Ballpoints, gel rollerballs, and fountain pens explained

by Damon Kostidis on Feb 10, 2023

As simple as they are, pens can still be confusing. Read on to learn about the differences between the different types of pens.

Ballpoints use a thick oil-based ink that is held in a metal ball tip. This type of pen is typically the most affordable and produces a consistent line with minimal smearing.

Gel rollerballs use a gel-based ink that is held in a metal ball tip. The ink is more viscous than in a ballpoint pen, and the line produced is much smoother and more precise. It tends to be more expensive than a ballpoint pen, but less expensive than a fountain pen.

Fountain pens use a water-based ink that is held in a reservoir. The ink is drawn up through an internal feed mechanism and flows out of a metal nib. This type of pen is the most expensive of the three and produces the most precise line. The ink can also be varied in width and color depending on the type of nib used.