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Ink Styles: Ball Point vs. Rolling-ball/Gel vs. Fountain

What type of pen ink style should I choose? This is a question that we receive all the time from our customers. We can give you a little bit of advise here, but some of it just comes down to personal preference too. You can view all of our refills that are available at

Lets start off with the ball point ink style. Ball point is the most common pen type and most people have written with one. When writing with a medium ball point pen the ink lays down a fairly thin line. The black ink looks to be about 90% black if you are using a scale of 0% being white 50% being gray and 100% being black. The ink lays down very smooth with the Cross ball point refill. Cross says that the medium black refill will write for about a mile.

Now lets move on to the less known rolling-ball or Gel pen that Cross provides. It is a perfect mix of the fountain pen and the ball point pen. You get the very smooth and free flowing feel of the fountain pen without having to worry about the mess from the fountain pen. The gel ink flows out of the tip on a ball still but it has a thicker look to it. This ink would go down at 100% black on the scale described above. The gel ink does take a few seconds to dry on the paper so be sure you don't rub the ink as soon as you finish writing or you may end up with a black hand.

The final option is the fountain pen. The fountain pen is a very prestigious type of writing style. Cross offers two different ways to refill these pens. The first is the fountain cartridge. This cartridge looks like a little bullet filled with ink. You place the cartridge into the pen and you feel it pop into place. These are pretty simple to use and for the most part not very messy. The problem with them is that there is not a lot of ink in these cartridges and if you write a lot you are refilling the pen with a new one constantly. The other option is to purchase one of the fountain pen converters and a bottle of ink. These can get a little messy if you are not careful but the ink will last for a very long time. The fountain pen in lays down a bit thicker than both the ball point and the rolling ball. It is also 100% on the black scale described above.

Here are a few writing samples done with the different types of pens. All refills used are the medium tip refills.