The best pens for bullet journaling and planning - Dotgrid

The best pens for bullet journaling and planning

One of the key things you need when starting a bullet journal are a good set of pens. You want to make your writing (and doodles) stand out, and what better way to do that than with lots of brightly coloured gel pens, markers and highlighters?

Gel pens for bullet journaling

Sakura Gelly Roll

Sakura Gelly Rolls are amazing gel pens with a huge selection of colours and finishes. The Gelly Roll series are one of the most famous gel pens for journaling, known for their quality, colours and smooth ink. As you would expect, the Classic style is a simple rainbow colour range, but would be great for starting a collection of these excellent gel pens. Building on the Classic set, the Metallic and Stardust styles are glitter-based inks that work on both light and dark papers, and will make your writing sparkle. The Aqualip, Souffle and Glaze sets all feature a raised finish, with subtle differences, such as glitter, gloss and pastel overlays.

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Uni-ball Signo

Another well-known brand is the Uni-ball’s Signo UM-153/UM-151 range. They’re made to write incredibly smoothly, with the ‘edgeless tip’ design, which features a rounded corner to reduce friction. They’re probably best known for the white shade, which many artists use, particularly in manga and comic drawing. However, they have a good choice of colours, and are widely available. The UM-151 comes in 32 colours, with tip sizes from 0.28 to 0.7mm, while the UM-153 has 7 colours and a tip size of 1mm. Other styles include the Angelic, Glitter and Noble Metallic sets, which include pastel, glitter and metallic shades.

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Pilot FriXion

Pilot’s FriXion range is perfect for those who don’t like mistakes showing on the page - despite being ink-based pens, the ink is thermosensitive, which makes them erasable - by using the rubber ‘eraser’ tip to rub out the ink, it disappears. They also come in a number of tip sizes and colours: the Ball slim range has 20 colours, with the Point Knock and Ball Knock having fewer options. The tip sizes range from 0.38, 0.4, 0.5 and 0.7mm; however, the majority of the colours are 0.38mm, making them very fine. Interestingly, there are also FriXion highlighters and markers available, so there’s quite a versatile selection to choose from.

Paper Mate Ink Joy

Paper Mate’s answer to the gel pen - the Ink Joy - also has a great range of colours. What sets them apart, though, is the quality of the ink. It’s amazingly smooth, with very little skipping, and lasts for a really long time. You can also refill the black and blue versions, which makes them a bit more environmentally friendly.

Zebra Sarasa

Zebra’s Sarasa Push Clip gel pens are a bit scratchier than the smooth flowing Sakura Gelly Rolls and Paper Mate Inkjoys, but they have a good colour selection - they come in sets, such as Milk, Vintage 1 & 2, Brights, and even marbled ink. The Milk colour set is made up of pastels and can be used on dark paper, and also glossy photos; the Bright sets come in a range of tip sizes, including 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.7 and 1mm, whereas the other colour sets are usually 0.5mm. They also all have feather and fade-resistant ink, and are light-fast. Easy to find in most stationery stores, and even supermarkets, these are an inexpensive brand to start off your gel pen collection. 

Highlighters and markers

Stabilo Boss Pastel Highlighters

For those into pastel colours, the Stabilo Boss pastel highlighters are a good find - they use water-based inks, are anti-smudging, and have anti-dry out technology to keep them working for long periods of time, even if you leave the lid off. The wedge tip can be used to create lines of either 2 or 5mm, depending on how you turn it.

Paper Mate Flair

Paper Mate’s Flair felt tip range have medium bullet tips that are actually pretty good for writing, but are fine enough to create detailed drawings. You can buy them in sets of colours, like Candy Pop and Tropical Vacation, or individually, with 16 to choose from. 

Iconic Markers

Iconic’s 2-way markers are very versatile, especially if you don’t want to have lots of different versions of the same pens. They come in sets of 5 colours: Retro, Deco and Pastel. Each pen has a fine bullet tip on one end and a chisel tip on the other. This is handy if you only have a small pencil case or want to take some markers out with you, particularly if you like sketchnoting, or need something for meetings or taking notes in class.

Zebra Mildliners

Another range of popular journaling pens are the Zebra Mildliners. These mild (hence the name) pastel tones are super pretty, perfect for doodles and making your lists look extra cute. Similar to the Iconic pens, these are also double-ended, but are slightly more unique in that they’re available in two versions: a fine and bold bullet tip, and an extra fine bullet and a brush tip.

Staedtler Fineliners

Did you ever have Staedtler stationery at school as a child? Their Triplus Fineliner pens are incredibly fine at 0.3mm, excellent for intricate designs or detail work. The flexible tip and triangular design make these markers very ergonomic, perfect if you struggle with your grip. There are 60 colours to choose from, including neon shades. The Triplus range now also includes Broadliners, double-sided brush pens and Textsurfers - a set of highlighters that have a flexible tip, a bit like the Paper Mate Flairs.


Whatever your preferred way of bullet journaling, there’s a set of gel pens, markers and highlighters to suit a wide range of designs, writing, budgets and colour preferences. Don’t forget, you can also jazz up your bullet journal with other stationery items, such as washi tape and stickers. We’ll take a look at these and more in another post.

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