8 Best Pens to Write On The Back of Photos

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Are you wondering, “What are the best pens to write on the back of photos?” We all know writing on photos preserves memories in a more specific way.

For this reason, many people like to write on the back whenever they print a picture.

However, it’s tricky to write something on modern papers. They’re often slick, resisting most inks. Hence, without prior knowledge, you could end up destroying the peace of memory with ink.

So, what’s the solution…?

Well, I’ve faced the problems and did a thorough research on this topic and some items worked for me.

In this article, I’ll guide you through the best pens to write on the backside of a photograph. I believe you’ll have plenty of options to work with if you stick with me. So, let’s do it!

My Top Picks for the Best Pens to Write on Back of Photographs

Here’s a quick overview of my top picks:

  1. Best Overall Fineliners: SAKURA Pigma Micron Fineliner Pens
  2. Smoothest Writing Gel Pen: Uniball Signo 207 Gel Pen
  3. Expert Pick for Photo Albums: Zig Photo Signature Pen
  4. Dependable Archival Pen: Zig Ball 0.5 mm Archival
  5. Best Marker Set: Kuretake Zig Memory System Millennium Marker Assortment
  6. Reliable Fine-Line Pen: Pilot Precise V5 RT
  7. Durable Opaque Marker: Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Marker
  8. Quick-Drying Comfort Pen: Pentel EnerGel Liquid Gel Ink Pen

Keep Reading: 13 Tips For Writing on Photos

8 Best Pens to Write on the Back of Photos

To be honest, I could give you hundreds of names right now. But that won’t be a big help. For this reason, I’ve selected only 8 products. Let’s look at those one by one.

1. Sakura Pigma Micron

Sakura Pigma Micron-Best pen to write on the back of photos

Style: Fineliner Pen
Ink Colors: black, blue, red
Tip Sizes (mm): 005.20, 01.25, 02.30, 03.35, 05.45, 08.50

The first product on my list is the Sakura Pigma Micron. It is one of the best pens to write on the back of photos. Anything that comes from the Sakura brand, is a great product. For this reason, I’ve chosen this one as the first. Let’s learn more about the item in detail.

At first, it had archival ink. So, the ink is pigment-based, making it resistant to water, fading, and chemical changes. No worries about damages!

Second, it has a fine tip which is another stand-out feature. It allows you to write incredibly precise lines, which is a crucial thing when writing. Especially, on the back of photos, where space is often limited.

As a result, you can add dates, names, or short notes without the ink bleeding into the photo paper. It’s perfect for adding personal touches that turn a photo into a beautiful memory.

Another aspect I appreciate is the variety of colors and available tip sizes. This also makes it suitable for art projects and journaling.

However, it’s worth noting that the ink takes a bit longer to dry on shiny surfaces. You’ve to be a bit patient after writing to avoid damage. Also, while the fine tip is great for detail, it might not be the best for those who prefer a bolder line.


When I used it, I needed to allow a bit of extra drying time, especially on shiny photos.

Our Verdict

Sakura Pigma Micron is my top pick for writing on photos. In my opinion, it’s one of the best pens to write on back of photos.


  • It has archival-quality ink and long-lasting results.
  • It has a fine point tip.
  • It is water and fade resistant.


  • Ink takes longer to dry on smooth surfaces.
  • The fine tip is not suitable for bold writing.

2. Uni-Ball Signo 207

Uni-Ball Signo 207- Best pen to write on the back of photos

Style: Gel Pen

Ink Colors: black, blue

Tip Size: 1.0mm

In my quest to find the best pen to write on photos, the Uni-Ball Signo 207 emerged as a standout choice. What makes this item truly special is its ink, which has a unique binding property. 

It prevents fraud, a testament to Uni-Ball’s dedication to security and innovation. This feature alone makes it an invaluable tool. Not just for photo annotations, but also for any application where document integrity is key.

One of the key strengths of the Uni-Ball Signo 207 is its versatility. It works equally well on both smooth and matte finishes. It’s a rare quality in pens suitable for photo writing. The results are always consistent and reliable.

Another notable aspect of this product is its quick-drying ink. This quality is a game-changer. especially for shiny photo surfaces where smudging is a common problem. 

The ink’s fade-resistant nature also adds to its appeal. It ensures that my notes and labels remain visible and legible over time.


It’s worth noting that the ink is not of archival quality. This might be a downside for those looking for long-term preservation. But it’s a trade-off for the quick-drying feature. Which is more important for my immediate needs.

Our Verdict

The Uni-Ball Signo 207 is one of the best pens to write on back of photos. It balances functionality, comfort, and versatility.


  • It offers quick-drying ink.
  • It is fade-resistant.
  • Comes with a comfortable grip.


  • The ink is not of archival quality.
  • The tip might fray with heavy use.

3. Zig Photo Signature Pen

Zig Photo Signature Pen-for writing stuff on the back of photographs

Style: Fineliner Pen

Ink Colors: black

Tip Size: 2.0mm

I’ve recently discovered the Zig Photo Signature Pen and I must say, it’s a great tool. Especially, if you want to write on the back of photos. This product, from the renowned Kuretake brand, is a standout for its exceptional quality. 

As a company, Kuretake has a rich history, dating back to 1902 in Japan. Their expertise in ink and manufacturing shines through in this product.

The item has water-based pigment ink. The ink is archival quality, ensuring it won’t fade or damage the photographs over the years. As a user, I really liked the feature, since I want my writings and memories to last as long as possible.

However, what I love the most about the item is its instant dry feature. So, you don’t need to spend any time to let it dry. This reduces the risk of damages and makes it ideal for quickly jotting down notes or dates.

When It comes to its tip, it’s great for precise and detailed writing. I could easily write small, legible text in a short space.


It’s important to note that the product has limited color options. Since I prefer black or darker colors, it wasn’t a big deal for me. Also, the ink flow can sometimes be inconsistent, but with a bit of practice, I’ve learned to get a steady line.

Our Verdict

Overall, the Zig Photo Signature Pen is an essential tool in my photo labeling kit. Its archival quality, instant drying, and precision make it a top choice. If you’re looking to preserve your memories in photos, you’ll love it.


  • It has instant drying ink.
  • It has waterproof ink.
  • It’s Suitable for a variety of photo surfaces.


  • It has limited color options.
  • The Ink flow can be inconsistent.

4. Zig Ball 0.5 mm Archival

Zig Ball 0.5 mm Archival- best pens to write on the back of photos

Style: Fineliner Pen

Ink Colors: black

Tip Size (mm): 005, 01, 03, 05, 08

The Zig Ball 0.5 mm is another Archival pen that you can consider for writing stuff on the back of photographs. It can do marvels for you. It’s a product from the Kuretake brand, a Japanese company renowned for its art supplies.

About the item, it has a  0.5 mm tip, which is perfect for writing on almost any surface. The best part is, how smoothly it glides over the surface. The ink flow is consistent and feels natural on the hand.

Like most products in the list, it also comes with archival ink. As a result, it can resist fading and deterioration from light and air exposure. So, your notes and memories will last much longer than usual. 


There’s a bit of a catch, though. The ink needs overnight drying. So, I had to test my patience while using the product. However, once the ink settled, I felt like it was worth the wait.

Our Verdict

The Zig Ball 0.5 mm Archival pen is a reliable tool. It’s not just a pen; it’s a way to ensure my words and memories stand the test of time alongside my cherished photos.


  • It has a smooth rollerball tip for effortless writing.
  • It offers archival ink.
  • Its ink is also acid-free.


  • It Requires overnight drying.
  • Its narrow tip may not be suitable for all writing styles.

5. Zig Millennium

Zig Millennium- Best pen to write on back of photos

Style: Fineliner Pen

Ink Colors: black

Tip Size (mm): 005, 01, 03, 05, 08

For detailed, fine, and safe writing on photographs, the Zig Millennium is a pen I regularly turn to. I’ve always been intrigued by the Zig brand‘s commitment to crafting pencils and other stuff. So, I’ve chosen this as my fifth product. Let’s deep dive and know it better. 

The fine tip of the item is another aspect I appreciate. Because it is essential when I need to add dates, names, or small details on the backs of photos. Because of having narrow tip, it works exceptionally well on both smooth and matte photo surfaces.

Also, the ink dries relatively quickly. So, you have a significant advantage over other products. However, it’s still important to let the ink rest for some moments on glossier surfaces. Takes a bit of time in this case. 


One thing to keep in mind is that, while the ink is waterproof, it’s not the boldest. So, if you prefer more prominent, standout writing on your photos, this might not be the first choice.

Our Verdict

For detailed, fine, and safe writing on photographs, the Zig Millennium is a pen I regularly turn to.


  • It has acid-free ink.
  • It has a fine tip that is best for detailed writing.
  • It offers good ink flow.


  • It Requires careful handling.
  • It’s not as bold as other ones.

6. Pilot Precise V5 RT

Style: Roller Ball Pen

Ink Colors: black

Tip Size: 0.5 mm

Looking for one of the best pens for writing on the back of your precious photos? Well, the Pilot Precise V5 RT can be a superb choice for you. It stands out for its precision point. This feature is really good for detailed writing. 

One of the main key points of the tool is its water-resistant ink. It ensures that your writing remains intact, even in humid conditions. Also, the ink dries quickly. As a result, you’re getting two more benefits than usual.

First, you don’t have to worry about damages at all. And second, the quick-drying feature will give you adequate space if you’re in a hurry. So, overall, getting this one for writing on the back of photographs might not be a very bad decision.


I’ve noticed that it can bleed through thin photo paper. Also, it may not perform as well on extremely smooth surfaces. Therefore, while using this item, you should be very careful.

Our Verdict

The Pilot Precise V5 RT is a superb choice. It offers a blend of fine detail and practicality. This makes it a go-to pen for preserving memories on photographs.


  • It has a Precision point for highly detailed writing.
  • Comes with Water-resistant ink.
  • It has a Smooth ink flow.


  • It can bleed through thin photo paper.
  • It may not perform well on extremely smooth areas.

7. Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Marker

Style: Paint Markers

Ink Colors: black, blue, pink, white, orange, purple, lime green, aqua blue 

Tip Size: medium

When it comes to pens to write on back of photos, the Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Marker is truly impressive. It’s fantastic for my detailed projects, especially when I need water-resistant writing.

One of the most standouts of this one is its oil-based paint. It ensures you have a  strong adherence to glossy surfaces. Also, the feature lets the ink stick well on the surface. 

Hence, don’t worry about the photos displayed in areas exposed to light and moisture. Plus, its water-resistant and fade-proof qualities will help you preserve memories for a long time.

The product offers bold and vibrant colors. However, it can be too thick for extremely detailed writing, and it requires some patience to dry. Also, careful handling is essential to avoid any mess.


It might not be the best for fine detail work. But for projects where striking, durable annotations are needed, this marker is a winner in my book​​.

Our Verdict

This marker is one of the best pens to write on back of photos. You can use this marker when you want those bold and vibrant colors on your glossy photos.


  • Oil-based paint adheres well to smooth areas.
  • Bold and vibrant color output.
  • It is water-resistant and fade-proof.


  • It can be too thick for detailed writing.
  • It takes time to dry.
  • It requires careful handling.

8. Pentel EnerGel Liquid Gel Ink Pen

Style: Gel Pen

Ink Colors: navy blue, lime green, brown, pink, violet, turquoise 

Tip Size: 0.7mm

After all of the above 7 items, The Pentel EnerGel Liquid Gel Ink Pen can also be a good option for you. 

It stands out for its liquid gel ink, which flows smoothly and evenly. It allows you to write effortlessly, providing a rich, full ink line. Hence, you’ll get more visible and elegant writing on photo paper.

Since the ink is a liquid gel, it sits on the surface pretty quickly. So, a handy feature for those who want to write captions quickly, without worrying about smudges. 

Also, the metal tip of this item is durable and precise. It offers fine writing that is perfect for detailed note-taking on the back of photos.


I must mention a couple of aspects where it falls short. It’s not as fade-resistant as archival-quality. This means the writing may not last as long in certain conditions. 

Also, the gel ink may not work as well on certain photo finishes, so it’s important to test it on a small area first.

Our Verdict

Overall, it’s a solid choice for those looking for smooth, clear writing on their photos.


  • Its liquid gel ink is best for smooth writing.
  • It has a quick drying feature.
  • Comes with a rich ink line for clear visibility.


  • Not as fade-resistant as archival-quality.
  • Gel ink may not work well on certain photo finishes.

Things to Consider Before Buying Pens to Write on Photos

When I chose different kinds of pen for writing on photos, there are several factors that I considered. It helped me to get the best results.

Because you want the writing to be clear, and durable, and it should complement the aesthetic of your clicks. Here are some things that I kept in mind while choosing:

Ink Type

There are two qualities that should look in the pens’ ink. Your selected item must feature permanent ink with archival quality. The first one will ensure it stays on the photo, like a permanent marker. And archival quality is to prevent damage or smear. 

Tip Type

Here, you should look for one of the two options:  Fine Tip and Soft Tip.  A fine tip helps you with precise and detailed writing. On the other hand, Soft Tip keeps your photo damaged or smudge-free. It also allows smooth marking.


Choosing light colors in a photographic situation is a big no. Always go for Black or Dark Colors. Light colors can give you a hard time finding ultra fine clarity on plain surfaces.

So, you need something with good contrast and visibility. And nothing works better than Darker colors in the scenario.

Water and Fade Resistance

You don’t wanna spoil the writing with a spilled beer or water, right? So, the ink must be water-resistant. It will help protect your writing from accidents and other stuff.

Also, the ink must be Fade-Resistant. Choose an item that is resistant to fading, especially if your photos will be exposed to sunlight.

I got the best pen to write on the back of photos by considering these factors. I believe, if you follow all this, you can too. From fountain to ballpoint to sharpies, the tricks works locally everywhere.

Wrapping it Up!

Choosing the best pens to write on the back of photos can be tricky. In this article, I’ve highlighted the top 8 pens ideal for writing on the back of photos. I’ve tested their archival quality and quick-drying capabilities.

These pens ensure that your memories are not only preserved but also clearly visible for years to come. 

My purpose was to give you solutions to write on your photographs without worrying much. I believe all the products will help you write ultra fine points. See you again on another blog post!

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