We are frequently asked about the difference between an oblique pen {with the flange holding the nib} versus a straight pen {with the flange inserted directly into the pen holder}.

Most commonly, oblique pens are recommended for beginners as it helps you to more naturally achieve the thick and thin lines that are characteristic of pointed-pen calligraphy.

Now you may have noticed in our #lhcvideos that I use a straight pen. Full disclosure! This is only because I didn’t know that oblique pens existed when I started! That’s right, I’m completely self-taught, had pretty much zero resources when I got started, and had no clue that there was a holder that could make this easier than completely retraining myself with how I held my pen. OOPS!

The oblique pen helps achieve the correct angle to get the thick lines, so unless you can write with your nib pointing up towards the top/top-right corner of your paper naturally, then you should probably be using an oblique pen. You still might need to rotate your paper to get even more at the right angle, but the flange will help it happen just a bit more naturally.

With that said, everyone is different and everyone comes into calligraphy with varying pre-existing pen holding techniques. We always recommend that you use what works best for you to achieve the thick and thin lines that you are working so hard to create.

Lefties: we do sell an oblique version for left handers in our starter kit and you can find some out in the market. But some left-handed calligraphers prefer the straight pen regardless, based on how they naturally hold their pen to write.

Additionally, calligraphers sometimes prefer a straight pen when flourishing since you often flourish at different angles than the downstrokes of the letters, so the pen doesn’t necessarily need to point toward the top of the page.

We hope this sheds just a bit of light on the difference between the two, but again, your preference is up to you.