Before going into reading lots and lots of legal texts – complicated, stiff and crammed with words carrying specific meanings (where it makes a world of difference if it is a may or might) I had a snooty attitude towards highlighters and it was very reluctantly that I admitted that highlighters made my studies easier. But even so I never took them to heart since I never really got rid of the feeling that the fluorescent highlighter colours hit me in the face (I know they come in purple and blue and green – but I never liked them since they were too dark) and almost overshadowed the highlighted text. When I got back into fountain pens some years ago I was happy to realize that a broad italic nib and a yellow ink may be the highlighter I’ve been looking for. I got myself a 1.9 mm italic Lamy Vista (now sadly misplaced) and Diamine Sunshine Yellow and Rohrer & Klingner Helianthus (Sunflower) and it was instant love. Warm yellow ink – providing highlight without slapping me in the face and still managing to highlight. Perfect. Ever since I’ve basically been loyal to R&K Helianthus and Diamine Sunshine Yellow (they are very similar) as my highlighter inks with a few ventures to other inks. What I still – after using it practically everyday for a few years – like with the Sunshine Yellow is that it is a full-bodied yellow with reddish hues – not an orange. It shades in a delightful way and still manages to brighten my mood.
Some might find the Sunshine Yellow/Helianthus too dark to be a good highlighter and then (if you don’t prefer the fluorescent inks) the Diamine Yellow might be useful. If you’re into flourescents Noodler’s have a range of those and both Private Reserve and Pelikan has at least one bright, fluorescent yellow highlighter ink respectively. The Delta Orange (and also Diamine Orange) are also very well suited for highlighting. The Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki is a tad too dark if the nib isn’t a very broad and not too wet italic. It worked quite good in the Rotring Artpen, but the dryness made it lose a lot of its brightness and spark, which, since it has a big price tag, felt like a lose-lose. I m0stly chose it as a comparison – it is so very beautiful in a rather wet nib.
I know there have been some questions about whether fountain pen inks are too wet and smeary to use as highlighter inks, but I haven’t had any problems with that. Much of the text I highlight is text that I’ve printed with my printer using ink cartridges (as below) and I haven’t experienced smearing.
Here are some other blog posts on using regular fountain pen ink as highlighters:
Rhodia Drive Highlighting with Herbin
Shopwritersbloc Using J Herbin Inks as Highligher Inks