Are Gel Pens Good For Taking Notes?

If you take a lot of notes and spend half your day scribbling, you may find yourself wondering what kind of pen is the best to use. It’s important to reduce the strain on your hand and fingers, and the right pen can do that – so are gel pens good for notes?

Gel pens can be great for taking notes, as they require minimal pressure and they produce a good, strong flow of ink that should rarely jump or skip. They come in a range of colors so you can color-code your notes and make information easier to find.

Gel pens are very popular for taking notes, so let’s find out a bit more about how they work and what makes them so great.

Are Gel Pens Good For Notes?

Gel pens are great for scribbling down notes, and many people choose them because they offer a variety of advantages, including:

  • They come in different colors
  • They produce a strong flow of ink
  • They need minimal pressure to write
  • They will write on shiny surfaces
  • They don’t smudge when dry

Let’s explore some of these advantages in more detail, and then touch on a few of the issues that you might run into when using a gel pen to make notes.

Different Colors

Why are Muji pens so good?
By Michael – MUJI PENS, CC BY 2.0,

One of the biggest attractions of using gel pens is that they come in a whole range of different colors. This makes it super easy to organize your notes well because you can dedicate different colors to different sections, and see at a glance what belongs where.

The color range also makes them aesthetically appealing and might help to make your notes feel more engaging. You can get gel pens that are shiny, glittery, metallic, or just brightly colored. They will also cover up other ink because they produce such a thick line of ink.

Strong Lines

Gel pens are enormously clear. They use a water-based gel, which means they produce a lot more flow than most pens, so you get an attractive, smooth, thick line. Most are unsuitable for very fine work, but for note-taking, they are ideal and will produce text that is even and easy to read.

They do have a slight tendency to skip, which can be frustrating, but most high-quality gel pens will not do this, so you should have a great writing experience. Because of the strong flow and bright colors, gel pen notes can be easy to read, as well as make.

Minimal Pressure

One of the best parts of using a gel pen is that you don’t need to put any pressure on the pen to make it work well. Gel pens will produce ink at the slightest touch of the nib to the paper, and this is great if you are going to take a lot of notes, or if you already suffer from hand pain when you try to write.

Many people find that writing with rollerballs, ballpoints, or even some fountain pens can be painful after a while because they have to press the nib of the pen down in order to get a flow of ink. This can cause cramps or exacerbate arthritis and other joint conditions, so gel pens are an ideal alternative if you suffer from this kind of issue.

Able To Write On Shiny Surfaces

Are gel pens good for notes?

Unlike many other kinds of pens, gel pens will write well on almost any surface. Again, this is because they produce such a strong flow of ink. It’s almost like applying a thin layer of paint, rather than writing with a pen.

That means you can use gel pens on shiny cards or paper, making them a much more flexible option. If you find you need to scribble on an envelope or a bit of scrap paper, they should work as well as they do on normal notepaper in most cases.

No Smudging Once Dried

Once gel pens have dried, most become pretty resistant to smudging, meaning that your notes will last well. You can run your fingers over the ink and even press on it, and you should get little smudging if any.

This is preferable to some other inks and will reduce the risk of your notes getting spoiled once you have put time and energy into them. If you need to highlight sections later, you can often do this without the ink smudging (although not always, so test it first).

What Are The Problems With Gel Pens?

The biggest problem that gel pens suffer from is that most of them will smudge badly when wet. That means if you brush your hand against the notebook or close it before the ink has dried, you will smear the ink and get imprints on the surface that touched it.

This is very frustrating for some users because it means that you have to be careful when writing and closing the notebook. If you are left-handed, there’s a great risk of you smudging the lettering while you are still working on it, as your hand is likely to brush against the ink while you write.

There are some gel pens that are specifically designed to combat this issue, so you may want to look into these if you’d like to use gel pens to take notes.

Another disadvantage is that gel pens use their ink up fast compared with other pens. Because they produce such a good flow, they may not last as long as a rollerball or ballpoint, which uses less ink on every stroke. If you take a lot of notes, you’ll find that your gel pens run out much more quickly.


Gel pens are great for taking notes, and many people use them. They do have a bit of a tendency to smudge, which is frustrating, but they write well and require minimal pressure, so they are ideal for a long session of note-taking, and they produce text that is vibrant, easy to read, and simple to color code.

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