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Ink For Grading Student Papers


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I'm looking for suggestions for ink for grading/marking student papers.



  • I need to avoid feathering and bleed-through on a very wide range of papers used by students. I can't control their paper choices.
  • Drying time is less critical, but still important. I'd like to be able to make a comment, turn the page, and go on reading and writing, not necessarily in a fraction of a second, but within a second or two.
  • I don't want to use black or blue, because students often use these colors themselves.
  • I don't want to use red, because students perceive red comments as hostile, even when they are not.
  • Green, purple, or brown are good color choices, but if you have just the perfect ink in pink or orange or plaid or whatever, do, please, suggest it.


Fountain pens are very much my favorite writing implements, but I'm not at all a collector of pens or of inks, though I celebrate those of you who are. I can't afford to experiment with a dozen different pens and inks, so I'm hoping something that will just work will emerge from this obviously stupendously informed body.


I'm currently using Waterman Tender Purple ink and an extra-fine nib. This works much of the time, but I still have to switch to a roller-ball much more commonly than I would like.


Thanks in advance,



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I am using Montblanc lavender purple for this kind of job. I personally wouldn't use brown inks as I feel that this wouldn't stand out. I also bought a bottle of pink ink by Montblanc but haven't tested it.


Red obviously is a classic colour for teachers (and has to be used in Germany for "official" grading). Of course, this colour can feel hostile, but if you use a dark red it might be perceived differently by students (my red is either Kaweco Red that is rather dark or the brighter Lamy Red, Waterman Rouge Audace and Corn Poppy Red, the latter being the darkest of the three).


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FPN lost my post...again.



- Private Reserve, Black Cherry - look like a brown


Green (bright)

- Diamine, Kelly Green - this is a yellow/green

- Diamine, Ultra Green

- Noodler's, Gruene Cactus

- Pelikan, Green



- Diamine, Orange

- Private Reserve, Orange Crush



- Pelikan, Turquoise

- Sheaffer Skrip, Turquoise



I would use a Japanese F or Western XF/EF nib and adjust to write dry with whatever ink you select.

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California


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I am a teacher.


I use


1. PR Spearmint Green


2. Diamine Majestic Purple


Minimal feathering and bleed through, but on the cheapest of papers even my gel pens bleed through.


(I also use Sheaffer Skrip Red, but you expressed a pass on the reds)

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I teach high school and like to use eyedropper converted Platinum Preppy 03 pens for grading because they hold plenty of ink and if the kids want to play with them, I can let them do so without worry.


For ink, the Pilot Iroshizuku line has worked very well for me. I only have bottles of ku-jaku and kon-peki, but both work reliably on a variety of papers. The kids love the colors, and even though kon-peki is blue, it isn't a blue that students normally use. Shin-ryoku will be my next bottle. It's a nice green, and based on the sample, has the same qualities.


I also have Preppies filled with R&K Salix and Scabiosa iron gall inks. Those are not the colors you indicated, but are water proof if you needed something more tamper resistant.


I have Noodler's Habanero in a really dry Pilot 78G stub (B nib); that combo works on cheap paper as well. I've found that the same ink in other pens doesn't cooperate on notebook paper.


You're right that you have to match the pen and the ink together.



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I keep 5 Preppies at school for grading, all with Noodler's:


-Ottoman Rose


-Green Marine

-Navajo Turquoise

-Concord Grape


I teach in a combined elementary/ middle school, where the middle school students often still try and turn things in written in glitter gel pen, and I've found the colors I have can still stand out even against those. I mostly just use Ottoman Rose because I haven't found my ideal red yet, but I'd say it leans purple/blue/ whatever enough to avoid the "bad feelings" of grading in red.


The smaller size nibs (0.3) don't seem to feather enough to notice, even on super crappy notebook/ copy paper, but the larger ones (0.5) have a bit of feathering. Also, I'm not worried about students trying to change their grades, but I know that Green Marine and Concord Grape are reasonably water resistant.


On the whole, though, I'd say to choose whatever pen/ ink combos make you happiest, since, for me at least, that's one of the things that lessens the horror of tackling a huge stack of papers! ;)

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Samples are a great way to experiment with inks with your pens and paper. You'll get 3-4 fills of your fountain pen for less than $2, and you'll have the opportunity to try out your nib and ink combination against a wide range of student papers. One of the best inks that meets your standards is iron gall, and KWZ Inks now has a US distributor and offers a wide range of colors. I'm regularly using the blue and... red.



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Diamine's Pumpkin.




+1 but don't leave the pen unused for long periods otherwise you will have pumpkin growing out of the nib...! I would also recommend (and have graded essays with):


Pilot Iroshizuku - Kon Peki, Fugu Yaki (an absolute favourite), Yama Budo, Yama Guri, Tsutsuji,

Diamine: Hope Pink, Wild Strawberry, Poppy, Red Dragon, Asa, Havasu Turquoise, Pumpkin, Ultra green,

Noodler's: Black Swan in Australian Roses (new colour which I LOVE!), Ottoman Rose, Navajo Turquoise, Cactus Gruene Eel, Widowmaker, Apache


You get the drift..! Hope that helps.

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Whatever. I use red ink. sue me. My teachers all graded in red and I somehow, miraculously, survived that trying ordeal. Ain't my job to be my student's homeboy.


I keep a Safari loaded with Montblanc Corn Poppy Red and that is what I use these days, i'd be equally good with Sheaffer red if I wanted something cheaper.


But, if I wanted to avoid red, I would just use orange or brown so it would at least stand out.


The real issue is paper so you need something like Noodler's X-feather but in a different color.

Looking for a cap for a Sheaffer Touchdown Sentinel Deluxe Fat version

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^your attitude impresses me. You care about your students as much as I used to care about my teachers.


I miss those days. Carrying 2 pen to school, one loaded with a blue ink and other hidden pen loaded with red. Throwing red ink on teachers who were mean to me.


As for the OP, have you tried Dragon Napalm? You can use that.

Not everything written with red is hostile. 95% of the things written in my notebook with red ink was not hostile, although 5% (incomplete work) always overshadowed the 95% at the PTM's.

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Consider Private Reserve Arabian Rose or Pelikan Edelstein Amethyst.




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I used to use Pelikan 4001 Violet in a fine point pen for grading student papers, and loved it. Now I use Iroshizuku Yama-Budo, just because I had used 4001 inks for decades and wanted to try something new, and Yama-Budo was the most fun of the purple sampler I got from Goulet.

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I am a teacher. I don't generally use red because the students will edit each others work in red. I either use MontBlanc Irish Green in a Lamy Safari EF, or Private Reserve Plum in a TWSBI 580 M, but I have also used Noodler's Apache Sunset to good effect.

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