A Leftie’s Favorite Pens

Photo by Valerie EverettI am very picky about my pens. I figured I was the only one, and that it stemmed from being left-handed. Apparently not. Stepcase Lifehack ran an article recently (10 Affordable Pens Geeks Love) that lists some great pens. However, I thought I would present this from a southpaw perspective, since our needs tend to be a little different.

The Needs of the Leftie

Since Western writing has us write from the left to the right, left-handed people drag their hands (or wrists, or both) through what they have just written. It is necessary to use ink that does not smudge, or dries very quickly. Or at least be washable.

My Specific Preferences

Although I hold my pen as a mirror-image of right handed people, rather than in the curled over position that some lefties prefer, I write from below the line I am writing on. This leads me to prefer a pen with a bigger-than-a-Bic barrel. It has to do with the way the pen sits on my hand, and the position I have to keep my hand in to keep the words from running up the page.

Fast drying ink is necessary. Anything that smudges is going to cover my hand (and clothing) in ink.

My pens have to be refillable. This stems not only from being green, but also because once I find a pen that works, I don’t want to have to try and find the pen again when I need a new one. Easily-obtainable refills are a must.

My pens have to be easy to transport. It’s bad enough walking around with a smudged hand. I don’t want my clothing or purse to have ink on them either.

My 5 Top Favorite Pens

1. My Fountain Pen. What? A fountain for lefties? After many years of searching, I found that the Levenger fountain pen, filled with their fast-drying ink, works well. The barrel is a good size for gripping, it refills easily and it writes beautifully. I use a medium-sized nib.

2. My Zebra Eco. I picked this up last year during a retreat, when a duck-in to the student store brought forth these pens. It’s a refillable gel-based ink, put into a barrel of 70% post-consumer recycled plastic. It sports a rubber grip, a slightly bigger than normal barrel, and a smooth ink. My only complaint on this is I have had a lot of trouble finding a local outlet for refills.

3. My Pilot GX-300. The Pilot pens have been my longest-running favorite. With a biggish barrel, and a rubber grip, it is refillable with the standard Pilot ballpoint ink.

4. My Staedtler Remedy. I became familiar with the quality of Staedtler products during engineering school. This pen is no exception. A big barrel, ribbed grip and smooth ink, it is a reliable pen.

5. My Schaeffer College pen. This pen, purchased many years ago, sat in a drawer for just about as many years. I recently refilled it and love the quality of the Schaeffer ballpoint ink. I can’t do much writing with it because the lack of the rubber grip irritates my fingers, but it has a smooth action.

And this concludes a Leftie’s perspective. :)

Photo by Valerie Everett


  1. Kim says

    I totally agree – I use your 2 top picks too. I found a rounded, medium-sized nib smoothest (as a leftie I push pens rather than pull them). When I bought my beloved Waterman fountain pen I learnt 2 things:
    1. Test pens on your own paper – the paper in stores is ultra-smooth to make the pen feel nicer.
    2. Most good fountain pens have a choice of nibs, so ask at the store.

    I’m so glad I splashed out and bought a really nice pen – my Waterman is the only pen I use at home, and I get a happy feeling every time I do :) The Zebra eco lives in my purse.

    • LJ says

      I had to spend some time thinking about it, but I believe I push pens rather than pull them as well. I guess the lefties who write with their hand curled around must pull the pen.

      I didn’t know about your tips for fountain pens. I guess I just lucked out. I had used cartridge fountain pens in the past when I did calligraphy (talk about a nightmare!) and was very satisfied with the ink loading mechanism in the Levenger pen. Not that I would have bought it if it hadn’t been deeply discounted! I get a very happy feeling using it too. It makes me slow down and feel like I am writing something worthwhile, even if it is just a grocery list! :)

      I am looking forward to going back to the college campus where I picked up the Eco. I am going to buy every refill I can lay my hands on.