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Color Coding 101: A Breakdown of the Most Popular Pens on the Market

Best Pens for Color Coding
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Planners + Pens = The perfect pair.

*record scratch*

That’s not always true. Not all pens are created equal—and if you love your planner like a sister (the way I do) then you understand. A good planner needs good pens to mark it up, especially if you want to color code.

The tricky thing with color coding is that many colored inks bleed or show through, which can quickly turn a clean, organized planner into a heaping mess. #NoThankYou. So how do you know which pens will work for your precious planner? Well, I’ve written with my fair share of colored pens, and these are the ones I’ve found to be the best in terms of feel, color, bleed-through resistance, and cost.

Let’s meet the contenders…

Le Pen

Le Pens are super fine, and that can be weird for some people. I was a little thrown off by it at first—it’s definitely something you have to adjust to. But this lets you make hella clean lines when you write, which in turn means your color-coding will look fly in your planner. It’ll look like you’ve really got your life together on the days you feel like you’re falling apart.

Overall, I think Le Pen is worth the purchase because of the fine tip and quality ink colors.

Paper Mate Flair Pens

The Paper Mate Flair pen was my first colored-pen love. They may seem pricey at first, but they last for such a long time that the cost is well worth it. They’re felt-tipped and heavy on ink. If you have thin paper it’ll definitely bleed through, but they’re safe for use in most notebooks and planners with heavy paper. In fact, these pens are the main reason I color coded so fervently in college and spent class time organizing my planner rather than taking notes. Whoops.

The point is these pens are fun to write with, last forever, and can be used to color code absolutely everything in your life.

Zebra Sarasa Clip Pens

Sarasa Clip pens

These are not my favorite pens on the market. There’s nothing wrong with them, but they’re basically a regular gel pen with good color options. Bright pink and orange are hard color to nail down with pens, but somehow Sarasa has managed to make them vibrant yet visible. I assumed they would be like the Pilot G2 I’m so fond of, but the Sarasa Clip pens are actually much finer.

Since they are finer, using them to color code will keep your planner from looking messy.

Stabilo Pens

Stabilo Pens

Stabilo pens are shaped like pencils, so they have a familiar grip, and they’re super lightweight for a pen. It’s not exactly a felt-tipped pen, but the fluidity of it is similar. The fine point glides through cursive letters, is controlled when writing in print, and perfectly precise when sketching out designs. My planner has thin pages so the ink does show through a bit — just keep that in mind.

But, despite the minor drawbacks, the Stabilo pens are officially my favorite colored pen collection

Last updated October 2018

Last modified on October 24th, 2018

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