Fountain Pen Friendly Index Cards

Thursday: Paper Stuff

I get asked every so often about what index cards are good for fountain pens. More specifically, I get asked about 3″x5″ index cards like we’re all used to, but ones that are good for fountain pen ink. Exacompta does make really nice index cards, but they may or may not be what you’re looking for. 

They come in multicolor assorted packs, 100 cards to a pack. There’s 25 blue, yellow, pink, and green. The only choice is 5×5 graph ruling. They’re French, so they’re not the same size that we’re used to here in the US. They have 3 different products that are imported regularly into the US:

  • 4″ x 6″
  • 5″ x 8″
  • 5.75″ x 8.25″

But this isn’t going to be a full-on review of these cards, that’s something I’ll do later. The whole reason I bring these cards up is because they’re the only truly fountain pen friendly index cards that I’m aware are around. That’s part of why I wanted to post this. I would love to track down a source for good index cards, especially something available in blank or lined, white, and in a 3×5 size. Do you know of anything?

Working with your cheap-o index cards

If all you have are the office’s bargain brand, there are a few things you can do to make it more bearable to use your pens on your junk index cards. Here’s a couple of tricks that work for cheap paper in general:

  1. Use a finer nib- stay away from the broads and italics. Using a finer nib, especially in a drier writing pen will put less ink on the paper, causing less problems like feathering and bleedthrough
  2. Change your ink- some inks perform better than others on cheap paper. Play around! You may be surprised which ones work well on cheap paper. The pen is also a factor, but one suggestion I have is Noodler’s X-feather, which was specifically designed not to, well, feather. Certain other inks are ‘dry’ writing, like Pelikan (Edelstein as well as 4001), which helps resist feathering.
  3. Hold the card really far away from you when you read it. Preferably across your desk or at more than an arm’s length. The less you can see it, the less you’ll see any ink problems (this is of course, a joke suggestion!)

Seriously though, if anyone else has any good index card source, share with us all here in the comments. Also, let us know if you have any other tips for writing on your cheap-o index cards!

If you do like the Exacompta ones, we do have the 4×6 size available at GouletPens.com.

2017-10-11T13:31:15+00:00 December 2nd, 2010|Paper Reviews|21 Comments
  • I use a fine nib Lamy with Noodler's Black or Noodler's X-feather. Both behave themselves as long as you are not putting down too much ink.

    I've never had bleedthough on an index card. :0

  • While I don't have a good index card brand to share, I do have an ink suggestion.. The best ink I've ever used when it comes to avoiding feathering or bleedthrough is Pelikan Blue-Black. I use this as my benchmark ink to compare all others too, and none have come close to the lack of feathering on even the most fibrous papers (writing with my wet Pelikan 140 OF nib). So if paper is a problem, Pelikan ink might be the solution! (I haven't tried their other colors, so I can only speak to Blue-Black's performance)

  • it probably would take a lot to bleedthrough an index card b/c of the thickness! I haven't tried (I don't use a lot of index cards in my daily life), but I'm sure it can be done.

  • That's a great suggestion Chris! All of the Pelikan inks are great in this respect, Edelstein included. Pelikan is a remarkably dry writing ink, which helps in resisting feathering. I think I should mention that in my post!

  • I am a fan of Myndology cards!

  • Anonymous

    I ordered two boxes of Levenger's personalized 3 x 5 cards during last year's post-holiday sale when they were two-for-one (½ price) plus free shipping. Very fountain pen friendly index cards and available in white or ivory, several styles (ruled, plain, grid, etc.) plus numerous font options and ink colors for the header.

    I wouldn't pay their "normal" price for the cards but found them worth it at ½ price. Definitely a high grade index card.

    Also available without the personalized headers at a cheaper price point although I think those were white card stock only.

  • Anonymous

    I really like Post-It index cards. They do quite nicely with fountain pens.

  • StyloBug33

    Tops Index Cards are amazing. I have been able to get 3 x 5 plain cards now and then at Target, but they are hard to find. There are some on amazon.com but they are a lot more expensive than what I have paid for them in August in Target, when all school supplies are on sale. They are very smooth with no feathering or bleed-through. They remind me of HP 32 pound premium paper that has been made into a 90 pound card. They feel a touch lighter than the Levenger cards I have, but they are smoother and less absorbant.

  • I also recommend Levenger index cards. Not cheap, but on the other hand I'm not a hardcore index card user and am still on the same box of 500 I ordered like five years ago so it's been pretty cheap, annually speaking!

  • I have heard that about the TOPS cards before. I believe I saw them in either Office Max or Staples recently – we have both in my town,

  • I bought some Oxford Essentials 3×5 cards at my local W**mart and they appear to be pretty darn good. A pack of 100 cost a whopping 64cents. They had a number 40136 on the label. I have tried several different pens/ ink combos and I see no feathering or spreading of the line.

  • As a student, I use about 750 per semester.

    This semester, I started using my Lamy Studio with whatever ink I'm using on the ODepot 3X5 cards. The PR ink is very wet, and the Diamine is fairly wet. I find the best way to deal with making cards and moving on to the next one is to use a sheet of desk blotter paper (cut it to the size you like, I keep mine a full sheet) to write the card and then turn it over to write the back side to write that; flip it and then it's off to the stack of it's brothers.

    I believe I will try the Clairefontaine cards. Just to see what the difference will be.

  • I've usually found when writing on cheap index cards, that my pens tend to get caught on the paper and cause a really scratchy writing surface. Even my smoothest of pens tend to get caught on them.

  • Thanks for all of these awesome suggestions everyone! Please keep them coming!

    ThirdeYe, that's definitely a struggle when dealing with really cheap paper. I think you'll probably find not all cards do this to your pens, some will be better than others, so keep searching.

  • SMR

    A little behind on reading this post, but I also use the Oxford white 3×5 index cards, generally with a Lamy Al-Star EF filled with J. Herbin Cafe des Iles ink – never had a problem!

  • Thanks for all of these awesome suggestions everyone! Please keep them coming!

    ThirdeYe, that's definitely a struggle when dealing with really cheap paper. I think you'll probably find not all cards do this to your pens, some will be better than others, so keep searching.

  • I have heard that about the TOPS cards before. I believe I saw them in either Office Max or Staples recently – we have both in my town,

  • Jose

    Any chance you could do an update to this topic. I am just getting into the fountain pens and the 3×5 cards at the same time but for very different reasons and would lose to see what you concluded on. I just bought a case of the Levenger cards for my father for Christmas as he has been a user for years and was underwhelmed with their performance with my Lamy EF with the stock Lamy blue when I tested them out.

  • I'm sorry to say there's not much to update! I personally haven't found any 3×5 index cards that are completely ideal for fountain pens, the search is still on. 

  • ChalkLine1

    Another vote for Levenger index cards with fountain pens. Brian, if you can find out who wholesales them, you've got a source for high-end cards.

  • Levenger makes them and sells them, there is no wholesaler. You get them only from Levenger!