Inexpensive Paper That Loves Fountain Pens


Need an inexpensive paper that can handle ink flow from wide nibs? This letter sized TOPS pad (20490 V2) came from Staples last week and it loves fountain pens and fountain pen ink.

The surface is very smooth and while there is mild ghosting, only one ink showed a few dots of bleed through. The 6mm line spacing will work for most anyone. The lines are crisply rendered, but pale enough to provide no conflict with your written words. It is a light weight paper more like Tomoe River than Rhodia or Clairefontaine which explains the ghosting. But at $1.49 a pad, this paper is a steal. Permission granted to be a guilt-free thief.

Caveat: Please read the comments. This review is about a specific batch that works well with fountain pen ink. Other batches may not perform as well as one reader discovered.


  1. I really enjoy TOPS pads, too. Very good value for the money and I’m always looking out for that. =)


  2. Oooh, I’m seriously interested in this because most inks do bleed through. And what a steal. 🙂


    • At the price, I would use it even if there was a little bleed through. For practice paper, it really is quite the bargain. I need to go back and buy more so I never run out. Who knows if the next run will be as outstanding.


  3. Is this available in stores or just online? I noticed they have some inexpensive onion skin paper. Only online though. Le sigh! Great review!


    • I chanced upon the TOPS tablet in a Staples store.

      Onion skin paper is fun and has that delightful, crinkly sound. My old stock is good with fountain pen ink and gets used for correspondence on occasion. Sometimes I tear it into bits and glue it into a journal or use it as an insert for a hand-decorated greeting card. There are lots of uses for it.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Cheap paper that likes wet nibs? It’s neverending quest, dude %)


  6. Thanks for the heads up, and thanks for mentioning the batch number (20490 V2). I saw this and got excited and ran out, picked up 35 of these, a lifetime supply.

    The paper quality was not any different than the other cheaper pads and so I had to go back and return all-but-one of them.

    I took a closer look now and found that my batch number is (20491 V2) so that would explain it.


    • How frustrating! It certainly makes reviewing paper easier when there are batch numbers or something comparable. However, companies that make quality paper tend to get it right most of the time. TOPS is not one of those companies, but some of their products have been very good quality in the past. Too bad they are so inconsistent.


  7. Just a heads up — there are a few varieties of these pads, all with what appear to be the same quality (ie. 20490, 20491, 20492 etc. — one is fine line, one is wider, one is graph, one is to-do, etc.) but if you can find the same batch number (“V2” instead of “V1”) then I’m pretty sure you are in the clear. I’ve tested most of these with wide nibs, and heavy flowing ink and cannot get bleed or much feathering on anything. Incredible deal.


    • Thank you so much for the update. I went to Staples today, but saw none of the 20490 V2 tablets. Good to know some of the other batches are as good as the one I reviewed.


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