Whether you’re a scholar or just love keeping your notes organized, you know how important it is to have a good highlighter. However, since there are so many places to buy highlighter pens, it becomes hard to know the difference between all these options. Our comprehensive guide will help you find the best highlighter pens and best highlighter markers for your needs.
What Makes a Good Highlighter Pen?
Before choosing a highlighter pen or marker, it’s important to know what makes one stand out from the rest.
They Don’t Bleed
When you’re highlighting, you don’t want your highlighter ink to bleed through pages, especially when highlighting information in a book. Bleeding makes it difficult to keep your notes neat and organized. Lucky for you, as office supplies have become more specialized, there are all kinds of highlighters that can work on any paper type without bleeding.
Gel highlighters tend to bleed and smear less. They can also be left uncapped for days without drying out. However, they tend to be less precise and leave blots of gel behind.
Another option is the pencil highlighter,which is basically brightly colored pencil. They make text stand out and are guaranteed not to bleed or smear, though they tend to be more cumbersome to use since you often have to do multiple strokes to highlight text.
They Won’t Smear
Choose a highlighter with ink specially designed not to smear. The Zebra JustfitMojini Line Highlighteris a great option because its ink formula binds with water-based ink which means it won’t smear notes written with a ballpoint or gel pen.
When you’re highlighting multiple pages, make sure to choose a fast-drying highlighter to avoid smudging. Typically the packaging will specify if it is made with a quick-drying formula.
They Make Text Stand Out
Since the invention of the first highlighter, , highlighters have come a long way. Now they come in all sorts of colors and varieties including glitter! However, not all highlighter colors are ideal for making important information stand out.
You don’t want to choose a highlighter that’s too dark, or else you won’t be able to read your information. Typically, when you highlight, you should only go over your text once, so you don’t oversaturate the paper.
Your color of choice is entirely up to you, but yellow tends to be the easiest to read while purple and blue can make pencil and pen hard to read. If bright yellow hurts your eyes, there are softer color options available, too.
Another way to stay organized is to buy a variety pack of highlighter pens and color code what you highlight. For instance, you could highlight words you’re unfamiliar with in yellow, important quotes in pink, and general useful information in orange. When highlighting, be selective with what you highlight or pretty soon your whole page will be a rainbow of colors, defeating the purpose of highlighting!
(Of course, for some, a rainbow is exactly the effect they’re after, which has its own benefits. Like being very pretty.)
The Right Tip
Highlighter tips come in all shapes and sizes. Here are the most common ones:
- Window: Window tips are great because they have a clear window that lets you see your text as you’re highlighting it.
- Bullet: Bullet tips are rounded tips that come in both fine and thick sizes. They are great for circling or underlining information.
- Chisel: Chisel tips are flat and perfect for highlighting lines of text.
- Dual: Some highlighters even have a dual tip with two colors. These allow you to conveniently switch between two colors.
Where to Find the Best Highlighter Pens
Most big-box and office supply stores sell highlighter pens. Below, we’ll highlight where you can buy the best highlighter pens and the best highlighter markers.
The Best No-Bleed, No-Smear Highlighter Pens
Highlighter pens and markers designed to be no-bleed and no-smear are the best choice because they’re more versatile and make highlighting simple.
Twist and Glide Gel Bible Highlighters
Whether you’re looking to highlight Bible passages or key information in a textbook, these gel highlighters are one of the best no-bleed highlighter pens out there. If you’re not familiar with gel highlighters, they may be a little tricky to use at first. With these, you need to twist the barrel to get the solid gel to come up. It might take some getting used to but you’ll be happy there’s no wet ink bleeding through your thin pages.
- Twist-up bullet tip
- Non-smearing, non-bleeding dry gel
- Pen clips on caps
- Glides smoothly
- Five fluorescent colors
Eco Highlighter Pencils
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option, these highlighter pencils are a great option. They’re made from wood in managed forests and don’t create plastic waste like most highlighter pens. Since they’re made with a natural finish, they’re biodegradable. Also, they’re colored pencils so they won’t bleed through paper or smear.
- Easy to sharpen
- Won’t dry out
- Six jumbo-size neon colors
The Best Liquid Highlighters
One thing to keep in mind with most liquid highlighters is they tend to bleed through and smear since they are so saturated. Liquid highlighters are best for use on thicker paper or cardboard and post board. Only use them when you really want to make something stand out.
Zebra Zazzle Liquid Ink Highlighters
Unlike many other liquid highlighters, these ones have fast-drying ink, so they’re less likely to smudge. Since this pack comes in 10 vibrant colors, these are a great option for color-coding projects, adult coloring books, or bullet journaling. However, unlike gel or pencil highlighters, liquid highlighters can dry out, so always make sure to cap these when you’re not using them.
- Chisel tip
- Fast-drying, no-smudge ink
- Visible ink supply
- Easy-glide ink
- 10 vibrant colors
Sharpie Liquid Highlighters
Want your notes to really pop? With these liquid highlighters, they will! These liquid highlighters come in 10 vibrant colors and their chiseled tip makes it easy to glide right over your notes. Also, they include a see-through barrel, making it easy to see how much ink is left.
- Chisel tip
- Notched binder clip
- Visible ink supply
- Smooth and clean application
- 10 vibrant colors
The Best Cheap Highlighter Pens
Gel and pencil highlighters may be the best options, but they can get pricey. Here are some more affordable highlighter options that will get the job done.
Pilot 5pk FriXion Pastel Highlighters
Realize you went a little crazy with the highlighter and now the page is glowing yellow? With these erasable highlighters, you don’t need to worry about a heavy highlighter hand. This set comes in pastel shades, helping notes stand out without straining your eyes.
- Chisel tip
- Thermo-sensitive, erasable ink
- Leaves no eraser shavings behind
- Five pastel colors
Sharpie Tank Style Highlighters
These are a great option for offices needing to buy highlighters in bulk. The neon yellow color is sure to stand out and they are built with a smear guard.
- Large chisel tip
- Large ink supply
- Smear Guard ink technology
- Wide barrel
- 36 fluorescent yellow
The Best Personalized Highlighter Pens
Sometimes you need a highlighter pen for specific purposes. These specialty highlighter pens and markers may be just what you’re looking for.
Stabilo BOSS Original Pastel
If you’re looking for a more stylized approach to highlighting, these pastel highlighters are perfect for you. They come in a pack of six stylish pastel colors that are sure to make your notes look great. Keep in mind, these are softer than most highlighter shades.
- Heavy-duty chisel tips, built to last
- Anti-dry-out technology; you can leave the cap off for up to four hours without the ink drying out.
- Non-toxic, water-based ink
- Six stylish pastel colors
Mildliner Double-Ended Highlighter & Creative Tool
These double-ended highlighters are versatile, featuring both a bullet and a chisel tip. You can highlight lines of text with the chisel tip and circle or underline with the fine bullet tip. Since the ink is translucent, these are the best highlighter pens for projects where you’d like to layer multiple colors. They’re also acid-free, making them great for archival purposes.
Price: Comes in many varieties of colors. $1.99 for individual pen, $9.95 for 5-pack, $19.90 for 10-pack, $29.85 for 15-pack.
- Bullet and chisel tips
- Acid-free, archival-quality ink
- Versatile for any project
What are your favorite highlighters? How do you use them? We want to know! Reach out to us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. If you have any questions, drop a comment or send us an email– Larry is always happy to hear from you!
Hi there, Donald Thomas!
If you look at the first choice (in this post) on our list of suggested highlighters, Twist and Glide Gel Bible Highlighters are just what you’re looking for. I would also give the last item on our list a try — the Mildliner Double-Ended Highlighter & Creative Tool. These have translucent ink and should be very kind to thin pages.
I hope this helps!
I would give those a try!
Hello Van Paleologos!
Personally, I find that green highlighters ink is a great alternative to yellow. But if the colors that you are using are too dark, I would try a highlighter with translucent ink like the Mildliner Double-Ended Highlighter (the last one on our list), or something that isn’t as vibrant, like the Stabilo BOSS Original Pastel (second to last on our list).
I hope this helps!
Thanks, Carmen! That’s really great feedback!
Don’t forget the Pentel Illumina flex or the handyline s series. Those are also eco friendly and can be refilled. Because they are sponge based, they are drier than liquid ink highlighters.
Also Platinum Preppy Highlighters. The tips are replaceable and the ink cart is refillable with any kind of fountain pen ink of your choosing
I am looking for a highlighter that I’s good on thin Bible Paper that would be fast drying to prevent wrinkling the page. I have not found any highlighter that is good for my purpose as of now I PRAY THAT YOU CAN HELP ME. The other problem is bleed through the the thin pages. GGOD BLESS YOU LEXIE
I wanted to Highlight and either blue or purple but Everyone I’ve tried is too dark.. Was so looking forward to trying a different color than yellow. Do you think Red would hide the text?