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On my desk, I have a ceramic container with pens in it. I would like to know which way is more appropriate, pointing the pens up or down.

If the pens are pointed down, it would be "safer", but it would risk ruining the pens and damage the container. If the pens are pointed up, it wouldn't ruin the pens, but it would also be safety hazard.

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closed as off-topic by gnat, Lilienthal, The Wandering Dev Manager, mhoran_psprep, Dawny33 Jan 10 at 4:02

  • This question does not appear to be about the workplace within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

if you seriously worry about the inside of the cup or pencil holder, use the lid. This is the only purpose of the lid, so fulfill it! When you throw out pens, save the lids for later use on lidless pens. – Kate Gregory Jan 9 at 20:27
@JoeStrazzere Disclaimer: it wasn't me. I agree the question itself is clear - but what I'm struggling to see is why anyone might spend time worrying about it. It's up there with "should I walk on the cracks between carpet tiles or not?" – Philip Kendall Jan 9 at 20:59
Also not downvoter, but I'm struggling to see "workplace" here. What's next, paper clip storage? – keshlam Jan 9 at 21:29
I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it isn't specific to navigating the workplace as outlined in the help centre. – Lilienthal Jan 9 at 22:17
How is this NOT about the "workplace"? Almost every workplace I've ever worked in, SOMEBODY has a pencil holder. It's not like a question about pencil holders naturally leads people to think of the kitchen or the playground. If there's a rule against questions that are trivial, that would be a valid objection. But "not about the workplace" doesn't even make sense. – Jay Jan 10 at 5:00
up vote 31 down vote accepted

It differs depending on the pen you are using:

  • Felt tip pens like whiteboard markers, Sharpies, Microns and highlighters are best stored with the tip down. It keeps the ink in contact with the fiber/felt tip so that it does not dry out.
  • Rollerballs and ballpoints are best if they are stored upright so they don’t leak or get gummy at the point.
  • Gel pens seem to be okay stored either up or down.
  • Fountain pens seem to like to be stored horizontal which keep the ink in contact with the nib but doesn’t let gravity get too sassy.


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When you say upright for ball points do you mean tip up ro tip down? My experience has been if they are tip up for any period of time the ink leaks out of the bottom (usually into a pocket; grrr) – Richard Tingle Jan 10 at 8:57
+1 Modern fountain pens don't care which way they're stored, but older ones are best stored upright, so there's no risk of leakage (faulty feeds etc.). Since most FP inks are generally not very viscous, getting them to start again is easy (provided the ink hasn't gone dry). But then again if you own a decent fountain pen (or two, or three) you probably know how to store it – rath Jan 10 at 18:02

Store all pens with the point down.

While it's not ideal for every pen type, it works for well enough for most. Almost nobody is going to use three or four different storage mechanisms in order to optimize their "pen storage effectiveness quotient".

Most of the pens will be paid for by your employer, as you indicate point-down is safer, and life is way too short to be worrying about the "best" way to store pens.

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I prefer ballpoint pen stored point-down because the ball doesn't seem to dry out like it does when the point up. – shoover Jan 10 at 0:35
Nobody is going to use three or four different storage mechanisms in order to optimize their "pen storage effectiveness quotient". -- Wanna bet? – Keith Thompson Jan 10 at 7:57

Store pencils with the point up. This way you will know which ones are nice and pointy, and which ones need sharpening. (And be careful with the pointy ones, so you don't poke yourself.)

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Stated question is pens not pincels – Paparazzi Jan 10 at 2:02