The Ultimate Guide to Pen Refills: How to Find the Right Ink for Your Pen (2022)

Parker Fountain pen ink refills

The Ultimate Guide to Pen Refills: How to Find the Right Ink for Your Pen (2022)

‌Are‌ ‌you‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌new‌ ‌refill‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌favorite‌ luxury pen?‌ ‌Are‌ ‌you‌ confused‌ ‌on‌ ‌which‌ ‌replacement‌ ‌refill‌ ‌will‌ ‌fit‌ ‌your‌ ‌pen?‌ ‌

Here’s‌ ‌the‌ ‌definitive‌ ‌guide‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ you‌ ‌find‌ ‌the‌ ‌right‌ ‌refill‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌pen. If you have a gold Cross pen or a Waterman Expert pen (or any other sort of pen for that matter), this guide is for you!

It can be frustrating to spend money and wasting delivery times on a refill only to find out that it doesn’t fit. It might take some digging to figure out which brand of ink cartridge fits which pen: this article is meant to do a lot of the digging for you. 

Here's why it takes digging:

Some pen brands take standard refill sizes, so you can buy generic or off-brand pen ink cartridges (and these are usually cheaper and of exactly the same quality), but others have specific profiles and sizes that fit only their pens. 

So, what do you need to know when your Cross pen or any other luxury pen needs an ink refill?

  1. You need to know which pen cartridge types are compatible for, say, Cross pen refills.
  2. You need to know where to find them.
  3. You need to know where they're the most affordable.

By following this guide you’ll learn how to find the right refill for your pens.

How Do You Find the Right Ink Refill?

1.) Find Information on the Make and Model of the Pen

Start by identifying your pen’s model and make. Go ahead and use this information to find the right pen cartridge type that fits it perfectly. 

A good place to start would be on the manufacturer’s website. Do they mention the specific refill options that go with your pen type? 

If not, consider checking with retailers or reviewers. 

Is it a pen that’s available at Dayspring Pens? Go to the “shop by style” tab on our site, then click on the ink refill section on the far right. You will find refill options that fit your Cross, Waterman, or Parker pens. Here’s a screenshot to guide you.

Product page pen ink collection menu


2.) Inspect the Refill for Any Identifying Marks

Cross rollerball ink refillCross Brand Selectip Rollerball Refills

Not sure what brand or make yours is? Check your refill for identifying marks.

Can you see a model number or manufacturer logo?

Search the web using the identifying mark and see what options you can find.

You could ask other users of luxury pens online for recommendations as well. Make use of online forums such as the fountain pen network, Reddit, and Quora

Be careful when using model numbers, though. It’s not uncommon to find similar model numbers that are designed for different pen cartridge type sizes. Check the specifications to make sure the new refill matches your pen type.

Consider Searching for Similar-Looking Ink Refills

Cross Brand Ballpoint pen ink refill

AT Cross Brand - Ballpoint Pen Refill

If you can’t find a branded refill, chances are there are no specialized refill options for your pen type. 

You can also contact the manufacturer online and see if they can offer any recommendations. Alternatively, you can search for a different refill of the same style that’s compatible with your pen.

Note: Only use this method if the first two fail. A similar-looking refill of the same style can have slight variations causing compatibility issues. 

ISO Standard Refill Types

Many brands adhere to the same standards of size (ISO 12757-1:2017 and ISO 14145-1:2016) when making their pens. This is why most refill sizes have the same dimensions even though the pens are from different makers.

Are you still in doubt about the right refill replacement to use? One of these standard refill styles could be it. 

The D1 Refill

Multi-pen with D1 refillImage from:

These are short and slim refills usually seen in small multi-function pens.

It’s worth noting that a lot of brands make their own D1 refill sizes. However, if your pen uses a D1 refill, you can use a refill from any brand as they are compatible. There’s a wide range of inks and color options to choose from.

The fact that D1 refill sizes are small in size means that they run out of ink more quickly. They might not serve you longer as their full-size counterparts. But, small pocket writing tools are precisely what they’re designed for.

Parker D1 pen ink refill

Image from:

Size. About 2.6 inches long and 2.3 mm in diameter. 

Ink Type. Generally, D1 pen refills are miniaturized ballpoint refills and are almost all interchangeable. There are a few that use gel ink. They get used up faster than ballpoint refills, however.

Parker-style G2 Refill

Parker Ballpoint pen ink refills

Parker Brand Ballpoint Ink Refill

A Parker-style refill features a wide body with a long thin tip and a threaded plastic piece on the end. This refill type has an easily recognizable shape and is almost always interchangeable. 

Being one of the most common refill styles in the world, there are many Parker-style options to choose from. However, the Parker Pens Ballpoint Refills are some of our favorites. 

Size- About 3.9 inches long with a wide barrel and a long thin tip.

Ink Style- Generally, they feature ballpoint ink. You may find a few gel ink refill options as well.

Cross-style Refill

Cross-Style Ballpoint Refills

Cross Ballpoint Refill

Often referred to as the C1 refill, this Cross Ballpoint Refill features a long, thin metallic body. There’s a threaded plastic knob that allows for screwing into the pen body. 

Specs: 4.6 inches long. 

Standard Rollerball Refill

See Parker Brand Rollerball Ink Refill.

These are used in retractable gel and rollerballs. However, they aren’t always interchangeable as they can vary from one brand name to another. 

Compatibility issues between brands are often caused by varying lengths and tapered ends. Therefore, it’s best that you use a refill size from your pen’s manufacturer. 

Get the Right Pen Ink Refills Today!

Parker fountain pen ink refill

Parker QUINK Mini Fountain Pen Ink Refill Cartridges

Frequently Asked Questions...

How Do You Refill a Fountain Pen?

This is a question we get all the time, and we've made an entire How To video for it.

We hope that helps to answer the question!

What's the Difference Between Ballpoint Pen Refills and Rollerball Refills?

Simple answer: The ink types are different based primarily on the liquid used to distribute the ink dye. 

Ballpoint pen ink is oil-based that dries really quickly and doesn't smudge.

Rollerball pen ink is water-based that seeps a little deeper in the page and looks darker and bolder. 


Finding the right replacement refill for your pen doesn’t have to be frustrating anymore. 

With this guide by your side, you can now go ahead and explore new combinations of writing instruments and refills that fit. 

If you’re looking for an ink refill that will fit your Cross, Waterman, or Parker pens, Dayspring Pens has got you covered. 

We have a wide range of generic pen refills compatible with your favorite rollerball, ballpoint, and fountain pen ink.

Featured image: WikiMedia


@Lisa Great question! To my understanding Schneider makes a compatible refill. I had success searching Papermate Powerpoint refill and saw a variety of generic brands that make compatible refills as well.

Samantha Di Nardo

How about the Papermate Powerpoint pen? I can get the exact refill for it at Staples, but I’d like to have some other refills to choose from that fit, as the exact one doesn’t exactly flow smoothly. But I love that pen body & have several of those pens.


@GarryBrandt Great question! As best I can tell the Tourneau MMXV 18k gold plated Rollerball pen the Schmidt 888 rollerball refill

Samantha Di Nardo

I have a Tourneau 2021 18k gold plated Rollerball pen.I need refills and can ’t find them anywhere.Please help!

Garry Brandt

Interesting questions! Though I know you can interchangeably sway any Cross model Rollerball and Fountain pen tips (since the threads and barrels are the same size in each model), I am not familiar with any pen that specifically sells as convertible between both styles.
My recommendation would be to find a pen that you like the look and style of and contact the manufacturer to see if the barrel dimensions are compatible and if they will sell you the individual tip (either fountain pen or rollerball) in tandem with the original pen writing style.

Samantha Di Nardo

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