A Guide to Ballpoint Pens

What exactly is a ballpoint pen?

You have probably used this type of pen countless times, but might still ask yourself: ‘What exactly is a ballpoint pen?’

Ballpoint pens, also known as ball pens or biros, have a barrel filled with oil-based ink which is distributed with a small sphere in the tip. This ink can write on many surfaces, including paper, wood and some plastics.

Biro pens were invented because designers wanted to find a solution to messy old-fashioned fountain pens. The ink dries quickly and evenly, and is less prone to smudging and leaking.

5 Star, Bic, Paper Mate, Pilot and Zebra ballpoint pens are among the wide range that we sell at Paperstone. 

On our website, you will find both premium ballpoints to keep for years, as well as economy styles which are great for passing out at conferences and large meetings, for example. 

When picking your ballpoint pen, remember to think of any special features you like in a pen. 

Ball pens come in many different colours, including black, blue and red, as well as more exotic shades such as green, pink, purple, and violet. You can also find pens in assorted colours in bulk-buy packs. 

If the look of your ballpoint is important to you, you can also choose a pen according to the barrel colour. Our selection includes black, blue, clear and grey. 

Considering the line width of your pen is vital. At Paperstone, pens are available with thin 0.3mm lines and all the way up to 0.7mm. 

Some ballpoint pens at Paperstone come with caps to shield the nib, while others are retractable and work at the push of a button. Pens also come with cushioned grips to making writing more comfortable. You can also find bank pens, which are chained to a base and are difficult to lose. 

Did you know?

One of the great advantages of ballpoint pens is their writing length. An effective ballpoint can write between 1,500 and 3,000 metres of scribble.

Many are also very cheap: A box of 20 decent biros can cost less than a fiver.

Some ballpoint pens even use an ink which is erasable.


  • Retractable. To use press a button at the top to expose the nib, they have a spring wrapped around the bottom of the ink cartridge inside the barrel.
  • Rubber Grip. Non-slip grip for more comfortable writing for longer.
  • Shatterproof. Designed or made to resist shattering.
  • Cushion. Designed as a high comfort pen.
  • Bank pen. Also known as counter pens, these are designed to be affixed to a counter or table of a business, typically by a chain.
  • Stylus. Pen with a nib for normal writing and a stylus for use on capacitive technology screens.