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How/why Do You Use Your Nib Size


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Oh, I know. That was one of the first places I went when I began this voyage. I won't lie...I was overwhelmed and had to stop. Now that I know a little more, you're right, that's probably a good place to return.

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About 30 years ago, when Michael's (Sutter St., San Francisco) monthly 40%-off-everything sales rolled out the red carpet for my interest in pens to ramp up a few notches, I was able to try fountain pens with various nib sizes. Even then, I loved me the F nibs - Waterman, Sheaffer, Parker. Which led to a hankering for finer lines. I still have a Waterman Laureat EF nib that I was told back then was rare.


For 20 years, I played in the fountain-pen pool by my lonesome. A couple of friends were persuaded to buy and use fountain pens, but we hardly discussed endlessly the various factors of our choices (or inks, or papers).


Ten years ago, hello, FPN, whaaat? And the journey took a decided turn to the far east - and Japanese F nibs. Japanese EF nibs.


The only M nibs I ever bought were on Nakayas - that I subsequently swapped for finer nibs.


I enjoy flex/semi-flex now and again. I have a vintage Waterman Lady Patricia with a nib perfect for Spencerian script - which I don't know and don't practice. I'm just not the kindv writer who wants to add slight pressure to add line variation to letters. Too fussy (although other people do it gorgeously).


Which is why stubbish nibs are appealing to me. Thirty years ago up 'til maybe seven years ago, I preferred round nibs - round-round-roundy-round please. But now I loves me a HINT of line variation.


My Pilot nibs give me that - a #10 PO nib and a Falcon/Elabo SEF nib (that I don't "flex" cos I don't wanna).


I have two Nakaya nibs that are gloriously stubbishy (one ground to an EF/F CI by Dan Smith and the other a standard F that the Nakaya nib man finessed according to the details I provided on the website's order form (I didn't request "stubbishy": I consider it good luck)).


I prefer to write fast, fast, fast. That might account for my love of these finer nibs. I write something everyday, even if it's to copy something interesting from a book I'm reading or news or whatnot into my commonplace notebook.


I also "draw" with my pens - but hardly as much as that sentence implies. Working on changing my habits to draw more. Should be easy, ha!


etherX in To Miasto

Fleekair <--French accent.

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I'm heavy handed and often have to write quickly. Smooth broad nibs work in that way for me. I've never got on with fine nibs which generally feel scratchy perhaps because as a leftie underwriter I'm pushing them across the paper rather than pulling them. For me, a broad left foot oblique is generally the perfect nib. I also find it completely impossible to write with flex nibs.






She turned me into a newt.......

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I tend towards fine and extra fine nibs, with a small selection of stubs and a couple BB nibs of varying width.


I've always had small handwriting which suits my needs just fine. Pocket journals when I'm hunting or searching for some obscure occult or folkloric information at the library are my mainstays. The stubs come out for more formal or important letters and the like.

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I like fine nibs for handwriting. I acquired broader nibs for printing, plus ink shading really reveals itself best with broader nibs and some of it is quite stunning.

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If I have to have one pen it would be a stub or a BB. I have big hands, bold handwriting and the line variation makes my handwriting look better.


But I am on this forum because I have more than one pen .......


Most pens available in my part of the world are sold with stock Mediums. So perforce my greatest number of pens have a M nib.


Some time ago I bought a tester set of MB 146s. It had an EF and F too. My first reaction was to put them up for sale here but did not succeed in selling them. Later out of curiosity I inked them and kept them in usage for some time, and gradually came to appreciate the thinner side of the nibs (although MB EF and F are more like Asian M). Now I usually have a F or EF (and not just MBs) for crosswords and side notes. I still like to write my prescriptions with the stubs and BBs (presently I have two MB 149s inked, a BB and an O3B), but am not that stuck up on the broader side anymore as I was say a couple of years ago.

Enjoy your pens

Have a nice day


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Asserting precise control primarily in handling and wielding a pen as a writing instrument, but also with the choice of ink and sometimes paper is at the heart of the activity of writing by hand, as far as I'm concerned. My personal 'standard' or test for whether I am controlling the pen sufficiently precisely is being able to write a block of traditional (i.e. the most stroke-dense variant of) Chinese characters legibly in kaishu to fit a 5mm grid on the page, preferably while maintaining the proper aesthetic of the script, e.g. na (right sweeping) strokes should swell in the middle in a rather angular fashion and end with sharp points.


(This is despite my never needing to write anything in Chinese these days.)


I also like the idea of a high level of information density. Successfully fitting lots of words in a fixed or limited space on the page, while still maintaining the intended aesthetic of the script or hand, is 'art' that speaks to me, more so than flamboyant, oversized writing with broad brushes or poster nibs adorned with flourishes.


Therefore, my personal preference is for Japanese F and EF nibs, unless I'm trying to create 'special effects' that are not something I would want to do consistently over a block of 250 words.


On the other hand, I highly regard versatility in a tool or instrument, as long as it is capable of passing the basic test, and does not completely preclude writing small but legibly by design. I'm therefore prepared to spend money on different 'specialty' nibs Naginata Concord nibs, Fude de Mannen nibs, Pilot FA nibs, Sailor Zoom nibs, various Japanese brands of Music nibs, SF and SFM nibs, etc. and try them out. The Pilot FA nib was a disappointment, and I have since destroyed it. The Concord nib is a joy to use, although writing hanzi legibly in a 5mm grid is sometimes a bit of a challenge. The Sailor Zoom nib has surprised me in being able to deliver such fine writing, although I don't really like the way it lays down broad strokes (compared to the Concord nib).

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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I am one of those people that can find the silver lining of any nib that is tuned properly. I will not tolerate any hard starting whatsoever. But on the whole, I am more prone to use the extremes of the spectrum, needlepoint and EF, or BB and up, and I love flex. Medium nibs just make me go "meh" (three exceptions are my pelikan jazz, pelikan stolia, and visconti divina metro) and I find an F nib to usually be an unpleasant compromise.


I like massive nibs for showing off the ink and I like needlepoint and flex because they accentuate my rather small handwriting best.

Edited by Honeybadgers

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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  • 4 months later...

I was considering asking this question Teach13. I have a small pen collection (13 pens) and most have medium or fine nibs. I use a small Rhodia for a journal and to be honest the medium nibs show much more shading and the character of the inks but the writing does tend to look a little too big for the page.


I have just bought a TWSBI Eco with a fine nib and that will be an ideal size for writing in my journal but having filled an A4 page with the nib it doesn't fill me with joy. In my opinion the bigger pages need wider nibs to show off the inks.


Yesterday, I went to an aircraft museum. A WW2 airbase near York. One of the exhibits was a reference from the squadron leader for one of his staff. It was written just after the war and as you would expect with his fountain pen. The nib used would be the equivalent of today's medium I believe. The result was stunning and evocative. The hayday for fountain pens.


Nib width is definitely a personal thing. I have all my pens inked up and each time I write in my journal I change the pen and therefore the colour and nib width. The variation of colours and widths works well.


Variety is the spice of life.

Live life, not long life

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My collection:


F = 8

M = 5

B = 5


In transit:

F = 2

M = 1

B = 1


I guess I lean Fine... more my workhorse, fast writing size. My wider pens are for fun. So I guess I have a nice balance of work and fun.

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I seem to be moving more toward 1.1 mm and 1.5 mm stub/italic nibs. I have added a couple of B nibbed pens lately and enjoy seeing the color and shading of my inks. I rarely have use F or XF nibs any more. Who knows, I just might settle in to the middle of the road with M nibs and just keep enjoying the colors of my inks. I have 1 XF Twsbi that I use in my planner.

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I never kept track of how many of which width I had. (Outside certain oblique nibs in 15&30 degree grinds....at least the 30 degree grinds.


I came in on M nib and went wide....getting F's only because I needed the model....took me a while to like F....mostly not into EF....Euro, in I bought old used affordable pens instead of new Japanese ones.....and Japanese narrow was to narrow for me, if I don't care much for Euro EF.


For a while I was a semi-flex snob....but now I like regular flex...what the Japanese pen lovers call a soft nib. It use to be regular issue in many companies, like Esterbrook, or Sheaffer, Wearever...not Parker.

I chase shading and semi-flex requires a better paper and ink mix in semi-flex is a wetter nib.

Regular flex is dryer and shades easier....I find the M nib to be good, Of the new pens I bought two of the Pelikan 215/200's were in M as I wanted.


I do need to get a 200's nib in B from England, where they are most affordable.I'd have to dig through my pens but I don't think I have a B regular flex.....that would be good for shading with my Diamine glitter inks I think. Should try my old W.Germany 600's regular flex OBB nib....will want to clean after every load. That should lay some glitter. Maybe catch some sheen at the same time.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:


The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.




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Personally, I like to use nibs as wide as possible within the constraints of my handwriting size. I like to look at the shading and pooling of ink on paper, and I like the feeling of laying down a wet line of ink.


My handwriting is moderately large, running around a 5mm lowercase x-height. I have found that Western Medium is about as broad as I can get without closing up my e's, so that is my preferred nib size.


Funny thing is, when I tell people my preferred nib width is Western Medium, the typical response I get is "oh how boring, you'll change your mind someday" or "you'll come to love (EF/Broad - insert commenter's preference here) someday"... but it has been years and years and... still Western Medium. :)


I do love broad nibs, it's just that writing with them requires me to intentionally enlarge my handwriting, which is nice for a page or two but gets tiresome with large amounts of writing. So I reserve my broads for special occasions. Western Fines I tolerate, but do not love; Western EF/Japanese F and finer are verboten excepting annotation/margin-noting duty, for which they are great.


(On a related note, this also means that I hate narrow-ruled paper! 6mm ruling or narrower is, to my eyes, a bright flashing neon sign that reads: DO NOT BUY.)

Edited by KLscribbler
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My handwriting is small and precise, so most of my pens are Western EF (Japanese F). When I try using M or larger, all my letters turn into blobs. If I try to write larger, 40 years of muscle memory start screaming at me.

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For many years I wrote with the same pen (I started at the age of 6) and didn't even know there were different nib sizes...

The fountain pen has always been my writing tool, and only much later I discovered that different nib sizes are useful, and often fun.

Today I have from EF to OBB, but tend to choose depending on the task.

I use fountain pens at work all the time, despite the ubiquitous presence of PCs (which of course I use also...).

Writing (with a fountain pen, is there any other way?) helps me set thoughts in my mind, so it's an aid to memory, but also a tool of analysis (schemes, considerations, swot analysis, mind maps, and similar stuff... :) always goes on paper with ink).

There is nothing like your own writing, when looking at it, that stands out and is immediately recognized by your brain when you see it and is meaningful to you.

Nib sizes help in that:

note taking is usually F, faster, less bleed though worry, less space taken, smaller notebook possible, etc.

tasks are M, clear, readable, tidy.

titles are B, underlining, word contour, evidence, sometimes even writing full page for important topics

stubs and OBs are nice for notes to other, does make your writing look swell...and for signatures

OM is lovely for letters

and if some flex is there, I prefer.

I don't like nails, springy nibs are a joy, without needing to be real flex (which I don't practice), but the resulting added comfort in writing does make a difference to me.

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I used to be solidly in the EF (or EEF) nibs when I first started out with my Lamy Safari... learning to tune a nib even finer was one of the first bits of fountain pen tinkering I learned. I have messy handwriting (mostly printing) but I just accepted that this was the way things are.

Then I discovered a stub...

Now I'm slowly moving into broads and even debating a custom M stub. Because line variation and shading make me feel like I'm a wizard. Or maybe an elf. An elven wizard maybe.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Like others, I have spent most of my fountain pen years with European fines and extra fines, because my writing is so small. But I have always wanted to use broader nibs. When the Montblanc inks (I think it was Montblanc? maybe Pelikan?) used to come in those oddly shaped plastic bottles, I used to daydream about the various nib styles shown on the outer box and wonder what it must be like to use them. I'm still envious of people whose handwriting allows them full choice of nibs.


Recently I've been using Sailor pens and taking joy in the Japanese version both of medium fine and of medium. My writing still is more legible with the medium fine Sailor nib, but the medium KOP feels so wonderfully responsive on paper that I don't mind sacrificing a bit of legibility in the product for the luxury of the process.

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it depends on where and what and why I am writing. if I want to pen down lots of content onto a page, then western and Japanese ef or japanese f nibs. if I want to play and look at inks or just to make certain inks work, then the broader and wetter nibs are used. because some inks simply refuse to be legible in some finer nibs.

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My handwriting is very small, and I see no need to change it. If I need to write on relatively absorbent paper, I typically use a Japanese fine nib. On better papers, I prefer a Western fine or Japanese medium nib to showcase the chroma of a complex ink (usually a dusty purple) while still allowing me to write in a small hand.


I love cursive italics and have a vintage Parker Duofold Junior that writes like a fine cursive italic. I like the look it gives to my handwriting, especially my printing. The broadest nib that I use on a regular basis is a medium cursive italic, ground by Nivardo Sanchez of Peyton Street Pens, that I use frequently for headings and for writing cards.


For calligraphy, I prefer a brush, which allows me to produce line variation within a stroke without changing the angle of the implement.

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