So I randomly stumbled across an article called Pens for Bibles the other day. It answers the question:
What is the best type of pen to use in a Bible?
I’ve tried highlighters, dry highlighters, pencils and pens (ball point, gelly, rollerball) without being satisfied with any for underlining and taking notes.
So when I read that article, it was a light bulb moment.
The short answer is pens which use pigment ink (i.e. archive quality pens).
Here are some of the key benefits:
- Minimal bleed-through on thin paper (i.e. those used in Bibles)
- Extremely fine nib/tip sizes (lets you write small while still being readable)
- Water proof (accidental coffee spills anyone?)
- Quick drying (great for left-handed people)
- Fade resistant (you’ll still be able to read it 25 years from now)
Apparently the chemical properties of pigment ink allow it to dry on the surface of paper as opposed to soaking into the paper. That combined with the fine nib sizes minimizes how much your writing, highlighting/underlining is visible on the other side of the page.
Those are the two biggest wins when writing on very thin Bible paper. Oh, and the ability to write legibly in very tight margins. ;)
From the Pens for Bibles post and comments, it looks like these are some of the main pigment ink-based pens.
- Sakura of America: Pigma Micron
- Prismacolor: Premier Fine Line Marker
- Staedtler: Pigment Liner
- Zig: Millenium
- COPIC: Multiliner SP
Of those pigment ink pens, the ones that were easiest to find locally were the Pigma Micron (local arts/craft store) and the Premier Fine Line Marker (Jo-Ann). They also seem to be the two most common online as well.
My Experience and Recommendation
I went with the Pigma Microns because my local arts/craft store had a sweet display with all the different colors/nib sizes available for individual purchase. So I was able to try them out beforehand and see which colors and nib sizes I preferred.
It was like being able to sample the different candies in a candy store!
Use the Sakura of America Store Locator and check the
Pigma Micron and
Micron Mega Display boxes to find a store with a similar display.
There’s an overwhelming number of nib sizes with a naming convention that doesn’t make any sense. Somebody want to explain the rationale behind it? ;)
Based on my tests, the best nib sizes to use for writing notes in your Bible are the 005, 01 or 02. The 03 would be fine for underlining but just a bit too thick for writing notes.
The Pens for Bibles article recommends 005 for note-taking and 01 for underlining.
I’d prefer to write and underline with one size (efficiency baby!), so I chose a single nib size. I started with the 01, but eventually transitioned over to the smallest nib size (005). I came to love how fine the tip was for writing and underlining.
The thinner nib also helps reduce what shows through on the opposite side of the page.
If you’re going with a thinner nib, I’d also recommend underlining in anything other than black. That way the color helps make the highlight stand out more.
I have been using a fine-tip Pentel R.S.V.P. pen for notes and underlines. While it has been decent, it pales in comparison to the Pigma Micron.
Unlike the R.S.V.P., the Pigma Micron makes it effortless to write small, legible characters and consistent underlines.
Being able to underline without the ink skipping brings a smile to my face. :)