Fineliner vs. Gel Pen: Choosing the Perfect Pen

By Irene Daraman Written by Irene Daraman Expertise: Technology, Learning, and Money Title: - Author and Freelance Writer Education: - Bachelor of Science in Nursing, University of La Salette Work Experience: - Registered Nurse with 10+ years of experience in BPO and healthcare industries - Management position in a Fortune 500 company, driving operational excellence and exceeding targets - Designing and implementing business plans and strategies to promote the attainment of goals, including financial (money matter), technology, and internal learning and development - Patient care coordinator in a California-based private practice - Experience as a personal injury medical records reviewer and demand letter writer in a Texas law firm - 5+ years of content/article writing experience, delivering engaging and informative pieces across various domains About: I am a Registered Nurse with 10+ years of experience in BPO and the healthcare industry. With a specialization in public and community nursing, I possess a deep understanding of patient care. Currently working in a management position at a Fortune 500 company, where I drive operational excellence and exceed targets. I am responsible for using technology at work, and driving learning and development. I am an expert in technology, learning, and money related topics from my corporate work experience. Public Profiles:
Updated on August 31, 2023

When it comes to writing tools, two of the top class in the world, the Fineliner, and Gel Pen, cannot be left off the list. Read our fineliner vs. gel pen comparison to find the best one for your needs.

It’s long been debated which of the two writing instruments is better. Many recommend fineliners for artists and calligraphers, graphic designers, and sketch artists. Others consider gel pens the best for in-class notetaking, office sticky notes, coloring books, decorating your pages, bullet journaling, or scribbling. In other words, it is the best for students and office workers.

In this article, we compiled the critical details about Fineliners and Gel Pens to make it easier for you to choose between the two.

What is the difference between a gel pen and a fine liner?

The main difference between fineliners and gel pens is their tips.

Fineliners have fine-fiber or long metal-clad tips designed in smooth and effortless writing for artists, calligraphers, graphic designers, and sketch artists. The design of its tip allows use with rulers and templates without bending, which is best for more technical drawing ranges.

Meanwhile, gel pens have rollerball tips that allow better control of the ink. Its ink is a little thicker and opaque compared to fineliners which shows up more clearly on slick surfaces. Thus, it is best for writing and illustration for students and office work.

Gel Pen vs. Fineliner: A Comparison

Fineliner and gel pens are both good and effective, depending on what you use them for and depends on who will use them. Whether you are an artist, student, or just barely journaling your day, here is a comparison of the two so that you know what to choose between them.


Both fineliners and gel pens usually have water-based ink. But gel pens sometimes have water-based gel-suspended ink pigment and pigments gel pens that come in different colors. It has ticker and opaque pigments with precise lines and glides smoothly on the paper.

Fineliners, on the other hand, are not only made up of water-based but also have oil-based ink used for glossy papers, such as photographs or other shiny media. Nevertheless, both produce more controlled lines and are less likely to bleed through the paper because of their fine tip.

Moreover, some fineliners have ink reservoirs made from polyester, which allows the pen to hold onto the ink while you’re writing. It is functional once you’re out of ink allowing you to go a little further until the next refill.


There is not much of a difference in terms of their barrel. The barrel actually differs from one brand to another. Some gel pens are made up of sleek metal barrels, and some fineliners have ergonomic, triangular barrels.


Fineliners have relatively thin tips varying from 0.03mm to 1mm. It produces a thinner and crispier line allowing more space on each letter when writing. Meanwhile, gel pens have a thicker and opaque output that glides through paper. But it is more likely to bleed through compared to fineliner. However, it is better when note-taking and best for writing precisely as it produces more visible and vivid writing.


When it comes to price it solely depends on the brand and based on the type of pen.

Which pen is best for handwriting between gel pens and fineliners?

Gel pens are best for handwriting.

Since gel pens provide a more opaque and vivid output, it is said to be better for handwriting than fineliner. Although a fineliner is better for those with “messy” handwriting, it allows more space between the letters allowing them to become more legible.

What are the pros and cons of gel pens and fineliners?

Gel Pens Pros 

Gel pens offer more vibrant and clearer writing, which is best for taking notes. Writing doesn’t require much effort and pressure which makes it more comfortable to use when writing

Gel Pens Cons

Gel pens are more likely to bleed through. Ink takes longer to dry on paper which is prone to smudging when touched within seconds.

Fineliner Pros

Fineliner has thinner tips and produces more refined writing best for sketching and graphic designing. It is less likely to bleed through.

Fineliner Cons

Because of its size, there is limited nib ranges for fineliners. Their tips may not be very robust compared to gel pens, as they wear out more easily.

Which pen is best for students between gel pens and fineliners?

Gel pens are recommended for students rather than fineliners.

Generally, gel pens are better for students because of their ink. It is easier to take note of your lecture with the quality of the pen’s ink. Since it comes in a different color, it is easier to highlight some important details you want to take note of. But it’s a different matter if the student is in the field of graphic design or sketching. Fineliner is more advisable in such fields.