For home or school, to art projects and business projects, there are writing tools to fit every purpose. The main types of pens are grouped into categories by the kinds of writing tips that manufacturers produce.
Ballpoint pens work by dispensing an oil-based ink by rolling small hard spheres, usually formed of metals including brass, steel, or tungsten carbide. Their ink dries almost instantly upon contact with the paper. The ballpoint pen is the most widely used type of pen and comes in a variety of forms, from disposable to highly decorative materials.
Rollerball pens release a water-based liquid or gel ink from a ball tip, much like that of a ballpoint pen. The less-viscous ink is absorbed more easily by paper than oil-based ink, and the pen glides more easily across a writing surface. The design of rollerball pens combines the convenience of a ballpoint pen with a smooth, wet ink writing effect like a fountain pen.
Felt tip pens have a porous tip made of fibrous material. Fine tipped marker pens are for writing on paper. Children often use Medium-tipped felt-tips for coloring and drawing. Pens with broader tips are usually called "markers" and used for writing in larger areas such as cardboard boxes, poster paper, whiteboards, and other surfaces.
Gel pens hold inks made of pigment suspended in a water-based liquid gel. Gel inks show up more boldly on surfaces than ballpoint pens because the thick ink is more opaque than that of ballpoint pens. Gel pens are suitable for many types of drawing and writing.
Graphite pencils are the most commonly used type by children at school, university students, professionals like accountants, and artists. They have writing cores (called "lead") made of a mixture of clay and graphite encased in wood. Their darkness varies in markings ranging from grey to black, according to the combination of materials in the core. Their composition provides for smooth writing strokes.
Colored pencils are encased in wood like graphite pencils but have wax-like cores with pigment and other ingredients. They have multiple colors typical of crayons.
Mechanical pencils have thin, flexible graphite cores propelled by mechanisms that push lead through an opening at the tip. Mechanical pencils are popular because of their longevity, and they never need sharpening.