Ask The Desk: Storing Pens Up or Down?

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Reader Teri asks,

“So, should pens and markers, etc be stored point up or point down?”

upordown

In my opinion, it differs depending on the pen.

  • I find that felt tip pens like whiteboard markers, Sharpies, Microns and highlighters are best stored with the tip down. It keeps the ink in contact with the fiber/felt tip so that it does not dry out.
  • Rollerballs and ballpoints are best if they are stored upright so they don’t leak or get gummy at the point.
  • Gel pens seem to be okay stored either up or down. I have retractables that get stored point down and capped gels that get stored cap up. Both will occasionally need a little priming to get going but neither seems to leak or gum up at all.
  • Fountain pens seem to like to be stored horizontal which keep the ink in contact with the nib but doesn’t let gravity get too sassy.
  • I tend to store pencils pointy end up but this can be dangerous, especially if you are clumsy or have small children in the house. I’d recommend to store them tip down. Mechanical pencils can be stored tip down as well.

I’ve found these are the methods that work for me but I’d love to hear other people’s opinions and comments.

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15 comments / Add your comment below

  1. If you have to store sharpened pencils point down, put a couple inches of rice in the bottom of your pencil cup, so as not to dull the tip.

    1. I use a little piece of foam at the bottom of the pencil holder, so that the points don’t get damaged.

      I follow pretty much the same rules described here. Only addition is for the pencils I use for drawing and other artsy stuff: I keep those in a rolling pencil case/pouch, the ones that have elastic bands for each pencil.

  2. I usually have the best luck storing my porous point pens horizontally (Sharpie Pens, Le Pens, Microns, etc.). Whenever I’ve stored them point-down, I feel like the pigment comes out very heavily. Then I wonder if the end of the ink will be faint, with less pigment. I’ve only had one [Oriental Blue] Le Pen dry out this way, and I think it was 4 years old anyway. 🙂

    Some ballpoints seem to hate being stored point-down: Bic 4-colors, Bic Cristal Bold, Ink Joy (though they’re messy no matter what, save the 100). Regular Bic Cristals seem to like being stored point-down though.

    This is SO much to think about, which is a point in the Pencil Column for store-em-how-you-wanna. 🙂

    1. hmmm …funny topic!
      I have experimented with both over the years. I have found I have longer life from my permanent markers, both medium and sharp point sharpies storing them tip up. Yes the felt might become a little dry over time, but if I shake it gently in a downward fashion a couple of time this usually gets the ink flowing. Be careful the direction you swing the pen! There have been times when the ink has come out in droplets.
      I find if I store them tip down the ink dries up faster and the marker just simply will not produce.

  3. I’m a teacher and it’s a pet peeve of mine when people store pencils in a pencil holder with their sharpened tips up. To me it’s a hazard that common sense would tell you is wrong. Yet, just as it’s an absolute that I’ll store pencils point down, so many other people will absolutely store them points up. The same goes for forks and knives in a dish rack.

    1. I have a graphite tattoo in my palm from a pencil stored point up! 30 years later it’s pretty faint, and matches the one over my hip from a pencil stored in my pocket in high school.

  4. I’m just so glad there are other people contemplating this. I was beginning to believe I was becoming a little too obsessive about pens and how to store them having spent the last 20 minutes contemplating the issue. I am happy to implement suggestions by type of pen. Had not even thought about pencils- always stored them horizontal.

    1. Yay, writing geeks! DRY ERASE: Agree. Not long ago I discovered by accident that the reason the magnetic mount dry erase markers we use were so faint was that we stuck them to the boards point up (the barrels tended to flip over the tips when mounted tip down) but when it dawned on me to try sticking them to the board tip down anyway, they all intensified dramatically. Just need to be a little more careful not to knock them about. I keep my non-magnetics horizontal, and they seem to do fine. FOUNTAINS: Recently bought a lovely pen case with slight storage angle. Retailer showed fountains tip up … but they all dried out prematurely. Slight angle down seems to work OK, but looks a bitunexpected at first glance. PENCILS: Love the rice advice for my Ticonderogas! For mechanicals I use wooden pencil boxes, horizontal. GELS: Best luck so far horizontal. SHARPIE et al: Prefer horizontal, but if not an option for space reasons, then tip down seems to work best. Nice to meet others who think about such things.

  5. Haha..How great is this!? To know I am not the only one who is anal about my pens,pencils,paint pens and markers is such a relief..I’m here to tell ya the struggle is real..lol

    I find storing paint pens tip down is a huge disaster as the paint tends to drip down and when I take the cap off, I am often standing there with paint all over my clothes and or project..Usualy both..Ugh..So tip up with them..If they dry out or get gummed up, just gently remove the felt tip, don’t wiggle it, gently pull straight out..Place in a cap full of fingernail polish remover for a minute or two then rinse it with warm water..You’ll be able to see the difference..If the paint needs rejuvented then simply unscrew it and place ONE drop of remover inside the tube,rescrew..Gently replace the filter..Sometimes it’s necessry to flip the tip..It’s ok..Just snip the tip to a point if ya want..Then make sure to shake for at least a minute thrn gently push till the paint is flowing again..WooHoo..Rejuvenated Paint Pen..They can get costly especially for our wonderful art teachers and parents of many rugrats so fixing them is so much cheaper.

    Gel pens need to be stored horizontal so the air dont mess with the flow.

    I have found that dipping my tips in wax,candle wax usually,and always replacing the caps helps to keep the ink from gumming up my tips..And protects my ball rollers..But if they do get gummy just run under warm water and then make circles on a piece of paper unitl it loosens..It may take a few rotations to get it unstuck.

    Markers with their tip dipped in warm water for a few seconds then stored tip down is an amazing color bringer backer.. You can also remove the back then remove the color filter and drip a couple drops of water on both of the ends..Roll the filter on a paper towel to remove excess water and replace.Wait an hour or two before using them tho..Takes time for them to refill with color.

    If you have freyed tips then simply gently snip the fuzzies off..Using a nose hair trimmer works great.

    Seems like I am writing a book here..lol..Seriously Amanda they prolly dont care..But then again a rejuvenated pen of any kind is cash saved..And if it happens to be your favorite pen then it can be a ‘Oh happy day’ when it’s saved from the infamous file 13..

    Time for some seriousness..Why ever in the world would anyone store pencils tip up.. I guess its ok to run with scissors now too.. Spells disaster if my opinion counts..I find a sponge cut to the specs of the bottom of the cup not only cuts down noise but also protects the tips of all your writing tools.

    ok tutorial over..Hope this helps and saves those perfectly useful supplies from being tossed out..After all we have enough unecessary trash as it is..Have a good day and remember it takes more facial muscles to frown than it does to smile!!

    1. Thanks for all the detailed information, Amanda! As for pencils, I store colored pencils tip-up because often times the color is more accurate from the lead rather than the paint on the end and they are usually not sharpened as sharp as graphite pencils. Graphite pencils get stored point down. Again, I don’t have kids so I’m not likely to have anyone skewer themselves on the colored pencils except klutzy adults.

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