Introducing Ink Innovation by Zebra Pen.

There is a whole world of writing instruments, including the pen that is perfect for you. We “think ink” all the time so that we can offer a broad range of writing experiences, which are delivered through our extensive line of high quality, affordable pens.

Did you know there are many different kinds of ink, each with unique properties? Our Ink Lab team is always testing, innovating and perfecting ink formulas. There are also various features and characteristics that affect pen performance and pen output, such as smooth ink lay down (reach for Z-Grip Plus®), quick-drying ink (try Sarasa®), check safe ink (Orbitz 1.6mm), and so much more.

At Zebra, we’re serious about making the best pens possible. We’ve developed this guide to familiarize you with pen terminology, ink types, features and more, so you can choose the best pen to meet your specific needs.

Pen Terminology

Pens have various characteristics that affect the way they perform. such as line thickness, amount of ink used, drying time and shelf life. Here are some insider pen terms explained.
Pen Terminology - Zebra Pen

Point Size

Point Size is defined as the diameter of the nib (tip) of a pen or pencil, in millimeters, e.g. 0.5mm, 0.7mm (one of the more popular sizes), 1.0mm, 1.2mm and 1.6mm. Do you want a fine line, a thick line or something in between? This is determined by the point size, and the lower the number, the finer the line.

Write Out

Write Out is a term to describe how much one can write with a single ink cartridge or refill. Think of it as the capacity or “life expectancy” of a pen. The Write Out measure indicates how long you can write with a particular pen before the ink cartridge runs out.

Lay Down

Lay Down refers to how much ink flows out of the pen and is applied to the writing service while writing. Lay Down is impacted by point size—the bolder the line (higher point size), the greater the amount of ink is laid down.

Dry Time

Dry Time measures how long it takes for the ink to dry on the writing surface. Pens that lay down a lot of ink take longer to dry. Other factors that can affect Dry Time are the type of paper used, the amount of pressure applied by the user of the pen, and the type of ink. Most people prefer ink that dries fast.


Viscosity is a measure of ink’s ability to flow. If you remember science class, you know that fluid viscosity refers more or less to the thickness of a fluid. In pens, it refers to how easily and smoothly the ink flows from the pen. The lower the viscosity, the smoother the writing experience.

Types of Ink

Oil-Based Ink & Water-Based Ink

Oil-based ink is found in ballpoint pens and is ideal for every day, heavy usage. If you are writing all day long this is the pen for you. Oil based ink benefits:

  • Dries quickly
  • No smudges
  • Ink efficient
  • Cost effective

See all Zebra Pen Oil-Based Ink here.

Water Based Ink (Gel) is very smooth, doesn’t skip and is available in bold colors. This water-based gel flows freely and is fun to write with. If you love to express yourself in writing (or coloring), this is the pen for you. Benefits of water based ink:

  • Smooth
  • Highly pigmented for vibrant colors
  • No skipping

See all Zebra Pen Water Based Ink here.

Emulsion Ink

Emulsion ink is the next generation of oil-based ink. It takes all the benefits of standard oil-based ink and minimizes the drawbacks. Emulsion ink delivers an ultra-smooth writing experience with a silky smooth ink lay down that won’t skip, and is available in an array of vibrant colors. Go bold with emulsion ink.

  • Smoothest writing on a variety of surfaces
  • Less writing pressure required to make bold writing
  • Silkier formula that won’t skip
  • Comes in vibrant colors

See all Zebra Pen Emulsion Ink here.

Rapid Dry Ink (RDI)

Rapid Dry Ink is the latest and greatest water-based ink. It has all the benefits of gel pens without any drawbacks! Hate smudges? With Zebra’s breakthrough Rapid Dry Ink technology, ink dries in just a second on most surfaces, so it’s a favorite for left handers. Super smooth and available in many vibrant colors, it is perfect for creative art projects and everyday use.

  • Smooth write out without scratching or skipping
  • Dries in less than a second on most surfaces
  • Available in 14 vibrant colors and different point sizes
  • Ideal for left handed writers
  • Great for creative art projects

See all Zebra Pen Rapid Dry Ink here.

Check-Safe Ink

Have peace of mind with check-safe ink. Our acid-free, archival quality check-safe ink cannot be “washed” off, which means you don’t have to worry about check fraud.

See all Zebra Pen Check Safe Ink here.