How To Write With A Fountain Pen (A Complete Guide)

how to write with a fountain pen

Learning how to write with a fountain pen is challenging. Fear not, if you’ve been having trouble using a fountain pen, you’re not alone.

A fountain pen demands a certain amount of dexterity so you need to learn and fine-tune your style and handwriting through research and practice, just like any other work of art.

However, switching from a ballpoint pen one to a more costly fountain pen doesn’t guarantee that your handwriting will instantly improve. To get it right, you need to have the appropriate materials and techniques. It’s tricky, but it isn’t rocket science.

So if you want to learn how to use a fountain pen, how to choose the right pen for you, and which material you will need, this article is for you.

The How To Write With A Fountain Pen

Step 1: Choose The Right Pen

A fountain pen has a solid metal nib that uses a cartridge, converter, or other internal reservoirs to give an ink supply that’s both continuous and refillable. There are nib sizes to suit every hand size and writing style.

It should feel good in your hand, especially if you write frequently. Although there’s no formula for the correct size pen, people with large hands may find a little pen hard to hold.

You should also think about the width. If the pen is too broad, your hand is going to be uncomfortable holding it and you’re going to get cramps.

The second factor to consider is weight. Although a hefty pen may appear to be more substantial, even luxurious at first, consider whether the weight might make you tire easily during prolonged writing sessions.

The Nib

The fountain pen nib is the metal tip that makes contact with the page. They are made of gold alloys or stainless steel giving them strength and durability. Fountain pen nibs are available in a variety of tip shapes and grades.

To improve your handwriting, you might want to try the Lamy Safari and Lamy AL-Star. They are quality choices for both novices and seasoned writers since they are so enjoyable to use.

Step 2: Have The Right Material

writing with a fountain pen

Fountain Pen Paper

Regular paper isn’t suitable for fountain pen ink since the ink bleeds instantly and looks terrible. Instead, invest in some fountain pen paper, which will look stunning when you write on it.

Fountain pen paper isn’t a specific type; rather, it’s any medium that’s well-suited for use with a fountain pen.

In general, a good fountain pen will be resistant to ink faults.  Bleeding, ghosting and feathering are three common fountain pen problems.

Feathering happens when the lines you draw with your fountain pen aren’t as clear and sharp as they should be. You’ll notice lines creeping out from the edges of your writing, making it appear hazy.

Bleeding happens when the ink flows through the paper to the opposite side. Ghosting has a similar result to bleeding through, but it has a different cause. Ghosting happens when the page is so thin that the pen writing shows through the reverse.

Noticeable features to look for in quality fountain pen paper are the weight, fiber density, and smoothness of the milling finish. Paper with a higher density is less likely to bleed through.

A special finish is another way that fountain ink paper differs from regular paper. A silky smooth finish resists the ink, allowing it to dry on the surface rather than leeching down.

If you plan on writing greeting cards or letters, ensure your stationery is compatible with a fountain pen. Before you buy, ask if it’s suitable for fountain pens or buy it from a source that supplies them and advertises them as such.

Lined options are a good idea if you’re new because the lines guide your handwriting.

Filling Mechanisms

There are several ink alternatives available for any pen. The one absolute rule we have is that it must be traditionally formulated for a fountain pen.

The difference between fountain pens and ballpoint pens is the ink. Ballpoint pens use a thicker ink that runs slower and lasts far longer. This results in rougher writing and can cause smudging.

Fountain pens use inks that are slower to dry.

The feed is the black plastic component that hugs the bottom of the nib. It allows ink to flow from the reservoir to the pen nib, as well as for air to enter the reservoir.


In modern fountain pens, this is the most popular type of reservoir. The fountain pen ink is contained in a cartridge, which is a small, sealed disposable plastic tube. When an ink cartridge runs out, simply remove it and replace it with a new one.

These are the easiest to use and the best option for beginners.

Cartridge Converter

Consider purchasing this for your fountain pen if you don’t like the inconvenience of having to buy new cartridges every time you run out of ink. It looks and fits like a cartridge, but it features a filling mechanism that allows you to refill it.


The piston works by drawing up into a barrel, sucking in ink through the nib and into the reservoir, thanks to a screw mechanism. It functions as a built-in converter. The disadvantage of a pen with a piston filling mechanism is that it cannot be used with cartridges.

Step 3: Get The Technique Right

write with a fountain pen

Pencil Draft

Writing with fountain pens is tricky so a pencil sketch is a wonderful place to start. You can achieve this in one of two ways: you can draw precisely how you want the characters to appear, with a fine line for the body of the letter, and broad downstrokes.

Alternatively, you can simply use a fixed-width pencil to sketch out the basic forms of the characters, then go over them with thicker strokes.

Find The Right Angle

Find your fountain pen’s ‘sweet spot,’ or the point at which it can write smoothly and successfully. It gets easier with practice.

To locate the sweet spot, you must hold your pen at the correct angle. To balance the pen, place the cap on the end. With your fingertips on the grip, hold it between your thumb and index finger. The fountain pen’s barrel can then balance on your index finger’s bottom knuckle.

Then, for good ink flow, make sure your pen is held at a 40-55 degree angle from the page. While keeping it in this range, try writing at several angles until you find the one that works best for you and your pen.

Keep in mind that in general, most people write with their fingers. For this, you should be writing with your arm instead to not lose the sweet spot. This means moving your hand from the elbow and shoulder, rather than the wrist. It takes a while to get used to, but once you’ve got it down, it becomes muscle memory.

Post The Cap

Putting a cap on the back of the pen is known as posting your cap. When you have the cap posted, it tends to feel more balanced. Of course, some people prefer to write without it. Note that some fountain pens were designed to have the cap posted to keep it well balanced.


Unlike with other pens, you don’t have to apply pressure for consistent ink flow when using a fountain pen. Applying too much pressure can disrupt what you’ve written or damage the nib. It can also slice through whatever you’re writing on. For better pen movement, use light, feathery strokes across the paper.

Maintain Rigidity

Writing with a fountain pen differs significantly from writing with a rollerball or ballpoint pen in that you need to keep your hand rigid. Some people are finger writers, which means they move their hands and fingers while writing.

So, after you’ve got the appropriate angle with your fingers, your wrist shouldn’t move. It should stay in place, allowing your arm to keep writing.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice by writing down pangrams, quotes or simply sketch shapes and letters with your pen. There are also workbooks and tracing guides on the internet to help you practice letter forms.

Writing With A Fountain Pen For Lefties

There’s a different writing style out there for everyone, and each has its own level of comfort. The same goes for lefties, who struggle with fountain pen writing.

Writing instruments with an ergonomic grip provide a larger slant or angle, which can assist prevent ink from smearing. To keep the hand away from wet ink on the sheet, their triangular design encourages your fingers to hold the pen in a specific position. Some ergonomic pens have finger rests that allow the writer to view the writing line easily.

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