Discovery is often made while you are not paying attention.  This “discovery” of mine is nothing new, since many pen enthusiasts have probably done it for long time, but I just want to share the finding for those who are interested.

While doing a tedious work project, I meant to reach out to a gel pen of different color to strike out entries I have entered, forgetting that I have pulled out Sailor Fude fountain pen on the desk.  As I happily crossed out an entry, I realized, “wait a second, this is not a gel pen!”  Looking down at the entry, the broad stroke made by Sailor Fude resembled color blocks made by highlighters.  In case you are interested in using fountain pens for as many purposes as possible, using fountain pens with broader nibs (italic and fude nibs will do as well) with a lighter ink can be a highlighter alternative.  There are fluorescent fountain pen ink on the market, but if there are inks in your collection that are less saturated and opaque, they are great candidates for highlighting purpose.

Pelikan Edelstein Amber as an accidental highlighting ink

Close up:  Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite as the writing ink.  

One of the shortcomings of using fountain pen ink as highlighting ink is if the written ink is not water resistent, then the two ink will blend a bit, as seen in the picture above.  When used with gel pens with water resistent ink, such as Uni-Ball Signo DX, the highlighting has a cleaner stroke, as seen below.

fountain pen ink coupling with gel pen.  Not too bad of a result.

Which new discoveries have you made recently with pens?


4 thoughts on “Highlighter Alternative

  1. Cool idea! and even cooler that you found it by accident. Thanks for the share. My discovery needing a dark vivid black ink for some business projects and never thought about buying boring 🙂 black ink for my fountain pens. But what do you know that's exactly what I needed to get the rich consistent black look I needed.


  2. Have you found that vivid black ink? I am not sure which other quality you are looking for besides the vibrance, but Platinum Carbon Black and Sailor Nano black are both great. The only noticeable shortcoming is that when you write on the opposing page, there will be carbon traces, very similar to that of carbon paper effect. I did write a post on it, in case you need some reference:
    Good luck with your search!


  3. I also use FP inks for highlighting. I tend to stick to J. Herbin since they're lesser saturated than many other brands, but after seeing this I think I'll have to give some other brands a try. A Kaweco 2.3mm italic is perfect for highlighting, and a BB is great for underlining. The bonus to using regular inks and not highlighter inks is that they serve double duty. I like switching colors often, but don't highlight enough to warrant multiple bottles of highlighter inks.


  4. Hi Kate,
    I agree that J. Herbin's ink is great for highlighting, since it is more opaque than others. I only have one bottle of highlighter ink and to be honest, I have used it less frequently than regular highlighting ink. Besides color options, using fountain pen ink for highlighting is more versatile, since you can use the same pen for writing as well 🙂

    Thank you for stopping by!


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