Learn how to store and organize all the pens, pencils, and markers at home so you can find what you need and prevent them from overflowing or getting lost.
Pens and markers are some of the smallest items in our homes, but they also seem to be one of the most difficult items to store and organize. We either have way too many of them stashed in random places, or not enough and you can never find one when you need it. If you’ve been frustrated with your writing tool storage situation lately, here’s exactly how to declutter, store, and organize all your pens, pencils, and markers so they’re tidy and stay in working order for as long as possible.
3 Steps To Organize Pens, Pencils, & Markers
- Assess what you have and what you need
- Choose storage location(s)
- Choose containers
Assess Your Pen Situation
Time for a treasure hunt! Your goal is to look through every room of your house and track down all the pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, replacement lead, and anything else you use to write with. (You can skip coloring items like crayons, colored pencils, and kids’ markers)
Gather all these writing tools into one central location, like your kitchen counter or coffee table, so you can see everything you have. Head’s up, you’re going to start off thinking “I don’t have many at all” and end with “where did all these pens come from??”
Once you have them all together, grab a sheet of paper or an old piece of mail that is on its way to the recycling bin. One by one, test each writing tool to see if it works. There’s no point in keeping anything that won’t write, so this helps you weed out useless pens that take up space but don’t serve a purpose. As you test each marker, sort them into categories on your surface.
Once all your working writing utensils have been tested and sorted, you can assess how much is left. You might find that you have a ton of random pens in all kinds of shapes and sizes, or you might find that you only have a few pens that actually work, and they’re all red ink (which you never even use).
Decide if your pen, pencil, and marker stash needs to be downsized or if you need to buy more to restock. If you are buying more, wait to organize the ones you have until you have the new ones too. It’s much easier to organize them all at once than go back and change it later, so for now just stash them in a coffee mug or a zipper bag.
Choosing Storage Locations For Pens, Pencils, & Markers
Now that you have all your writing utensils sorted and you have an idea of how many you have, it’s time to decide where you’ll store them. You have two options. You can store them all in one central location or you can divide them up and store in a few different places. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, and there are benefits to each method.
Storing In One Central Location
When you keep all your writing tools in one central location inside your home, you streamline the process of storage and organization. Every pen, pencil, marker, highlighter, and Sharpie are all in one spot so you never have to look for them. Everyone in the house knows to check that spot too, so you won’t hear “where’s the yellow highlighter?!” ever again.
However, if you have a large home, a multi-story house, or a big stash of writing tools, this method might not work for you. A large amount of writing utensils stored in one place turns that area into more of an office supply store, and you might not have room for all that. And if your home is bigger than average, it will be super annoying to have to walk all the way across the house or to another floor just to get a pen.
I recommend storing writing utensils in one central location for smaller homes and apartments or families who don’t have/use writing tools very often.
Storing In Multiple Rooms
Storing a few pens, pencils, and markers in a few different rooms is the option most people tend to choose out of convenience. It allows you to have writing utensils nearby no matter where you are. This is a great way to stay organized at home, but if it’s not done right, it can cause an overflow of unused writing tools or frustration when they don’t get put back in their storage spot.
Think back to Step One when you were searching around the house for all your pens and markers. Where did you find them? Were they stored neatly in drawers and cups in each room you found them? Or were they stuffed in random places, laying on nightstands, and pushed in corners next to baseboards? This gives you a good idea of where the pens were being used and how frequently they were being touched.
The key to keeping pens and markers tidy when storing in multiple locations is being extra intentional with where those places are. The kitchen, each child’s bedroom, the office, and the mail station are all great places to keep them. You don’t need them in the living, dining, and kitchen area of an open concept space; that will create confusion and lead to overflow.
Choose three to five places inside your home to store pens and markers, and don’t let them stray to other spaces. These set storage locations allow you and other family members to always find them when needed.
The Best Containers For Organizing Writing Utensils
Now that you know exactly how many writing utensils you have and where you’re going to store them, it’s time to get to the fun part…organizing! There are so many types of pen organizers on the market and you can get as creative or minimalistic as you’d like.
There are three main ways to organize pens and markers in a room:
- In a drawer
- In a cup or container on a surface
- Hanging on a wall or door
Storing Pens & Markers In Drawers
If you prefer having things out of sight but still within reach, a drawer is best for you. You can get as fancy as you’d like with your containers. There are specific pen organizers available online like these drawer trays, or you can use expandable kitchen utensil trays to divide your writing utensils by type. If you aren’t worried about separating them, you can use one single tray like this one to store them all together.
And if you love the idea of keeping them stashed away but still want the convenience of portability, I recommend a pen pouch like this one. All your favorite writing tools live in the pouch and it can kept in the drawer when not in use, but also dropped in your bag for a trip to the coffee shop. Pouches work best for planner and crafting pens, but aren’t so great for regular household use.
Keeping Pens & Markers Out On A Surface
If out of sight means out of mind for you, storing writing utensils on a surface is a better choice. You and other family members can see where they are and are more likely to put them back since there’s no drawers or containers to open and close. There are hundreds of options for surface-based pen organizers online, and they range in so many types of materials.
I love these slanted towers for markers and planner pens, this desktop pen organizer for separating writing tools by type in a family command center area, and this caddy for a kid’s bedroom. But don’t feel like you have to spend money in order to organize your writing utensils. You can totally store them in a coffee mug or recycled jar, and it will work just the same.
Hanging Pens & Markers Vertically
If you live in a small space or just don’t have a lot of drawer and surface space, a vertical organizer might be best for you. You can hang wall-mounted containers, use magnetic cups on the side of your fridge, or hang an over-the-door shoe pocket organizer on the back of an interior door or cabinet.
Vertical pen and marker storage is also a great option if you have very young children. Having them stored up high ensures children can’t access them, but you can still get to them easily. It does take a little family training to get everyone in the habit of putting them back on the wall when they’re done signing a school paper or addressing an envelope, but once you get used to it you’ll be grateful for the space freed up on the counter and inside drawers.
Does It Matter If Pens & Markers Are Stored Standing Up Or Lying Flat?
This is a question I get all the time, and I want to give you two answers. I’ll give you the “correct” answer and the realistic one. It is true that pens and markers should be stored horizontally at a slight angle with the nib (the part that writes) downward to prevent it from drying out or getting too much ink in the nib at once. But that requires a very specific type of container that takes up surface space.
Honestly though, this is really only necessary for certain types of pens and markers. If you have expensive alcohol-based markers or calligraphy pens, yes, follow the rules and store them slightly angled horizontally. But for your regular ink pens in the big pack of 24 from the dollar store, standard highlighters and sharpies, and lead pencils, they are totally fine standing up, laying down, or thrown in a zip lock bag in a jumbled mess.
Some people swear that all pens and markers should be stored nib-down, and others insist that they should be flat. But unless you invested a lot of money in high-quality writing utensils, don’t listen to what they say and just arrange them however you like. It’s rare that the lifespan of an already cheap pen or marker will be reduced by the way you keep it. Remember that everyone has opinions and opinions are like…well…you know the saying.
Shop My Favorite Pen & Marker Organizers In My Amazon Storefront
I saved all my favorite types of pen organizers I’ve used in both my home as well as my clients’ in this Idea List in my Amazon Storefront. There are all kinds of varieties to choose from based on your needs and budget. Let me know in the comments what your favorite ways to store pens are, and how you’ll reorganize them after you declutter and rehome them.