magic marker

Marker pen


A marker pen, marking pen, or marker, is a pen which has its own ink-source, and usually a tip made of a porous material, such as felt or nylon.


Markers are available in a variety of sizes.

  • Fine-tip markers, typically used for writing on paper.
  • Medium-tip markers, typically used by children for coloring.
  • Large-tip markers, typically used for writing on non-paper surfaces.
  • Wide-tip markers, typically used for highlighting text that is already present on paper. (This device is usually called a highlighter.)


Non-permanent marker

A non-permanent marker uses an erasable ink — an ink that adheres to the writing surface without binding or being absorbed by it — for temporary writing with overhead projectors, whiteboards, and the like. They may also be used by children when adults want to be able to clean up after them. The erasable ink does not contain the toxic chemical compounds xylene and/or toluene, unlike permanent markers.

Security marker

Special "security" markers, with fluorescent but otherwise invisible inks, are used for marking valuables in case of burglary. The owner of a stolen, but recovered item can be determined by using ultraviolet light to make the writing visible.

Election marker

Marker pens with election ink (an indelible dye and often a photosensitive agent such as silver nitrate) used to mark the finger, and especially cuticle of voters in elections in order to prevent electoral fraud such as double voting. The stain stays visible for a week or two and may also be used to assist in vaccinations in developing world communities and refugee camps.


Sidney Rosenthal, from Richmond Hill, New York, is credited with inventing the marker in 1952. . He placed a felt tip on the end of a small, stout bottle of permanent ink and discovered that the resulting marks saturated a heavy, absorbent surface, yielding rich color and permanence.

The felt tip pen played a major role in the Apollo 11 mission. Neil Armstrong accidentally broke a circut breaker switch that was essential to starting the Lunar Lander's engines for lift off from the moon. The pen was used to activate the switch, thus starting the engine and saving the Astronauts' lives.

Dialectal variations

The use of the terms "marker" and "felt-tipped pen" varies significantly among different parts of the world. This is because most English dialects contain words for particular types of marker, often generic brand names, but there are no such terms in widespread international use.

US and Canada

In the United States of America, the word "marker" is used, as well as "magic marker", which is a genericized trademark.

In Canada and the US, "Magic Marker" is sometimes used to refer to "reveal markers" for "magic picture books" where the colors of a picture are revealed by a colorless marker. Sharpie is a popular brand of permanent markers used for labeling. Markers are also sometimes referred to as felt-pens or felts in some parts of Canada.


In Australia, the term "marker" usually refers only to large-tip markers, and the term "felt-tip pen" usually refers only to fine-tip markers. A medium-tip marker used for colouring in is called a texta. "Texta" is actually a brand name which has become generic.

In parts of Australia, the word "texta" sometimes refers to a large-tip permanent marker (this usage is attested in South Australia), and in parts of Australia, the word "texta" sometimes refers to a fine-tip marker (this usage is attested in Western Australia). Also known in Queensland as Niko pens.

New Zealand

"Sharpie" is used in New Zealand, but the dominant word used would be "Vivid", also a genericized trade name.


Fine-tip markers are referred to as 'sketch-pens' in India. In Malaysia, marker pen is just called marker without the word 'pen'.


In the United Kingdom it is common, especially in schools, to refer to felt-tipped pens as 'felt tips'. This is particularly common with the non-permanent sort of pens used for rendering areas of colour in outline drawings ('colouring in').

See also


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