Fountain Pens for Lefties

One question we get asked often is "Can lefties use fountain pens?" The answer is a resounding yes. I wanted to share what information I could...but I'm definitely not a lefty! We've talked to a lot of lefties and put together the best information we could (with some left-handed chicken-scratch to demonstrate). Enjoy!

Fun facts about lefties:

Why are they called southpaws?

Originally terms for left-handed baseball players. Because pitchers traditionally face west, so a pitcher throwing left-handed would have his left hand on the south side of his body.

Lefties are likely underrepresented in the FP world because of the challenges ink smearing, the feedback or drag on the page, and any issues that would have on ink flow. 

Additionally, since left handed writers are pushing the nib, rather than pulling it like right handed writers do, it can be an off putting feeling for some writers. Also, the nib size will be impacted and you might find some nib sizes are not fun to write with. If you're looking for some good ink options you will want to take into consideration dry time/smearing

Pen angle matters. Most people agree, a 45˚ angle is ideal when using fountain pens. For writers coming from ballpoints/rollerballs we find that most people hold their pens at a steep angle, sometimes even vertically. This will not work with a fountain pen. Lefties feel a lot more “feedback” with high angles in the push motion, and can sometimes even damage a nib when pressing too hard. Try writing at a lower angle if you currently use a high angle.


Hand Positions:

#1 Underwriter

mirror image of righty

Left hand in the underwriter position over notebook paper

  • Mirror image of righty
  • Hand does not smear overtop of writing
  • This position allows for most versatility in pen/ink choice
  • Many writers with this hand position don't have to take nib sizes or inks into consideration

#2 Side-writer

hand is in-line with the writing

left hand in the side writer position over a notebook

  • Hand in-line with writing
  • Most potential for smearing
  • Fast-drying ink is essential
  • Smaller nib sizes are best (EF, F), though there will be a factor of personal preference here
  • Flex nibs will be a challenge due to push motion
  • Stub nibs can be used but might look odd due to the angle
  • Turning paper to the left could help fix smearing issues

#3 Overwriter (hook handed)

hand is over the line of writing

Left hand in the overwriter position over notebook paper

  • Hand is over the line of writing
  • Still a potential for smearing, not quite as bad as side-writers
  • Sometime exaggerating the “hook” can actually help prevent smearing
  • Fast-drying ink helps
  • Flex nibs are basically unusable
  • Stub nibs actually emulate a righty, just coming from the opposite angle!
  • Paper turning might end up being rather extreme with this hand position


  • Practice can change habits/experience
  • A fountain pen will force you to slow down, practice intentionally
  • Some people have intentionally trained themselves to write differently

Product Recommendations:

Personal preference comes into play with nib size, smearing vs. drag- for all lefties


  • There is little special consideration is needed
  • There are generally no smearing issues and most nib sizes work well
  • Writing with your left hand can present challenge with stub or flex nibs so you might fine you need to turn your paper drastically
  • A smooth pen with consistent flow, like the Pelikan M200 or M205, a TWSBI ECO, or a Sailor are good options
  • You can use pretty much any ink you want and any paper

Side-writers and Overwriters:


  • Fast-drying inks
  • Noodler's Brevity blue or black
  • De Atramentis Document inks (fast drying and waterproof)
  • Experiment with a few other inks (Pilot Iroshizuku, Rohrer and Klingner Salix or Scabiosa)
  • There will always be a tradeoff of quick-drying inks and feathering or bleeding
  • Read reviews to see dry times, get a sample!



  • Will really depend on your nib and ink choice, and personal preference
  • Rhodia seems to be a popular recommendation, but you might want faster dry time
  • Clairefontaine is even smoother, but dry time will be a little longer
  • Goulet notebook sampler set
  • Experimentation will be key here based on your nib/ink preference


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