What's The Difference Between a Rollerball Pen and a Ball Point Pen?

What is the difference between a rollerball pen and a ballpoint pen? is a question we are often asked. Simply put – it’s the ink. A ballpoint pen uses a thick oil-based ink and a rollerball pen use a water-based ink similar to fountain pen ink.

Ballpoint Ink Qualities

  • Ink tends to be sticky, may leave blobs on the paper and be difficult to get the ink flowing if pen not used often
  • Does not smudge
  • Dries fast
  • Does not bleed through paper
  • Comes out slower (therefore the ink refill lasts longer)
  • Is least expensive option
  • Generally lasts longer than water-based ink refills
  • Less prone to the ink cartridge drying out.
  • Our range of ballpoint pens is extensive and our Sierra pens make great gift pens and are placed at an affordable pricepoint..

Rollerball Ink Qualities

  • High viscosity; consistent ink flow due and less skipping than a ballpoint pen
  • Less hand pressure needed means less hand fatigue and quicker writing
  • Clearer, sharper and vibrant lines.
  • Smoother writing experience
  • Slower to dry and more prone to smudging
  • Generally are a capped pen as they require their tip to be kept out of the air. It is important to keep your rollerball pen capped  when not in use to avoid the refill from drying out. 
  • Our Executive pen is known for its style and comfort.


In summary; choosing a pen really is about personal preference, so think about the way the pen will be used : jotting quick notes and lists on the run? Thoughtfully in a cherished journal? Screeds of information to be kept a long time? A quick signature? Love notes on special card? A handbag pen or pocket pen for use when out and about? And what do you prefer the feel of?

Check out our ballpoint pens here in click and twist mechanisms and our rollerball pens which are mostly capped.


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