Nobody wants to be taking notes, journaling, or drawing only to have their work bleed through the page. While the best pens that don’t bleed through paper are available in a variety of styles, some types of pens are known to be more bleed-resistant than others. Ballpoint and gel pens tend to be ideal for preventing bleeding, but you can also find rollerball and marker-style pens with felt tips that Amazon reviewers have tested and confirmed don’t make a mess on the other side of the page if you’re writing on thicker paper. So as you shop, consider the type of pen you most enjoy writing with — there’s likely an option that’ll fit your writing needs.
Although some styles of pen will increase the likelihood of bleeding, there are pens in all of these categories that Amazon reviewers have confirmed don’t bleed. But, before you purchase, think about your writing style. If you know you have a light touch or will be writing on thicker paper, any of these pens should do the trick in any situation. If you are heavier-handed when writing or know you’ll be working with thin, delicate paper, you might want to avoid more bleed-prone markers. Other considerations include if you’d prefer a retractable or capped pen or a pen that’s refillable — both are totally up to personal preference and will not affect if the pen shows through paper.
Below are the best pens that won’t bleed through paper, all available in a wide variety of styles, colors, and point sizes (ranging from extra-fine 0.2-millimeters to thicker 1.0-millimeter options). Plus, I’ve included a set of fluorescent-hued gel sticks that can replace your bleed-prone, liquid-ink highlighters.
1. The Writer’s Pick: These Rollerball Pens That Are Satisfying To Write With
The Pilot Precise V5 is my absolute favorite style of pen. It’s a rollerball pen with a 0.5-millimeter point that makes perfectly fine yet dark lines that are easy to read. Although the ink isn’t incredibly fast-drying, the fine point keeps it from bleeding through paper, and the pen has a slight, satisfying “scratch” that I personally can’t get enough of. The ink never skips, making smooth, connected lines even when I write quickly in cursive. And with an overall Amazon rating of 4.8 stars, other customers seem to agree.
I prefer the capped version, which features a window on the pen’s body, allowing you to see how much ink is left, but it’s also available in a retractable version. Neither style is refillable.
One reviewer wrote: “Best pens ever, for writing letters, journaling, record keeping, etc. Nice fine point for a beautiful looking script on a correspondence letter, yet no so incredibly fine that it's hard to read... it's plenty legible. No smudging, and unlike marker pens that are not a roller ball, these just glide along the page effortlessly. No skipping. No bleed-through. I discovered these pens back in grad school (great for note taking!) and now they’re the only kind I will use.”
2. These Editor-Approved Erasable Gel Pens
If you’re looking for an erasable pen, Pilot FriXion ColorSticks — which happen to be beloved by BDG Associate Commerce Editor Wesley Salazar — are a solid option. They have a 0.7-millimeter point and write with a gel ink one Amazon reviewer described as having “a smooth glide.” Available in lots of different shade assortments (including this pack of 10), they are ideal for note-taking and bullet journaling, especially since their colorful ink won’t bleed through the paper. But best of all, they’re erasable, so any misspellings or mistakes are no biggie. They are not refillable and are capped.
Editor praise: “I started using PILOT FriXion ColorSticks more than a year ago, and I’m quite the fan. They’ve become my preferred pen for writing down notes and to-dos on a daily basis. The gel ink hasn’t bled through any paper thus far, and they really are erasable so it’s easy to keep things neat. Plus, they come in a ton of punchy colors, which makes writing all the more fun.” — Wesley Salazar, Associate Commerce Editor at Bustle Digital Group
3. A Set Of Colorful Felt Tip Pens
Although felt tip pens are known to be a bit more bleed-prone, reviewers have praised the Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens for having ink that “doesn't bleed over like a lot of other felt tip styles like this.” They have a 0.7-millimeter point and come in a variety of bright colors, making them a fun choice for writing that pops. They feature caps and are not refillable. However, they might not be the best option for thin paper.
One reviewer wrote: “My favorite. They are like thin markers. They don’t sink through the paper. Very nice bright colors. I use it for notes and journaling.”
4. This Budget Pack Of Reliable Ballpoint Pens
Featuring oil-based ink that dries quickly and is unlikely to bleed through even the thinnest of paper, the BIC Soft Feel Ballpoint Pen is an all-purpose writing utensil. This pack includes pens with a 0.8-millimeter point, but you can also snag a 1.0-millimeter version if you prefer thicker lines. They are not refillable but are retractable and feature a comfortable rubber grip. Choose from black, blue, or red hues.
One reviewer wrote: “I got a great deal on these pens so I thought I would give them a try. As a left-hander my complaint with most lower-cost pens is that they leave tiny blobs of ink on the paper which I immediately smear with the side of my hand. I was surprised that I have not noticed that with these pens (fine-point pens are better in general for lefties). I’m very pleased!”
5. These Gel Pens With An Extra-Fine Point
Pilot gel pens are cult-favorites, and this extra-fine version of the Pilot G2 doesn’t bleed, thanks in part to the fine 0.5-millimeter point. Reviewers love the G2 for its writing feel and one reviewer even wrote that “writing just flows as pen glides across paper.” Reviewers have also assured that it won’t bleed through paper — although since it has thick gel ink, another option may be best for you if you write with a hard touch or are working with super-thin paper. It’s retractable, has a rubber grip, and is refillable.
One reviewer wrote: “I ordered a 4-pack of this and one day they all disappeared. Turns out that my husband AND my son took my pens because they really like the smooth writing of these pens and also how it doesn't bleed when writing on paper. So I ordered a 12-pack this time, and watching over my stash like a hawk!”
6. A Budget-Friendly Multicolor Ballpoint Set
At a price point of under $5 for a pack of eight pens, this multicolor set of Paper Mate InkJoy retractable ballpoint pens is an awesome value, especially for anyone in search of a reliably non-bleeding ballpoint option that comes in fun colors. Each pen has a 1.0-millimeter point and will write in thick, smooth lines. The pens aren’t refillable, but they are retractable and have a rubber grip for comfort. If you want to stock up, you can get them in a variety of quantities, ranging up to a value pack of 48 pens.
One reviewer wrote: “I am very picky about my writing instruments and was hesitant to buy without trying these first. However, I really like the colors and the way these pens write. Very smooth lines with no bleeding. These are my new favorite colored ink pens!”
7. This Set Of Fine Felt-Tip Pens
If you love Sharpie pens but dislike their tendency to bleed, you might enjoy these Sharpie felt-tip pens. One Amazon reviewer described, “When Sharpie launched this pen that doesn't bleed I did cartwheels.” The pens have a super-fine 0.4-millimeter point, making them less likely to bleed through than thicker felt options, and they write with an acid-free and archival-quality ink. The ink is also water- and fade-resistant, but reviewer have reported that they don’t perform as well as Sharpie’s permanent markers on non-paper surfaces. They are capped and not refillable — and while they’re a bit pricier than some other options, many shoppers have confirmed they’re worth the splurge.
One reviewer wrote: “I have been using these pens for a year now, and keep ordering more when I need them. They are a little more expensive than other comparable pens, but these are worth every penny. They write smooth and do not run out of ink as fast as others. They are dark enough to be bold but do not bleed through to the other side. I love these pens!”
8. A Set Of Art Pens With Varied Tip Sizes
The Sakura Pigma Micron ink pens are a marker-style pen designed for artists, but they can be used by anyone who wants a non-bleeding, high-quality writing utensil. Their ink is archival-quality, pH-neutral, fade-resistant, and waterproof, making them a reliable option for everything from note-taking to scrapbooking to drawing. Most notably, this capped pen set comes with a variety of tip sizes, ranging from 0.2 to 0.5 millimeters — so if you’re a fine-point pen lover (and don’t mind a non-refillable pen), this is a nice pack to try.
One reviewer wrote: “I have used these to ink my art for years and years. They consistently have good quality, last for quite a while, and years after the piece has been completed the lines are all still nice and dark with no bleeding. You can color over fully dried ink with art markers with no smudging. I've tried other brands, but I've never found anything I'm as satisfied with as I've always been with Sakura Micron pens.”
Also Great: These Highlighter Gel Sticks
Highly pigmented highlighters with wide tips and liquid ink are notorious for bleeding through thin paper — but these Mr. Pen highlighters have a crayon-like, gel-stick design that has garnered high marks from Amazon reviewers for not saturating through paper. They’re even available in a multicolor set of eight so you can color-code your notes. They are capped, have a twist-up feature for releasing more gel-stick color, and the tips of these highlighters can even be sharpened for a finer point. They aren’t designed to be refilled.
One reviewer wrote: “These work so much better than highlighters. They write seamlessly and do not bleed through the pages.”