Best Gel Pens For Highlighting

By Shaira Alano Written by Shaira Alano
Updated on August 12, 2023

Most people highlight important texts and information in their books and notebooks. However, a handful of them get easily distracted by its screaming, fluorescent color, so they prefer underlining them as their own form of highlighting. If you fit in the description, here are the best gel pens for highlighting that you definitely should buy: 

  1. Muji Smooth Gel Ink Cap Type Ballpoint Pen
  2. Zebra Sarasa 
  3. Pilot Hi-Tec-C & G-Tec-C
  4. Pilot Juice
  5. Yasutomo Y&C Gel Stylist

What Gel Pens are Good for Highlighting?

A gel pen is one of the different types of pen where its pigments are suspended in a water-based gel. This makes its ink even more pigmented, and it goes on smoothly on any paper surface. 

This is why gel pens, aside from the traditional fluorescent and pastel highlighters, are also used to highlight texts and important notes. 

However, not all gel pens are conducive for highlighting, as they usually dry out slower than highlighters. Some of them smear and smudge easily, and most of them, especially those with a larger tip, bleed through the pages, no matter how thick or thin they are.

So, if you are looking for the best gel pens for highlighting, here are the things that you should spend your money on. 

Muji Smooth Gel Ink Cap Type Gel Pen

The first on our list is the Muji Smooth Gel Ink Cap Type Gel Pen because it checks all the qualities that a gel pen needs when used as a highlighter.

The smooth, slim, and simple design of this pen houses vibrant colored inks that could write on all types of paper, including the glossy ones. 

The Muji gel pens also dry up fast, so they don’t smudge or smear when touched or when you put a highlight over them. 

In addition, the pens are also refillable, and don’t lose their ink when you drop them accidentally. 

Zebra Sarasa Retractable Gel Ink Pen

It is an absolute delight to use these Zebra Sarasa Retractable Gel Ink Pen as highlighters.

Zebra’s pens come in different colors, intensities, and tones, so you have a lot of options to choose from. 

They are perfect for highlighting texts in all types of papers because they don’t bleed through the pages no matter how pigmented they are.

Just like the Muji Gel Pens, they also dry up really fast, and they don’t feather or fade through time.

They are also refillable, but the downside of this pen is that this is skipping frequently, and you might need to go over it twice or scribble it on a different paper first to fix this problem. 

Pilot Hi-Tec-C & G-Tec-C

In terms of good quality, fast-drying ink and small tip-sized pens that you can use to highlight text, you can definitely rely on Pilot pens, especially the Hi-Tec-C & G-Tec-C that they offer. 

These pens might not be as pigmented as the other pens that we have mentioned, but with this comes the promise of not bleeding through the pages and not smearing easily when rubbed or brushed over with your hand while you write. 

Even if this line does not offer fun and flashy pigments like Pilot Juice does, they are still good quality gel pens that could also be a substitute for your usual fluorescent highlighter. 

Pilot Juice Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen

If you are left-handed who is looking for the best gel pens for highlighting, this one is for you.

The Pilot Juice Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen looks almost the same as the Zebra Sarasa Gel Pen, but they don’t skip as much as the latter. 

These can double as highlighters because they offer unique and bright colors that make any text stand out. 

The ink of this pen never feathers or fades. These are smear and smudge resistant, and they don’t dry out easily as well. 

The pens come in knock-type, retractable design, which makes it even more convenient to use. 

Yasutomo Y&C Gel Stylist

The Yasutomo brand of gel pen is included in our list of the best pens for highlighting because they are incredibly pigmented, they don’t skip, the ink dries really fast which prevents it from smudging or smearing, and they don’t feather nor fade. 

They might not be the usual brand of gel pen that you see at your nearby bookstores, but I can guarantee you that these are worthy of your money.

We’ve tried it on different types of paper, even the black ones, and we have seen that the ink of Yasutomo Y&C Gel Stylist really stands out. 

This is best for scrapbooking, calligraphy, and most especially, for highlighting. 

Do gel pens smudge when highlighted?

Most gel pens smudge when highlighted, because they are not alcohol-based. Alcohol-based pens dry out really fast so they don’t smudge or smear, but gel pens are usually water or oil-based so they are more likely to smudge.

However, the pens that we have included in our list of the best gel pens for highlighting are guaranteed to not smudge even when you use a highlight over it. 

How do you highlight with gel pens?

You can highlight with gel pens by underlining the most important texts, encircling them, or putting them inside a box. 

You can create your own system of highlighting with gel pens that you can easily follow, which would give you an idea of what the highlighted texts mean. 

For example, you can put an asterisk on the topics that you need to focus on, use a certain type of color for the words that you need to memorize, or underline them as often as you read them. 

By doing this, you can go through your notes easily and instantly know what you have studied already and those that need more of your attention. 

Gel pens that don’t smudge when highlighted

All of the gel pens that we’ve mentioned above don’t smudge when highlighted, but the following brands of gel pens don’t smudge when highlighted as well:

  • Parker
  • Ohto
  • Sharpie
  • Pentel
  • Mr. Pen
  • Uni