The Definitive Guide to Rollerball Pens

| |

Check out this definitive guide to rollerball pens! It explains the differences between ballpoint, rollerball, and fountain pens. Let me help you choose the best pen for your bullet journal.

The Definitive Guide to Rollerball Pens

If you are new to the world of fine pens, you may have seen rollerball pens on stationery shop shelves or online and believed they were just ballpoint pens.  While they appear to be almost identical, many differences make rollerball pens excellent for specialized tasks.

In this post, We will go into detail about rollerball pens, describing their history, how they vary from other types of pens, and how to find the best rollerball pen.

This blog post is sponsored by This page contains affiliate links to products I use, love, and highly recommend. I receive a small commission for purchases made through links in the blog post.

What Is a Rollerball Pen?

A rollerball pen is a form of writing instrument that has a little rotating ball in the pen tip that gently dispenses ink onto paper. Just enough distance allows the ink to be smoothly transferred onto the page without spilling unnecessary ink.

They employ water-based inks, so the lettering is crisp and colorful. The ink provides the pen with a unique writing experience that is closer to that of a fountain pen, which is why these pens are beloved by fountain pen collectors.

The History of Rollerball Pens

The founder of OHTO, a Japanese firm, Nakata Touzaburo invented the first rollerball pen in 1963.  Previously, in 1949, he created the first Japanese version of the ballpoint pen. This was immediately after the American Army introduced ballpoint pens to the country following World War II.

Many upgrades to the original model followed, including pens designed for writing on wood and fabrics. The rollerball pen was to give a better writing experience akin to a fountain pen.

Despite its great potential, the rollerball pen did not achieve its peak popularity until the mid-1970s.  Although this first rollerball pen paved the way for future exploration.  Not just with gel-based inks, but also with other forms of ink, which led to the development of new forms of water-based inks.

Fast forward to the 2000’s, rollerball pens are preferred over ballpoint pens by pen enthusiasts. As a daily travel pen, the rollerball is an excellent alternative for anyone looking for a smooth and pleasant writing experience, particularly those who prefer fountain pens.

The Difference Between Fountain Pens, Rollerball Pens, and Ballpoint Pens

From a functional standpoint, the only distinction among these pens is found in the mechanism and ink used. So let’s take a deeper look at each of them.  What is the difference between ballpoint pens and rollerball pens and fountain pens?

Fountain Pens

The most popular and ancient writing tool is the fountain pen.  The most distinctive feature to identify fountain pens from ballpoints and rollers is the fountain pen nib. The nib’s function is to enable the ink to run smoothly from the point to the tip.

The huge array of nibs and points expands the options for calligraphy enthusiasts. The chosen nib will influence both your experience and the final written product. A fountain pen provides a smooth and gentle writing experience.

Depending on the ink used, water-based ink produces dark, saturated, glossy writing.

Ballpoint Pens

Ballpoint pens, as the name suggests, have a ball mechanism that differs from regular fountain pens.

Ballpoint pens feature a little ball in the tip that permits the ink to flow when squeezed. When the pen is not writing, this ball keeps the ink from leaking and drying.

Ballpoint ink is oil-based, as opposed to rollerball and fountain ink. It dries extremely fast, making this pen type popular among left-handed writers; nonetheless, writing with a ballpoint pen requires the use of higher pressure, which can cause pain and cramping of the hand.

Note that the strength of the stroke might vary depending on the amount of pressure applied.

Rollerball Pens

Rollerball pens were developed to provide a finer tool that glides across paper with ease. These pens feature a stationary roller tip, making the writing experience considerably more fluid.

Since it has a fixed tip, there is a greater chance of the ink drying if it is not securely closed. To counter this, rollerball pens employ a cap as the most used closure system. This makes it easy to differentiate a rollerball pen from a ballpoint pen at a glance.

The roller pen, like a fountain pen, employs water-based ink. This ink tends to take more time to dry on paper than ballpoint pen ink,  making it less suitable for left-handed writers.

Rollerball pens are ideal for people who suffer from hand cramps and provide users with comfort whether writing for short or extended amounts of time. They require less pressure to write.

Tips to Consider When Buying a Rollerball Pen

There are a few factors to consider when selecting the ideal rollerball pen for you. Some of these factors include:

Tip size

Rollerballs are not one-size-fits-all, but rather available in a variety of tip widths ranging from 0.2mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm,  to thicker ones of 1-1.5mm.

These are approximate dimensions, as they vary with the brand. Rollerball pens with fine or medium tips are popular among pen enthusiasts.

Unlike fountain pens, the tip is constantly spherical, so the width remains constant while you write. If a fine line is required, use a tip width that is thinner than that of the normal ballpoint or fountain pen you use.

Drying Time

One challenge that many people experience with rollerballs is they require more drying time.

The drying time is determined by the pen’s ink, tip width, and the paper utilized.

If you are left-handed or worried about smudging, you should seek faster-drying alternatives, thinner tip sizes, or absorbent paper that will soak up wet patches faster.

Care and Maintenance

Rollerball pens require proper care and upkeep. Because they utilize liquid ink, they are prone to drying if left open.

They are also likely to leak if not properly sealed or handled correctly.


Rollerball pens tend to run out of ink faster than other pens because of the unrestricted flow of ink. They may require more frequent refilling than other pens.

Paper Choice

The thickness and opaqueness of paper are typically indicators of its quality.

If you are concerned about the drying period of your rollerball pen when writing, you want to choose a coarser paper to absorb the ink more quickly. This will also keep the ink from bleeding through.


When determining which pen to buy, you might like a luxury or executive style and feel, or you may opt for a cheaper price and simple design. Some varieties even provide a price/style compromise.

Depending on your budget, pick one that best suits your needs.

Top 3 Best Rollerball Pen Brands to Consider

Uni-ball Vision Elite

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great pen. The Uni-ball Vision Elite is a low-cost, beautiful pen that is both reliable and enjoyable to write with.

Its smooth movement allows you to swiftly get many ideas down without having to pause for your pen. It is ideal for brainstorming and persons with bigger handwriting.

The drawback of this pen’s design is its fairly obsolete, and it isn’t actually refillable.

Lamy Vista

The Lamy Vista is a transparent variant of the Lamy Safari that uses the M63 rollerball refill from Lamy. This pen combines a fantastic rollerball refill with a superb pen body.

The best part is that you can easily replace the refill with a regular European rollerball cartridge.

This is just a fantastic pen that is durable and suitable for regular use.

Pelikan Classic R200

Pelikan introduces the perennially popular and durable Pelikan Classic R200 Rollerball Pen.

The Pelikan Classic R200 rollerball pen is well-known for its writing comfort and practical capped style. The ornate 24-carat gold-plated rings and the distinctive Pelikan beak clip highlight its historic appearance.

It writes fluidly and with minimal pressure, so you won’t wear your hand out by pressing down while you write.

In Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed this brief overview guide of rollerball pens. Now that your rollerball pen questions have been answered, we hope you are in a better position to differentiate them from other pens! Thanks for writing with us.

Popular Blog Posts:

– Let’s Connect –

Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Youtube | Shop

Similar Posts