Blue or Black Ink? - Pen Vibe (2023)

Blue and black ink are by far the two most popular colors for writing with but there is some debate as to which is the best color to use. A lot of the time it comes down to personal preference but That said, there are some very valid reasons for choosing one or the other, particularly in certain circumstances.

The following guide shows you when to use black or blue ink and interestingly which color is best for creativity and memory retention.

Blue or Black Ink? - Pen Vibe (1)

Table of Contents

  • 1 Blue or Black Ink for job Applications?
  • 2 Blue or Black Ink for Passport / Visa Applications?
  • 3 Blue or Black Ink for Credit Card Applications?
  • 4 Blue or Black Ink for Legal and Official Documents?
  • 5 Black or Blue Ink for Business?
  • 6 Blue or Black Ink for Exams?
  • 7 When Voting Does It Matter Which Color Ink Pen I Use?
  • 8 Should I Write my Signature in Black or Blue ink?
  • 9 What Color Pen is Best for Memory Recall?
  • 10 What color Pen is Best for Studying and Note-Taking?
  • 11 Which Ink Colour Improves Creativity
  • 12 Summary

1. Blue or Black Ink for job Applications?

Blue ink stands out more as it contrasts with the printed black ink of the application form. However, most application forms require you to fill out the form in black ink. For example, if you’re applying for a job at this security firm, you’re instructed at the top of every page tostick to black ink.

If you are going to use blue ink for your job application form, then read the form carefully to make sure that it does not state to fill out the form in black ink only. After all, you don’t want to set off on the wrong foot by showing that you have a lack of attention to detail or worse still have your application rejected just because you used the wrong ink color.

2. Blue or Black Ink for Passport / Visa Applications?

When filling out your passport application black ink is mandatory. The U.S National Passport Services clearly that when filling out the Passport application form DS-82

“A common mistake is using a blue ink pen instead of black ink to complete the form. It is clearly stated as one of the instructions that a black ink pen is required.”

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In the UK the recommended way to apply for a new passport is online, however, you can still fill out a paper application and post it. The application form clearly states:

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Complete your paper form in CAPITAL LETTERS and BLACK BIRO only.

Not only must the passport application be completed in black ink but when you finally receive your shiny new passport advises that you must;

Sign on the ‘holder’s signature’ line using a black ballpoint pen.

It is important to note that they state a ballpoint pen as a gel pen or rollerball may smear, if you would like to know more about the differences between these pens then check out our guide ballpoint, rollerball or gel pen which is best for you?.

3. Blue or Black Ink for Credit Card Applications?

Blue ink may also be the better choice for credit card applications and other financial papers. Investopedia writer Gina Roberts-Grey reports that applications and checkssigned in blackmay trigger fraud alerts.

“Blue ink is preferred because when black ink is used, someone at the bank or credit card company may not be able to tell whether they are looking at a photocopy of a signature or an originally inked signature,” says Cina L. Wong, CDE, a certified and court-qualified forensic handwriting expert. “It’s easier to assume that the document is ‘original’ if it is signed in blue ink.”

That definitely had never occurred to me.

4. Blue or Black Ink for Legal and Official Documents?

Black ink is recommended for legal and official documents. (Chinese officials are sostrict about black ink, they will reject documents submitted in blue.)

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The main reason has to do with copying and digitizing documents. Black ink just scans better than blue, which tends to show up very light. I think this is true more of the older and less expensive copiers and scanners, but those are probably more common anyway.

So, just to be on the safe side, you probably should use black ink whenever filling out or signing legal and/or official documents, unless told otherwise.

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5. Black or Blue Ink for Business?

Black ink seems to be the default ink for most business settings and especially government offices. As we have already mentioned it is probably a throwback to the fact that on older scanners and copiers black ink copied better. With the advances in technology, these days that is probably not the case but people are creatures of habit and stick to tried and tested methods.

There’s also the widespread perception, right or wrong, that black is simply the more professional ink color. I read one person lamenting on a message board that everyone in her workplace used black ink at a meeting, except her. Once she realized that and saw others eyeballing her blue handwriting, she decided to switch to black.

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In a discussion aboutblue or black inkat Fountain Pen Network, one of the users pointed toDebrett’s New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners, which reads:

(For business purposes) black remains the most correct and distinguished choice. Blue is very much in second place and is thought more suitable for women than for men. Blue-black is only appropriate for schoolboys. Colored inks, although more acceptable than before, are still considered very suspect in traditional circles.

The sexism aside, I can see how black ink is perceived that way. It has a more sober, serious appearance and its solidness communicates stability in ways that lighter colors don’t.

But don’t count blue out yet. It turns out that it has a lot to recommend it over black.

6. Blue or Black Ink for Exams?

To quote the great American car manufacture Henry Ford “you can have any color as long as it is black” In the UK black ink is mandatory in secondary school level exams (GCSEs and similar). If you are in the U.S or another country I would recommend double-checking with the teachers or examining board first if you are unsure.

Probably just as important as to which ink color to use is to make sure that you are using the right pen. You will need a reliable good quality pen that won’t let you down and is comfortable to use. Check out our guide the best pens for exams which goes into more detail about choosing a good pen for your exams with our top recommendations.

7. When Voting Does It Matter Which Color Ink Pen I Use?

If you have taken the time and trouble to go to the polling station to vote then make sure that your vote counts. Useblack ink to vote, after pencils, black pens are the recommended tool for voting for the UK. And some voting machines in the US have even been known to not countvotes cast in blue.

8. Should I Write my Signature in Black or Blue ink?

While many official documents must be written in black, blue is actually the smarter choice for signatures.

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Copiers can make such high-quality copies now that a document signed in black ink and acopy of that document is often indistinguishable. That’s why even the US military recommends that original documentsbe signed in blueso that they stand out from any reproductions. The exception to this as we mentioned earlier is when signing your passport, you must use a black ballpoint pen.

Is your signature an illegible scrawl? And if it is does it really matter? turns out that your signature says a lot more about you than you think. Find out more in this great article Your Signature does neatness count?

There’s an interesting side-note to signatures written in blue ink. Marketing research has found fairly consistently over the years that fundraising letters, questionnaires, and other materials often get more and faster responses if they bear a handwritten signature in blue, versus typed or signed in black.

9. What Color Pen is Best for Memory Recall?

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When you are doing a lot of studying it makes sense to give yourself an advantage. If you are taking a lot of notes it makes sense to find out what color pen is best for memory? is blue or black ink best for memory?. It turns out that one of the most significant benefits of using blue ink: improved memory recall.

Psychology research suggests that reading and writing text written in color increases the likelihood that you will remember that information. Most of the experiments so far have been fairly small-scale, but the results are intriguing.

For example, one experiment with a group of male and female Grade 9 students found participants had greater recall with red text than blue, andgreater recall with bluethan with black (33% vs. 27%). Interestingly, a couple of the experiments I saw suggested that girls had better overall recall than boys when color was a factor.

(If you’d like to conduct your ownblue or black ink recall experiment, Science Project Ideas has an informally suggested methodology.)

10. What Color Pen is Best for Studying and Note-Taking?

When deciding what color pen is best for studying at first glance, it would make sense that if when recalling written text that students recall more red words than blue and more blue words than black to write your study notes in red. However red is quite a harsh color on the eye to be reading a full page of text in just this color. I would suggest that based on the research try experimenting with using red ink for titles, subject headers, etc to make them stand out and blue ink for the main body text.

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(Video) Our Work Appropriate Ink Recommendations

As you can see from the diagram that using red ink to highlight the headings makes the text easier to read compared to writing it all in the same color. It may be that you prefer a combination of red ink for the headings and black ink for the rest of the text and if that is the case use whatever works best for yourself.

11. Which Ink Colour Improves Creativity

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I had never really thought much before about if the color that I am using to write with influences my creativity.

My own perspective on the blue or black ink question has started to shift of late, mainly because of an experience with blue ink.

Itypically use black pens– just because that’s what I’ve always done.

Because I’m working on a novel, I keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas when inspiration strikes. One night recently, a thought occurred to me and I grabbed the notebook and my pen, a black Bic Velocity gel, off my desk.

But the pen was out of ink. I wanted to get the idea down before it vanished, so I went to my pen drawer and grabbed the first one my hand touched. It was a Pilot Precise V5 with vibrant blue ink.

Blue or Black Ink? - Pen Vibe (9)

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Ideas that seem brilliant late at night often aren’t so much the next morning. But a day later, when I looked with fresh eyes at what I’d written, I was still pleased. Even better, it gave me more ideas.

Turns out, my experience was not so unusual. While researching this post, I stumbled on aNew York Timesarticle abouta study that found the color red helped people improve cognition and productivity, whilethe color blue sparked creativity.

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So now, while blue ink may not be right for every situation, I’m going to make sure I always have a blue pen close at hand for the many times it is.

12. Summary

For those who are too busy and don’t want to read the full post here’s what I generally recommend:

  • Black ink for filling out official records.
  • Black ink for Passport Signatures
  • Blue ink for business signatures and most others.
  • Black ink for memos and work correspondence.
  • Blue (or red) for notes and most learning purposes.
  • Blue for credit card applications.
  • Blue (or another color) for creative purposes.

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Should I use black or blue pen? ›

Most commonly, either blue or black ink is used for signing documents. While both are acceptable, many people consider blue the optimal choice. The reasoning behind this is that the color will stand out among the walls of black text on the document while still being dark enough to read.

Why is blue pen so popular? ›

Blue is also associated with productivity. It increases memory performance, stimulates creativity and aids intellectual thinking. I can't wait to make it a part of my poetry writing routine. Using blue ink and painting your office's walls blue can create an atmosphere that helps you focus.

Why blue pens are better than black? ›

Originally Answered: Why do we mostly use blue inked pens to write when black ink serves a better contrast to white paper ? Forms printed on white paper are usually printed in black ink. Filling out these forms with blue ink provides contrast against the black and makes it easier to read.

What color of pen helps you focus? ›

1) Green: Concentration

So that's why green is an excellent color for improving concentration. Apart from being one of the easiest colors on the eyes, it reminds us of nature.

Which pen color is best? ›

Black ink tends to copy better than any other ink color. Red will show up too light and in some cases won't show up at all. The same might be said about blue or purple. Using the wrong color ink may cause issues when it comes to scanning documents.

Is black or blue pen more professional? ›

While it's hard to say that either inappropriate, the general understanding is that black ink is more professional feeling and blue is more casual. So if you are dealing with the sort of people that might judge your or your business on its choice of ink color then make the safe bet and choose a black ink.

What color pen is best for memory? ›

RED helps learners remember facts and figures. Red on white is easiest to read. But a little goes a long way so use red sparingly. Want to get your kids excited to learn?

Does blue pen increase memory? ›

Recent psychological studies suggest that reading and writing text in color increases the likelihood that you will remember the information. For example, one experiment found that a group of students had greater recall with blue text than with black by 27%.

Which Colour pen is best for notes? ›

Information written in blue ink is said to be easier to recall.

Why do people write in blue ink? ›

Before photocopiers or printers existed copies where made with Carbon Paper, a different color than black (such as blue) could make evident the document was original. It also helps differentiate between handwritten text (or signatures) and printed one.

What color ink is easiest read? ›

From a practical point of view, ink which is black or blue is easier to read.

What is the best color for motivation? ›

Orange is also known to be a color of motivation, which lends a positive attitude and general enthusiasm for life.

What color reduces stress? ›

Blue – A highly peaceful color, blue can be especially helpful for stress management because it can encourage a powerful sense of calm. Purple – In many cultures, shades of violet represent strength, wisdom and peace. Purple can invoke a tranquil feeling that helps reduce stress.

What color motivates you to study? ›

Orange. This promotes better focus, concentration, and creativity. It encourages you to keep the room organised as well, so you're motivated to study or work anytime. Be careful when choosing the brightness, though.

Who uses a black pen? ›

If you are a black pen user, then you are considered to be a more dominant person who likes to be in charge of your own life. You are sometimes uptight, and can be a little conservative when it comes to showing your emotions, but you think with your head and your career is usually some type of authority.

Can I use blue pen in exams? ›

Candidates should be warned that pale blue ink is often illegible. Red or green ink must not be used. Soft pencil (type B or HB) must be used for multiple choice tests. Pencils or pens in other colours may be used for diagrams and maps only if indicated on the question paper.

What pen does JK Rowling use? ›

Conversation. I use Scrivener and OmniOutliner to plan and write my novels.

Which blue pen is best for handwriting? ›

Reynolds 045 Fine Carbure Blue Ballpen

These pens are one of the most standard pens used by a vast majority of people. These pens are fine crafted with the laser-tip technology and experience laser-smooth writing with these pens.

Which Colour pen is lucky for exam? ›

Lucky Tips: Tie a small blue ribbon on the pen with which you'll write your exams or put it in your pocket. For good vibrations: White, silver, yellow and light green should be worn on the person, and used freely in light furnishing and decorations.

What does black ink symbolize? ›

It can be linked with death, mourning, evil magic, and darkness, but it can also symbolize elegance, wealth, restraint, and power. As the first pigment used by artists in prehistory and the first ink used by book printers, black played an important role in the development of art and literature.

What does writing in blue mean? ›

DARK BLUES represent trust, honesty, and loyalty, while LIGHT BLUES give us more of a perception of wisdom and self expression.

Why blue pens are the best? ›

Reach for the blue ink pen! Banks prefer blue because it's easier to verify that the signature is legitimate and the documents are original when they're signed in blue ink. Unlike black ink, a blue ink signature isn't as easy to reproduce.

What is the best reading color? ›

Black text on a white background provides maximal value contrast and, therefore, optimal readability for body text. Black text on a white background provides maximal value contrast and, therefore, optimal readability for body text.

What pen feels the best? ›

Our testing group agreed with our experts: The Uni-ball Jetstream RT is the best pen for most everyday writing tasks. It's smoother to write with than nearly any other ballpoint, and its ink flows without blobbing, skipping, feathering, or bleeding through pages. It dries quickly without smudging.

Which is the No 1 pen in the world? ›

With growing success over the years and becoming a million-dollar brand, Cross has now become a global leader in the fine writing industry, with one of its biggest achievements being the main supplier of pens to the American White House since the 1970s.

Which is the No 1 pen? ›

Top 10 Pens
Parker Ingenuity Laquer Black Rubber 5th Technology PenRs.8,500
Lecee Eco Friendly Planet Pen Red - 13.3004.05Rs.99
Pierre Cardin Daytona Ball PenRs.200
Parker IM Brushed Metal CT Ball PenRs.1,050
3 more rows

What is the purpose of blue ballpen? ›

Unlike red ballpens, which may trigger stronger feelings and negativity (they're often used to mark mistakes!), blue ink colour has a soothing effect and keeps you calm.

Why do students use blue pen? ›

Information written in blue ink is said to be easier to recall.

When did blue pens become popular? ›

Prussian blue was discovered in the 1700s and indigo even earlier. However, blue writing inks show up on American letters in the 1830s, probably not much before 1838, from which I have seen several examples. By 1839-1841, they are common, having been used by postal officials at many offices.

Which pen is best for signature? ›

Zig PHOTO SIGNATURE PEN Ball Pen (Pack of 2, Black) ZIG Photo Signature pens are perfect for writing on photos and transparencies, and also metal, glass and paper. Photo Signature pens are photo safe, odourless, acid-free and lightfast.

What is the best color for studying? ›

3 Colours that Improve Concentration & Productivity
  • Blue. This encourages better mind flow and performance. ...
  • Orange. This promotes better focus, concentration, and creativity. ...
  • Green. This is among the most restful shades, as it offers the cheerful qualities of yellow and the refreshing abilities of blue.
5 Dec 2014

Which Colour pen is used by teachers? ›

By over a two-thirds majority, teachers prefer to use the classic red pen to mark and make comments on the work of their pupils, with a decent chunk preferring to use a blue pen or green pen. Some 3.7% said they wouldn't use any of these above, preferring colours like black or even purple.

What pen did Albert Einstein use? ›

Albert Einstein used both a Pelikan 100 N and a Waterman Taper-cap Fountain Pen which he used to develop the Theory of Relativity. The Waterman pen is on display at the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden.

Is black pen allowed for signature? ›

In general, black pens are favoured in application forms since they are more exact than any other colour pens when scanning your application form using a scanner, which is why we are requested to sign with a black pen.

Which blue pen is best for writing? ›

1-48 of over 9,000 results for "Blue Pens"
  • Amazon's Choice. ...
  • Cello Finegrip Ball Pen | Blue Ball Pens | Jar of 25 Units | Best Ball Pens for Smooth Writing | Ball Point Pen Set | Pens for Students and Professionals | Cello Stationery. ...
  • LINC Pentonic Frost Ball Point Pen (0.7mm, Blue Ink, Pack of 10 )

Which is smoothest pen in the world? ›

Nothing beats the feeling of gliding across a page with a quality pen, and TikTokers may have found one of the best pens ever. In fact, one user said the uni-ball Air Porous Point Pen is actually the “smoothest pen in the world,” without hesitation.

What pen does Elon Musk use? ›

Thus, the Space Pen. Dreamed up in 1948 by a guy named Paul Fisher, the Fisher Space Pen was patented with the advent of the Pressurized Ink Cartridge, which are sealed, pressurized with nitrogen, and now coated in the kind of metal used to make—according to Fisher—armor-piercing ammunitions.


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