How to choose a pen

First, buy a signature pen
Levenger True Writer PensYour signature and those personal notes to family and friends are the most important words you write. For this, you want a good pen with a broad or medium point. I use blue ink for my signature so that the original stands out from photocopies. Lewis Carroll, on the other hand, often wrote with violet ink. With so many wonderful ink colors now, have some fun settling on your signature color.

Next, select your working pen
This is the pen you use heavily every day, even if you use a computer (I use both). Choose a good pen of the type and point size that's most comfortable for you. Generally I find that fine-point pens are the best for taking notes. You can write smaller and get more on a page.

If your handwriting tends to be small, you'll probably prefer a fine point. The bigger and faster you tend to write, the more you'll probably like medium or broad points, which allow a faster flow of ink.

If you haven't yet, try a fountain pen
The trepidation lasts just for a moment—then this intimate way to connect with paper and thoughts quickly becomes exhilarating.

But what about—, you may say. Let me address some of those common concerns about fountain pens:

"I always lose pens."
Maybe we should offer pen insurance! To a certain extent, a good pen is its own insurance. Cheap pens are like common property: they drift from person to person. Fine pens are not, and people recognize this. They're less likely to pocket them. Here's a tip if someone asks to borrow your pen: keep the cap. Pens without caps seldom walk off.

"Fountain pens leak."
When you drive a stick shift, every once in a while you're going to grind the gears. Every now and then a fountain pen may leak. But don't let a little stray ink take away from the pleasure of cruising with a fine writing instrument. Remember, fountain pen ink is 90 percent water, so it will rinse off most things quite easily. Try this preventive measure: when you cap your pen, angle your pen upright rather than down, and use a gentle touch when capping. This will minimize ink getting in your cap and eventually on your fingers.

"My handwriting is awful."
Few of us today have a beautiful cursive hand (though I admire the diligent ones who do!). But you know what? It just doesn't matter. Handwritten notes need not be long anymore—that's what we have keyboards for. Anyway, most people find that using a fountain pen improves their handwriting just a little, as it slows your hand just a bit. Even if you only print (as I do), a fountain pen can bring out your best. And let me repeat—printing is just fine. It's still your handwriting that no computer can create.

"They're scratchy."
Once upon a time, as recently as 50 years ago, pen nibs could be scratchy. But manufacturing methods have so improved that now even steel nibs can be wonderfully smooth.

"They don't fly well."
Fly with your ink tank empty or full if you're concerned about your fountain pen leaking in an airplane. Why it might leak otherwise: At cruising altitudes, air pressure inside the cabin is about the equivalent of 9,000 feet (which is why the pretzel bag puffs like a pillow). If your pen is half full, the expanding air could push the ink out of the feed and make it leak.

Levenger Pen Caps "They're too delicate."
They just look that way because they're so beautiful. The barrels of fountain pens have always been made of material that could withstand some of life's harder knocks. The most delicate part, of course, is the nib. So a good rule of thumb is to put the cap on the back of the barrel when you're using your pen. If you drop it, your pen is more likely to land cap down rather than nib down. And if you set it down on the desk, it's less likely to roll off.

"They're old-fashioned."
Absolutely! And therein lies the charm. Having withstood wars and weathered the coming (and vanishing) of the typewriter, fountain pens still have a place in our virtual world. The last mechanical reproduction of the feather, they give voice to your thought, permanency to your words, expression to your writing. They're the handshake instead of the nod, the conversation rather than the message on the machine. With fountain pens, it's personal.

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