New Pencils & Highlighters from OfficeMax

It seems like OfficeMax has been quite interested in writing instruments lately, as they contacted me about another batch of new products. They have a new highlighter, gel pen, and mechanical pencil. They sent me some samples to try, and promised another set to give away to a reader – stay tuned!


Thickish body, but not as thick as a typical fat magic marker. The label promotes that the ink is liquid, and sure enough, the body is full of liquid ink which is visibly sloshing around in the pen. No more wondering whether it’s got any ink. Multiple colors are available: Yellow, orange, blue, green, pink, purple, and blue.

The point is a ubiquitous chisel, and makes a line 1/8″ wide with careful alignment of the point on the paper – perhaps not wide enough if your the type who wants the whole line of text covered in highlight – and less if you’re not diligent about how you hold the pen.

The colors are vibrant but not super flourescent. Really only the yellow is flourescent to my eye, the rest are just bright. It is pretty waterfast, losing some of its intensity when washed, but papers that have been highlighted will not be de-highlighted by rain or spilled water. The blue loses the most, as expected.

The cap clicks on with a solid feel, and the clip grips pretty firmly, but with not much capacity. Reveal is about half an inch of very tapered cap-tip, so pulling it out of a sleeve is going to be a bit tricky. Not that it’s going to fit in all sleeves, being fairly thick.

WARNING: Do not leave the cap off. I’ve done so, and that pen now does not write. I’ve put the cap back on in the hopes it will come back to life.

Gel Pen

Rubber grip, overall very similar to the Pilot G2 style of pen. The point comes with a blob of sealant, which suggests maybe the ink is water fast. Sure enough, it is. Not quite fully black – black enough for most uses, but next to, say, Noodler’s black it’s distinctly dark gray. Line width measured .5mm on index stock. The rubber grip is average diameter, grippy without being sticky, and pleasant to hold. Reveal is 5/8″, with some helpful ridges molded into the top of the pen to aid in removing it from a sleeve.

A nice pen. My only beef with it is that it’s a .7mm instead of .5mm.

Mechanical pencil

Eraser on the end, which is nice, but it’s the abrasive rubber kind rather than vinyl, and I thought it would be a poor performer but I was actually nicely surprised with out will it erased. Three leads are included, although more could be added to the tube by pulling the eraser out. Lots of reveal at 1 1/8″, and the cup holding the eraser provides a nice solid grip for pulling it out of a sleeve. The lead is surely HB, but I find this too hard. I can’t blame the manufacturer as everyone uses HB, but 2B or even 3B is a lot more hand-friendly.

The problem with the pencil is that the grip is too high. I suspect they tried to place it where it would be on a wooden pencil, but the thing is, the grip on a wooden pencil is there because of sharpening, not because that’s where people want to hold the pencil. I can only speak for myself, but I dislike holding the slippery tapered part below the grip of any writing instrument. Other than that, the pencil is quite nice.

A tough crowd

The challenge with products like these is that there are a lot of them. All the major brands have at least one variety, if not a few. Now the house brands are coming on strong as well, and it’s hard to find a strong reason to buy one over another.



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