The best highlighters for planning

Highlighters are having a long moment.

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Particularly Mildliners. Those things are everywhere! I picked some up back in 2016 and they’re still massively popular even now. I have to say I wasn’t that impressed with them and haven’t used them all that much in the past two and a bit years. My two main gripes were I found it hard to get a neat line and they were so inky that every time you ended a line you’d have a great big blob of ink left behind. I also didn’t really use the pointed end to them as the colours are so washed out they don’t really show up that well if you try to write with them.

First world problems, I know.

But I had some Stabilo pastel highlighters that I used for work that I loved and remembered some highlighters by them I used to have called Swing Cool. I found out they still exist (and in pastel colours) so I picked them up and decided to do a quick comparison to find the best highlighters for planning.

Zebra Mildliners

At around £4* they’re pretty cheap for a pack of five. They come in a few different colour sets including the full set of 20 for about £15*. You do have to wait for them to come from Japan though so not great for an instant fix. I saw Zebra at the National Stationery Show earlier this month and they’ve finally realised how popular these guys are so I expect to see them popping up a bit more in the UK soon (but no doubt a lot more expensive). 

These are double ended with the usual highlighter end and then a marker-style tip on the other end.

I think these are so popular because I think they are some of the original muted coloured highlighters. When it comes to decorative planning, pens are fantastic for adding some colour if you don’t like stickers and washi tape. But the idea of putting fluorescent pens in your notebooks? Not great. These add a touch of colour without being in your face bright.

Stabilo Boss Original

I feel like everyone must have owned some of these at some point. Coming in at around £4* these are comparable in price to the Mildliners, although this is only a pack of four. The colour selection isn’t as good with the Mildliners with only 6 possible colours available.

Due to how much bigger than the Mildliners these are, these won’t really work in a Hobonichi. There’s a reason these are great highlighters for work. I used to use these a lot in my last job when I was marking up store plans and the such.

Stabilo Swing Cool

I remember buying some of the normal colours of these back in France as a kid. I loved these highlighters. These are about £6* for a set of six and I love them. I like the fact that the clip is on the body, rather than the lid. They’re easy to get a nice neat line with and I really like the (albeit small) colour selection. 

Swatch time!

This is the important bit – how do they compare when it comes to swatches?

You can see that one of the things that annoys me about the Mildliners is present in all of them – the big blob of ink at the end of the line. Thankfully it is less noticeable on the Swing Cool.

As you can see, I also get a neater line with the Swing Cool, and that’s the main reason it’s been the highlighter I’ve been reaching for recently. The colours are also a bit prettier in the Swing Cool in my opinion. I like that they’re a lighter shade than the Mildliners.

Mildliners are still a great highlighter.

And if you need the double end, and you like the colours a little darker and more varied then these are probably the ones to purchase. However, if you just want some nice pastel highlighters, I can’t recommend the Swing Cool enough.

I didn’t want to write this post without at least mentioning the other popular highlighter out there in the planning community. I have tried the Frixion highlighters* previously and they got binned pretty quickly as they dried up really fast. The colour pay off on these was also terrible and so I’d only recommend them if you think you will actually need to erase them.