NEW PARKER JOTTER 70TH ANNIVERSARY Buy the new Parker Jotter 70th Anniversary Special Edition - Available for a limited time!

Common Rollerball Pen Issues & How To Fix Them

Rollerball Pens are a popular writing instrument as they offer the best of both worlds, acting as the middle man between ballpoints and fountain pens. While they are great pens, occasionally you may experience a few issues when writing. This is the same for all pens however and most problems can be easily solved with a bit of know how.

We’ve put together this article to help you troubleshoot any problems you may be having with your rollerball pen. We’ve identified three of the main issues that you may encounter and how you can fix them.

Rollerball Pen has Dried Out

If your rollerball pen has dried out, the first thing to check is if you need a pen refill. Rollerball pens have refillable cartridges and if you’ve been using it for a while, this should be the first thing you check for.

If you recently refilled your rollerball pen and it’s still dried up, there are still some other things you can do to get the ink flowing again. Your rollerball could be stuck, so try running it up and down a piece of paper and also in circles to see if it’ll come unstuck. We’ll go into more detail of how to remedy a clogged rollerball later on in this post, but it’s always a good place to start. If that doesn’t work, there are many other ways to restart your pen.

Try running it under some warm water. There’s a good chance that dried ink has got trapped in the machanism. Warm water will break up the clog and get your ink flowing freely again. Don’t overdo it with the water thought and only submerge the tip.

Another way to try and disrupt a clog is by simply shaking the pen up and down. The motion of shaking the pen can dislodge the clog. Try pressing the rollerball firmly onto a piece of paper, the downward pressure can sometimes get it going again.

This is one of the easier ailments that can be fixed and if all of those methods don’t work on a new refill, it could be a faulty cartridge. Make sure you shop around for the best refills, and don’t just buy a refill because it’s made by the same brand as your pen. Some pen manufacturers make fantastic pens, but their refills can be sub-par.

Rollerball Pen Bleeds Through Paper

Because rollerball pens use a water-based liquid ink, they are more susceptible to smudges and ink bleeds. If your pen is smudging, and you aren’t left-handed, you need to think about changing how you hold the pen. Try some different techniques and aim to keep your hand off the page. If you’re left-handed, using a rollerball pen is going to be hard. Investing in a good-quality ballpoint pen is recommended for lefties.

If your rollerball pen is bleeding through the paper, the first thing you can try is using a finer nib. By reducing the size of the point of your pen, you also reduce the ink flow. Another option is to search online for a ‘drier’ ink. Have a look at customer reviews and forums to see which inks have been noted for their tendency to bleed.

The most likely cause of this problem lies in the paper and not the pen however. Investing in some good-quality paper should fix this problem more often than not.

Rollerball Pen Skipping when Writing

If your rollerball pen is skipping frequently, the best place to start is by trying the methods we mentioned for when your pen has dried out. Shake it, run it under warm water, apply pressure to it, it’s all worth a try.

The most likely cause of this issue, however, is the way you hold the pen. Ensure you’re holding your pen at fairly shallow angle, but not too shallow, as the edge of the refill will be touching the paper and cause the pen to skip. Holding it at too steep an angle will also cause skips for similar reasons. The steep angle causes friction on all sides of the ball which can cause it to get stuck.

If you want to get a bit surgical, you can. Get hold of a small syringe. Use the syringe to remove the ink from the cartridge and add in some ink of your choice, which has had a couple extra drops of surfactant put in it. This will make your ink a bit wetter and the surfactant will reduce the surface tension and should lead to a free-flowing rollerball.


When you buy high quality, rollerball pens you should find few issues. However, if you are having any problems with ink bleeds, smudging and skipping we have suggested a few simple fixes as these are all fairly common things that can occur with any pen type. Please bear in mind when experiencing issues with your pen, some internet recommendations may conflict with your brand warranty. Always check your agreement beforehand in case the pen is faulty, and you do need to replace.