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How To Write With A Fountain Pen

A hand, writing with a fountain pen (A Sailor King of Pens Moroccan Mint Tea limited edition)The very simple version is that, like most pens, once you’ve taken the cap off a fountain pen, there’s a clean end and a dirty end. Rub the dirty end on paper to leave a mark. But you probably guessed that much ;)

Most pens have simple pull-off caps, but screw-on caps are quite common on fountain pens. If you’re not sure, try unscrewing first - if it turns easily without coming off, it’s probably just a pull cap. There are some pull-cap pens with non-round caps that don’t turn, so don’t force it.

If you haven’t filled the pen yet, you probably want one of these articles:

Once the pen is filled, you’re ready to go.

One big difference between fountain pens and most other pens is that it’s important which way round you hold it - the nib needs to be facing up. That generally means metal side upwards, with the plastic feed underneath. If you let the pen rotate so the nib is at much of an angle, the ink can’t flow. It’s usually good to hold a fountain pen at a lower angle to the paper, too, where most ballpoint and rollerball pens prefer to be held a bit more upright. Most aren’t too fussy about the angle that way, but it’s generally more comfortable to hold the pen less upright anyway.

Ink should flow pretty easily, with little to no pressure on the paper, and too much pressure could damage the nib. Most nibs, especially steel nibs in pens aimed at beginners, are pretty sturdy, so you don’t need to worry too much. But don’t damage the nib - when replacements are available, they’re usually a fairly high percentage of the price of the pen.

You’ll also need to take a little more care when you pause from writing - a fountain pen can dry out if you leave it uncapped for too long. A little pause while you’re thinking should be fine, but if you’re stopping for long, make sure you put the cap back on the pen.

But most importantly - have fun using it! There are plenty of good reasons why fountain pens remain popular, long after the introduction of ballpoints, rollerballs, gel pens and more.