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The Best Pen for Writing Notes and Underlining in Your Bible


What is the best type of pen to use in a Bible?

I wish I would’ve asked that question earlier.

After trying highlighters, dry highlighters, pencils and pens (ball point, gelly, rollerball, etc.) without being satisfied with any for underlining and taking notes, I went on a quest to find the best pen.

The short answer: 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. ?

These are some of the main pigment ink-based pens:

Of those pigment ink pens, the ones that were easiest to find at local arts and craft stores were the Pigma Micron and the Premier Illustration Markers.

They also seem to be the two most common online as well.

My Experience

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!

Otherwise, you can buy them online.

One nice thing about the Pigma Micron pens is there are six nib sizes (line width) to choose from.

Nib SizeWidth
0050.2 mm
010.25 mm
020.30 mm
030.35 mm
050.45 mm
080.50 mm

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.

I 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.

My Recommendation

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. ?

If you’re going to give the Pigma Micron a try, here’s where I’d start:

Go with one or the other.

If you want color options and are confident in your nib size, go with the first one. If you’re uncertain on the nib size, go with the second. From there you can buy individual pens in bulk once you nail down your preferences!

110 replies on “The Best Pen for Writing Notes and Underlining in Your Bible”

Faber-Castell bible journaling kit is my favorite pen. They’re made with high-quality Indian-based ink that lasts forever and scarcely leaves any scents on your documents.

I first came upon your excellent article a few years ago and it is a blessing for selecting the correct note-taking pens. I have the Pigma Micron pen in size 005 and my only problem is worrying about not applying excessive pressure in order to avoid breaking the nib—But, how much is too much pressure?

i feel ya on the 005 nibs being somewhat delicate. i think the more you write with it, the easier it gets to know the right pressure. or go up to the 01 nib for something a tad thicker.

i honestly think 08 would be too wide in a bible context. the 005 is by far the most fragile tip. i think you’d find the 01 suitable. it’s the next size up and has a noticeably sturdier tip.

Thanks. I recently learned that Sakura has developed a pen specifically designed for writing, the Sigma Micron PN (plastic nub). The plastic nub is purportedly more durable than the fiber nub, however it is available in only one size, which is similar to the .005. I have ordered it.

oooh, interesting! would love to know how it works for you when you get it. i’m intrigued. might have to buy me one to test out.

Quick followup that I’m liking the Micron PN pen. Takes the worry out of writing and pressing too hard, very fine, no bleeding, and ink dries immediately. A no-brainer for me.

I notice your comment is several years old, but for anyone else, I’ve also found these Micron pens at Walmart, in the art supplies area. I think they’re also in the office supplies department.

woohoo! i’m still using them years later. hope they work out for you.

not at all! the pens glide smoothly on pages so there’s no risk of ripping pages. unless you’re like the hulk or something and write with a lot of pressure. ;)

I share your enthusiasm for Pigma Microns!!! They’ve been my fave since I learned of them in an art class. I use them for everything and now have an even greater fondness of them for their Bible page friendliness.

woohoo! i wish i were an artist that way i would’ve been exposed to these pens earlier.

I see after many years, your blog is still guiding people. Thank you for the information! I had a Study Bible I loved, and underlined as I read it through. That pen eventually ran out of ink. Unfortunately, I wasted too much time replacing it, then forgot what I used! A friend became a Christian and needed a Bible, and to her joy, I gave her mine. I since bought a new Bible and miss my underlines and notes. I feel like a part of me is missing. And I have a hard time finding verses I know without the underlines. So I’m back to searching for a good pen to make this new Bible my own. Thank you again for sharing your pen knowledge. I’m excited to dive back into His Word. Heading to Michaels and Hobby Lobby today. If they don’t have them, I’ll be ordering from Amazon. Thanks again!

yay! so thankful to have you drop in again and leave such an encouraging comment. happy this post is making repeat “customers.” ;)

and way to give your bible to a friend! what a special gift with all the notes and underlines. may your new bible bring you as much joy as your old one did to your friend.

I notice your comment is several years old, but for anyone else, I’ve also found these Micron pens at Walmart, in the art supplies area. I think they’re also in the office supplies department.

I work across the street from a Paper Source (checked Sakura’s website for store locator) and I am so going to buy one when they open today! Probably a couple to be honest! I have been reading articles this am on the best Bible pens and highlighters. Sakura Pigma Micron came around in conversation a few times, but Amazon only had packs of 10-15 with colors I didn’t want. I’m excited to go buy some individuals! And now I just need to find some Zebrite Highlighters. Apparently they’re the best for Bible highlighting.

I have been using the Sharpie pen/stylo non-bleed available in a 4 pack of black, green, blue and red. Number on bottom of package is 1924222, upc no. 164 1 08677. I have aThompson chain reference Bible from the early 1960’s and certainly do not want to damage it. What are your thoughts on this product? Thank you. There are also places for the Sunday bullitins, flyers, notices, note-pad. Affords good protection from inclement weather as well.

There are book-cases that you unzip and insert bible, that have places for storing writing/notating utinsils.There are also places for the Sunday bullitins, flyers, notices, note-pad. Affords good protection from inclement weather as well.

I was wondering if you had any suggestions about a good highlighter for the Bible that doesn’t bleed/show through?

the only experience i have with highlighters are the ones that aren’t great for bibles. however, there have been some highlighter recommendations in the comments.

  • zebra eco
  • yasutomo hi-glider
  • crayola twistables colored pencils

I’ve been using the soft lead color pencils by Crayola to color-code verses for years. They work great, as long as your not pressing hard. As for the Micron pens, I discovered them years ago, like you. They are great! When i was in Bible college (way back in the dark ages of the early ’70s! 😆), I used a Rapidograph pen with interchangeable nibs. It was ok, but sometimes messy to deal with. These Microns are so nice, in comparison! AND cheaper!

I’ve been looking at, buying and trying to find the best pens for years! Thank you for your article! Will try these!!

Any suggestions on how to attach a Pigma Micron pen to an expensive Bible? It’s easier with a cheap Bible because you can just clip to the cover, but that might wear out a calfskin or goatskin cover. Any suggestions would be much appreciated! Thanks!

great question! my goatskin bible is basically just sitting there so it’s not that hard having the pen laying on top of it. i’m honestly not sure what the best way would be to store the pen if you had the move the bible around a lot. what about using a bible cover/case that could also store a pen?

some use a elastic band to bind their notebooks or books,with a cloth pen bag attached to the band I think it will work for hold pens&ruler along.

There are book-cases that you unzip and insert bible, that have places for storing writing/notating utinsils.There are also places for the Sunday bullitins, flyers, notices, note-pad. Affords good protection from inclement weather as well.

Zebra eco highlighter by Zebrite is a v good fluorescent highlighter with minimal bleedthrough because it too uses pigment ink. I bought a box of twelve on Amazon and can only find about three of them now! Fat slanted nib one end and fine the other.
I do a fine underline for some general verses while covering the whole word in especially interesting places
There is only the merest hint on the other side from the broad, and I see none from the thin nib
Test in the back pages

i didn’t know they made pigment ink highlighters! that’s definitely work checking out.

I really like these Micro pens but I’ve found a .28 ball point retractable pen that i adore..less blend thru ..etc

micro point-Uni-ball Signo RT1 Rubber Grip & Click Retractable Ultra Micro & Extra Fine Point Gel Pens -0.28mm-black,Blue,Red,Blue Black Ink-Each 1 Pen- value Set of 4 Amazon sells a four pack for about $7

Alex, This is perfect – Honestly I did not even think I would get a hit with my ?. It is good to know so many people are studying God’s word! I am on my way to the art Store. Thank you.

haha. lots of crazy niches on the internet—including bible pen connoisseurs. ;)

Thank you so much for your recommendations and your research. I am looking to buy my Pastor and Sunday School teacher (and of course myself and a few other in my church too) some pens for writing in their bibles for Christmas. I am thankful to get this information and excited about purchasing and try these pens. God Bless!

great idea for a christmas present! hope they work out for everyone! thanks for dropping by!

As an additional idea, how about book markers for when the Pastor sermon is travelling thru several books of the bible. It is always good to have an extra set of book markers. Of course, the yellow stickems paper strips always works as well. Even when one is doing bible research, the yellow stickem strips are a proper tool.

Alright…I am convinced enough to give it a try. Heading to the store today to get a couple and check them out. Thanks for writing.


P.S. Is this a WordPress blog platform. I love how clean it is!

haha. let me know what you think of them!

and yes, it’s a wordpress blog. i’m using the wintersong theme. i love clean designs so glad you like it!

Hi Alex. Did you just buy the normal Mircon’s or did you get the ones packaged for the bible?

Alex thank you for the info! My eyes aren’t what they used to be so I’m moving into a new Bible and need good pens. With your help, I know right where to go to find them.

I’m one of those who refuses to write in any of my books (not even name), including Bibles. God made quite clear to me yesterday that I am to start marking up my Bible. I have the YouVersion app and was highlighting there- thinking that should be enough. After what I heard yesterday, obviously not. I thought “Well, I hate highlighters- they’re so messy” so I Googled and immediately found your wonderful, helpful, thorough, interesting article. I just ordered a set of the Pigma Micron pens- they even make a Bible set. So, thank you for being a part of the revelation. I love your description above. My son is the opposite- a Japanese guy disguised in a white body.

thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

what did you hear yesterday that made you re-consider marking in your bible?

i’m also a big fan of the YouVersion bible app. i actually work for the church that developed it (!

and your son is already cool in my book!

It was a quick filler anecdote between programs on a local Christian radio station. A pastor was explaining that when he has to preach at a funeral he likes to get the Bible of the person and use the verses they’ve highlighted and notes they’ve written in the margins. My first thought was “If it were my Bible, he’d have nothing to say.” I remembered when my aunt died a few years ago, the pastor read some of her margin notes. And then at the luncheon after the funeral her Bible was passed around at the tables and everyone was looking at her Bible. It was amazing. That’s when I started thinking about it, but still I thought “I don’t like to write in my books” and soon forgot about it. Then a few Sundays ago I was visiting at my friend’s church (his first Sunday as new pastor). I was sitting with his wife and noticed (not for the first time) how colorful her Bible was due to all her notes. Messy? Yes, but it looked like a well-loved book- reminded me of The Velveteen Rabbit. She’s about loved all the words out of her Bible (I think she takes Jeremiah 15:16 literally). I considered it a bit more. Then this past week, I heard the radio spot I mentioned first. I thought “OK, that’s 3. Message received.” So my new pens arrive in tomorrow’s mail. Writing in a book (especially my Bible) will be a really new experience. I intend to write a lot. Wish me luck.

Hey Alex,

Just bought a ESV Clarion Reference Bible by Cambridge, the pages are really thin do you think the micron pens would work with this Bible.


i’ve not had a problem with using these micron pens on cambridge bibles. especially the 005 nib size. i’ve used that size on both my pitt minion and wide-margin cambridge bibles without a problem.

now to be clear though, you will faintly see the underline/marking on the other side of the page. however, it’s not noticeable enough to affect readability.

Ooo… Alex, you have a pitt minion??? I am so jealous! 😆 It is considered the pinnacle!

haha, yeah. when i decided to buy my first real bible after college, i wanted something that would last. my research led me to pitt minion!

Thanks for your reply about this. I know it’s old (2014), but how does this work for highlighting Bible verses? Are the colored leads too hard for the pages? I’ve always used soft lead color pencils (usually Crayola) for verse highlighting, but if this mechanical pencil will work well, I wouldn’t have to carry a whole pack of pencils!

Thanks I used 005 its way more better than ballpoint. But i can swe a slight shadow on otherside of page.

I’m using Nelsons ultra thin reference bible . Its pages are very thin. Should I use 005 or 01 when i’m writing on it?

I just purchased an heirloom Holy Bible and would like to have it presented to me by my Pastor and write in it on the many pages for this including a page for a family tree, special memories and traditions, etc. I’m very concerned about the possibility of making a mess in this book with the wrong pen. I’m interested in which pen and nib size you recommend for normal size lettering… small writing is not so much an issue since there are full pages dedicated to write on.

I would suggest going the 05 or 08 size if you’re looking to just write (and not concerned with writing small). Since it’s such a special present, it probably wouldn’t hurt to buy a few different sizes and see which you like best. The extra money spent would probably go a long way for peace of mind.

This is very helpful information. Along this same line, I am looking for a recommendation on a journaling Bible that has wide margins (1.5-2 inches) but larger font than 7.5. Any suggestions?

Checkout “Local Church Bible Publishers.” They have. Wide margin and a note takers Bible The quality is just as good as Cambridge, maybe even better, and way less expensive.

I’ve been looking for the perfect pen to use for underlining and making notes in my Bible. Thank you SO much for this info! I shopped around online and discovered the best price for the Pigma Micron Pen Set #005: Dick Blick Art Supplies, the same company I buy my art supplies from! (I’m a professional artist). A 6-pack set is $8.96, and of course you can also buy separate pens with the colors you choose.

Thank you, Alex. I just purchased a wide-margin bible and this info comes in handy indeed! Thanks again!

A little off-topic but some of you brought up highlighters in your comments. I’ve enjoyed Y&C’s Gel Stick Highlighter “Hi-Glider” for marking up my bible. It’s not as dry as the crayon so you can read it without the crayon waxed look on the words. I love it!

Heya Lauren! Not off-topic at all. While I still love my pigment pens, it’s probably not for everyone.

Thanks for sharing a highlighter option!

Hello Alex
I have been searching for pens to write in my bible for years (without any joy) and can’t believe all the info I needed was right here. Thanks for your recommendations, I have just ordered a black 01 and a black 005. Cant wait to try them!

May the Lord bless you for your time and intrest to help others.

I need to get some too! Lost my last one when I moved recently.

Hopefully they work out for you as well as they have for me!

Hi Alex
Pens arrived this morning……… My search is over, they are fantastic!

Would highly recommend micron 005 for writing notes in your bible, but then you already know this as you are the brill person who told me so.

Keep the posts coming, I so look forward to reading them.

Thanks for your insight on the ‘best pens’ for Bible writing! I’ve been looking around for a while (1 year) to find thee best pen to write in my Cambridge Bible. I’ve been using the Pentel R.S.V.P Fine tip myself. You can get 2 of them (Blue or Black) for 99cents at the 99Cent Store! I will definitely look into this 01 Pigma Micron pen you suggested!

I’ve got a Cambridge Bible too! Love the quality of it.

Definitely try out the micron pens. Having used the RSVP pens myslef, I’m sure you’ll find them much better!

I am a Bible marking addict. I use the Inductive Bible Study method to mark symbols and take notes. The Micron pens are incredible. I also use Crayola Twistables colored pencils to “highlight” (no bleed through and gentle enough for thin paper). With 6 different colored Micron pens and 24 colored pencils, the possibilities are endless, lol!! Here’s a link to the method I use, in case someone is interested. Blessings :)

Thanks for the link to the Inductive Bible Study method! I’ve heard about it before, but have never tried it. It does sound like something I would enjoy though, so maybe I should invest in 6 different colored micron pens and 24 colored pencils. ;)

nada, i just freehand it. usually when i have to underline a long line, i’ll make the line more wavy so the lack of straightness seems more intentional. ;)


I do have a Kindle Bible, but until Amazon improves their web interface for searching/aggregating your highlights, I’m sticking with the old fashion method!

I, too, have several digital Bibles, and many study resources. They’re awesome for research, but I noticed I was using my physical Bible much less, and for me, it turns out there is a psychological comfort actually holding and using your physical Bible. Feels like more of a connection with God. Needless to say, I now only use my digital resources for corollary research, but that’s just me.

I like the micron pen suggestion. I will have to get one.

Here’s another arts/crafts borrowed idea for bible marking:
Instead of highlighters that tend to bleed through the thin bible pages, you can use a dry “roll out” artist’s crayon. The crayon is thin and encased in a plastic tube similar to a Bic stick pen, but you roll out the crayon just enough to expose a marking tip. These are dry enough that you sometimes have to go over the desired area twice to get a good highlighting, but they never show through the page and they outlast a highlighter many times over. The brand I found at an artist supply store was Rose Art. They come in a pkg of many different colors.

Thanks for the tip Alan!

I’ve tried a dry highlighter before. Not sure if it’s the same as what you’re talking about though…

The only problem I had with dry highlighters was that it required some effort to actually highlight. And you couldn’t take notes with them.

@Sonya: I used to use regular highlighters and ball point pens as well.

But since switching to these finer-tipped pens, I’m not looking back!

Thank you for your fantastic idea. I just purchased some new pens for this purpose (again) and was underlining in my Bible a few minutes ago, unhappy with the latest one I purchased yesterday. Dah, I have many of the Micron in my scrapbooking supplies. Never put the thought together of using them with my Bible.

Lord bless you as you read His word and underline!!
Thanks again.

Dude, you are talking my language! I have a geeky love for pens and I’m a reformed pen thief. Is it wrong to enjoy Reddi Arts pen shopping? If so, I don’t wanna’ be right. :-) Thanks for the info!

@Elisa: haha! reformed pen thief! got any pen recommendations for me? always looking for a new pen to try . . .

@Phyllis: I actually saw these pens at the LifeWay in the Town Center. So if you live close to one, you can find them there!

If you want to write small, go with the 005. I may actually try the 005 nib the next time around.

Mannnn…I needed this years ago…you should see my Bible..I have used plenty of “wrong” pens over 30 years…can’t help underlining in it though. Just bought a new smaller one to carry to church…not sure if I’ll write in this one…but I’m picking up one of these pens anyway b/c I need to be able to write very,very tiny in my old Bible now that there’s not much room left around the old writing!

@Michael: I know!! I can’t believe I never bothered doing some research before. If you end up trying one, let me know how it goes.

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