Moleskine ink smudging question



I was looking for some type of message board to post this query to,
but couldn’t find one. So I thought I’d send it to you in hopes that
you would post it as a sort of general Moleskine request for

I recently switched from pencils (Black Warrior) to G2 pens for
writing in my Moleskines. However, I find that the ink doesn’t dry fast
enough. When I turn a page to write on the next, little dots of ink get
pressed on the previous pages. This really bothers me. I am wondering if
other Moleskine users have found ways to dry the gel ink so that this kind
of smudging doesn’t happen.


Image: Stampington

38 thoughts on “Moleskine ink smudging question

  1. I experienced the same problem with the G2 fine point pens. Try the G2 extra-fine point for less smudging.

    I’ve had good luck fountain pens such as a cheapo ($8) Parker and a Waterman Phileas.


  2. I use a variety of pens in my journals. I, too, experience some smudging, sometimes with G2 ink.

    My favorite pen for writing in a Moleskine — never any smudging that I can think of — is a Pilot V Razor Point Extra Fine.

    Just my .02!



  3. I have a Moleskine size piece of paper that I use as a blotter between pages. I use Rieves (sp?) BFK lightweight, which is an absorbent printmaking paper, just because I had some lying around, but I imagine any light absorbent paper would work. My experience with G2s is that almost all of the ink dries quick enough, it’s just a few points that take longer (with regular writing), so the blotting always does the trick for me.

  4. I too have experienced the same problem. I have a volant that I have ripped a page out of at the end that I use in my plain pocket sized moleskine to be the blotter.

  5. My Moleskine is a working notebook, and I have never understood the fascination with G2’s. I use basic but good-quality ballpoints (I happen to use Parker ballpoint refills in mine, but the brand really doesn’t matter as long as the refills don’t leak and dribble). The results are just fine, the ink is dry as soon as it hits the paper, and it’s waterproof.

    If your Moleskine is a work of art or destined for an archive for the ages, try something like the old Rapidograph pens, which use draftsman’s ink.


  6. I’ve long been a fan of the G2, too. But I’d stick with the Black Warrior pencils. They are totally waterproof, completely fade-proof, and acid-free. They can rub-off, but so does G2 ink if there’s any sweat at all on your fingers.

    Faber-Castell’s PITT Artist pens are great, too. They boast the properties of a pencil, but are totally un-rub-able.

    They don’t, however, have that sweat cedar smell of the Black Warrior or the fun of sharpening one. If you want to try something different, PaperMate makes two other versions of the Mirado pencil (the Classic and the Woodtone), and Dixon makes its own very nice black pencils, with a nice matte finish. And the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 is a fun toy, too.

  7. I have had great luck with Sanford Uniball Delux Micro black pens. I have a piece of blotter paper in my moleskin for pages with heavy ink on them. Some dark sketches bleed without it and it comes in handy when I can’t find a good pen.

  8. I tend to use a G2 also, but I’m not a big fan. I hate the fact that they smudge. Recently, I’ve been using a uni-ball Vision Elite (super fine). The ink isn’t as dark as the G2 and it smudges though it says waterproof. It doesn’t seem to be archival quality ink either. Anyone find any pens that don’t smudge are archival and comfortable to boot? I’m still in search of that perfect pen.

  9. I had issues with this, too. I switched to the extra fine G2 (helped a ton) and put an index card in as a blotter for extra insurance.

  10. I have this problem but tend to ignore it. When I’ve written on both pages, I can’t hardly see the little dots on the opposite side once its written on. The only time I’ve really had a problem was with page numbers. Sometimes I like to write out a whole bunch of page numbers at once and they get all mushy when I press them together.

    The blotter suggestions above are one way to solve the problem. Personally I just let the little dots happen.

    I do hear, however, that left-handed writers have a big problem with smearing ink. That’s probably a bigger problem than the dots on the opposite page.

    My advantages and disadvantages list for the G2 are as follows:

    – lasts forever and never fades
    – acid free, won’t eat holes in the page in 2000 years.
    – waterproof. I boiled a page for ten minutes and the ink was still there very legable.
    – smooth writing.
    – cheap, $1 each.
    – easy to find, every drug store, grocery store, and office supply store in the US seems to have them.
    – fits fancy snobby pens like Waterman and Rotrings.

    – doesn’t dry right away leading to smearing and ink blots on opposite pages.
    – doesn’t have the sex appear of a fountain pen
    – sometimes the ball gets clogged up and doesn’t roll properly. I usually just toss them and get another at that point.

    They’re not for everybody, but for my own personal desires, the G2s are worth the disadvantages. I can be sure that should my little snobby notebook survive for 2000 years, my words will still be in them even if its soaking in water for 20 of those years.

    If I had to switch to anything, I’d probably switch to an even snobbier fountain pen. Right now, however, I can’t get myself to do it with all of the nice things of the G2 still in the back of my head.

    Pencils aren’t bad either but I don’t know what sort of longevity they have over extremely long periods of time. I tried to do some googling on the topic but couldn’t find anything good.

    For the sake of tradition and minimalist style, I think a nice wooden pencil and a nice fountain pen are the weapons of choice.

    Still, for today’s modern world, the G2 seems to me to be the best evolution in the art of hand writing.

  11. 1. Why am I just finding out about Black Warrior pencils?

    2. Mike Shea said: ‘I boiled a page for ten minutes and the ink was still there very legable.’ Ummmm….why 🙂 ???


  12. Has anyone tried the Uniball Signo RT Gel .038 pen? I’ve never had a problem with smearing, smudging, etc., and the refill fits in my Rotring Freeway. It’s waterproof, acid-free, all that. I like it better than the G2, even the extra-fine, since those always seem to clog or stop writing on me. Mainly I use fountain pens, though, as my pens of choice.

  13. I have a bit of a pen fetish, so the pens I use in my various journals change all the time, but for portability you can’t really beat the Waldmann Pocket Pen (they have both ball point and fountain pen!). The ball point has a pressurized cartridge so it is similar to the Fisher space pens in that it can write upside down and on top of all sorts of surfaces. As you’d imagine, this ability is pretty useful when you are out and on the go with your moleskine. Plus, the fountain pen is pretty cool due to its size. You should definitely check it out for only 50-60 bucks for the ballpoint/fountain set from

  14. 2. Mike Shea said: ‘I boiled a page for ten minutes and the ink was still there very legable.’ Ummmm….why 🙂 ???

    Because science cannot be stopped!

    Honestly, I just wanted to see how durable G2 ink was on a moleskine page compared to a fountain pen. The fountain pen ink flew off in seconds leaving a completely blank page. The G2 page was fully legible after the ten minute boiling.

    G2 ink will last as long as the page itself does. Longevity is one of the main reasons I pen words down in a Moleskine in the first place. Who wants all of my brilliant prose to just wash away with a spilled cup of coffee?

  15. Mike,

    Try using one of the Noodler’s inks that are permanent – such as black or Legal Lapis on a boiling test page and you’ll find it’s plenty permanent.

  16. I dont think anyone has mentioned it but I prefer the Cross Ion pen. They are about $30, wonderful to write with, small enough to carry in pocket. I highly recommend them.

  17. I decided to play ink scientist as well. Same boiling water, same 10 minutes. The results, in order of waterproof-ness:

    1. Pitt Artist Pen
    2. Uni Ball Vision [Fine]
    3. Uni Ball Vision Elite [Fine]
    4. Pigma Micron .05
    5. Pigma Micron .03
    6. Pilot G-2
    7. Pilot V-Ball
    8. Pilot Precise V-Ball

    Respectfully submitted,

  18. I took a look at the Noodler’s ink, but it appears that most water-resistant inks aren’t safe for fountain pens. Fountain pens need to be easy to clean and the gunk that keeps water-resistant ink on paper is the same gunk that will clog up a nice fountain pen. I’m still googling, though, perhaps one day I will find a solution.

    On a lot of queries I run on archival qualities of pens and ink, I often get back an excellent and information rich website called Dark Matter. Give it a read:

    Good stuff.

    Two things I’m still interested in finding out: What inks held up over the past 2000 years or so on older materials, and how long can pencil writing and drawing last?

  19. I did more testing today, and was surprised and pleased to find that Sakura Gelly Rolls [in a number of colors, including very light] passed the boil test with flying colors.

    Next, I’m testing some graphite and colored pencils.

  20. I’m not left handed, but I write like I am, with the oh-so-lovely hooked wrist. I’m tempted to write a letter of complaint to Pilot, with all the writing smeared and smudged, despite the “smudge-proof” G2. I’d like to find something waterproof and archival-safe that will not smear from my hand going over it, but no luck so far. The Pilot VBall at least seems to dry quickly enough to not be a problem.

  21. Pencil boiling test:

    Everyone passed the 10-minute test.

    I tested several dark, medium, neon and light colored Prismacolors, two medium and dark colored Faber-Castell CPs, medium and dark colored Derwent Studio CPs and medium and 2B and HB graphite [generic brand].


  22. Mike, pencil lasts because it’s just a metal on the page (with clay and sometimes wax binding). There’s no pigment and no medium holding the pigment to run.
    Pilot makes some G2 pencils that are very nice, but they still don’t have the romance of cedar. Still, the grips are nice for a G2 lover:)

  23. Mike,

    Noodler’s ink is specifically formulated as a fountain pen ink. The permanent inks become permanent when they come into contact with cellulose, but will wash of plastic and metal with plain tap water without staining. Very useful for vintage pens – particularly those with see through parts.





  25. Guys,

    If bleed-through is *that* big of a problem, buy sketchbooks instead of notebooks. I don’t think da Vinci would have been concerned that he could only get 100 pages vs 240 out of a notebook, so neither should you. –And if you’re worried that you’ll have to buy more books, then… learn to write smaller. 🙂

    And please don’t use all caps.

  26. Mike, ink for writing on papyrus or on other porous surfaces such as paper was made with soot, water, and a little gum. Ink for writing on vellum was made using oak gall.

    The Ink Compendium ( has several historical ink recipes if you want to try your luck. Be warned that some of these are time-consuming and labor-intensive.

    Oh, yeah — about 35,000 years ago, there were some Frenchmen living in caves who used charcoal to sketch out animal and human figures on rock walls. You can still see them today, and some of them look very fresh. Is 35,000 years good enough to meet your standards?

  27. The Real Paper problem.

    Having looked into how the moleskine was originally produced I learned that merely because of it’s age that any time before say seventy years ago all paper in these books would have been made from either hemp, flax, cotton, or a mixture of these. This is because nearly all paper at this time for this type of consumption was “Rag” paper.

    Having used the sketch book for some time now I have noticed a problem with the wear of the paper. I assume because it is not claimed other wise that the paper is either in hole or in majority a Wood pulp paper “It’s cheaper”, this paper is also claimed to be acid free. Firstly wood pulp has shorter less durable fibers, and secondly because of the calcium process for making acid free wood pulp the fibers have been further weakened. For me this provides reasoning for the shredding, bleeding and poor wear of the paper under nearly any type of wet medium, from gel pen to technical pen. To show a practical example between the difference in quality take a crisp new dollar bill “all cotton even some recycled jeans” and a sheet of printer paper “they are about the same thickness” fold both in half soak them in water for a few moments and try ripping this new folded edge, the quality is obvious, don’t let the printer paper “for that mater wood pulp bristol board” sit too long in the water it will start falling apart without any help. For added fun run both threw your washing machine and see which one survives.

    If Modo and Modo were willing to produce an all Cotton “Hemp and Flax make even better paper” Moleskine I would be willing to call this Journal with it’s brilliantly simple design, the best in the world. Until then I think I’m going to start making my own journals. Hell for starters I’m going to remove the paper in my current one and put in my own hand sown good stuff.

  28. Greetings from Denmark,

    I don´t understand the fuss about which pen to use, when Moleskines obviously isn´t built for it…
    For G***´s sake use a pencil! – pencils are not dangerous – they write well and under all conditions – they are cheap and they look good – if sharpening is a problem, use the mechanical ones, and if you want fancy or collectibles look for Faber Castells.

    sincerly Henrik

  29. See, I just don’t get all of this hype about the Pilot G2…on the package it says “water-resistant…”, etc. Yet, when I tested it…like I do with all my pens…it failed. I wrote something down and then, casually, poured water on it, and the G2 ink smeared and bled through the paper; however, doing the same with a Uniball Signo Bit or Impact, (my 2 favorites right now) the ink didn’t smear: it stayed clear on the page, untouched. None of this satisfied me yet. I felt the G2 must be superior to the Uniballs in some way…I mean, barely is any Uniball mentioned online compared the the famous Pilot G-2…so I wrote in my moleskine with each, and allowed each ink 3 seconds to dry before rushing my hand through it and miraculously the Uniball Gel Ink smeared significanlty less (if at all) in comparison to the G-2. The Uniball stuff, just like the G2, is also acid free and of archival quality, however it is also true to its claim of being “water-resistant”. I’m a southpaw so this smearing business is definitely important to me, and this Uniball (in my tests) smears less than the G-2. So why is everybody crazy about this Pilot business when there are clearly better instruments to write with (that aren’t fountain pens)?

  30. 1. A very good pen to use on the moleskines is Pilot’s G-TEC-C4. Extremely fine line, which I didn’t happen to be a fan of, but that allows me to input larger quantities of text and doodling on a page. On paper, black is very black, and blue is gorgeous.
    2. Pencils are great, either classic or mechanic. 2B leads seem best. However, I tend to use them mainly in plain paper moleskines, because with the squared paper you loose contrast.
    3. G-2s are very smooth, but I agree on blotting and drying time issues.
    4. Didn’t care much for the Fisher Space Pen, until I got a Fine cartridge in black. Space-saver on the pocket, and ultimate reliability.

  31. I’ve recently looked through my old grade school journals, and was surprised to find that all my writing in 2B pencil had badly begun fading over the years. Nothing I had really expected to happen; you might keep this in mind.

  32. Joy,
    You suggested using the Signo RT Gel .38mm pen. I love that pen. You said it was refillable but I’ve searched the internet and cannot find refills on any website. It say they are non-refillable but they do come apart and look like they could be refilled. I bought a Schmidt 888 refill because it looked like the one in the pen but it doesn’t fit and is not as fine point. I don’t think they could make a fine point too ‘fine’ for me. Any ideas?

  33. >>I’ve recently looked through my old grade school journals, and was surprised to find that all my writing in 2B pencil had badly begun fading over the years.

    Sorry Diniz, but pencil marks don’t fade. The marks are pure graphite/clay – there are no pigments or dyes to fade. What you likely saw was the yellowing of a poor-quality paper, which caused the contrast between paper and pencil to be reduced. The marks didn’t get lighter – the paper got darker!

  34. PENCILS… NO!
    you cant have a legal scientific notebook with pencil or erasable ink , if someone and can insert a comment by erasing a page 5-10 years of work or research goes bye bye . and in court , under patent law you have to show legal idea development (intellectual property) – “hold on i’ll rub out that page and insert that idea from X and make a claim on infringed copyright” … if you take your work seriously USE A PEN and learn how to use a noteook as a legal document!

    (permanent bonded book,permanent ink,name and dated,numered pages,no rip out,cross outs only and inital and date,voulme number,no spaces, cross out dead space and blank areas,block readable print no longhand,contents at back,etc..)

    ARCHIVAL INK … can be forensically dated and the entry verified as made on the dated* page. , you can use other methods to verify a pencil written page but they are defeated by writing on a hard plate (they depend on page impression)and electrostatic charging … see IRA and police notebooks 1970’s … notebook alterations.

    I like Pencils..
    personal notes = faber castel e-motion dark-brown pencil 1.40 mm B ,(sketch and doodle heaven) + laufer SW-0220 eraser

    Science Notebooks = Pilot p-500 current disposable* my stock pen ,and a faber-castell TG1 0.35mm backup pen with DRAFTING archival ink! ‘FABER-CASTELL TG1 DRAWING INK 23 ml BOTTLE’
    (fabers clog to often to be reliable)and they leach through the page

    i am seriously looking into producing a UV coded* permanent acid free ink, that under UV light of a set frequency will Fluoresce uniquely (not my idea so no intention of marketing it!) just for personal useage , i will make my own.

    :- rights belong to a security dye for inside computer equipment, aka patented

    pilot pens of various kinds seem to be the best.

  35. A bit of an old thread, but thought I should post my two cents.

    I was silly enough to take my Moleskine tubing with me the other day. The small plastic bag did only a little to prevent my nearly full Moleskine from getting quite wet around the edges. The result? writing done in a black Pilot G2: Perfect.

    I did however, write in several other inks over the months and years: BE WARNED! Purple Pilot G2 ink bled like crazy. Had to spend an hour retracing what I thought was my original writing. Moral of the story? Stick to black.

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