For stationery lovers, a great pen is a joy to write with and creates a beautiful line. As radio host Ira Glass says of his favorite pen, the Muji Gel-Ink Ballpoint, “They’re pleasant to touch and make the world seem like an orderly place.”
Your note-taking supply choices are about more than creating Instagram-worthy pages. When you enjoy using your writing tools, you’re more likely to engage with the class material.
Plus, there’s scientific research to back up the value of handwriting class notes rather than typing them on a laptop. Students who take the lo-fi approach of paper and pen have been found to understand the class material better, reported Scientific American.
To get the perfect #studygram, you’ll need the right tools for the job. Here are our essential stationary recommendations for superb note-taking.
Best Writing Pen For Students
Our recommendation for the best overall pen is the Pentel Energel Retractable (0.5 mm).
It’s a high-quality pen that writes smoothly. There’s a nice feeling when the pen is traveling across the page, and it leaves a nice mark so that your class notes look crisp. Plus the rubber grip will help your hand stay comfortable, even during long lectures.
Also, the retractable pen has fast-drying ink, which can help you avoid smudges. This is especially important if you’re going to be using a highlighter on your notes because you could end up with massive streaks if the ink isn’t fully dry before you highlight. Plus, if you’re left-handed, fast-drying ink is an absolute must.
The 0.5 mm width gives you a nice, sharp line without being overpowering. For those who prefer a bolder line, opt for the 0.7 mm version.
Many students opt to use colored pens and highlighters to add emphasis to their note-taking, but if you’d rather keep it monochromatic, you can use the 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm pens alongside one another to create emphasis via different line weights.
Another widely popular pen is the Pilot G2. However, testing shows their ink takes longer to dry and can smudge.
Best Colored Pens for Organized Notes
Muji Gel-Ink Ballpoint Pens have a dedicated fanbase. With a frosted body and fine tip, the Japanese-made pens are great for writing, journaling and even drawing.
The 12-pack gives you a variety of colors including blues, greens, purples, pinks, and oranges. Not only are they affordable pens, but the smooth lines and great colors can even make any handwriting look a little better. They’re even the go-to pen of Ira Glass.
Colored pens are a great way to add visual elements to your note-taking. They can help you keep your information organized, create focus within your page, and make your notes more visually appealing.
If you’d prefer a felt-tip pen rather than gel, you can get a range of bright colors in a pack of Paper Mate Flairs. The colors may be bold, but many students report that they’re still able to take notes on both sides of the page when using the 0.7 mm medium point pen.
Best Mechanical Pencil for Math Class
A mechanical pencil is the best way for working out long math problems, and the KuruToga Mechanical Pencil from Uni-ball has been a game-changer for high-quality writing.
The pencil has an internal mechanism that subtly rotates the lead so that the writing tip always stays sharp and consistent. It’s refillable, and the eraser is replaceable too.
We prefer the 0.5mm in HB lead hardness. This gives you a line that’s a nice weight and darkness. It’s also available in 0.3 mm if you prefer a fine point and 0.7 mm if you prefer thicker lines.
Best Colored Pencils for Organized Notes
Colored pencils are a great way to up the game of your science illustrations or to add some shading to your note-taking. A set of Prismacolor Colored Pencils gives you a wide set of colors that have a nice page-feel while producing vibrant lines. They also sharpen nicely, even when using a cheap, handheld pencil sharpener.
Whether you want light shading or bold linework, Prismacolors are a great choice. The Prismacolor Scholar series is the more affordable option with harder lead, and the Prismacolor Premier line is an artist-grade with buttery, smooth lead.
Best Highlighters for Topic Headers
Highlighters are an essential school supply. They’re helpful when you’re studying before an exam, and they can also help you keep your class notes organized.
Our favorite is the Uni Propus Window Highlighter. It has soft colors that are much prettier than typical fluorescents. With its double-sided tip, you have the option to use broad strokes to go over your writing or to add additional notes in coordinating colors.
Highlighter color sets are available in a three-pack or five-pack. You can even use your highlighters to color-code your notes. For example, you could use one color for questions and another to call out definitions.
The Rest Of Your School Supplies
A superb writing experience needs to be complemented by the rest of your writing gear.
Back at your desk, you can keep your three-hole punch for helping you keep photocopies, handouts and powerpoints organized along with your handwritten notes.
Another essential item is a pack of sticky notes. They can be used to add additional information as a layer on top of a full-page of notes. They can also become sticky flags to mark your textbook pages for review. You can even use them to hide written information on your study guide so that you can quiz yourself.
You’ll also need correction tape because no one gets it right all the time. Paper Mate’s Liquid Paper DryLine can help you quickly correct mistakes. You’ll avoid the mess of white-out and can instantly write over it to correct your notes.
Get Paid to Take Class Notes
Do your class notes look so great that you think someone should pay you for them?
You’re in luck! When you become a OneClass Note Taker, you’ll get paid to take detailed notes and upload them to the platform. Notes can be either handwritten or typed. For handwritten notes, all you have to do is use a phone app to snap them into a PDF.
OneClass is taking an exciting new approach that helps students learn through crowd shared lecture notes. These online resources are helpful to a wide range of students. There could be learning differences, language barriers, or even learning style preferences where listening during class is better than writing. Millions of students have used OneClass, and more than 90 percent have improved by at least one letter grade.
When you become a student notetaker, you could be earning money for something you’re already doing. One college student attending UC Davis told Reader’s Digest that she made $1,500 in less than a year by uploading her notes to OneClass.Image attribution: nys – stock.adobe.com