Paper / Pen / Ink Combos for Shorthand

I’m curious what everyone’s favorite shorthand-writing tools are?  I’ve always enjoyed fountain pens (especially  with Noodler’s permanent inks) but I don’t always find them speed-oriented.

Lately I’ve been playing with gel pens, to see how I like those for note-taking.  I’ve been trying out a Uni-Ball #207, which came highly recommended for its permanence and archival qualities, but I found the ink would sometimes drop out on some of my outlines (maybe this is because of my left-handedness… I’m a “hook over” lefty… maybe I’m holding the pen at a weird angle that doesn’t allow the ink to flow as freely as it might).

Besides day-to-day writing, I’m interested in trying to find the best paper/pen/ink combo that reproduces (scans) well.  What do you love to use?


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  1. Lately for me it's been the Bic Velocity Bold 1.4 mm ballpoint. Very smooth and fluid, with a "weight" and balance.

    As far as paper, I just use a 70-page steno pad. I prefer the green tinted paper, but now that you mention it I don't know whether or how that matters in scanning versus plain white paper.

  2. I use a Pilot G-2, 0.38 mm, and if it came even finer, I'd use it too. I love fountain pens and once-in-a-while I use my Gregg pens, but most of the time I use the Pilot out of convenience.

    For normal writing, I use the 70 to 80-sheet 6" x 9" steno pads, or the 4" x 8" reporters notebooks, or the special court reporter's notebooks made by the W.G. Fry Corporation (available at Whatever you choose, make sure the notebook is Gregg ruled. I'm not a fan of (1) the 140-sheet steno notebooks, as the hand will feel funny because of their thickness, (2) notebooks that use recycled paper, because that paper tends to bleed (your mileage may vary with respect to this, some recycled paper notebooks are not as bad as others). If you don't care about paper bleeding in normal writing, then the recycled paper ones are fine.

    For scanning, use the heaviest paper that you can afford (24-32 lb). Cheap paper (20-lb) can bleed. 24-lb is a good compromise.

    1. I just checked out those court reporter's notebooks at I was pleasantly surprised that these even exist–then I saw the price tag: $86.81 per dozen.

      I'm tempted to give them a try, but before I drop the cash: Are they really that good?


      1. If you ask me, yes. They are the best. The paper is heavy but smooth, with a pinkish color, so it takes fountain pen ink very easily and it doesn't smudge. Each pad is 96 pages and the pages are numbered. I was lucky I purchased them on eBay at a much cheaper price ($20.00 for half a dozen). Had I known how good they were, I would have ordered a bunch more!

        Pengad sells the RG-63, which has an intermediate ruling (I'm not sure the dimensions, but it is larger than Gregg's 1/3" and smaller than Pitman's 1/2"). W.G. Fry makes the RG-62 (Gregg ruled), which is what I have, and the RG-64 (Pitman ruled). Why don't you contact W.G. Fry and find out if they sill make them, and if they can sell directly to you? Maybe it's cheaper that way; heck, I may also put an order if the price is right!

  3. Several years ago, I made an effort to use fountain pens.  I don't have my pens with me, these days, and just use whatever ballpoint has a long, and fine enough "nib" so that I can see my writing.

    I like easy-on-the-eyes, green paper, and buy the Mead Spell-write pads at hardware or grocery stores.  I don't care for the red covers on the Staples pads, nor the color of the paper.  

    I like the color of the green on the Eye-ease Rediform Gregg 26 pads. The number is National Brand 36-646.  I like the non-shiny, plain brown covers, too.  The pad I have, just now, says "made in Brazil".

  4. For the last few years I've been mostly using fountain pens with bottled ink for environmental reasons (less waste produced). I then incidentally discovered the pleasant side-effect that I can write more easily with less pressure, reducing strain on my hands and wrists, and improving my handwriting. I've only used Noodler's inks, due to their affordability.

    My current steno combo is Noodler's Heart of Darkness (bulletproof, very smooth flow) with a cheap student Farber Castell medium nib (15€). The nib is a bit thick for shorthand, but does the job, and the pen writes the smoothest of all my pens.

    For paper, I bought a ream of Claire Fontaine (the paper mill is in France, so since I'm in Germany it's regionally produced, though the pulp isn't regionally sourced; EU Ecolabel certified) 100 GSM color digital print paper. That seemed like the cheapest way to get fountain pen friendly, regionally produced, somewhat environmentally conscious paper at a decent price. I think I paid 11€ for the ream, so at 500 sheets, that's around 2.2 cents per A4 page, or 1.1 cents per A5 page.

    I print my own dot grid pages, or recently Gregg ruled paper with and without penmanship guides, then punch them for use with A5 disc-bound notebooks. I recently made my own A5 disc-bound steno-book, and have been experimenting with two columns (it's a bit less than 3 inches per column).

    I do experience some slight ghosting and sometimes slight bleed through with the 100 GSM paper, which I didn't expect because in 90 GSM Claire Fontaine notebooks I've used I've had absolutely no trouble with bleed through. I think it must be something to do with how the paper is made for each purpose, and it isn't entirely dependent the GSM. The paper's good enough, though. If I ever make it through the ream I'll consider getting a 110 or 120 GSM ream next.

    1. Thanks for the tip, I will give a try… For the smoothness with fountain pen, I didn't find anything better than my paper for writing letters… which is Clairefontaine's… But I usually don't use to write Gregg on it. 🙂

  5. I use fountain pens exclusively, favoring Pilot medium and broad, which run finer than Western mediums and broads. I gobble up the commodity greenish steno pads previously mentioned, but I also like Maruman Mnemosine notebooks with 5 mm dot grid in A4 size. The paper is similar to Clairefontaine, with minimal feathering and bleeding.. Tomoe River paper is miraculous for fountain pens, but it's very, very thin and very expensive, so I keep it for special purposes and not for routine note-taking. If you've never tried it, get a sample and do. I cannot make it feather or bleed even with a gusher pen.

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