Whether you’re bullet journaling, organizing your planner, or studying for an exam, a good highlighter is an invaluable tool. The best highlighter pens have the right tip for your task and won’t bleed through the page or smear the text you’re highlighting. A flat, wide chisel tip is great for highlighting large amounts of text, while a finer bullet-shaped tip is better for circling, underlining, or precisely highlighting smaller text. Some tips can even be sharpened for a more exact point, and if you need more than one type of tip, consider a double-sided highlighter with both a wide and fine tip.
Finding the best kind of ink for your needs is also important, because smudging, smearing, and bleeding can be a pain. Gel highlighters, which use a pigmented gel stick instead of ink, tend to be more resistant to these annoyances, and usually won’t dry out before you use all the pigment, either. However, they can be less precise because of their wide, round tips, and some people might not like their waxier texture. A liquid ink highlighter will give you a more traditional texture, with a wider selection of tips and colors. However, there are a few different types of liquid ink highlighters. Water-based ink is less likely to bleed through paper than other liquid inks, but takes longer to dry on the page. Alcohol ink is dye-based, which means it is more saturated and can seep through thin pages, but it dries quickly and tends to give a more vibrant color. A light-fast pigment-based ink is water resistant and doesn’t fade in the sun, but can be slightly more expensive, takes longer to dry on the page, and doesn’t look quite as bright.
Smearing the ink that you’re highlighting is something that can happen with any type of ink-based highlighter, but is less likely to happen with a quick-drying alcohol-based liquid ink (making an alcohol-based highlighter an ideal pen for lefties!). While most of the options below are labeled as smear-proof (even the ones that aren’t alcohol-based), that may not be the case in all situations. The type of ink you’re highlighting is also a significant factor when it comes to smearing. Generally, gel pen ink, fountain pen ink, and inkjet printer ink are most reactive with highlighters, so be sure to test them with your highlighter before you commit.
Finally, not all highlighter pens are built alike, so think about whether there are any additional features that matter to you. Retractable highlighters are easy to use and store, while erasable highlighter pens allow you to remove any marks. Some highlighter tips have a clear window that allows you to see what you’re highlighting through the pen.
No matter how you’d prefer to highlight your work, it should be an easy, eye-pleasing experience. These multicolored highlighter pens on Amazon are exactly what you need to get the job done.
1. A Popular Multi-Pack Of Double-Ended Highlighter Pens
If you like to keep your options open, these Zebra highlighter pens offer lots of versatility — and they’re fan favorites, boasting an overall rating of 4.8 stars after 24,000-plus reviews. They come in 15 soft hues (no neons or fluorescents) and each pen has two tips: a broad chisel and a fine bullet tip. One reviewer even raved that these are probably “the BEST highlighters you will ever purchase,” adding that the water-based pens “do not bleed through your pages (unless you're pressing down extremely hard) and do NOT smear across your pages.” Bullet journalers and calligraphers rejoice!
Helpful Amazon review: “Lots of colors! But... even better... the colors are light enough so you can see what you highlighted! [...] They have 2 tips. One for normal highlightering, and then a smaller one that I use to highlighter bullet points and the such. [...] these will be the only highlighters I ever order again!”
2. A Set Of Retractable Highlighter Pens With Narrow Chisel Tips
These retractable highlighters from Sharpie have no cap to lose and reviewers are very into that, with one even writing, “I’m changing from colour to colour frequently and it means I can keep them from drying up with one hand as opposed to having to place the lid.” The narrow chisel tip delivers an alcohol-based ink in eight assorted fluorescent colors, which the brand suggests dry quickly without smearing or fading. Amazon reviewers back this up, too. If you prefer yellow highlighters, you can opt for an all-yellow set, too.
Helpful Amazon review: “These retractable highlighters are great. They’re convenient to quickly grab and use. However, I was a little worried they would dry up quickly without caps. I’ve had this set for almost 2 years now and they still work perfectly, they haven’t dried up at all. The thin design is great. Much easier to carry in a pencil case or bag than traditional highlighters. The colors are nice, exactly what I expected them to look like. Of course, the best part, they don’t smear. I would buy this product again, and suggest it to others.”
3. A Pack Of Alcohol-Based Highlighter Pens In Pastel Colors
If you prefer to highlight in pastel colors, take a look at the TWOHANDS highlighters, which come in a pack of six subdued shades (or a six-pack of brighter colors, if you’d prefer). The alcohol-based ink dries quickly, and the brand claims that a large ink reservoir means they’ll last a long time. The chisel tip makes them great for highlighting large chunks of text, and reviewers especially love the thicker body design of these pens, with one reviewer writing, “I love the shape of these — they feel nice on your hand and they are easy to control.”
Helpful Amazon review: “Best highlighters I have had!! They don’t bleed through at all and they are super cute colors! Definitely recommend.”
4. These Gel Highlighter Pens You Can Sharpen
When looking for gel highlighters, look no further than the highly rated Mr. Pen gel highlighters, which have an overall rating of 4.8 stars, after more than 25,000 reviews. Gel highlighters like these use a pigmented gel stick so they won’t bleed through the pages, won’t smear, and won’t dry out if uncapped for a bit. You can twist the base of the pen to access more of the pigment stick. Reviewers back up these claims, with one writing, “They dry super fast, so no smearing. I literally highlighted and ran my finger over immediately after but there was no smudge. They also do not bleed through the page. I've actually highlighted the same spot twice and no bleed through.” These gel highlighters come in eight colors per pack, and the bullet-shaped tip can be sharpened if you need a more precise point. Also, Mr. Pen contributes a portion of their proceeds to community foundations and schools, so you can feel good about that while you use them.
Helpful Amazon review: “I love these highlighters! I love everything about them. I even love the packaging and the fun mustache sticker that comes with them. Everything is well thought out. There is a plastic insert to clip the highlighter to inside the pack so they stay in place and don't roll around. [...] I like that I can highlight pen ink without it smearing and that I can just twist the barrel for more product and that it doesn't dry out.”
5. A Pack Of Highlighter Pens With Transparent Tips
Highlight precisely with this eight-pack of Sharpie Clear View pens, which feature a clear window in each tip so you can see exactly what you’re highlighting. This makes it easy to keep your lines straight and stop highlighting at the exact right spot. The slim pens have a thin chisel tip perfect for highlighting text, and the brand claims that the alcohol-based ink dries quickly and is resistant to smearing and smudging. The pens come in a pack of eight, with two highlighters in each of four vivid colors.
Helpful Amazon review: “I'm extremely particular about the pens I write with and the highlighters I use. These are my favorite. By far. They don't bleed through pages (even ones on the thinner side) unless you hold them in place too long and really try to make a big splotch. The colors are bright enough to highlight but not so obnoxiously bright that they're displeasing to the eye. Also the clear nib is wonderful so you can see exactly what you're highlighting. They last a long time, only reason I replaced the ones I had with this set is because I lost several while moving. Great purchase. Will buy again.”
6. An Inexpensive 12-Pack Of Highlighter Pens
Scoop up these Amazon Basics highlighter pens and score a great deal — around $5 for 12 pens in assorted fluorescent colors. They have a narrow barrel and a chisel tip with a removable cap that can fit on the end of the pen so you don’t lose it. Amazon doesn’t specify what kind of ink is used, but one user suggested it seemed like it might be water-based. For such a great price, it might not even matter that much — but for the record, Amazon shoppers do really like these pens, awarding them more than 12,000 five-star ratings. If you need more than 12 pens, you can also buy these in a 24-pack, or bundled with assorted office supplies.
Helpful Amazon review: “The BEST highlighters. I'm a law student so I use highlighters like they're going out of style. These are my favorites because they have a hard chisel tip and the ink doesn't fade, but also doesn't bleed through pages. Definitely will be buying these again.”
7. A Set Of Erasable Chisel-Tip Highlighter Pens
Mistakes are never a problem with the Pilot Frixion Light highlighters because they doesn’t bleed through the paper (according to reviewers) — and because you can use the rubber eraser on the end of the pen to erase it! Pilot describes the ink on the pen’s chisel tip as like a “regular gel ink pen,” though the erasable ink is actually thermo-sensitive, which means the heat generated by the friction of the eraser causes it to disappear — pretty cool, right? Although Pilot claims they’re smear proof, one reviewer advises to wait for the highlighter ink to dry before erasing or you might smudge the ink. Choose from packs of two or three in a few different color combos.
Helpful Amazon review: “Pilot FriXion erasable highlighters are the best I've come across so far! They erase very well. The color isn't as bright as other highlighters but when I went over it multiple times it was definitely bright enough and still erased perfectly. I am impressed with how much it actually erases, no smudges or leftover tinting. I've found that if there is any color left after erasing -I have cleaned off the eraser and it seemed to work perfectly again. I will be buying again since my husband snuck a few off to work! If you haven't used erasable highlighters yet-buy these and don't even bother trying another brand or type.”