Eva van Emden (she/her), freelance editor

Certified copy editor and proofreader


August 12, 2015

Erasable pens for proofreading

I’ve started proofreading with Pilot Frixion erasable pens recently. Unlike the messy erasable pens of the eighties, these ones work like a dream, without spreading eraser rubbings or wearing out the paper. These pens work with heat: as you rub the plastic knob on the back of the pen over the ink, it produces heat that makes the ink transparent.

I particularly like the red pen for proofreading on paper. I prefer pen over pencil for proofreading because it shows up better and is clear and sharp for making small marks. The problem has always been trying to keep things tidy when I can’t erase my marks. I was very fond of the Bic Wite-Out correction tape for covering up mistakes, but erasing them is far better.

So far I’ve tried the blue 0.7 mm Frixion Ball and the red 0.5 mm Frixion Point, and I like them both. The colour of the ink is nice, and they use a gel ink that isn’t greasy and doesn’t run or smudge. I don’t know whether anyone has had a problem with the ink fading under hot conditions (like a car dashboard in the sun), or whether the erased marks can be made to show again, but I haven’t noticed any problems with durability.

Edit: So it turns out that if you leave a freshly microwaved cup of tea sitting on your notebook, you can in fact erase your ink wholesale. This is a little disconcerting—what if someone puts my proofed manuscript down on a radiator and bleaches out two hundred pages’ worth of edits? The thought gives me the willies. A quick experiment with the freezer suggests that recently erased marks become visible again when exposed to cold, which is pretty worrying too: what if a cold trip on a FedEx airplane makes all of my erased marks visible again?

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