We love gel pens for their smooth ink and vivid colors, but they don’t always dry quickly—and there’s nothing as frustrating as unsightly smears all over your carefully written notes. To help you avoid this fate, we tested all of our gel pens to find the absolute best non-smear pens for every use.
- Quick-Drying Gel Pen Considerations
- Quick-Drying Gel Pen Recommendations
- The Best Quick-Drying Fine Tip Gel Pen
- The Best Quick-Drying Broad Tip Gel Pen
- The Best Quick-Drying Gel Pen For Highlighting
- The Best Quick-Drying Gel Pen For Professionals
- The Best Quick-Drying Gel Pen For Color-Coding
- The Best Quick-Drying Waterproof Gel Pen
- The Best Quick-Drying Erasable Gel Pen
- Gel Pen Test Results
- How We Approach Research & Testing
- More Resources
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For an even finer tip gel pen, we recommend the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Gel Pen. While it can produce lines as thin as 0.25 mm, you do get some “feedback” on toothier papers.
Uni-ball also offers the One F Gel Pen which has a wider barrel and a lower center of gravity, making it comfortable for long writing sessions.
We tested the drying times of all of our gel pens by drawing X’s on Rhodia paper and then brushing over them with a finger at 3, 5, 10, 20, and 30 seconds. For tests that showed no smearing at 3 seconds, we narrowed the drying time down to the second. The drying time recorded in the final column reflects the amount of time the samples took to dry completely, even if there was only a small amount of smudging. You can use the pictures to make more granular comparisons.
We tested all tip sizes of each pen. We did not perform separate tests for different versions of pens that use the same ink (for example, the Pentel EnerGel-X and EnerGel RTX), as their results should be identical.
Specialty and crafting gel pens, like those with metallic, glitter, or pastel inks, tend to be slow-drying and therefore were omitted from our tests.
Our writers draw on their personal expertise, consult our in-house subject matter experts, and do extensive research to make our guides as accurate and comprehensive as possible. We then test every finding that makes it through the research stage. Only the techniques and tools whose performance we personally confirm make it into our guides as recommendations.
Quick-drying gel pens let you enjoy the smooth writing and vivid hues of gel pens while keeping your paper and hands smudge-free. What do you think are the best gel pens that don’t smear? Let us know your favorites in the comments below!