There are quite a few fountain pen nib types you can choose from if you want to write beautifully. The type and size of nib you use when writing can greatly impact your handwriting and the completed work, and not all nibs are compatible with different ink and paper types.
In this guide, we will take a look at the main differences between nibs so you can choose the right one for each writing project.
What Is a Fountain or Calligraphy Pen Nib?
The fountain pen’s nib is the front tip that distributes ink onto paper. These nibs are usually made from metal and have a tapered design through which the ink flows.
With most fountain pens, the nibs can be switched out with nibs of different sizes or designs so you can create various forms of calligraphy or other types of writing.
How Nibs Vary in Terms of Design
Nibs can be made from different materials, and they can vary in terms of shape, size, flexibility, stiffness, and width. The two most important nib characteristics for writing are materials and size.
Here is a quick look at ways nibs differ from each other.
The tip size is the width or the length of the pen tip that makes contact with the paper. This part of the pen is the most important characteristic because it has a huge impact on your writing style and font.
By switching to a different nib size, you can write thicker lines, thinner lines, and curved lines, and some nibs are even flexible.
Smaller tip sizes are practical for everyday writing or delicate lining, while broader tips are better for decorative writing.
The Shape of the Tip
The nib tip can vary in shape, and these different shapes will have a drastic effect on your writing style. There are three main types of tip shapes:
- Round Nibs – Nibs with rounded tips are preferable for everyday writing or writing long letters and are usually used for fine writing or small lettering.
- Square Nibs – Nibs with square tips are sometimes called italic nibs, stub nibs, or calligraphy nibs. These nibs have a wider flat tip and alter the direction of your stroke so you can create unique fonts.
- Oblique Nibs – With these nibs, the edge of the tip is angled, and the tip pieces are different lengths. Its unique shape also makes it easier to create lines that vary in width so that you can create lettering with broader downstrokes and thinner cross strokes.
All nibs are made from metals, but they can vary in terms of metal type. The most common nibs are made from stainless steel since this is a tarnish and rust-resistant material.
Luxury fountain pen brands can also have gold nibs or nibs with gold tips. Both gold and stainless steel nibs offer a quality writing experience, but gold nibs tend to be more expensive.
Nibs can also be manufactured from stainless steel but are tipped with other metal types like iridium or gold. This material combination keeps the nibs affordable but offers a higher quality writing experience.
Nib flexibility refers to how much the tip bends or gives when you press harder on the pen. Nibs with a lot of flexibility create a wider line with more curve variation while writing.
Different Fountain Pen Nib Types
Nibs are designed with unique characteristics to be more practical for certain tasks. Here is a quick look at the most common nib types for your fountain pen.
Western and Japanese Nibs
When shopping for a nib, you might come across the term Western nib or Japanese nib. These terms focus more on the nib’s origin since both Western and Japanese nibs are available in various sizes and designs.
Western nibs are usually thicker, while Japanese nibs tend to be thinner.
Round nibs or regular nibs are the most common types and are ideal for everyday writing since you can hold your pen at any angle.
These can look like a regular round nib but are slightly angled with a smoother feel to one side, so left-handed people can easily push them for writing.
These nibs usually include a series of types like italic, flex, oblique, and stub nibs. They are designed for creating calligraphy works and not for everyday writing. The inks used for calligraphy nibs are also different from those used for rounded nibs.
Italic Nibs or Cursive Nibs
This type of nib usually has a flat, straight tip that is relatively broad. The nib has sharp edges and is very sensitive to different writing angles. The nibs are preferable for decorative writing.
This nib is a lot like italic nibs with a broad tip, but instead, it has rounded edges. The rounded edges offer a smoother writing experience while the strokes stay nice and thick. These nibs are also perfect for decorative writing.
These nibs are made from softer or thinner metal that gives under pressure. This allows you to create thicker lines as you press down on the nib or thinner lines as you reduce pressure. Flex nibs are used for calligraphy and are loved by beginners.
These nibs have a flat edge and are used for large lettering or calligraphy.
This type of nib is used for writing music and is usually designed with three channels (splits in the front) instead of the traditional two.
This type of nib is very fine and small. It is practical for any type of paper and creates lines that resemble a fine-lined pen.
Fudge Nibs/Sketching Nibs
This type of nib is long but has an upward bend that helps create thicker lines. Fudge nibs are loved by sketch artists and are usually used for painting or drawing since it offers a very similar stroke to the calligraphy brush.
These nibs are ideal for taking notes because they have an encapsulated design that keeps the ink in the nib from drying out too fast.
There are many fountain pen nib types available on the market, and each of these types will give you a different or more unique writing experience.
To find out more about nibs and other fountain pen accessories, you should look at some of the other guides we have on Fountain Pen Guide. With our handy site, you can find all the best writing accessories to add to your collection.