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Choosing Your Fountain Pen: Nibs

When first venturing into the world of fountain pens, the terminology can be confusing. To start off, you can look at the different types of fountain pen nibs according to the tip size, tip shape, and flexibility.

The nib is the part of the fountain pen that channels ink from inside to the paper. The type of nib affects the distribution and thickness of ink.

 

TIP SIZE

This refers to the width of the tip, ranging from Extra Fine to Extra Broad. However, tip sizes are not standard: Japanese fountain pens tend to have finer nibs than Western ones so that they are suited to writing more intricate Japanese characters.

 

Tip size

Western

Japanese

Extra Fine

0.5mm

0.3mm

Fine

0.6mm

0.45mm

Medium

0.75mm

0.6mm

Broad

0.9mm

Extra Broad

1.1mm


Finer nibs have a smaller flow and are suited for those with smaller handwriting or those who write Japanese and Chinese characters. However, they are generally scratchier and thus produce less smooth writing

Broader nibs create wider lines and are suitable for line variation. Unlike finer nibs, they produce smoother writing. They also tend to have greater ink flow and may require fountain pen friendly paper to accommodate for the wetness.


TIP SHAPE

Round nibs are most common as they are ideal for everyday use. Their roundness ensures that you can produce uniform lines regardless of the angle or amount of pressure used. Round nibs come in a range of tip sizes, from EF to EB.

If you are interested in line variation, consider the stub and Italic nibs. Compared to round nibs, they have wider and flatter tips. They also require more practice for optimal use.

Stub nibs are broad and flat, with a rounded edge. This creates a smooth writing experience and is easy to use. They produce a reasonable degree of line variation.

Italic nibs have sharper edges than the stub nibs, and thus create less smooth writing. It creates greater line variation, and is sensitive to the angle used.

The broader the nib size, the greater the line variation. Which also means you have to write more intentionally to achieve your desired outcome.


FLEXIBILITY

The flexibility of a pen’s nib refers to the degree to which the nib bends when pressure is applied. A nib with greater flexibility allows you to create variations in line widths and is suited for decorative or calligraphic styles. 



We hope this guide has been helpful! Check out the footnotes™ notebooks for fountain pen-friendly notebooks you can bring around easily