Fountain Pen vs Dip Pen: A Detailed Comparison

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

Fountain Pen Vs Dip Pen

When it comes to writing instruments, fountain pens and dip pens have long been regarded as timeless classics. These two elegant tools offer a distinct writing experience, but they also have their unique features and characteristics.

In this fountain pen vs. dip pen guide, we will delve into the comparison between fountain pens and dip pens, looking at their similarities, differences, and pros and cons. So, in the end, you can determine which is better suited for you!

Dip Pens vs Fountain Pens

Aspect Dip Pens Fountain Pens
Ink External ink source Internal ink reservoir
Refills/Ink Capacity Require more “refills” Hold more ink
Flexibility Internal ink reservoir Internal ink reservoir
Design Adjustable (Nibs) Metal nib with flexibility
Maintenance Frequent Moderate
Writing Experience Customized, smooth, and controlled

Great differences between thick and thin strokes

Smooth, consistent

​​Both pens are instruments used for writing, offering unique experiences and characteristics. Fountain pens have an internal ink reservoir and are self-contained, while dip pens require an external ink source.



Fountain pens and dip pens share some similarities. For example, they both utilize nibs, tips that touch the paper.

Additionally, both pens allow for various writing styles, creating thick and thin lines in hand lettering and calligraphy, making them versatile tools.

Differences Between Fountain Pen and Dip Pen

1. Ink

Ink- of-Fountain-Pen-Vs-Dip-Pen

One of the fundamental differences between these pens lies in how they utilize ink.

Fountain pens have internal ink reservoirs that store ink, allowing for continuous writing without frequent dipping. This makes fountain pens more convenient for everyday use and extended writing sessions.

On the other hand, dip pens require manually dipping the nib into an external ink source, such as an inkwell, before every stroke. This method provides artists and calligraphers with the freedom to use a wide variety of inks and easily switch between colors. Still, it requires more effort and frequent dip ink pen replenishment.

2. Refills/Ink Capacity


Fountain pens, with their internal ink reservoirs, offer larger ink capacities compared to dip pens. This means fountain pens can hold more ink, resulting in longer writing sessions without frequent refilling.

In contrast, dip pens have limited ink capacity and require regular dipping into an inkwell or a container. Artists and calligraphers using dip pens may need to replenish ink more frequently.

3. Flexibility


Dip pens excel in providing flexibility and versatility in writing styles. With their interchangeable nibs, users can easily switch between various nib sizes and flexibilities to achieve different line widths and textures.

This makes dip pens popular among calligraphers and artists who require precise control over their strokes and desire a wide range of creative possibilities.

Fountain pens, while offering some line variation depending on their nib type, are generally less flexible compared to nibs for dip pens. Still, users can enjoy the flexibility of metal nibs in new pen designs.

4. Design


Fountain pens are self-contained writing instruments with a built-in ink reservoir. They typically consist of a barrel, a feed mechanism, and a nib. The nib is responsible for transferring ink onto the paper.

In contrast, dip pens have an elongated handle and a detachable nib. The nibs can be easily swapped to achieve different line widths and styles, making dip pens highly versatile tools for artistic endeavors.

5. Maintenance


Maintenance requirements differ between fountain pens and dip pens. Fountain pens require moderate maintenance, including regular cleaning, to ensure proper ink flow and prevent clogging. Moreover, occasional nib adjustments may be necessary.

Dip pens, especially those with metal nibs, require more frequent cleaning and meticulous care. Ink residue can accumulate on the nib, leading to clogging and inconsistent ink flow. Therefore, dip pens require more attentive maintenance to keep them in optimal working condition.

Writing Experience


Fountain Pens

  • Smoothness: Fountain pens are known for their smooth writing experience.
  • The ink flow is controlled by the pen’s internal mechanism, providing a consistent and uninterrupted flow of ink onto the paper. This results in effortless and fluid writing, allowing the pen to glide smoothly across the page.
  • Pressure Sensitivity: Fountain pens are designed to be pressure-sensitive, meaning they require minimal pressure to write.

The weight of the pen itself and the capillary action of the ink reservoir allow for effortless writing. This reduces hand fatigue during extended writing sessions and enables a more relaxed writing experience.

  • Line Consistency: Fountain pens tend to produce consistent line widths, as the nibs are typically rigid and offer limited flex. This makes them well-suited for everyday writing, note-taking, and producing neat, uniform lines.

Dip Pens

  • Customization of Writing Styles: Dip pens offer a highly customizable writing experience.

With their interchangeable nibs, users can select different nib sizes and shapes to achieve a variety of line widths and textures. This makes dip pens ideal for calligraphy, drawing, and artistic purposes, where creative expression and varied line work are desired.

  • Line Variation: Dip pens allow for greater line variation compared to fountain pens. By applying varying pressure and adjusting the angle of the nib when you write with a dip pen, you can create thin hairlines, broad strokes, etc.

This property is especially beneficial for calligraphers and artists seeking to add depth and character to their work.

  • Ink Control: With dip pens, users have direct control over the amount of ink on the nib. This allows for more precise ink application and the ability to create different effects by adjusting the ink saturation on the paper.

Artists often appreciate this level of control when working on intricate details or specific artistic techniques.

Pros & Cons

Fountain Pens

  • Easy to use, self-contained, larger ink capacity, suitable for everyday writing and journaling.
  • Limited flexibility, less suited for specialized writing styles, may experience occasional ink flow issues.

Dip Pens

  • High flexibility, customizable nibs, wide range of ink choices, ideal for calligraphy, drawing, and specialized writing styles.
  • Regular dipping into inkwells, more maintenance, fragility, not as portable.

Which One Is Better For Specific Situations?


Fountain Pens

  • Everyday Writing: Fountain pens are widely used for everyday writing tasks such as note-taking, journaling, and correspondence. Their smooth writing experience, consistent ink flow, and ease of use make them ideal for long writing sessions and regular writing needs.
  • Business and Professional Settings: Fountain pens are often associated with elegance and sophistication, making them popular choices for business professionals, executives, and individuals who appreciate a touch of luxury in their writing instruments.

Fountain pens add a level of refinement to signing documents, writing letters, or any professional writing tasks.

  • General Writing Purposes: Fountain pens are versatile and suitable for various writing styles and purposes. They work well with different types of paper and can be used for writing essays, creative writing, lists, and general day-to-day writing needs.

Dip Pens

  • Calligraphy and Hand Lettering: Dip pens for writing calligraphy and for hand lettering are highly favored due to their customization and versatility in creating different lettering styles.

The ability to interchange nibs and achieve various line widths and flexibilities makes dip pens ideal for creating beautiful, intricate calligraphy and hand-drawn lettering.

  • Artistic Expression: Dip pens are widely used in the artistic community for drawing, sketching, and illustrating.

The control over ink saturation, line variation, and texture allows artists to create detailed and expressive artwork. Dip pens are particularly beneficial for techniques such as cross-hatching, stippling, and shading.

  • Ink Experimentation: Dip pens allow for greater flexibility in ink choices, as artists and calligraphers can easily switch between different colors and types of ink for dip pens by simply changing nibs or cleaning the nib between uses. This versatility enables creative experimentation and unique effects in artwork.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Good Drawing Dip Pens and Dip Pens for Writing?

You can consider CultPens and GouletPens, which specializes in glass dip pens. You can also look into specific nib brands like Tachikawa, Brause Rose, Nikko G, etc.

Can You Use a Fountain Pen for Calligraphy?

Yes, if you really want to, you can. Fountain pens provide a consistent and controlled ink flow, which allows for smooth and continuous writing. They also offer a wide variety of ink colors, which can enhance the visual appeal of calligraphic writing. However, calligraphy dip pens are more common.

What Are Some Good Fountain Pen Lettering Brands?


There are many brands that offer fountain pens for lettering. You can consider LAMY, Pilot, Tombow, Asvine, Sheaffer Viewpoint, Itoya, Scribe Sword, and Wordsworth & Black.


In the debate of fountain pen vs. dip pen, both writing instruments have their own merits and appeal. Fountain pens offer a practical and convenient writing experience, while dip pens provide unparalleled flexibility and artistry. The choice ultimately depends on personal preferences and the intended use of the pen.

Whether you opt for a fountain pen for elegant lettering or a dip pen for artistic expression, both instruments hold a special place in the world of writing, showcasing the beauty and craftsmanship of traditional penmanship.

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