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How to Write With a Fountain Pen? – 8 Steps for Beginners

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

how to write with a fountain pen

Receiving a letter with fountain pen handwriting always brings you nostalgic feelings, given how most people rely on chats or emails for communications nowadays. 

Besides beautiful writing strokes, these reservoir pens can reduce hand fatigue since you don’t need to apply too much pressure to write. Plus, each pen is designed with a separate refilling system decreasing disposal pens to the environment and saving your budget.

But, how to write with a fountain pen seems to be a common question for those who use it for the first time. You need to find the proper position to hold the pen and the correct angle to place the nib on the paper.

Don’t worry; all problems will be answered in this article. Let’s check now!

Step-by-step to Write With a Fountain Pen


The below guide is for beginners who are struggling in keeping and writing with a fountain pen properly. Even if you aren’t a newbie, you can refer to these steps to modify your position and use a fountain pen comfortably.

Step 1: Choose a suitable fountain pen


To work a fountain pen effectively, you must first choose one that suits you and your preferred fountain pen writing styles. We’ll cover the details below; for now, keep in mind that the pen size should fit your hands so that you can hold fountain pen comfortably.

In addition, newbies are recommended to pick a low-maintenance pen to save themselves the hassle.

Step 2: Pick suitable ink


The types of ink are another factor in deciding your handwriting styles. Below are the types you’ll come across when buying ink:

  • Water-based: The most common ink type for fountain pens, as it’s less likely to clog the nib. It has an affordable price and dries quickly. However, it’s more prone to fading.
  • Oil-based: It has a more viscous consistency, which results in a longer drying time. That said, this ink type has the distinct advantage of being lightfast.
  • Alcohol-based: It is an advantageous combination of the above types with a fast-drying feature and an acceptable price.

In addition, you’ll see many additional features, such as scented or glittered ink.

Step 3: Use proper paper quality


Choose smooth papers with a GSM rating between 60 and 90. Note that the higher the GSM rating is, the more it can hold ink without bleeding and feathering.

Choose a sheet size that you can write comfortably.

We’d highly recommend you write on lined or dotted papers to practice before changing to unlined ones.

Step 4: Attach the cap on or not


Before writing, determine if you post or unpost the cap on the end of the pen. While most people find more balance when attaching the cap, others don’t. Hence, your feelings should be prioritized in this case.

Almost all users with small hands prefer a lightweight pen, so they usually don’t post the cap on.

When deciding whether to write with the cap on, try moving your fingers up and down the barrel to “feel” the pen’s balance.

Step 5: Hold the fountain pen correctly


Gripping the pen correctly will prevent hand fatigue and speed up your writing process.

  • Firstly, hold the pen in your dominant hand.
  • Hold the pen with your thumb and index finger, and place the barrel on your middle finger’s knuckle to have a proper tripod posture.
  • The rest of the 2 fingers will be put on the paper so your hand can have a supporting point, glide across the paper smoothly, and allow ink to flow continuously.
  • Note that your elbow should also be resting comfortably.

Step 6: Find the sweet spot


The accurate angle to place the nib on the page is around 45-55 degrees, with the fountain pen tips downward and slit upward.

You will know if you choose the correct sweet point with several signs:

  • You realize the feed and tines release ink easily, and you can see ink lines behind the tips.
  • You can test by writing some letters, rotating the pen a bit to ensure it releases ink consistently, and you can glide the tips smoothly across the paper.

Never try to change the angle when writing. If not, you can hear scratchy sounds, and the lines you write aren’t as pretty as you desire.

To create a prime for the next lines, you just need to turn over the nib lightly after each letter. 

Step 7: Keep your hand in place

Normally, you tend to move, bend your finger and twist while writing. However, it isn’t the correct way, as it can tire out your hand quickly.

You also can’t maintain the original sweet point since you lift and rotate the pen often. The correct way is to use your lower arm muscles and shoulders to maneuver the pen. Note that your hand should be rigid at all times, and never use your fingers to move the pen.

Step 8: Apply less pressure


You just need to apply gentle pressure to the nib to create constant and smooth lines. If you press it exaggeratedly, you can damage the nib and create ink blotches on the paper.

When writing, be sure to keep the nib level with the paper.

Tips to Choose a Fountain Pen


1. Weight

Picking a pen with appropriate weight gives you more balance and helps you navigate it effortlessly. Moreover, the lightweight pens allow you to write quickly.

For those who write slowly, a little heavy item is better to prevent you from pulling paper apart and causing hand fatigue.

Normally, a lightweight fountain pen can be 13 to 16g. However, many prefer a little weight to their lines, thus options of 20g to 35g are available.

2. Filling system:

Among the various filling mechanisms, the three below are the most popular:

  • The cartridge is a single-use ink tube. Each pen requires a specific tube with limitations on colors and types of ink. While convenient, it produces more waste in the environment.
  • The converter is a refillable tube; you can add your favorite ink to this reservoir. This is a budget-friendly and environmentally-friendly option.
  • The piston requests you to twist and untwist the knob to enable the piston to move back and forth to suck ink.

3. Nibs

They can be made from various materials, such as steel, gold, and palladium. Most nibs are reinforced with iridium to solidify their tips. We’d suggest opting for a soft, flexible one to smoothly glide across the paper.

However, what nib to choose also depends on your writing technique

  • You can choose a board nib to write cursive with a fountain pen like Western letters. This nib can create large lines with constant ink flow, perfect for fast users.
  • A soft and malleable nib is an excellent option for writing calligraphy with fountain pen as this style requires thin lines and pressure strokes at the end of letters. You can use it to write Asisan words like Chinese or Japanese.
  • You can write copperplate with a fountain pen having a sharp pointed nib to create fine lines and shade effect.

Here’re some references for the nib size to choose from:

  Downstroke line width  (mm) Cross stroke line width (mm)
Extra fine nib 0.3 0.3
Fine nib 0.35 0.35
Medium nib 0.5 0.5
Broad nip 0.55 0.55
1.1 mm stub nib 0.75 0.4

Cleaning and Maintenance Tips for Fountain Pen


  • To avoid ink blocking the nib, bear in mind to close the pen with a cap whenever you don’t use it and keep it upright.
  • Never let your pen be exposed to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures. If you are traveling, you can fill ink to protect it from drying out. Otherwise, don’t forget to remove the ink to avoid leakage.
  • Clean the pen by preparing a brush, a bowl, a cotton swab, cloth, water, and a bulb syringe.
  1. Detach the pen’s component and the clean removable ink in the pen with a bulb syringe
  2. Soak them in water at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Remember to change the water if it is too dirty. 
  3. Eliminate ink and dirt from the filling system by using water, swap, and brush.
  4. Dry the parts with a clean towel and attach them and refill the ink for next use.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is there a trick to writing with a fountain pen?

Besides choosing suitable paper and ink, you can swap nibs to create different handwriting styles and meet your demands, including quick notes or calligraphy projects. For newbies, we’d recommend practicing on worksheets to quickly improve your skills.

Does a fountain pen adjust to your handwriting?

The firm answer is yes. As you write, the nib will react to your hand’s pressure to produce different strokes thickness according to your preferences. Gradually, the pen’s nib will adjust to your writing style.

Can left-handed people use fountain pens?

Of course, there is no reason to forbid left-handed people from using fountain pens. You can apply these tips to write easily:

Arranging the paper on the left side allows you to see the words you write.

When placing the paper on the table, the angle between the paper and your forearm should be around 90 degrees.

Your hand should be below the writing line.

In case you are struggling with the above tips, try to use left-handed nibs and practice everyday to get used to that.


We believe that you can learn how to write with a fountain pen effortlessly via this post, no matter which pen brand you’re using: a Lamy fountain pen, a Montblanc fountain pen, or others. Keep in mind to find a proper angle and adjust your arms instead of fingers when writing.

Besides, your body position is also important to prevent health issues. Your upper body should be uptight, while the lower parts, like legs, must be placed perpendicularly to the ground.

We hope after this guide, you will be able to create lines as pretty as a picture.

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