What’s the difference between gel and ballpoint pens? Quite a lot!
Ballpoint pens versus gel pens
- Use a ‘dry’ ink that is less prone to smudging and smearing
- Better for thin paper when you want to avoid ghosting and bleed through
- Write best on washi tape (as they’re less prone to ink smearing)
- The colors are more vibrant than balpoint pens
- The ink tends to be more prone to ghosting than ballpoint pens
- More expensive than ballpoint pens
- Write smoother
Read more: My Top 3 All-Time Favorite Gel Pens
The photo below is a good comparison of different types of pens:
- The pink, purple, blue, orange and red are ballpoint pens
- The green is a felt tip pen
- The yellow is actually a highlighter (the thin end of the DONG-A Soft dual tip highlighter)
- And the teal is a gel pen
Ballpoint pens are much more prone to the ink skipping and leave more of an indent on the back side of the page.
Felt tip (similar to fine tip) and gel pens have more vibrant colors and the ink doesn’t skip. Hence why they cost more… However they’re more prone to ghosting and bleed through than ballpoint pens.
The photo above is from this weekly spread
I prefer gel pens. They write smoother, the ink doesn’t skip and the colors stand out more. See this post for my top 3 favorite gel pens.
I recommend using ballpoint pens if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on pens and / or if you’re bullet journaling (as dot grid notebooks tend to have thin paper).
If you want the best of both world’s, try the Frixion erasable pens (they’re my all time favorite!)
More pen reviews
- How to choose the right planner pens: what to look for when buying planner pens
- Planner pens I don’t recommend (prone to smearing, bleed through etc.)
- Favorite pens for writing headings in my planner
- What type of pens write best on correction tape? (gel pens vs. ballpoint vs. marker pens)
- Brush pens versus highlighters: which is better for planning?
- My 10 biggest planner pet peeves
- 15 habit tracker tips & ideas to try
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