More about nibs

How do I know which pen nib I need?

Most fountain pens come fitted with a medium grade nib as standard as this is acceptable to the overwhelming majority of the population. However, there are other nib alternatives available for most fountain pens for those who need them.

Some pens are available with simply a fine or broad alternative; some have very specialist alternatives such as double broad or italic. Nibs are not interchangeable between models of fountain pen as nib alternatives available are determined by the manufacturer.

I didn't realise there was a choice, what's the difference?

We often hear people often say that they can't write with a fountain pen as their writing looks untidy and almost like scribble. This could be because they have not found their perfect fountain pen match. There are no industry standards for nib grades; each brand has it's own standard. This means that one manufacturer’s medium nib can be wider or narrower than a competitor’s nib. As a broad rule of thumb a medium nib is usually around 0.6mm with a fine and broad around 0.2mm smaller/larger than the medium in that collection.

Which nib is best for me?

When deciding on a nib the most popular option is medium, this is why all fountain pens on our website are automatically fitted with a medium nib. There are however alternatives that may be more suited to your writing style.

These are the four most common nib sizes, please note not all brands have nibs available in these sizes so please contact us if you would like more information.

Extra Fine: As the name suggests, these nibs have the thinnest writing line. We have found this to be the most popular nib for artists and for those from the far-east who write in characters that need more a more delicate nib length.

Fine: This has a thin writing line which is the preferred nib size for those with smaller handwriting. If your small hand writing loses definition when you write with a fountain pen, this is usually because the nib is too broad. When this happens the letter e, a and o, can look the same. The circular parts of d, p and b, fill up with ink. If we fit the pen with a fine nib it decreases the width of the line the fountain pen creates and restores the definition. Instantly, you discover you can write beautifully.

Medium: This is the most popular nib width for all pen brands - all fountain pens are fitted with a medium nib as standard. A medium grade nib is gives a beautiful writing experience to the overwhelming majority of the population.

Broad: A broad nib has a wider writing line and is the preferred nib size for those with larger handwriting. Perhaps you feel that your writing looks scratchy and spider like, making your bold hand writing looks untidy. This can be fixed by fitting a broader nib. This gives a thicker line for those of us who write with a bold hand. It is amazing the difference it makes!

More about Fountain Pens

Most fountain pens can be fitted with different types of nib. The nib alternatives available depend on the manufacturer and the individual range of fountain pens. Nibs can be made from a range of materials; the most popular being gold and steel. Again this depends on the individual product, as a general rule, solid gold nibs are not available for fountain pens that come fitted with a steel nib and vice versa.

Steel Nibs

Steel is a very flexible material and bounces back to shape easily making it a great choice as a nib. The size and shape of the nib determines the flex, you may find some steel nibs very comfortable to write with and others may feel hard against the paper when you write. Steel nibs will change the way they write very little over time, basically the nib will continue to write the same way throughout the life of the pen.

To keep your steel nib in tip top condition we advise that if you are storing a fountain pen without using it for a period of time, you should remove the ink from it and clean the nib. This will keep it clean and healthy and give you maximum service from it.

Solid Gold Nibs

Gold nibs can come in a variety of finishes; they may be traditional gold, silver in appearance or bi-colour. Nibs which have a silver appearance or detail have usually been coated or inlaid with rhodium.   This is because they are often coated or inlaid with rhodium to match the colour of the clip and rings on the body of the fountain pen. A range of precious metals including ruthenium, rose gold and titanium may also be used depending on the individual pen.  However, the nib itself is still gold and behaves in the same way.

Gold is a softer material that steel. It has less ability to flex back into its original shape. This makes gold a good material for a nib which has a personal feel. When you start to write with a new gold nib it will begin to learn the signature of your handwriting and the unique pressure you place on the nib. This ‘bedding in’ process takes a little time, so when you get your new fountain pen use it as much as you can. Write with it every day and within two or three weeks you will find it has settled down. Once a gold nib has bedded in, it will write like this for you for the rest of its life.

A Very Special Pen Shop Promise

So that you really can get the right nib to suit your hand writing we make you a very special promise. When you buy a new fountain pen you can use it for up to 30 days. This will give you time to decide if the nib is right for you. During this 30 day period you can return your fountain pen to us (in its original condition). Where possible we will arrange to have it fitted with a nib grade of your choice.

Would you like to discuss this more?

If you wish to discuss an alternative you can email sales@penshop.co.uk or telephone our mail order hot line on 0191 487 0033 and we will be delighted to help. We are delighted to be able to advise you in any branch of The Pen Shop nationwide, where you can try a wide range of nibs.