Madison + PAGE is available to help you with your pen and refill needs. Feel free to bring your pen into the store for a new refill, pen inquiry or refill change. Below are some tips and commonly asked questions that we hope will be of service to you. Should you find your inquiry isn’t featured on this page please contact us at your convenience.

Writing is a very personal process and experience. Some people prefer to write with a lightweight writing instrument, as it seems less strenuous on the hand, while others prefer heavier writing instruments that seemingly do not require as much downward pressure or grip. Heavier pens are typically made of various metals that have been coated in lacquer or some other embellishment. Lighter pens are often made of celluloid or precious resins, wood or plastic.  


A ballpoint pen is the most common style of pen, and the most convenient for everyday use. Though there are many disposable versions of a ballpoint pen people usually prefer refillable ones as there are more technical features and they are far more attractive. Ballpoint pens use an oil-based ink that spreads across a surface (paper) by a polished steel ball. Because ballpoint ink merely sits on the surface of the paper and very little is used when writing, these pens/refills last longer than any other writing instrument.  Ballpoint pens are usually the most durable pen and very applicable in situations where the pen is under some form of pressure (ie – multiple copies). Ballpoint pens do not risk drying out the way rollerball or fountain pens do. Refills are available in a multitude of colors, breadths (fine, medium, broad), as well as pressurized versions that allow for writing to occur at a variety of angles.  

Changing refills in ballpoint pens:

Carefully rotate the pen cap counter-clockwise beyond the retraction point to expose the refill.Take the used refill out of barrel and replace with new refill. Be aware that there may be a spring in the barrel.

This is a necessary element of your pen and should not be discarded.

Always remove the extender (the plastic colored piece on the end of the refill) from the refill before replacing the cap.

Replace the cap on top of the barrel and turn clockwise to close securely.

With any ballpoint pen, always retract the refill when not in use. Remember to always write on a padded surface. Writing on hard surfaces may cause the ball to flatten on the refill and subsequently can cause premature skipping of the ink.


A rollerball pen is a sort of combination pen characterized by the ball of a ballpoint pen with the liquid ink of a fountain pen. The result is a pen that is comfortable to use and writes very smoothly with clear and dark lines. Written lines can be expressed as thin or thick according to the pressure exerted by the user, and rollerball pens can write “uphill”.

Rollerball pens should always be capped when not in use to prevent the refill from drying out or causing premature skipping. Rollerball refills lay more ink with every stroke when writing (which is what makes them, in part, so nice to write with) and will need replacement refills more frequently than ballpoint pens.

Changing refills in rollerball pens:

To change a rollerball pen simply unscrew the barrel from the front section of the pen (the grip or nib area will likely have a seam to show where the two parts will separate). Unscrew or pull out the old refill and insert a new one by screwing it into place to secure its position. Some rollerball pens may have a spring in the pen. Do not discard this element as it holds the refill in position. Screw the two parts back together and replace the cap of the pen. Please note that almost all rollerball refills have plastic caps to keep the ink active. Be sure to store refills with their caps on to ensure longevity of the item.

Remember to always write on a padded surface. Writing on hard surfaces may cause the rollerball to flatten on the refill and subsequently can cause premature skipping of the ink. When a rollerball refill begins to skip, it is time for a new refill.


Fibre pens are typically used for writing and drawing, sketching and marking. These pens are derived from the brush and produce a bold stroke. The writing tip of a fibre tip pen is composed of 12,000 fine nylon fibres that are specially tempered for the tip to keep in shape through use and pressure. Ink is stored in a plastic or metal tube and requires a cap so that it doesn’t dry up. International style rollerball refill pens are interchangeable with an international style fibre tip refill. Other brand specific pens and refills often offer a fibre refill option for rollerball pens also. Please inquire with us directly about your pen’s refill options.



Increasingly people are rediscovering the joys of writing with a fountain pen. This writing instrument is truly one of the most pleasurable ways to write.

A fountain pen is essentially a tube of ink with a nib at one end. There is a slit in the nib and when pressure is applied and the slit opens, ink is drawn down (to the page) via capillary action. The other side of a fountain pen nib is an element called the filler mechanism, which consists of a series of tubes or coils that allow air to flow into the pen and allow ink to flow out of the pen. The filler mechanism must be very carefully balanced or the pen will either not write or ink will flow too easily.

Fountain pen nibs are usually made of steel or gold and vary greatly between manufacturers. A high quality steel nib can be a fantastic instrument to write with, though pen aficionados will agree that there is nothing quite like the experience and pleasure of writing with a fountain pen with a gold nib.

Filling a fountain pen:

The most convenient way to fill a fountain pen with ink is with a cartridge. However, despite being more involved processes, internal bladder or piston systems allow for controlled ink flow and larger ink capacities. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference. 

Piston Filling System

To fill a fountain pen with a piston filling system, rotate the filling mechanism counter-clockwise to move the piston down (towards the nib).

Immerse nib completely into an inkwell or bottle of ink.

Rotate the piston mechanism clockwise to fill the pen’s reservoir completely. ***Do not over-rotate the piston mechanism***

Make sure the pen nib stays completely immersed in the ink.

Allow 6 to 8 drops of ink back into the inkwell or bottle of ink by turning piston mechanism slightly counter-clockwise.

Gently rotate the piston mechanism clockwise to close.

Wipe any excess ink from the pen with lint free cloth.

*** Do not wipe black ink feeder located on the underside of the nib***


Cartridge Filling System

To fill a fountain pen with a cartridge of ink, remove the pen cap from the fountain pen and unscrew the forepart from the barrel of the pen.

Position cartridge correctly and push into ink feeder. Be sure to push firmly enough to secure the cartridge and prevent ink leakage.

Always insert two cartridges into the fountain pen when using short cartridges: Place the flat side of the second cartridge to the flat side of the inserted cartridge. This reserve cartridge will provide pressure to engage and secure the main cartridge.

Should the pen not write shortly after placing the cartridge in the feeder, gently squeeze the inserted cartridge to begin the flow of ink into the ink feeder. Once the ink becomes visible,  replace the pen body and begin writing.

Converter Filling System

To fill a fountain pen with a converter filling system place (or screw in if the converter is threaded) the converter firmly into to the forepart of the fountain pen connecting it to the ink feeder.

Fill the converter mechanism as you would a fountain pen with a piston filling system (see notes above).


• Use your pen regularly! Ink will continue to flow smoothly in a fountain pen through continuous use.

• Always use fountain pen ink that has a cleaning agent in it (ie- Pelikan, Waterman, Visconti all have cleaning agents in their inks) to protect your pen

• Write on quality stationary/paper that is not too absorbent, coated nor fibrous (fibers can clog your pen)

• Always place your cap over the nib to prevent the ink from evaporating or thickening when not in use. Be sure to place the cap over the nib carefully versus dropping the barrel of the pen into the cap, thus preventing ink from spilling into the cap.

• Store your fountain pen upright (nib towards the sky) when not in use. If your pen will not be used for longer than a week be sure to empty it of ink and clean the pen thoroughly with cool water before storing it

• When a fountain pen ceases to write do not press down on the nib in an effort to force ink out. This will only damage the nib. First check your ink levels and see if you need to replace a cartridge or refill the converter/bladder

• Clean your pen regularly by flushing it with cool water. If the pen is very clogged, fill it with water and let it sit/soak overnight. Use a soft cloth to wipe excess water when drying

• Flush/clean fountain pens frequently using cool or tepid water only and a converter. Repeat several times until water runs clear

• It is advised that you don’t lend your fountain pen to others to write with. Nibs mold to writing styles through time, use and pressure, thus becoming a very customized writing instrument (especially with gold nibs)

• To prevent the feeder system from drying out, always keep a cap on the fountain pen

• For preventative and protective reasons be sure to carry your fountain pen in a pen case (preferably leather)

• When traveling by air be sure to empty your pen of ink before takeoff. Air trapped in partially filled fountain pens can expand with changes in altitude and cause a fountain pen to leak.

• Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance of your pen 



The main advantage of mechanical pencils over traditional wood pencils is that they don’t need constant sharpening and will provide a uniform point. Mechanical pencils last a lifetime and don’t age as quickly as wood pencils. Most commonly these pencils are available with .5mm, .7mm or .9mm pencil mechanisms (lead widths). A mechanical pencil is essentially comprised of a clutch mechanism that holds lead for writing, and feeds lead when activated.

To advance pencil leads simply twist cap 90-degrees a couple of times to the right and the lead will advance by itself. Some pencils will ‘lock’ the lead in position with a single 90-degree turn to the left after advancing. When finished writing turn the cap 90 degrees and hold this position while pushing the lead tip back into the pencil with your finger or on a hard surface.

To replace the lead remove the pencil cap and unscrew the refill housing unit (if necessary) to expose the metal tube. Remove the cleaning needle from the refill as well as any broken or small pieces of lead. Refill the pencil with the correct lead width (ie: 0.7 mm). Insert no more than 5 leads as mechanical pencils can jam if over filled. Use the cleaning needle to dislodge any jammed pieces of lead by inserting it into the tip of the pencil. Discard these pieces of lead.