Different tip sizes, from ultra-fine to broad.
  • Varied ink types: water, alcohol, or permanent based.
  • Often designed with a cap to prevent drying.


  • Delivers bold and saturated colors.
  • Suitable for a range of artistic applications.
  • Many are resistant to smudging once dry.
Felt Pens

13. Refillable Ink Pens

Prioritizing sustainability and long-term use, refillable ink pens are designed to last. Rather than discarding the whole pen, users can simply replenish the ink and continue writing.

Refilling Process

  • Place protective layer.
  • Open the pen to access the reservoir.
  • Choose compatible ink.
  • Use a new cartridge or syringe refill.
  • Attach, dip nib, and draw ink.
  • Expel air, dip the nib, and turn the knob.
  • Wipe, reassemble, and close the bottle.


  • Compatible with bottled ink or specific cartridges.
  • Often designed with transparent reservoirs to monitor ink levels.
  • Made from durable materials for prolonged use.


  • Environmentally friendly, reducing plastic waste.
  • Cost-effective in the long run.
  • Offers the flexibility to switch ink colors or types.
Refillable Ink Pens

14. Lefty Pens

Tailored for the left-handed population, lefty pens ensure a smudge-free and comfortable writing experience. These pens accommodate the unique angle and direction of writing adopted by left-handers.


  • Ergonomic design suited for left-handed grip.
  • Quick-drying ink formula.
  • Positioned clip to not interfere with writing.


  • Reduces smudging, a common issue faced by left-handers.
  • Offers enhanced comfort and reduce hand fatigue.
  • Fewer ink smears
Lefty Pens

What's in Your Pen? A Detailed Breakdown

Pen Type Ink Type Refillable Nib Availability Dry Time Smudge Resistance Ink Flow Waterproof Fade Resistant
Ballpoint Pens Oil-based X Standard Fast Consistent Variable Variable
Novelty Pens Variable Variable Standard Medium Variable Variable X Variable
Gel Pens Gel-based Variable Ultra-fine to broad Medium Smooth X Variable
Rollerball Pens Water or gel-based Variable Fine Medium Rich Variable Variable
Fountain Pens Water-soluble Multiple sizes/materials Medium Variable Variable X Variable
Click Pens Variable (usually oil-based) Standard Fast Consistent Variable Variable
Stylus Pens None (Digital) N/A N/A Instant Digital
Highlighter Pens Water-based X Chisel or fine Fast Consistent X X
Multi-ink Pens Variable Standard Medium Variable Variable X Variable
Calligraphy Pens Water-soluble Flat, wide, angled Medium Variable Variable X Variable
Disposable Stick Pens Oil-based X Standard Fast Consistent Variable Variable
Felt Pens Water, alcohol, and permanent X Ultra-fine to broad Medium Bold X X
Refillable Ink Pens Variable Variable Medium Variable Variable Variable Variable
Lefty Pens Variable Variable Standard Fast Variable Variable Variable

Understanding Key Terms

  • Oil-based: Smooth ink used in ballpoints for smudge resistance and quick drying.
  • Water-soluble: Common in fountain and calligraphy pens; medium dry time, can vary in smudging.
  • Water or gel-based: Found in rollerball pens; medium dry, smudge-resistant, offers rich flow.
  • Gel-based: Used in gel pens; smooth flow, vibrant colors, medium dry time.
  • Refillable: Pen can be refilled with ink once emptied.
  • Nib Availability: Refers to the type and variety of pen tips.
  • Consistent Ink Flow: Stable and uniform flow of ink during writing.
  • Fade Resistant (Variable): Some pens maintain ink clarity over time, while others may fade.
Jerome Wu

Jerome Wu

About the Author

Jerome Wu, a renowned expert in the stationery field, crafts insightful content for Interwell Stationery. With over a decade of industry experience, Jerome brings a deep understanding of stationery trends and innovation.

Connect with Jerome for blog collaborations or inquiries at

👉 Searching for Custom Logo Pens? Your brand deserves the best.

Contact your vetted factory for premium customization!

custom service

Get top-notch custom pens from a leading ball pen manufacturer. Starting from $0.1/pc.

Get instant quote