Interest in fountain pens among students has been increasing, and while there are many resources that help with selecting your first fountain pen for school, there aren’t a lot of recommendations for fountain pen ink suitable for school use.
While the options are pretty conservative and limited due to permitted colors, there are a lot of blue, black, red and brown inks out there that you can use for school. Looking at swatches of blue inks alone, for example, can be overwhelming because there are just so many shades of blue available - some that you never even knew existed!
For now, here are our top picks:
Diamine Asa Blue
Asa Blue is named after the Liverpool singer Asa Murphy. Apparently, he has such a unique eye color that it had to be replicated into fountain pen ink. It’s a good, rich blue that leans a bit towards turquoise. This a good color if you’re tired of the standard blue ink that comes in your Bic pen. No one can dispute the blueness of this ink. Asa Blue flows generously, so if you’re using low-quality paper (like those pesky exam booklets and sheets), make sure to pair it with a fine nibbed pen (like the Pilot 78G) to avoid feathering and to make sure that the ink dries fast. As usual, with fine nibbed pens, you won’t get much shading, but you’ll be able to take advantage of the nice color.
Blue is a very common school ink, but it’s way more fun to use a shade of blue that stands out without being too flamboyant. Diamine Denim is a dark blue ink that really does remind you of the color of denim. It’s a subdued blue ink with moderate shading, slight gray undertones, and a moderate flow. It dries up relatively fast too. It’s nicely saturated which makes it easy to read and very suitable to use for exams and notes (if your professor/teacher is the type to want to stick to the standard blue or black ink). This is one of my favorite inks because you can use it for note-taking, for official forms, and other similar uses, but the ink has a laid back, distinctly unique character to it.
Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Guri
Yama-Guri. Wild Chestnut. This ink is a nice brown-black with some purple undertones. It’s good for people who don’t want to use a stark black ink and want to get away with a shade dark enough that people won’t notice. It’s like being rebellious without being too rebellious. This ink works well on cheap copy paper. There is some slight feathering, but not too much that it’s distracting. This is recommended for forms or papers that require black ink. Use a fine nib with it and you’ll get minimal shading and a color that’s pretty close to black.
Salamander is a complex color. Is it green? Is it brown? Is it black? The color is indescribable and very interesting, but conservative enough for note taking. This ink has a lot of shading, so if you’re uncomfortable with that, steer clear. The flow is moderate, but to be safe try to use it with a dry writer to avoid feathering on cheap paper.
Rohrer & Klingner Iron-Gall Salix
Iron-Gall Salix is a good choice for almost every student. This ink is proven to be water resistant and performs well on low quality paper. The ink starts off as bright blue, but soon dries to a pretty nice blue-black. The bluish and grayish tones shade beautifully and will give your notes a bit of character. If you're the kind of person who wants their school notes to be virtually indestructible, Salix is for you. Your notes will last years (maybe even decades) with this resilient ink. We've soaked writing samples in a glass of water and the ink does not fade or smear. That is how waterproof it is. Make sure to maintain your pen frequently and never allow it to dry up in your chosen pen. Iron-gall can be difficult to clean out when it dries up in a pen, so it would be wise to do thorough (and frequent) flushes.
Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris
This is another ink which is dark enough, but leaves you wondering what color it really is. Is it blue, dark gray, black? The shading is excellent, the color is very saturated and the flow is a bit generous, so it's recommended to pair Verdigris with a moderate or dry writer, just in case. You might get some bleed through or feathering with wet pens.
De Atramentis Document Ink Green
This kind of green pairs so well with different primary colors. It’s a very vibrant, dark green that works surprisingly well even with fine and extra fine nibs. Since it’s such a beautiful shade of dark green, it compliments well when used with brown, red, and even blue inks. It’s great for note taking because it sets off other colors nicely. It’s an interesting green, the kind that makes you look twice to admire the color and the shading. It’s one of those inks that make your words look like they were painted on paper. Of course, you also get the benefit of document inks, which is that it’s waterproof and lightfast. Accidental spills won’t make this ink budge at all. It’s saturated enough to use for exams, and for long notes too.
Rohrer & Klingner Alt Bordeaux
One cannot do without red ink, but let’s face it, standard red ballpoint pen ink can be a little boring. Red ink isn’t just used for correcting papers, though. It can also be used to provide a contrasting color in note taking, so that you can easily see how different parts of your notes are divided up by headers. It makes your notes look more organized and it helps you find important details a lot faster. My choice of ink for this purpose is Rohrer and Klingner Alt Bordeaux. Depending on the kind of paper you use, it doesn’t look bloody red. It looks more like old rose or dark magenta. On some paper it also looks like a dark purple. It’s so nicely saturated that the color just pops out of the page. It’s not a flamboyant pink but it’s no less eyecatching. It’s the kind of magenta that you wouldn’t mind writing journal entries with, it’s so easy on the eyes. Perhaps just don’t answer exam questions with it. If you want a more reproachful hue of red, Diamine Oxblood is at the top of that list for me.
How about you? What inks do you have loaded in your school EDCs?
By Pao Alfonso & Keshia Tolentino