A tongue-in-cheek look at what your choice of ink and pen color might say about you.
It’s difficult for me to think of using ink in any color other than black, although I’ve given other colors a try from time to time. I’ve tried blue-black, blue ink, and even a rich reddish-brown ink—but black, after all, seems to me to be what ink is all about: black ink on white paper.
I learned that there is more to the ink and the pens I use when, years ago, someone sent me an article cut out of my local newspaper. It was then that I discovered that there is a psychological component to the color of ink we use. Not only that, but I also learned that the pen I wrote with may have affected my chances for success in life.
Ink and Pen Color choices express feelings and… intentions
The newspaper article, written by Gregory Weaver, first appeared in the Indianapolis Star. My local newspaper, the Times Union, reprinted the article on April 14, 2003. The Times Union is the same newspaper that William Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Ironweed, wrote for, though I’m not sure with what pen and with what color ink. I figure several newspapers reprinted this article. If anybody knows ink, newspapers, and printers do. It must be their idea of an inside joke.
The article was based on a survey conducted for Pilot Pen Corporation, a lucky coincidence, since I had a Pilot G-2 gel pen in my pocket at the time I read it, and I’m always interested in finding out more about the pens I use. Here are some of the high points of the survey:
- More than 85 percent of workers who pen in purple say their bosses are totally satisfied with their work. The article also says purple pens (and I’m assuming ink) “account for less than 5 percent of all pens sold." So if purple ink (and pens) results in bosses who are satisfied with an employee's work, why don’t more people write in purple?
- Want to know what color ink is most popular? Black.
- Workers most likely to work long hours without extra pay prefer using a computer keyboard rather than ink and paper.
- Men who are looking for promotion should stay away from green ink. It's the kiss of death.
- Men who use expensive pens are least likely to think their boss is nice, and women who use expensive pens are most likely to be criticized by the boss.
A life-changing moment just happened!
Before reading the article, I didn't have a clue as to how much the ink and the pen I used affected my chances for success in life. Now, almost twenty years later, I wondered if I should have done things differently, and I figured that you might be thinking the same thing. How different would my life be today if I had used purple ink in an expensive pen all those years ago? What if I had used green ink instead?
I was certain that new information about pens and inks and what they say about people had become available since the publication of that newspaper article. I searched the internet to learn more about how pens and ink help or hinder a person's chances for success in life. I wondered how people could dress for success—for example, wear expensive watches and carry expensive briefcases—but pay so little attention to the pens they wrote with. During recent televised political debates and congressional hearings, I observed how news anchors, pundits, and politicians wrote with cheap pens, and, by contrast, how President Trump's attorney, Jay Sekulow, talked from the podium of the United States Senate while fiddling with one of several expensive-looking pens.
So, what does the color of ink we use says about us? And for the record, the practice of linking personality to the color of ink one uses is what I call Ink Color Personality Profiling, or ICPP for short.
Welcome to the ICPP
For most of my life, I was unaware of ICPP. I lived with the idea that my personality had little to do with what color ink I wrote with. I wrote with black ink because it read best against white paper and because words, rather than the color of ink that was used to form them, was ink's most important purpose. Blue and blue-black inks were viable options to black ink in hand-written letters and signatures when one wanted to be sure of an original document. Red ink was used by editors and teachers to make comments and corrections because it stood out against black ink. I never understood why ink manufacturers even made brown, green, or purple ink. There was a personality aspect to ink preference of which I was unaware.
A Penn State website/blog intended to make science more appealing to non-scientific individuals tells us that blue-ink users are sensitive, friendly, and warm people with an outgoing personality who are most likely to seek a career like nursing or to take other similar career paths. Black-ink users think with their heads, have a more dominant personality, and like to be in charge of their lives. They can be a little uptight and somewhat reserved in showing emotions. Red-ink people like being the center of attention. They are energetic, emotionally passionate, and enjoy the limelight. Their creativity leads them to new things. They are not afraid to show their emotions, and they love the physical aspects of life. (See Siowfa15: Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy the course website and blog for the Fall instance of Penn State's SC 200 course, and specifically: sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/09/09/what-does-the-color-of-your-pen-mean/.)
The Penn State website/blog above linked me to a Color Analysis Guide (atozhandwriting.com/color-analysis) where I was informed about brown-and-green-ink users. Artistic and creative people seeking attention for their efforts frequently use brown ink. Green ink (not a favorite among writers) is sometimes used by introspective people who have "agile minds" but sometimes let the opportunity slip through their fingers. They can also analyze feelings out of existence.
What is the meaning of ink colors
BH Graphology comments on yet more ink colors and differs a bit from what is stated above. Their website distinguishes between light-or-bright-blue-ink users (who are understanding, caring, reflective, and emotional) and medium-or-dark-blue-ink users (who are confident, have integrity, and are authoritative). It tells us that black-ink users tend to stick to the rules and don't wish to stand out. Brown-ink users have common sense and are not afraid to get their hands dirty. (Compare that to the paragraph above!) Purple-ink users (like the red-ink users above) want to stand out and be unique. They may also have trust issues. Pink-ink users are sentimental, adaptable, and need to share. And users of green ink? On this website, green-ink users are creative and artistic people, and perhaps a bit eccentric. They also want to stand out and have their opinions heard. Finally, those who pen in gold-colored ink have a sense of grandeur or opulence. Though their color choice is impractical, their use of gold ink may point to good intuition and leadership qualities.
I'm not sure when ink color became less associated with reading clarity and more telling of a person's personality. Given the degree to which scientific evidence links ink-color choices to personality traits and success in life, I'm more inclined to assign ICPPs to pseudo-science and signs of the zodiac than actual science.
Black is always in fashion
I am now more aware than ever of what my choice of ink color says about me, and yet I've decided not to join the prevailing trend of writing with inks of various hues and various colors. I'm sticking with black ink, taking solace in what was said in one of the paragraphs above, that black-ink users think with their heads and that they like to be in charge of their lives. Who knows? Perhaps one day when I'm feeling a little less uptight I'll feel differently. Maybe I'll lighten up a bit and once more try writing in blue ink instead. But for now, regardless of what other people think, I'm sticking with my belief that nothing beats black ink on white paper.
Adapted from an original publication in the Spring/Summer 2020 edition of Paul’s Fountain Pen Journal. Grateful acknowledgment is given to the author and friend of Epica, Paul Erano, for his gracious permission to republish here. This is Paul’s 2nd contribution. Be sure to read his other article - why use a fountain pen?
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