Cricut Explore: Pen Options & Writing Fonts

Pens for Writing and Drawing with the Explore:
There are several pens on the market that fit into the Explore.  Aside from Cricut brand, these will also fit into the pen housing and draw in the Explore.  I will continue to add to this list as we become aware of more that fit!  To make the list, pens have to fit without being assisted with tape or rubber bands, the points of the pens have to touch the paper, and the pens have to stay in place while writing.
  • American Crafts Chalk Markers (See note below -BOLD does not work.  Only the smaller tips work)
  • American Crafts Galaxy Marker (medium tip)
  • American Crafts Slick Writers (fine or medium)
  • American Crafts Precision Pens (fine)
  • American Crafts Metallic Marker Fine or Medium Point
  • Amy Tangerine Slick Writer - fine tip
  • Bic Round Stic Ballpoint (See picture above.  I had great results for my envelopes using Cricut handwriting fonts but not the best results for drawing fonts -system fonts- with lots of penwork.)
  • Crayola Fine Line (Use care not to push the barrel down too far in the housing otherwise the tip will drag on your paper!)
  • Marvy LePlume II (for ultra fine tip)  I used these pens for the 3/4" tags that I put on the bottoms of Hershey kisses.  They write very tiny text!  They are available in 108 colors! (photo below)
  • Pilot Precise V5 pens Extra Fine .5mm Rolling Ball.  My VERY FAVORITE pens! (Get the kind with a cap, not a clicker!  See photo below.)  I am told the V7s with the cap also fit, but I have not tried them myself!
  • Project Life pens (by American Crafts)
  • Recollections Fine and Medium Point (bold does not work in the Explore)
  • Recollections Photo Marker Set (Fine and Medium)
  • The Write Dudes Infinity Neon and Accent Pens (These Infinities work; the metallics do not.  Take care not to push them down too far. Great, bright colors!) See photo below!

Marvy LePlume II

The Write Dudes have more than one marker that says "Infinity."  It is the package that also says "NEON and Accent Pens" that you want!  The ones pictured above were purchased at Target.  Infinities will not click when inserted.  Take care not to insert them too far or they will drag on your paper.

Crayola Fine Line.  These will not click into place.  Take care not to insert them too far or they will drag on your paper.
Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine .5mm.  Font is
This is what the Pilot Precise V5 pens look like. When someone tells me the ones they bought don't fit, it is because they have purchased the type with a clicker instead of a cap.  The ones with the cap are the ones that fit!  I have purchased these at Walmart and Target.  They do click when inserted.  I have been told that the V7s also work that look like this but I have not tried them myself.

Note:  Three markers are packaged together in the American Crafts Chalk white marker sets.  Two of them are narrow (MED) and one has a fatter tip (BOLD).  As you can see, they are different lengths!  The fatter tipped one (BOLD) will not work in the Explore; the tip won't touch the paper even though the barrel fits in the pen housing. The narrow tipped ones (MEDIUM) fit perfectly however! 

There are single stroke Cricut fonts available for writing with the Explore.  These are perfect for journaling and note, letters, and envelopes!

Click on the drop-down arrow next to All Fonts will give you the option for 'Has a Writing Style'.  These are special, one-stroke fonts found on Cricut cartridges.  I have noticed that those from Creative Memories are not listed but once you link those carts, the writing style font magically appears.  Below is a sampling of writing style fonts.  

Any image can be changed from cut to draw by changing the scissor icon to a pen icon.  Aside from Writing Style Fonts however, text and images will be outlined.  

Artwork from Word Collage (Cricut Cartridge) that was changed from cut to draw.
The machine cannot fill them in; this includes system fonts. The exception to this is that there are fonts that have a drawn-in fill as part of their design!  There are many fonts of this type to download!

Click below to see my post on these additional Explore font tutorials (including links to fonts):

Edited 12-1-14 to add:  since I have created this post, Amy Chomas created pen and marker holders that allow for the use of other pens.  To see my post about the Chomas Creations pen holders that allow for the use of gel pens, click here.  The marker holders will allow for the use of fine Sharpies and glitter pens.  The only way to use gel pens, glitter pens, and Sharpies is with the use of an auxiliary method, like her pen and marker holders.  

Edited 7-12-15 to add:  The Provo Craft company now sells a Cricut Explore without a Cricut pen holder at all, call an Explore ONE.  No matter what, to use a pen or embossing tool in any Explore, you will need the Cricut pen holder.  I have the original Cricut Explore and that is what is pictured here.  In order to use the aftermarket Chomas adapters or any adapter for use of additional pens not on my list, you will first need to be sure that your Explore has a Cricut pen holder.  


Patricia L. Logan said...

I was looking for this, because I had my Cricut Explore for a month. I had tested the AC markers, but not the others. Thank You for sharing this

Sherrill Campbell said...

Try the Faber-Castell PITT Artist pens, the metallic are fabulous on black cardstock!

Janis said...

Nadia thank you so much for all your work & time put into this, which helps all of us who own the Explore. I appreciate your help.


6th Street Sundries said...

Where did you find the Chalkboard pens from AC? I can only find packs of the medium and bold point.

Nadia ( said...

The Chalk Markers are packaged in medium and bold together. The medium are the pens I used; the bold will not work. I got them at Target.

Tereasa Wilson said...

Thank you very much! I've had my Explore for over a month & it's still in the box. It was a gift & came as I was in the middle of a craft room remodel (oh what a nightmare). Thankfully I'm seeing a light at the end of the tunnel!
Now I know what pens to keep an eye out for! Thanks again! :)

Nellie said...

Thank you so much,for all this useful information on you blog!It's
just GREAT..

Dariela said...

Thank you for this post is awesome! If you find more markers or pens we can use please let us know is very helpful

Martha Arellano said...

I so appreciate you sharing this information, I had been looking for how to's for awhile.

Would it be tooooo much to ask you on a video tutuorial on the fill in fonts?

Jessica R said...

Thank you for the great information. I just found it through a google search. This is awesome!

Barb S said...

Thank you for sharing this information. It is thoughtful and generous. A great resource and just saved me from buying the wrong Slick Writer.

Charlotte E Padgham said...

This is really great info, thanks so much. I've been having problems with my Cricut metallic pens blunting as they get used which means I can't do finer work with them. Are there any alternative fine point metallic pens out there that can be used in the Explore? Thanks again.

A Nonny Mouse said...

As a British crafter the only brand there I recognise as being sold over here is Crayola - but for some reason I can only find the washable version of the fine tip pens. Do you know if these fit and work the same as the normal ones? Thanks!

Fawn Kuehne said...

I bought a set of the medium Cricut markets and find that they kinda dry out pretty quickly? half way though my first page my silver marker started to look like the cap had been left off it for a day, fresh out of the package! So I purchased the Precise V5 pens to use in my Cricut. I was a little put down. It seemed to work fine but then it kept skipping, like the ink wasn't coming out. I was really bummed that this pen did not work, Because when it did work it was perfect! Maybe I just had a crappy pen, I will try other ones before I count this pen out completely. Thanks for all the ideas, I substituted a BIC ball point pen and it got the job done. Maybe I'm just having bad luck with writing utensils?

Nadia ( said...

To A Nonny Mouse-- I would try them if they say "Fine Line". Not sure of prices there, but here, they are about $1 and worth the experiment. I know I have seen a pen list for brands in Australia. I would bet someone in the UK has a list too.

To Fawn Kuehne-- I have had wonderful results with the Pilot Precise V5 pens. They are my go-to pens. I have heard that some of the Cricut pens arrived dried out but that Provo Craft quickly replaced them so it would be worth a call to them! Best wishes-- and better luck with pens. :)

Sharon Schutjer said...

Regarding the Marvy Leplume ii, is it the double ended ones?

Tammy Petersen said...

Ok, a little off subject here, but how do I get it to write WHERE I WANT IT!!! I have been trying for over a week, it wants to put the writing where the machine thinks it should go, but since I have pre-cut card stock and spent 2 weeks doing a design to put on the front of said card once I figure it out (I know too much information) everytime I come up carefully lay words out to where I want them to show up on the cards, as soon as I hit "GO" it lays it out totally different! HELP!!!! Please and Thank you <3

Nadia ( said...

Sharon Schutjer - Yes, they are double-ended but the brush end does not work. The fine end does. The cool thing about that is that you can use the brush end for accents and coloring in by hand and it will match the text that the Explore writes!

Nadia ( said...

Tammy Petersen - You have to ATTACH the text to the cut. To do that, after you have the text the way you want it (size, style, etc) on the cut you want, you must highlight them both and click the attach button. You can highlight them by making a box over them or you can use the layers box and select them both.

Rhonda Morse said...

Can you use Tombow markers? they are just about the same Marvy size.

Shirley Barker said...

Did you see Nadia's comment to you? She tells you how to do it. :)

Karen said...

Thanks so much for this post! I just did my first (very small) project on my Explore and did a write and cut, thanks to your help! One note ... for awhile I couldn't get the text to attach to the shape, the menu just wouldn't let me select "attach" and eventually I discovered "select all" in the tool bar across the top ... so with a box around the cut and type, I did "select all" and then I was able to "attach." I think it might have been because I had a lot of text? Thanks again ... I'm definitely going to have to pick up some more pens!

Belinda said...

My text moves to the back of the object when I select all and attach. Do zag makers work?

Nadia ( said...

I don't own Zag markers. Let me know if they work! You have to attach the text. Try highlighting the text and shape, then select attach.

Darling Mother said...

Thank you for this post. It's a great help. I bought a pack of Pilot Precise V5 extra fine with caps and can't seem to figure out how to use them. They do click when put in the machine, but the tip doesn't touch the paper when I try to write. What am I doing wrong? Can you help?

Darling Mother said...

Followup...I pushed harder on the Pilot pen and it clicked a second time and now it writes! Thanks.

Unknown said...

Oh my, thank you SO MUCH. I was trying to make invitations for my daughter's birthday, but the AC pens I was using were too thick for the fine writing. Your suggestion on the Pilot pens was spot on! Project saved! Thanks.

Tracey Perillo said...

Darn it! I bought an entire pack of Sharpie fine point because I was told those would work. Also,do I understand this correctly that I do NOT have to purchase the pen adapter for the explorer one machine?

Nadia ( said...

Tracey, the Explore ONE does not have a pen holder of any kind. It was the way that Cricut tried to make the Explore One less expensive than the Explore or Explore Air. (Personally, the pen holder is one of the best features on the machine, so manufacturing them this way seemed silly to me and I knew that most people who bought them would want the adapters once they figured it out...and I think Cricut knew that too). So if you want to write or emboss, you will need the pen holder that is manufactured by Cricut that is standard with the regular Explores or available to buy later for the Explore one. My pen list contains pens that fit the Cricut pen holder natively without any other objects assisting it to hold the pen in place. can buy a pen adapter from Amy Chomas (or I have even seen crafters make their own with narrow pvc pipe and a screw) that will fit IN THE CRICUT PEN ADAPTER which will allow for even more options. You must still have the Cricut pen adapter to use these aftermarket products to fit into!!! These aftermarket holders will allow for the use of Sharpies--the standard ones. I hope this helps, Tracey. Best wishes and happy crafting!!

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