Difference Between a Fountain Pen and a Ballpoint Pen


Are you confused about whether to pick a fountain pen or a ballpoint pen? Do you want to know the actual difference between a fountain pen and a ballpoint pen? If yes, then you are precisely in the right place.

In this article, we will be comparing both types of pens and looking at them from different angles. After reading this article, you should be able to decide whether to go for a fountain pen or ballpoint.

We know you must be excited and can’t wait to see the difference between the two of them. Therefore, we will not keep you waiting anymore. So without any further ado, let’s jump straight into our detailed comparison and see the difference between a ballpoint pen and a fountain pen.

What Are The Difference Between a Fountain Pen and a Ballpoint Pen?

Here are some of the main points that distinguish a fountain pen from a ballpoint pen.

Working Mechanism

The main difference between a ballpoint pen and a fountain pen is its working mechanism. No doubt both devices are actually used to write with. However, ballpoints use a ball inside their nibs. The ink inside the ballpoint usually consists of dye or pigment particles.

The ball of the ballpoint consists of metal like steel, tungsten, or carbide. As you put down the tip of the ballpoint pen on the paper and apply a little bit of pressure. The ball rolls and the ink flows to the paper.

However, on a fountain pen, the mechanism is entirely different. Although, there are different types of fountain pens. However, all of them use the same mechanism. They have nibs of different styles that are connected to the feed of the pen.

As you began writing, the feed delivers ink from the cartridge of the pen to the nib. The nib then puts the ink on the paper, and as a result, you see your writing. There is no ball rolling but direct ink flowing from cartridge to paper.

Cost Difference – Fountain Pens are Expensive

The next difference that we want to point out is the cost difference. A ballpoint pen usually comes at a few bucks. On the other hand, the prices of fountain pens range from lowest to highest.

You can buy a fountain pen for as low as a few bucks. However, sometimes, a single fountain pen’s price will cover a whole set of ballpoint pens. But that depends on your needs and desires. This means that, in general, fountain pens are more expensive compared to ballpoint pens.

Having that said, if you take a closer look at the refilling status, then the fountain pen seems a better option. Fountain pens can be refilled from bottle ink, while the ballpoint pens need a refill.

Most people throw away the ballpoint pen once the ink is finished, making them a kind of disposable. While on the other hand, you can refill the fountain pen as many times as you want.

Fountain Pens are Environment Friendly

If you are a sensitive person and care about the environment, you would go for a fountain pen. Why? Because each time your cartridge goes out of ink, you can refill it from the bottle. It will start writing again, and this way, you don’t need to throw away the fountain pen.

While on the other hand, most people throw away ballpoint pens once they are finished. Therefore, they aren’t as environmentally friendly as fountain pens. Having that said, there are ballpoint refills available still; people choose to throw them away. Some good fountain pens such as the Lamy Safari have included an extra nib.

Pressure on Your Fingers

When you are writing with a ballpoint pen, you will need to apply some pressure to roll the ball. Without applying pressure, you won’t be able to write correctly on any kind of paper. However, only a slight bit of pressure would be sufficient for writing when using a fountain pen.

Like we mentioned earlier, there isn’t any ball mechanism in a fountain pen; therefore, it requires less pressure. This makes the fountain pen an excellent choice for longer usage because ballpoints create cramps on fingers.

Apart from that, they aren’t as comfortable as the fountain pens because of the pressure requirement.


If you want your pen to be in excellent and working condition for an extended period, then you need to clean it properly from time to time. You will need to empty your fountain pen at least once a week if you are a regular writer.

After when you empty your pen, you will need to wash it thoroughly. This will help to keep your fountain pen good for a longer time. When it comes to ballpoint pens, there is no need for any kind of maintenance except for capping them properly.

Even capping a ballpoint pen is for protection. It helps to protect the surroundings of the pen from accidental writing. Therefore, if you are someone who can’t afford regular maintenance of the pens then we highly suggest going for ballpoint pens.

Ink Leakage

Fountain pens use bottled ink which is very thin and runny. At the same time, these pens are prone to leakage when not handled correctly. While on the other hand, ink leakage on a ballpoint pen is very rare.

It may sometimes occur due to extremities of temperature but generally, there are no such issues. Apart from that, if you accidentally drop a ballpoint pen, there won’t be an issue. However, if you drop a fountain pen then there is a chance of breaking the cartridge and leaking the ink.

Lastly, fountain pen ink can spread on a sheet of paper which can be quite annoying sometimes. On the other hand, you can write on almost any kind of paper with a ballpoint pen.

Final Words

If you are not able to decide whether to go for a ballpoint pen or a fountain pen then this article will help you. We know it can be a tough situation because there are some really fancy fountain pens out there. Simultaneously, ballpoint pens are a lot easier to use.

However, we have mentioned some points that differentiate both pens from each other. You need to keep these points and then select the one that suits your needs accordingly. If you have any questions about the difference between a fountain pen and a ballpoint pen, you are free to ask us in the comment section.

Also, Read: Lamy Safari Fountain Pen Review


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