yard marker

Sharpie (marker)

Sharpie is a brand name for a line of permanent markers manufactured by Sanford sold in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Latin America, Australia, and parts of Europe. They are known for their ability to write a clear, well-defined, non-smudging, durable line on glossy surfaces.


The Sharpie marker was introduced in 1960s. Since then, it has been expanded into a wide product line and multiple colors. Today, Sharpies are sold in seven varieties, according to the shape and size of their tip(s), ranging from "Ultra Fine" to "Magnum". They also come in thirty-nine ink colors, along with a single variety in metallic silver for marking on dark surfaces. Metallic gold and copper versions were introduced as well, but these have been discontinued due to problems with the ink formula. In 2004, Sanford released a new line of Sharpies that have a button-activated retractable tip rather than a cap. Sharpie Paint markers were also introduced. In 2005, the company's popular Accent highlighter brand was repositioned under the Sharpie brand name. A new version of Sharpie, called Sharpie Mini, was launched; the markers are half the size of a normal Sharpie and feature a clip to attach the Sharpie to a keychain or lanyard.


Sharpie's versatility has led to its use in many applications such as:

  • General labeling in both commercial and residential settings
  • Cartooning
  • Graffiti
  • Image and poster design
  • Signing autographs
  • Wig coloring
  • Coloring glass
  • Writing on burnable media

Each Sharpie has a printed seal Art & Creative Materials Institute certifying the marker as being non-toxic for normal use.


Sharpie is the official marker of the Walt Disney World Resort.

NASCAR marketing

Sharpie has sponsored the Sprint Cup Series Sharpie 500, a popular night-time race at Bristol Motor Speedway, since 2001. Sharpie has also sponsored the Nationwide Series Sharpie Mini 300 race since 2004. Prior to 2006, they sponsored Kurt Busch, who was the 2004 Sprint Cup champion. Sharpie also sponsored Jamie McMurray in 2006. Most recently Sharpie sponsored Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at the 2007 Sharpie Mini 300.

The Terrell Owens "Sharpie" incident

On October 14 2002, the Sharpie marker made news in the United States when during a game of Monday Night Football, after scoring on a 37 yard touchdown pass for the San Francisco 49ers against the Seattle Seahawks, American football player Terrell Owens produced a pen he had stored in his sock, autographed the ball with which he had just scored, and passed it to his financial advisor, who was sitting in the audience, during a touchdown dance.

Many, including team officials, expressed dismay at the apparent arrogance of the move and the implication that Owens' attention was directed toward commercial exploitation of his athletic successes. However, team officials did not discipline him for the incident, and the 49ers went on to win the game.

In interviews, he called the pen a "Sharpie" by name. Many speculated that Owens hoped to win an endorsement deal from Sanford. Bob Daenen, brand manager for the Sharpie line, originally said company officials were not interested. However, a year later, Sharpie enlisted Owens for a promotion entitled "Sharpie Metallic AUTOgraphs for Education," involving small donations of cash and school supplies to Bay Area schools.

"Write Out Loud"

In recent years, Sharpie commercials have followed the slogan "Write Out Loud." These advertisements depict people using Sharpies in bad situations, such as using the marker to touch up a car, and a college woman highlighting words in a book to notify a male student that his fly was open. Also, a middle aged woman, trying to think of what to write for her resignation letter. So she writes "I QUIT" with a red sharpie.

The President's Sharpies

Indeed, the Sharpie has become so popular in American culture that it is the marker of choice for the President of the United States, George W. Bush, who reportedly prefers Sharpies so much that he often rejects other writing utensils in favor of them. The President's Sharpies carry his signature and have the words "The White House" emblazoned on them. There are even special Camp David Sharpies.

Apparently, many celebrities have personalized Sharpies as well, but Sanford North America president Howard Heckes told U.S. News and World Report that "it's pretty cool" to supply the President of the United States. "Sharpies are good for the President of the United States or the president of the PTA," Heckes said in a September 2006 interview.

Sharpie varieties

  • Sharpie (Classic Formula)
    • Fine Point
    • Extra Fine Point
    • Ultra Fine Point
    • Super
    • Twin-Tip
    • Super Twin-Tip
    • Chisel Point
    • RT Retractable Fine
    • Mini Fine
    • Micro Ultra Fine
  • Sharpie Grip (formerly known as Liquid Sharpie)
    • Fine Point
  • Sharpie Metallic
    • Fine Point
  • Sharpie Accent
    • Grip Style
    • Retractable Style
    • Tank Style
  • Sharpie Perks
    • Personalized
    • Pocket Style
    • Liquid Pen Style
    • Mini
  • Sharpie King Size
    • Chisel Point
  • Sharpie Magnum
    • Bold Point
  • Sharpie Rub-a-Dub
    • Fine Point
  • Sharpie Flip Chart
    • Bullet Point
  • Sharpie Industrial
    • Fine Point
    • Extra Fine Point
  • Sharpie Professional
    • Chisel Point
  • Sharpie Touch-Up
    • Fine Point
  • Sharpie Paint
    • Extra Fine Point
    • Fine Point
    • Medium Point
    • Bold Point
  • Sharpie Poster Paint
    • Extra Fine Point
    • Fine Point
    • Medium Point
    • Extra Bold Point
    • Extra fine Point
  • Sharpie CD/DVD Marker
    • Twin-Tip

Sharpie colors

Only the fine point markers feature every color. Metallic colors are available only in fine point.


Though Sharpie ink will become permanent after setting, it can be easily erased for several hours after writing on many glossy (non-porous) surfaces, most readily smooth metal and glass. Since the ink is based on propanol, butanol and diacetone alcohols, denatured alcohol will remove permanent ink writing from almost all non-porous surfaces. WD-40 will work moderately well on recent markings if alcohol is not available. Sharpie ink that has dried for more than several hours can be removed with acetone, but due to the power of the solvent, acetone may damage the surface material. On some surfaces, the ink can be removed by coloring over the ink with a dry erase marker and then removing the Sharpie ink and dry erase marker ink with a dry cloth. Steam cleaning has proved effective also. Magic Eraser has also proven somewhat effective on hard surfaces such as brick and very effective on wood furniture.

Removal from skin

Some products that can be used to remove ink from the skin are rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol, hand sanitizer, sunscreen lotion, nail polish remover, shaving cream, and facial cleaning pads. Tabasco sauce or any Vinegar based product are also particularly effective at removing the ink from skin. However, the ink wears off on its own within two days or so, since the ink is on skin cells that are constantly being shed.

Effects on health

There are no warning labels on Sharpie markers. However, they bear the new AP (Approved Product) certification symbol of The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI). According to the organization:

"The new AP (Approved Product) Seal, with or without Performance Certification, identifies art materials that are safe and that are certified in a toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, including children, or to cause acute or chronic health problems. This seal is currently replacing the previous non-toxic seals: CP (Certified Product), AP (Approved Product), and HL Health Label (Non-Toxic) over a 10-year phase-in period. Such products are certified by ACMI to be labeled in accordance with the chronic hazard labeling standard, ASTM D 4236, and the U. S. Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act (LHAMA)."

They are considered non-toxic for "normal uses," meaning writing on posters, soccer balls, and such. However, they are not meant for use on skin or fingernails. It might take over an ounce of ink from a Sharpie to cause a lethal reaction, and if a Sharpie is used on the skin it generally won't cause an immediate or obvious health effect. However, according to the manufacturer's safety data sheets (MSDS), various Sharpies contain: n-propanol, n-butanol, diacetone alcohol,, and cresol. The first of these, n-propanol, is commonly used in cosmetics. The other three, however, are industrial solvents, chemicals that should not be sniffed, eaten, or put on the skin. As solvents they penetrate the skin and fingernails, and do enter the bloodstream.

Magnum Sharpie, King Size Sharpie, and Touch-up Sharpie products contain xylene. The Magnum and King Size Sharpies also contain cresol. However, all other products in the Sharpie line do not contain either of these chemicals, and are considered safe under normal use conditions.

These chemicals are not tested for human consumption, only incidental environmental exposure. So the chemical manufacturers' technical data sheets on these chemicals are ambiguous with respect to how much should be considered a hazardous dosage, but do warn of kidney, liver, and brain damage, other nervous disorders, and DNA effects resulting in birth defects. OSHA has set permissible exposure limits (PEL) at 100ppm for n-butanol, 50ppm for diacetone alcohol, and 5ppm for cresol.


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