For fountain pen newbies, choosing a nib size may be intimidating as choosing the best fountain pen. There are a variety of sizes, shapes, quality, and materials to choose from for these fine writing pens. Here are some things to consider when choosing a nib. The quality of the nib is one of the factors for a great writing experience.
As you can see in the picture below, the nib is made of several parts. The slit control, tines, and breather hold is what controls the flow of ink to the tip. The tip of the fountain pen is coated with extra material to maintain the durability.
Fountain pens can come in a variety of nib sizes. Nib size refers to the part tip touching the paper. Choosing the nib size comes down to your writing style and preference just like choosing your fountain pen. Generally a finer nib will be suitable for handwriting that is small or writing with Kanji or other Asian characters. A broader nib are more for larger handwriting styles.
Common nib sizes are extra fine, fine, medium, and broad. Double-broad, italic, and oblique nibs are less common. Unfortunately the sizes are NOT standardized from one manufacturer to the next. Japanese nibs tend to be a little bit finer than American and European nibs. So a German fine nib can be the same size as a Japanese medium nib.
The wetness of the ink on paper is another factor when choosing a nib. As finer nibs put a finer line on paper, the ink will dry a bit faster than a broader nib which will put more ink on the paper but will lead to a smoother writing experience. This may be factor if you are in a rush.
The most common nibs are made of stainless steel, 14k gold, and 18k gold. Stainless steel nibs are the least expensive and are more common in, you guessed it, inexpensive fountain pens. Stainless steel nibs are often stiffer than gold nibs which are more expensive and can be found on higher priced pens. Gold nibs give a little more when you write thus smoother. You may have a preference depending on your writing style.
For tips on how to keep the nib clean, see the post on fountain pen maintenance for taking care of the nib.
There are also other factors that will give you a great writing experience. In addition the nib, there are plenty of inks and paper to choose from. The right combination of nib, ink, and paper will enhance your writing experience and make it enjoyable.