The question is inspired by this thread on MO. My father is a mathematician, so I remember seeing very nice pens all around. When I started to do math by myself I've realized how important can be a good pen and a notebook with a decent paper. Personally I do prefer thin pens (currently using blue gel Pilot pen) and squared paper, but I am also interested in what do people on MSE like.
closed as off topic by Jonas Meyer, lhf, Isaac, Chris Taylor, user641 May 24 '12 at 10:54
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These pens are incredible. I buy box every semester or so.
For paper, I take 1-2 hundred sheets of plain copy paper (I don't like lines when doing math) to the campus copy shop and get it spiral bound with vinyl covers. The total cost is under $\$4.00$ and unlike Moleskine (which I used for a while) or Mead notebooks, you can turn pages a full $360^\circ$ about the binding and everything is still smooth. Also, the vinyl covers are very durable. Once I started doing this, I never looked back.
I take the philosophy "beggars can't be choosers". I lose pens like crazy, and despite my best effort at collecting lots of freebies whenever I have the chance, I never seem to have enough pens or pencils. For non-mathematical writing I prefer a good fountain pen--mine never leaves my desk at home for fear of it being misplaced. For mathematical writing I just use whichever implement of writing that is most conveniently within reach (which often ends up being cheap BIC ball-points).
For paper: when I am roving about (i.e. not at my office) I prefer a writing pad with either graph paper (5mm or less spacing) or narrow-ruled paper (college-ruled is okay, but narrower is better for me). I tend to become too messy when using blank paper, so ruled paper stands a better chance of me being able to eventually transcribe it digitally.
In my office, I do about half of my computations and writing directly on computer (I TeX as I go). For the other half I try to be environmentally friendly: I go to the printer room and pick up stacks of discarded print outs; most of those coming from when the laser printer runs out of toner and so most of the page is blank with some faint stripes of text. Since I transcribe these into my computer immediately, the paper quality doesn't matter much.
I prefer chalk and a blackboard. Not for an audience; I just like to have some space, and it gives me a chance to clean up my work a few times over without wasting paper.
Any piece of paper (I literally did mathematical things on back of a bus ticket, more than once), but I often have a spiral bound legal pad around.
My favourite pen is Mitsubishi Uniball UB-150 (Micro) Black.
The best is a napkin or a beer coaster. That is where all the best theorems were first written. (This is folklore.)
Technical pencils with an eraser on the end. Any kind of paper.
I like using the Pilot G-2 0.5 roller, preferably black or blue
Usually I use any sort of draft I can for papers, though I always carry a hard-cover notebook in my back-pack, in case I need to write something while standing in the bus or walking.
I really liked unit3000-21's idea of binding draft-papers together, I think i'll start doing that as well :-)
Pilot FriXion erasable-by-friction pens are THE BEST. They work amazingly well. Erases instantly and even more cleanly than pencil. http://www.jetpens.com/Pilot-FriXion-Point-04-Gel-Ink-Pens/ct/758
I like the PaperMate (formerly Sanford) Ph.D. and Ph.D. Ultra mechanical pencils. They have a big, comfortable grip, a massive eraser (essential!) and hold lots of lead. They are expensive enough that you will take care not to lose them, but not so expensive that you will be bankrupt if you do.
For paper: plain white office paper on a wooden clipboard. On the rare occasions that I write something that I want to keep, it's easily scanned. Otherwise, it's easily recycled. Notebooks tend to accumulate unnecessarily.
Pens? They make everything stand out. How do you go back and review notes done all in pen? They also bleed or indent the paper below much more than pencils, created a rather used-paper experience when you turn the page. I think notes are best taken in pencil with a switch to pen for certain highlighting of information. I've done notes and problems all in pen before for studying purposes and like I said, it's like everything is yelling at you, when you go back to review
So, I have been using Uni-ball Signo (DX) UM-151 (0.38) on the Apica CD40SN. If you're in Boston, you can get the notebooks at Tokai at the Porter Exchange. Sadly I am unaware of any US stores carrying the UM-151. The paper is extremely smooth and the interaction of the pen with the paper is really stellar. But sometimes nothing beats loose leaf paper, and there are times when unlined paper is better than lined paper.
The other pen that I think is pretty useful to have around is the Sakura pigma micron 0.2mm, especially when drawing figures.
Maybe it's a function of the particular writing I like to do, or my puzzle background, but I really like working on graph paper when I'm trying to work something out; being able to sketch out figures with some small degree of accuracy or to veritcally align elements consistently (my alignment has a tendency to drift when I'm not paying attention) is really useful.
I also have a small supply of multisubject notebooks at around 4"x6"; they're just small enough to fit into the pocket of a jacket or cargo pants, easy to pull out on a bus or in line, and the sectioning lets me keep up with two or three different streams of thought without having to jump over irrelevant text.
I write notes in pen. Just simple papermate blue. Never black. I do all my work in pencil however (before Tex) and for that I use any pencil I can find. Normally mechanical. SIAM gave out a bunch of free pens to our student chapter and I've been riding them out for awhile.
I still prefer the good old fashioned regular pencil and paper (not too picky when it comes to paper.)
I use Le Pen from Uchida for nearly everything. They're cheap (I get them at a local art store for a bit cheaper than the website) and they come in all sorts of colors. Uniball and such are nice but I got sick of using such a sharp point.
I prefer to use liners. For example, Pigment liners form Staedtler or Topliner from Schneider (that is what I found in the nearby stores). I prefer a width of 0.3 mm.