If you’re a planner newbie or you’ve been part of the planner community for a while, you may already have your favorite pen brands sorted. But if you’re anything like me you may have a slight pen addiction. So not to be an enabler or anything 🙂 but here are my favorite pen brands.
I’ll admit I didn’t realise I had quite so many planner pens until I laid them all out! Not to mention my black planner pens which I shared in this post.
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So here are my favorite pen brands in no particular order:
These are my favorite pen brands and my favorite pens for color-coding:
To enlarge the screen of the video, click the square icon in the bottom right hand corner of the video (it will say ‘full screen’ when you hover your mouse over the icon).
My favorite planner pens for color-coding (at the moment, there are so many to choose from!) are the Inkjoy Gel by Papermate. There are 8 different colors in their ‘base’ pack which I found was a good number for color-coding. They also have larger packs with multiple shades of each color such as light and dark blue instead of just one shade of blue.
These are erasable pens so if you’re a bit of a perfectionist like me and want to keep your notes clean and tidy these are the perfect pen for you 🙂 They are a little pricey but definitely worth it (if you get the retractable/clicker pens you can purchase ink refills). I did a review (and video) on the Frixion pens in this post.
Make sure you don’t get the fat marker style ones that are like a Sharpie (I discussed them in this post) as they bleed through the page and aren’t good for the small boxes that are in most planners (gel pen, ballpoint pens and fine tip pens are best for planners).
A common problem when it comes to color coding is accidentally using the wrong colors – using these pens solves that problem once and for all!
These pens are ideal if you’re just getting started in color-coding and don’t have too many categories to color code. They write just as nice as the Papermate gel pens (and they aren’t as inky). I just wish they came in more colors! You can get these in a pack with orange, purple, blue, green and pink.
They are more affordable than the gel pens and I’ve seen them in heaps of places including Kmart, Target, Officeworks and various places online.
Similar to the Inkjoy Gel pens, these come in 8 colors – the main colors of the rainbow. The tips on these pens are a little small so if you tend to push down hard when you write like I do keep this in mind. These pens come in a convenient carry case.
I prefer the medium point 0.7mm for all pens. I find the 0.5mm and 0.38mm too fine (I write on a sharp angle which means the pen can ‘skip’ when I write with very fine tip pens). These pens are 0.4mm.
You can also buy these pens individually so if one color runs out you don’t have to purchase an entire pack, or you can choose 1 or 2 to try out before buying the whole pack.
These pens are more of a regular everyday ballpoint pen but nevertheless they’re worth a mention. They’re affordable and come in a few colors so if you don’t need to color code a lot of things these would be ideal.
You can also get this pen in a thin pen style (which is just the Bic Atlantis) which comes in black, red, green and blue. These pens are a bit hard to come by – I’ve only seen them at Officeworks and Big W.
I also like the retractable style (the BU3 grip) which comes in pink, blue green and purple (I’ve only seen this style at Woolworths).
I really must stop judging pens based on their price. I almost didn’t get these but couldn’t resist (I have no self control when it comes to planner supplies as you might have already guessed!) – they were rainbow and retractable so I grabbed a packet. I was pleasantly surprised by these pens at only $2.80, they write well, the tip isn’t too fat or too thin (it’s 0.7mm), they’re easy to write with and the colors come out nicely on the page.
They have a comfort grip making it easy to write with. I do wonder how long the ink will last in these. I shared more about these pens in my roundup post of favorite color coding planner supplies for less than $5
If you’re a fellow Aussie, hit up your local Kmart for some cute planner supplies (which look very similar to Kikki k…) as well as some cheap pens. I got this pack of 12 pens for $8. They seemed a little pricey for Kmart but I couldn’t resist. I was sucked in not only by the pretty colors (as well as hard to find colors such as 2 shades of green and blue – good for color-coding within each category that you plan. For example, green is the color I use for business related tasks so using these pens I could use dark green for marketing and light green for shop maintenance tasks such as paying my Etsy shop bill.
This pack also has brown which is a color that is hard to find in pens. Now I know most people (myself included) don’t use brown very often, but it’s nice to have on hand just in case.
I love the tri-grip style of these pens – they’re very easy to write with and the colors are great (except for yellow which never seems to come as well in pens – if someone knows of a pen that prints a good yellow please comment below!)
These pens also come in a convenient carry case.
4 in 1 Color pens
You’ve probably seen these pens before. These are those pens that have multiple ink cartridges in the one pen making them ideal for on the go planning when you’re short on space and don’t want to lug around an entire pencil case full of pens. The Frixion by Pilot also have big 4 version at Target – it seems pricey at $10 (if you live in Australia, I’m not sure what the cost is for my USA and UK readers) but it includes 4 colors and you can get a 4 pack of refills for $10 so it actually works out cheaper than if you were to buy the colors as pens individually.
I’ve also seen 4 color pens by Bic. I’m a bit of a pen snob and I’ll admit, I’m more likely to buy a pen/s if they look pretty. The bic brand looks a bit cheap but I’ve seen them at Officeworks for only a couple of dollars so if you want to try color coding, a 4 in 1 Bic pen would be a good place to start.
9. Staedtler Ball 431M
These trip grip pens are a dream to write with and come in lots of pretty colors. They’re also super affordable – they were only around $6 – $8 (I can’t remember the exact price) – I’ve only been able to find these at Officeworks in Australia.
10. Triplus color 1.0mm
I like using these pens for headings such as to do list – the thick tip of the pen is bold and makes the title stand out.
These pens are ideal for color coding in the 0.3mm very fine tip pen style as they come in bigger packs with lots of different colors!
Not on the list but worth a mention:
I’ve been trying to restrain from buying anymore pens but these are next on my list 🙂 They are a bit pricey but I’ve read nothing but rave reviews about them so I’m going to have get a pack to see for myself!
Gel pens from cheap shops
The Reject shop in Australia has a variety of gel pens in rainbow colors (I got ‘the paper stall’ pens in the picture below from the Reject Shop)
These pens were a bit pricey but they’re so pretty and they write really nicely. There’s only 5 colors in the pack though 🙁 I’ve only seen these at Officeworks.
A very low cost option – these pens were less than $5 for a pack of 10 and come in 1.0mm thickness which can be hard to find in pens (most are 0.7mm). I’ve only seen these at Officeworks.
Choosing pens for color coding
I briefly mentioned choosing pens for color coding in the video. I did an entire post on how to color-code your planner, but the main things to keep in mind when choosing pens for color coding is:
- Make sure you choose pens that are readily available. I live in Australia and if you do to, it’s probably not a good idea to buy a pen and get addicted to it if it’s only sold overseas with shipping so expensive!
- Try cheaper pen brands first such as the Kmart pens, you may find those are sufficient for your needs and that you don’t need to buy expensive pens
- That being said, some of my favorite pens for color coding are the PaperMate Inkjoy Gel – they aren’t cheap but they write really well – if you’re going to be color coding all the time, you may want to splurge 🙂
Which colors should you use?
These are the colors I recommend you start with (in this order) if you want to color code your planner:
Blue – most planner pen brands will always have a blue in the pack. The basic everyday pens such as PaperMate Kilometrico and other ballpoint pens that are cheap 99% of the time come in black and blue making them an affordable and readily available color
Green – if you want to color code within the category e.g. using light green for social media and dark green for blog post planning, green is a good color to use as it tends to be in 2 shades in rainbow pen packs (blue also tends to come in light and dark blue colors as well
Pink – because it’s pretty 🙂 and it also tends to be included in multi-colored pen packs
Orange – tends to always look the same shade of orange no matter what pen brand you use
Purple – the shades of purple from light to dark vary more than the other colors in this list. So if you’re OCD about using the same/similar shade of purple then use purple as your 5th color.
The Papermate Inkjoy gel, in particular, writes in very dark ink even though the pen color is a medium purple (it’s the 6th pen from the left in the picture below).
You can use red but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are intending to color code ONLY using pen. I don’t color code in red pen (unless it’s an urgent task) because I color code with other planner supplies including sticky notes and highlighters which typically don’t come in red.
Some of the ways I color coded using pens when I was in school:
- One color for each school subject
- Another color for personal life (such as what hours I was working that week in my part-time job, personal things such as chores, social events, extra-curriculars etc.)
- Black for note taking in class (usually I would just use the Kilometrico ones as I found I was able to write faster with those and they were less inky)
- I never used the yellow as yellow usually doesn’t show up well (hard to read)
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I’ll be sharing a post with the best pens for writing on washi tape and label paper, and also planner pens I don’t recommend. Make sure you subscribe to be notified when those posts are published! When you subscribe you’ll also get access to the free printables library 🙂
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