Gel Highlighters: Is There an Ultimate?


Since discovering the gel highlighter, I no longer use marker style highlighters for the majority of my note taking and studying. It makes sense for me due to the fact that most of my note taking and studying is in the bible and those onion skin pages can’t take a lot of marker ink before bleeding, smudging, and overpowering the print. Now that I have several sets of gel highlighters I wanted to try them all side by side and with different types of inks to ask one thing: Is there an ULTIMATE gel highlighter? Or is does it just boil down to preference?


I used four pens: a UniBall ONYX, a Pilot Down Force ball point, a Pilot Kakuno fountain pen (with Noodlers Heart of Darkness ink), and not pictured is the Zebra Sarasa 3 gel pen.


The top four highlighters I picked up from Dollar Tree and they came in two packs. These are the first gel highlighters I ever used, and to be honest, they are decent gels. For fifty cents a piece they really  are top notch.

Next, are the Monami Essenti Stick highlighters in “bright”. They also come in pastel, but I ordered bright because I wanted the color to grab my attention. I picked these up as singles from

I own the entire set of the Sharpie Gel highlighters, but I couldn’t find the other four. So, all we are working with here is orange.


The final set is the Accu-Gel Bible Hi-Glider in pastel colors. I picked these up as singles from Mardel Christian Bookstore. If I’m being honest, I’ll tell you that I am primarily using the green one right now during my studies. Not that it’s “better”, but the tip is smaller and the type size I’m reading right now is itty bitty.

Let’s see how they perform!



First up is the Monami Essenti stick. They glide a bit roughly, but they really do go on dry. It only smudged the ball point ink  from the Pilot Down Force, but I did go over the ink several times immediately after writing. All samples are highlighted immediately after writing, but I only went over the ink once. This one I highlighted several times because I missed the wording. I have no motor skills, apparently. These gels are great for document highlighting and I use these a lot when I highlight in books. They are great on onionskin paper as well, but the tip is very large and round so it’s hard to use on tiny print.


Dollar store gels: NO SMUDGING! Seriously, these gels didn’t smudge any ink. I told you. For dollar store office supplies they really are top notch. They do feel “wetter” than other gels, but they don’t smear or smudge when writing with them. The gel itself just feels softer. It doesn’t affect the way they highlight or the ink they’re put over. I really enjoy these gels and use them a lot when I mark in my bible(s). The tips are narrow and great for tiny print!


Accu-Gel Bible-Hi-Glider gel highlighters are what are on my rotation right now. I am using the green for studying in my MEV bible at the moment. One, because it’s a small, thin highlighter, and two, because it’s new. I literally bought these last week. In fact, I’ve been using the green so much I had to go back to Mardel yesterday and buy another one because I was down to the nub. The only drawback of these highlighters is that if you run your finger across the gel after highlighting something it feels wet and like it’s going to make the pages stick together. It doesn’t. And it doesn’t smear. It just feels that way when you touch it. However, the gel dries lighter than when it’s first applied, so I recommend marking over something a few times, especially if you are using these gels for bible highlighting. I don’t know where the color goes, because it doesn’t ghost through the paper or anything. It just seems to evaporate a bit. (Weird, right?) These tested the same as the others. I used them right after writing with several different inks and there was only smearing with the Pilot Down Force ballpoint pen. And it’s not a lot, just barely noticeable, but still. It’s smudging and if you’re OCD like me, it nags.


And last, but not least, is the Sharpie Gel highlighter. This one is a little different because of its shape. It’s not round or square– it’s slightly oval– like a carpenter’s pencil. Which makes it great for highlighting small print! BUT, it does smear a bit. Mostly the Onyx and the Pilot Down Force, but glided smoothly over the fountain pen and gel Sarasa 3. The tip on the Sharpie is somewhat dry, but when you put it to paper you can’t tell and it doesn’t affect it’s purpose. Over all, the Sharpie Gel is great! I guess I don’t use it because it’s a bit bulky and misshapen.

So, to answer my question, IS there an ultimate gel highlighter?? And the answer is… NO. For me, it boils down to preference and purpose. Overall I have yet to use a junky gel highlighter. Nothing smeared to the point I wouldn’t use it and they don’t bleed or stick pages together. So it just comes down to asking: what am I using this for and will it help me get the job done? Don’t forget to visit these awesome shops (that did not give me money or stuff to recommend to you– I just really like these shops): Mardel,, and Office Depot (for the Sharpie Gel highlighters).

Enjoy and Happy Scribbing!



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