Here at the Strategist UK, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed products and single out the most convincing ones. (You can learn more about our rating system and how we pick each item here.)
And while we’ve written about home-office essentials before — including the best office chairs and the best coffee makers — here, we’ve rounded up the best pens, as praised by the most enthusiastic reviewers on Amazon.co.uk.
Best-rated overall pen
Bic says this is the world’s best-selling ballpoint pen, and the sheer number of reviews seem to agree — 565 customers spoke of the excellent value for money (this box of 50 works out to 25p per pen), while 169 thought they were good quality. One student was impressed at how well these relatively basic pens held up during an intense exam season, writing that the ink lasted even throughout numerous essay deadlines. And 17 teachers wrote positive reviews, including one saying they were perfect for marking homework as they didn’t blot the page and wouldn’t cause hand cramp, even on the 27th paper. 239 reviewers said these Bic pens were the best on the market, and according to one self-described pen enthusiast, they are “absolutely lovely” to chew on.
Best-rated ballpoint pen
This three-pack by Zebra came highly rated, with 76 percent of the reviews being five stars. Thirty-four reviewers commented on the triangle shape, which made the pen comfortable to hold (including for left-handed writers). Thirty-four reviewers said the ink flowed smoothly; it was described as being a lovely deep black by one reviewer, and a pleasing thickness by another. Three students said it made note-taking almost enjoyable, while the rose-gold finish on the pen was singled out by 49 reviewers for adding a stylish touch. This included a grandmother who bought a set for her grandson after he used hers to do his homework, and a manager who liked to take this pen to important meetings.
Best-rated rollerball pen
Uniball’s three-pack in black was the highest rated rollerball on Amazon, with 84 percent of the reviews being five stars. 113 reviewers said they loved these pens, including a student who said they require very little force on the page and allow for smooth and fast writing. While a professional author who uses these pens to take notes throughout the day said using this pen was like writing on silk. Even a reviewer who warned against using them on glossy card (due to their habit of smudging) said they were the best pens they had ever used in their life. Sixty-nine reviews mentioned how long-lasting each one was (even by students writing all day), and 37 reviewers described the round-barrel design as very comfortable. This pen also was the favourite of one reviewer with dyspraxia; they said it was easier to hold, fitted in the hand easily, and performed well.
Best-rated gel pen
This set of gel pens by Uni-ball came highly rated, with 81 percent of the reviews being five stars. Sixty-eight reviewers wrote that they “loved these pens,” including an artist who used them both for their gouache paintings and for hand-written notes (they even said their spidery handwriting looked beautiful thanks to this pen). Another fan said they bought them to use while working from home after getting sick of using the “vile” biros that were lying around the house. Twenty-one reviewers said these were the best pens they’d used, and 41 said they were particularly nice to write with. This is due to the 1.00mm nib, which helps the ink flow and the pen write smoothly, rather than scratchy, according to one customer. Eight reviewers also noted the value for money, especially given how long-lasting they are. The thicker lines also came recommended by a partially sighted woman who said thinner nibs made it hard for her to read her own hand-writing (plus that of others); she concluded that she simply couldn’t consider an alternative after trying this pen.
Best-rated fountain pen
Parker’s stainless-steel fountain pen has 81 percent five-star reviews. Thirty-four reviewers noted how nice it was to write with. This included one customer who said rollerballs and ballpoints just didn’t feel the same after using this, while another called it an inexpensive step-up from regular, everyday pens. One fountain pen enthusiast liked this model for being a lower price, recommending it as a “starter” fountain pen for people looking to try them out. Seventy-four reviews noted how light this was for a fountain pen, and suggested keeping the cap on the end of the pen to add weight. Twenty-seven reviewers also said that the ink flowed well (something which can occasionally be a problem with cartridge pens). In total, 103 customers bought this pen as a gift, with the presentation box being mentioned as a particular highlight.
Best-rated fine-point pen
Stabilo’s 0.4mm fine liner has 81 percent five-star reviews. According to a maths student who said they loved everything about this pen, the fine nib makes the ink stay on the paper rather than dragging across the page, which makes equations and complex sums easier to write out. They were also popular with Chinese students, including one who said intricate characters were easier to write out with a finer pen like this. One reviewer said their usual chicken-scratch handwriting looked like calligraphy with this pen — and 31 reviewers said they were just as good for drawing as they were for writing. However, reviews seemed split on their longevity — one school teacher said that although she loved them, daily use meant her pens only lasted two weeks.
Best-rated pen with eraser
This Pilot pen with an eraser on the end has 78 percent five-star reviews, and a total of 170 reviewers said they’d recommend this product, including a mum whose young daughter wanted a more “grown-up” alternative to crayons and pencils, and an office manager who said they saved a fortune on correction fluid. It also came recommended by a seamstress, who said she used this pen to mark fabrics before sewing them because it was more accurate than using chalk. A dyslexic student found it handy being able to correct mistakes and particularly appreciated the fact this pen came in several colours, too. 300 reviewers wrote favourably about the quality of the ink, which is thick without smudging. One wary reviewer, who bought these on a whim after being let down by similar erasable pens, said the pen barely leaves an indent in the paper, meaning erasing is made easy, and the eraser can be used even when the ink is fresh.
Best-rated marker pen
Sharpie’s fine-point pen was the best-rated marker pen, with 83 percent five-star reviews. Thirteen reviewers said that this was their favourite model of Sharpie because it’s easy to write with — with 25 reviewers noting how useful it was for labelling or marking everything from school uniforms to plant pots. The fine tips and the thicker barrel made them ideal for kids, too — one woman said she bought them for her child’s birthday party. They were also popular with adults, including one man who said the fine tip was perfect for marking his golf balls, and someone who used it to label everything from gift tags to CDs. Eighty-two reviewers thought the quality was excellent, though one person warned against drawing a moustache on your face with it — as it is pretty hard to wash off.
Best-rated soft-feel pen
This 1.0mm ballpoint by Bic was the highest rated of its kind. Seventy-four percent of the reviews were five stars, with a lot of people remarking on the quality of the ‘soft feel’ rubber grip around the end of the barrel. This made it useful for puzzle books, according to a prolific arrowword fanatic, who said it felt comfortable and easy to grip, even over long periods. One writer agreed, saying they’ve stopped getting a sore finger after using this pen. According to a recent university graduate, the rubber grip was especially useful due to the fact you can hold it in wet hands, which was helpful for a case of the dreaded “exam sweats.” Another student, who had suffered tendonitis and a strain injury after writing so much during their A-levels said this was a fantastic pen for alleviating any pain, and made writing for long periods possible. Eighteen reviewers also thought these were excellent value for money.
Best-rated multicolour pen set
This Bic set was popular with a wide range of customers. Not only did parents say they were great for school kids of all ages, but several adults said this coloured set made organising notes for presentations much easier. One customer noted that while Bic pens can often be uncomfortable after being held for a long period, these felt nicer to write with, especially while colour-coding cue cards. The ink quality was called great in 29 reviews, including a woman who said they even made her shopping list more exciting to look at. Another customer said drawing mind maps and posters was not a problem as the ink flowed more smoothly than other Bic pens, even on the brighter colours (where several reviewers said ink pigment can often get “jammy”). Forty-three reviewers wrote positively about the colours, though the more neon shades were considered hard to write in but good for underlining or more creative work.
Best-rated children’s pen
While some of the pens featured (such as the Stabilo fine liner) had been recommended for children due to their grip, this Stabilo model is designed specifically for little hands. Thirteen parents said it was the pen they used to teach their kids to write, including a grandmother who said her grandchildren liked the curved design, which didn’t feel as unwieldy as using an adult pen. They even came recommended by a teacher who has been teaching handwriting for 40 years, who said it doesn’t cause children to ‘over-grip’ the pen and get tired. Five reviewers also said it was good for improving motor skills – in fact one parent said this pen came recommended by several teachers – but an 82-year-old wrote that after recovering from a stroke, this pen helped her relearn how to write.
Best-rated left handed children’s pen
Stabilo’s left-handed version of the same pen features 81 percent five-star reviews. In total, 23 parents recommended it, including one parent who bought it during lockdown and said it instantly changed her son’s attitude to homework. Most of the reviews mention the thicker nib, which allows children to see where the ink is on the page (therefore making them less likely to press down too hard). Seventeen reviewers also mentioned it was easy to hold, thanks to the depressions in the side for the fingers and thumb, which teach children how to hold it.
Best-rated left handed pen for adults
Though several adults had used the children’s Stabilo pen, they also do a slightly more grown-up looking one, which has 73 percent five stars. One reviewer bought these for their teen sons, one left-handed, one right-handed, but both with dyspraxia, and said the ergonomic design felt nice in the hand without looking too ‘different’. It also comes with a foam tip which is designed to be used as a stylus on iPads or other tablets; 12 reviewers commented on how effective it was, including a left-handed teenager who bought it to make note-taking at university easier.
Best-rated 4-in-1 pen
Eighty-four percent of the reviews for this 4-in-1 pen by Bic were five stars. They were popular with teachers, several of whom said they made marking (which was often colour-coded at secondary-school level) much easier than using multiple pens at once. One even noted the small loop at the top makes this easy to attach to a lanyard. Even though seven reviewers noticed this pen was quite big, which made writing trickier than usual, 14 reviewers mentioned it was easy to hold. And 39 reviewers spoke highly of the ink quality, which was smooth on the page and dried quickly. Even though each colour comes with less ink than a standard pen, one teacher said the ease alone made it worth choosing.
Best-rated calligraphy pen
These calligraphy pens from Edding, a German pen-maker, came recommended by 50 professional and amateur calligraphers. Reviewers mentioned the three sizes (5.0mm, 3.5mm, and 2.0mm) as being great for beginners, while eight reviewers said they were perfect for adding a bit of flair to wedding invitations. Sixteen reviewers said these were a good value, given that calligraphy pens can often be costly, so they were an affordable way for children to learn letter work.
Best-rated refillable pen
Cross’s century ballpoint pen is the most expensive featured, but it has 78 percent five star reviews, and is popular with people who want something long-lasting. One five-star reviewer said they’d had enough of disposable, one-use pens, and described this slender chrome pen as “gorgeous.” Another five-star review by a nurse in a London hospital said she wanted a pen people wouldn’t steal, and as someone who does a lot of paperwork, this pen was light and comfy to use. Forty-six positive reviews specifically mentioned the refills, which were easy to use and long-lasting. Twenty customers said they loved the look, with a further six complimenting the presentation box it came in.
And here are some refills.
Some other pens we like
Strategist contributor Lynn Enright doesn’t know how this pen came into her possession, but working from home, it quickly became her and her husband’s favourite. “To start with, it is the perfect weight – not so light that it feels flimsy, but not cumbersome, either. Meanwhile, the hexagonal barrel means it fits in your grip just so. Even the ‘click’ that brings the pen to life is designed to feel inherently satisfying. (It also serves as a kind of stress-reducer; I often find myself clicking and un-clicking throughout a particularly boring video call.” It’s made by Swiss company Caran d’Ache, which has been designing statusy writing tools since 1915.
Muji pens featured several times in our exhaustive test of 87 of the best pens. The 0.38mm one, which was the seventh best pen overall, was also endorsed to us by Rose Matafeo, who said it was the perfect pen for illustrating the daily zine she made on the set of her show Starstruck.
This pen by Edding also ranked highly in our quest to find the best pen. We wrote that the gel ink dried quickly, and despite the thick nib, it can create impressively thick lines.
The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.