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Ballpoint vs. Rollerball

Posted by Casey Tucker on

This week we took the time to answer our most frequently asked question; what's the difference between a Rollerball and a Ballpoint pen?

The two seem very similar at first glance. Both have a single cone-shaped nib with a small ball at one end, allowing ink to flow out and create beautiful marks on your page.

However, the two have a few differences making them suitable for different kinds of writers and paper...

1. The ink 

Ballpoint pens use thick oil-based ink, whereas rollerballs use liquid ink or even gel. Therefore, rollerballs tend to feel smoother and more liquid, giving it a gliding feeling as the ink flows across the page. 

2. The control

On average Ballpoints tend to be easier to control and last longer on average because the ink does not flow as freely. You can often run your finger over the ink pattern after using a ballpoint and it won't smudge. But if you try the same thing after writing with a rollerball, more often than not, the line will smudge due to the larger flow of ink, meaning you need to leave more time for the ink to dry on the page.

3. The feel

Rollerballs, on average, tend to be a little bit more expensive than ballpoints because of the more luxurious feel and smooth writing style. Where the ink flow is smooth in a rollerball, often people complain that Ballpoints leave a 'scratchy' like mark on their page. This is because the ink does not flow as freely so there may be gaps in the ink pattern. 


So which one should I use?

The pen you're using right now is most probably a ballpoint. This type of pen is one of the most popular styles on the market because of its ergonomic and economic properties. Cheaper ballpoints are good for writing notes and quick paragraphs as they dry quickly, avoiding leaving smudge marks on your paper.

However, rollerballs also have their benefits too. The liquid ink leaves a smoother line, with more ink on the page creating a vivid mark. Writing tends to be easier because of the ink and your writing flows freely across the page.

If you tend to push down on the pen when you're writing we would recommend buying a Rollerball, as these do not need much pressure at all to use so it may help you reverse that trend. We love the Lamy AL-Star Rollerball Pen, which is an ideal blend of both the performance of a fountain pen but also the ease of use of a ballpoint.

Whereas if you're looking for an everyday pen a ballpoint is really the best option as its ink flow means it is long lasting and easy to use. We've developed our own range of ballpoints, presented in a gift box in a set of two, making them the perfect gift for any stationery lover or writer. Our Marble Ballpoint Pens are finished in a beautiful rose gold colour and have a well balanced enamel metal body allowing a comfortable grip for long writing periods.


Whatever your preference let us know your favourite, or are you more of a pencil person?

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