Best pen for writing on photobooks?

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18 comments

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    al escudero

    The best pen I have found for writing on our photo books is the American Crafts Slick Writer. Acid free, fast drying, archival ink and comes in multiple colors.

    slick_writer.jpg

    Another type you can try is called the Zig Photo Signature Pen. It's also made for writing on photos, is permanent, dries quickly and is acid-free, but it takes about a second longer to dry than the slick writer.

    There are various metallic markers that come in gold and silver (and they're archival), but they take a lot longer to dry and more prone to smudging. If you are the one doing the writing, and you provide sufficient time for it to dry before touching it or flipping pages, metallic markers can work. However, if you're doing this for a guest book where others will be writing in it and it must be metallic, I'd suggest placing a sign beside the guest book that asks people to please let the ink dry before turning pages or touching it.

    Some people use Sharpies, but I wouldn't recommend them since they are not acid free, or archival and need a couple of seconds to dry or they smear.

    I did a quick test. The results are as follows:

    • American Crafts Slick Writer               Dry time: 1 Second
    • Zig Photo Signature Pen                      Dry Time: 2 Seconds
    • Regular Sharpie                                   Dry Time: 8 seconds
    • Metallic Sharpie                                    Dry Time: 9 seconds

    By dry time, I mean I wrote something, counted out that many seconds and wiped without smearing. The Zig pens weren't bad but I did get some smearing if I wiped right away. The AC pens I could pretty much wipe immediately without smearing. At 9 seconds to dry, the metallic pens pretty much guarantee smudging in any setting where a lot of guests will be handling it.

    icon_info.jpg Don't use ball point pens! The slick surface of any gloss or semi-gloss paper can cause the ball to slip, making your writing choppy and intermittent. Not only does this look bad, but people trying to write in your book with a ball point pen may get frustrated and start pressing very hard with the pen, and inadvertently damage your book.

  • Avatar
    Amanda Gancedo
    Hi, I know this was a while ago but I want to order a photo book to use as my guestbook but i went the custom route and have a black background what pen should I use in this case?
  • Avatar
    al escudero

    Hi Amanda. Unfortunately with a black background your options are more limited. A metallic pen is probably your best choice in terms of having the writing be visible. Unfortunately they take a while to dry and are very prone to smearing as a result. I suggest posting a sign next to the guest book that asks people to allow several seconds for the ink to dry before closing the book or touching the writing.

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    Amanda Gancedo

    Thanks so much for the quick response! Is there any way that along with my book I can order a black page or something in similar paper so that I can test different options?

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    al escudero

    Hi Amanda. My suggestion would be to order a 4x6 print of a solid black image (take a photo with the lens cap on :) on Kodak Lustre paper. That will have the same surface as your photo book pages and you can experiment on it without touching your book.

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    Alyssa Milian

    Hi Amanda! I actually have the same issue.  Did you find anything that worked?  Thanks! Alyssa

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    Nancy Stenger

    Will the acid free pen fade?  I have been told that a pen will fade quicker than using a #8 pencil. 

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    al escudero

    Sorry Nancy, I don't have any data on the archival qualities of the various pens.

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    Janice Chon

    Can the American Slick Writer's Pen be found at Michael's? I was looking for the best pen to use for our wedding photo guest book. Thank you for the recommendations! Glad I checked the adorama forums.

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    Janice Chon

    Just to make sure... will these pens work on luster paper as well?

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    al escudero

    Yes Janice, I conducted the tests on Luster paper. Yes you should be able to buy them at Michaels, but if not, you can source them through Amazon

    Regards,
    AL

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    Tina Holley

    Does the American Crafts Slick Writer work well for all the paper types you offer?  or do you recommend a certain paper type to use when printing a guestbook?

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    Janice Chon

    Tina, I used the American Crafts Slick Writer pens on the standard luster paper for my wedding guest book and it worked great. I can't speak for the other types of paper. 

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    Tina Holley

    okay thanks for th ereply.  I've only ever bought the lustre paper, so i'm not even sure what the other types look / feel like.

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    al escudero

    Hi Tina. Lustre and gloss are probably the best because they have a relatively smooth surface. Though I have yet to test them, I would suspect the linen and pebble (pebble especially) would be harder to write on because the irregular surface would make the lines you write less smooth and consistent.

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    K L

    Hi - I have the same question regarding writing on a photo book (as a guestbook) with a gold pen/marker on black lustre paper. I see how highly you recommend American Crafts Slick Writer, which unfortunately doesn't come in gold (or any other metallic color). Does anyone know then if American Crafts Metallic Marker (http://www.americancrafts.com/default.aspx?PageID=69&CategoryID=118&ProductID=2917&RootCatCode=01000), not Slick Writer, would work as well (i.e., dry as fast)? Or at least dry faster than a Metallic Sharpie?

    Thanks!
    K
     

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    tom hardy

     Cross, because the point doesn't wiggle around. I have a couple of Townsends, and those are the only ballpoints I own. They're also the only pens I own with my name engraved on the side, because ball points have a horrible habit of going walkabouts. I know it won't stop it happening, but I hope whoever "borrows" one feels guilty when they see my name on the side.

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