FREE PEN PERSONALISATION On all eligible Parker and Waterman pens. Offer ends 14th June 2024 - no code needed to apply.

Choosing a Rollerball Pen

If you’re thinking of purchasing a rollerball pen, then you’ve come to the right place. Before you buy however, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for and that you’re choosing the right pen to suit you. We’ve put together a rollerball pen guide with all the information you might want to know, so you can make the right decision. Below you’ll find the pros and cons, the differences between rollerball pens and gel pens, and advice for left handed writers. We also have information about how rollerball pens work, what paper will boast your writing, and the nib size that will suit your handwriting style. If you have any other questions, please get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to assist.

Rollerball Pens vs Gel Pens

Let’s start our guide by looking at the differences between rollerball pens and gel pens. A lot of people confuse the two pen types due to the nature of their liquid ink and nib mechanism. Whereas, the nib is a rollerball for both pen types, the ink used in the two pens is actually quite different. Rollerball ink is thin, and water based, whereas gel ink has a thicker viscosity. This is because gel ink includes pigments which thicken the liquid ink and broaden the colour choices available. The thickness of the gel pens can also mean the ink doesn’t flow as freely so can leave gaps in your letters when writing. The thickness of the ink makes gel pens more comparable with ballpoint pens.

Why Choose a Rollerball Pen?

Rollerball pens are a cross between a fountain pen and ballpoint pen. You get the soft nib and ease of writing benefits from that of a ballpoint pen, but you also benefit from the free flow ink that you get from using a fountain pen. Fountain pens are great for fine writing, and ballpoint pens are great for quick writing activities such as exams and note-taking; rollerball pens are the middle ground. They present a more elegant writing style and are a professional alternative for your day to day pen. The main advantages of rollerball pens is their ease of flow. The ink flows freely and fast, so you can write quickly and easily.

The presentation of the ink on the paper looks more elegant, just like a fountain pen would produce, but the style of the pen presents an ease of writing. The circular ball in the pen nib also means your handwriting will be consistent. When writing the ball in the pen smoothly stays the same so the letters will be the same width. Rollerball pens are helpful for practising neat handwriting.

Considerations of Rollerball Pens

When deciding if a rollerball pen is the right pen choice for you, there are a few things you might want to take into consideration. The free flow of the ink makes it prone to smudging and perhaps more difficult to write with for left-handed people. As you will see later in this guide, this has been somewhat combatted over the years, but it is something you might want to bear in mind.

Rollerball pens need appropriate care and maintenance. As they use a liquid ink, they can dry up quickly if left uncapped. They are also prone to leaking when not capped and stored correctly.

The free flow of ink may also mean they may run out of ink more quickly. They may need refilling more often compared to other pens, but you can buy rollerball pen refills for a small fee, or you can refill them using fountain pen ink with the syringe method.

Rollerball pens also require drying time. The ink is liquid based and can be prone to smudging so if you’re writing in a notebook and need to change the page, you will need to wait a few moments for the ink to properly dry.

How Rollerball Pens Work

Rollerball pens, as the name suggests, have a small ball in the nib of the pen that drives the ink from the refill as it moves on the paper. Rollerball pens don’t require shaking nor do they need you to apply pressure, when the ball touches the paper, ink flows immediately.

Paper Choice

As with fountain pens, the ink choice for rollerball pens can cause feathering issues with certain paper types. Feathering is when the ink sinks into the paper fibres and blurs its lines. This makes the ink look thicker and your font look less neat. Opting for a finer nib size can help but also look for a higher quality paper. You can usually tell if paper is high quality by the opaqueness and thickness. This will also prevent the ink bleeding through also. If you are worried about the drying time of your rollerball pen when writing you can also choose a rougher paper to absorb the ink faster.

Choosing Your Tip

Rollerball pen widths, on average, range from 0.5mm to 0.7mm. However, you can get them as fine as 0.2mm and as thick as 1.5mm. The tip choice is based on personal preference. When writing with finer nibs the ink tends to dry quicker and smudge less.

When shopping for rollerball pens, you will tend to find the nibs come in a choice of fine, medium or thick as opposed to giving their width dimensions. Usually, fine rollerballs tend to be around 0.7mm, medium tends to be more than 0.8mm. If you are looking for a tip less than 0.5mm you would need to look at micro or extra fine tips. These are rough measurements however as they do tend to differ by brand. Pen aficionados tend to opt for either a fine or medium tip for their rollerball pens.

Left-handed Rollerball Pens

Left handed people have often faced difficulty with rollerball pens. The ink in a rollerball pen is thinner and water based so it takes longer to dry, and it flows more quickly than other pen types. As left-handed people write across the page from left to right, smudging the ink is a frequent problem, and previously, this meant left-handed people would avoid choosing rollerball pens. This no longer must be the case however. Modern inks are now made to be faster drying and non-smudge. Left-handed people are also advised to opt for narrower widths as finer ink also dries more quickly.