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What Do I Use to Write in My Bible?

ESV Bible header

When it comes to underlining and writing in the margins of our Bibles, the choice of writing utensil can make all the difference in preserving the appearance and longevity of the thin Bible paper. Here’s a comparison of four commonly used writing utensils.

  • Basic BIC Pen, M (black and blue ink)
  • Pilot G2, .07mm  (black and blue ink)
  • BIC Velocity Pencil #2, .5mm
  • Sakura Pigma Micron Pen, .01mm

Each pen/pencil was used to highlight the same passage of Scripture (Matthew 6:31–34) in four copies of the ESV Single Column Heritage Bible.



1. Basic BIC Pen, M

Bic Pen Blue

Matthew 6:31–34 underlined in blue and black ink:

BICFront copy

The reverse side of the page:



  • Price: a package of 36 is around $3.00
  • Availability: found at a local store
  • Ghosting: moderate
  • Other Observations:
    • Need to bear down, and sometimes, retrace to produce consistent lines, but bearing down too hard can stretch the paper.
    • Ink typically does not bleed or smear


2. Pilot G2, .07mm


Matthew 6:31–34 underlined in blue and black ink:


The reverse side of the page:



  • Price: a package of 2 is around $3.00
  • Availability: found at a local store
  • Ghosting: significant
  • Other observations:
    • No need to bear down for consistent lines
    • Ink takes some time to dry and therefore smears very easily, especially if you’re left-handed
    • Unexpected clogging/ink blots
    • Ink can be too think for smaller writing


3. BIC Velocity Pencil #2, 0.5mm


Matthew 6:31–34 underlined in pencil:


The reverse side of the page:



  • Price: a package of 2 is around $3.00
  • Availability: found at a local store
  • Ghosting: minimal
  • Other observations:
    • Can easily produce consistent lines
    • The pencil removes the permanent nature of a highlighter or dark pen
    • The subtle grey gives underlining a more dignified look than a big, bright stroke that bleeds through to the other side


4. Sakura Pigma Micron Pen, .01mm


Matthew 6:31–34 underlined in black ink:


The reverse side of the page:



  • Price: $2.50–$3.00 each
  • Availability: found at an art or office supply store
  • Ghosting: minimal
  • Other observations:
    • Easily produces consistent lines without needing to bear down
    • Uses archival ink, as opposed to a dye-based ink found in most pens and markers. The benefit is it won’t fade or bleed through the paper.
    • Six different point sized are available
    • Assorted color options are available


Additional Resources

This is not an exhaustive comparison of writing utensils, so if you would like more information on this topic here are a few bloggers who have shared their experience and expertise:


What do you think?

What do you use to write in your Bible? Do you have any recommendations or advice to share?

August 14, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV,News | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:44 am | (13) Comments »


  1. My usual pen of choice is a BIC 4-color ballpoint pen, Fine Point, which has the orange barrel. There is a medium point version, which has a blue barrel. It contains four fillers in one barrel, so it’s a little “fatter”in cross section than a single-color pen. The ink is conventional ball point ink. This one instrument has the advantage of providing a choice of colors for different emphases. There occasionally seems to be some variance in the density of the ink in some colors, particularly the green, which seems a little faint at times. This trait varies depending on the pen.

    Another pen of choice is a four color set of Zebro 301 series ball points, also fine point. They all have stainless-steel barrels with different colored plastic parts that correspond to the ink color. The ink has a consistent quality; those familiar with the Zebra 301 pen series know how well they work, providing a distinct line, with minimal pressure. The only disadvantage of this grouping is that one has to carry four pens instead of one in order to have the four colors.

    The colors available in both options are black, red, green and blue.

    Comment by William McCoy — August 14, 2014 @ 3:23 pm

  2. I use two different ones. One is the BIC 4 color Fine Point ballpoint. It is the same one that William mentions above.

    A second choice for me is the BIC Atlantis Exact, Fine Point. I really like this pen. it has a needle point and allows me to write smaller and more condensed.

    Comment by Keith Gorman — August 14, 2014 @ 4:57 pm

  3. I only use a 0.5mm mechanical pencil and a cheap pack of colored school pencils for highlighting. Absolutely no bleed through. Unless you press hard, you needn’t worry about page tears either. And the lead in the mechanical pencil doesn’t really smudge that much.

    Comment by Paul Collander — August 14, 2014 @ 9:35 pm

  4. I have used the micro pens in .005 for over 10 years and I love them!

    Comment by Craig hurst — August 14, 2014 @ 10:07 pm

  5. Is the Micron really 0.01mm? That would make the Pencil 50 times larger than the Micron.

    Comment by Aiden — August 14, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

  6. That is why I use a 0,5 mm Clutch Pencil

    Comment by Kobus van der Walt — August 15, 2014 @ 12:32 am

  7. Like William McCoy, I used to use a four color Bic, but here’s what I found: marks I made, particularly with the red pen, would bleed and smear; it took a few years for it to happen, but it would bleed through the paper and would smear on the original page. So, I’ve switched to the Sakura Pigma Micron Pens. I like the archival ink; never worry about bleed through or smear. I also like the Prismacolor Premier colored pencils for highlighting. I find that their Spanish Orange is best. Prismacolor also makes pens that are similar to the Microns—I have one that is Sepia and it’s nice for subtle notes in the margins. I wrote a blog on this topic: http://denster57.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/on-bibles-and-markings/ if you’re interested.

    Comment by Dennis Goshorn — August 15, 2014 @ 7:30 am

  8. Took me forever to find the right pen to write in my Bible with. My qualifications were

    - .5mm or less
    - Available in red ink, I like color breaks & with my Bible’s text being black…
    - Retractable, I hate having to keep up with a cap.
    - Quick to dry/smear proof.
    - No bleed through
    - Somewhat comfortable grip

    About 10 years ago I found a pen that can do all these things & I’ve not found a better one since.

    Uniball 207 RT .5mm Red

    It also comes in an ultra micro .38 which I REALLY want to try.
    I’ve used the same ESV Thinline for 10 years now and NONE of my notes have faded and none of the ink has ever bled through the pages.

    Comment by Dustin — August 15, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

  9. From my own experience, I’ve found that most basic ballpoint pens, especially bic, fade over time. Ink endurance must not have been a part of this exercise.

    Comment by Mike — August 16, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

  10. After years of trying different solutions, I settled on the Sharpie Pen (Fine).
    Available in:

    Won’t bleed through paper. Write with confidence!
    From the website (http://m.sharpie.com/enus/pages/fine-point-pen.aspx):
    Won’t bleed through paper and won’t smear.
    Durable fine point tip delivers precise and consistent writing with minimal effort.
    Use it for taking notes, journaling, writing letters, making cards and more.
    AP certified non-toxic ink is waterproof and smear and fade resistant.
    Archival quality and acid-free ink for office and school work.
    Available in a 10 bold colors.

    Practically, there is some slight bleed through on the reverse page, if you press down too hard. But it is easy to write consistently with a light touch to avoid this!

    Comment by Chad Tucker — August 17, 2014 @ 5:07 pm

  11. Zig Mellennium archival pens, .005. They come in multiple colors. Minimal bleed, and I find they last longer than Micron pens.

    Comment by KShay — August 17, 2014 @ 8:43 pm

  12. I use Micron pens .05 and .005 and also Zebra Sarasa 4 (four colored). There is less bleed through with Micron, but Zebra Sarasa is a good all-purpose pen with minimal bleed through in most Bibles built for note-taking. The Sarasa 4 is difficult to find, but can be ordered online.

    Comment by John A. Taylor — August 18, 2014 @ 9:33 pm

  13. I’ve stuck with Prismacolor pencils for quite awhile. I like the way they work with the paper. I’m not very fond of ink markers on Bibles.

    Comment by Mark J — September 12, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

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