What Is a Stylus Pen, and What Is It For?

Technology is making great strides in today’s digital world, requiring us to keep up. According to recent data, approximately six billion people use smartphones and tablets. Whether you use one for gaming, writing, taking notes, or drawing on a tablet or a smartphone, a stylus pen is a tool that can simplify your work and help you become more efficient.

What Is a Stylus Pen?

In a nutshell, a stylus pen is a pen-like device that works on touchscreens. It typically consists of a body, which could contain electronic components depending on the type, and a rubber tip.

Some stylus pencils operate only on individual devices made by certain companies, while others are universal. Besides, they come with various features, with those lacking universal compatibility being more useful for specific tasks.

Stylus Pens Explained

As you read on, you’ll learn:

  • When the earliest stylus pens appeared
  • What types are common on the market
  • What to pay attention to before buying one
  • Whether is it possible to make one in case of emergency

History of Stylus Pens

In a way, even the old Sumerians in Mesopotamia used stylus pens to make markings on clay tablets, which led to the creation of one of the oldest written languages.

Fast-forward to the 20th century, one of the first styluses for computer use appeared between the 1950s and the 1970s.

In 1984, the KoalaPad graphics tablet came out with a trackpad and a stylus. From then on, stylus pens accompanied individual electronic devices before going mainstream during the mid-2000s.

What Is a Stylus Pen Used For?

You can use stylus pens to perform various tasks on touchscreens. For example, a smartphone stylus can help you type a message or write an email quickly without making typos. On the other hand, a drawing stylus is irreplaceable for precise drawing on a tablet.

Some other common uses for touchscreen stylus pens are:

Playing Games

Use your stylus to play card games like poker or solitaire. Also, they are a pretty good tool for billiard games.

Online Shopping

Online shopping is what a stylus pen is used for, too. A smartphone stylus can help you shop more efficiently when using your touchscreen phone.

Social Media Posting

Social media users spend hours on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter daily to post images or comments, often typing on their smartphones. So, a stylus pen for Android or another phone pen compatible with the phone’s operating system would significantly cut the time users spend on posting.

3D Modelling

A specialized tablet pen can help you create 3D representations in 3D Modelling and sculpting.

A Guide to Stylus Pens: What Types Are Available?

Before diving in, note that a universal touchscreen stylus capable of performing every task on every electronic device doesn’t exist. However, you may have heard of a universal stylus pen, a term used to describe pens that may be compatible with more than one device. Still, you likely won’t be able to use them for highly-detailed tasks like precise drawing or attentive writing.

Now let’s see what types of stylus pens are available and what differentiates one from another.

Passive Stylus Pen

Passive styluses are virtually the extension of your finger, conducting the electricity from your finger to a touchscreen. Thus, they are the simplest stylus pencils that work on any touchscreen that works with fingers, capable of completing the tasks like:

  • Swiping
  • Surfing the web
  • Checking a grocery, to-do, or some other list

Due to a relatively broad tip, passive stylus pencils aren’t suitable for detail-oriented work. And since they don’t feature electronic components or touch sensitivity, they are affordable. Also, you can find them at various retail stores.

The capacitive stylus is another name for the passive stylus pen.

Active Stylus Pen

Albeit passive styluses are most common, answering the question of “what is a stylus pen?” would be far from complete without mentioning active stylus pens.

Also known as resistive stylus pens, active styluses feature a pen-like tip and a bulkier body than passive ones due to inbuilt electronics. Thus, they may seem heavier in comparison.

These handy tools are suitable for fine drawing, sketching, and other detail-oriented types of work. Furthermore, they’re pressure-sensitive, meaning you can control how thick a line would be depending on how much pressure you apply to the screen.

Other valuable features of this fine point stylus are:

  • Memory
  • Palm rejection
  • Electronic erasers

Each active pen is typically compatible with a specific platform and can’t be used on others. Finally, you’ll have to connect it to the host device by Bluetooth or wire to work.

Wacom Digitizer Stylus

If you work in graphic design, you’ll love the Wacom digitizer stylus, meaning it’s an excellent tool capable of precise drawing. This is mainly due to various pressure levels you can apply. If you wish to erase something, use a built-in eraser.

Wacom digitizer stylus works best with a Wacom tablet.

Dual Stylus and Pen

If you work at the office, this stylus and pen combo will come in handy. With it, you can handwrite a note and flip the pen over to use its rubber stylus next.

Stylus Pencils Using Bluetooth Technology

These devices need regular charging but boast various features other pens usually don’t have. They are helpful when you need to make a hands-free phone call or want to listen to music while driving, for example.

Why Use a Stylus Instead of Your Finger?

Using a touchscreen stylus pen instead of your finger offers a range of benefits, including:

  • Typing efficiency and accuracy
  • Protects the screen from scratching
  • Prevents bacteria from gathering on touchscreens

How To Make a Fine Point Stylus Pen?

Creating a stylus pen on your own isn’t too complicated to do, so long as you’re making a passive stylus. But, creating an active stylus pen for work requiring high accuracy is anything but. So investing in a specialized Android pen or a tablet pen with a fine point would be a better idea.

And here’s how you can create a simple stylus in a few steps:

  1. You’ll need scissors, aluminum foil, a simple plastic ink pen, a cotton swab, tape, and a little water.
  2. Remove ink refill from the pen.
  3. Cut the cotton swab and push the stick through the pen to have another cotton swab sticking out where the pen nib used to be.
  4. Cut a piece of aluminum foil and fix it tightly around the pencil’s body.
  5. Dip the cotton tip in water.

Can I Use a Stylus Pen for a Laptop?

You can use certain types of stylus pens for laptops. Note that they should be marked as PC compatible. Besides, make sure the laptop has a touchscreen before buying a stylus.


A stylus pen is a writing instrument that is used to write on a touchscreen device. Stylus pens come in various shapes and sizes, but the most common type is made out of plastic or rubber and has a small metal ball at the tip. This ball makes contact with the screen and allows you to write or draw on your device.

Stylus pens are often used for taking notes, drawing sketches, or signing documents electronically. Some newer stylus pens also have an eraser on the other end so that you can erase mistakes while you’re writing.

When looking for a capacitive pen, you can buy it or make one yourself. They are great for smoothly performing everyday actions, such as texting while an active stylus pen makes a great choice for more accurate, professional use.


What is the difference between a stylus and a pen?

You can use an ordinary pen to write and draw on paper. On the other hand, the definition of a stylus pen states that a stylus is a pen-like tool you can use to perform different actions on electronic devices with touchscreens depending on the pen’s compatibility.

These devices conduct electricity to the touchscreen or require an active connection to the device to allow you to type, draw, surf, swipe, and even erase, depending on the type of touchscreen stylus.

What does a stylus pen do?

You can use a stylus pen to type, draw, buy products, surf the web, and do many other things. Note that passive or capacitive styluses are typically universal, while active stylus pens are device-specific. Thus, you can’t use an Apple pencil designed explicitly for iPads on Samsung or any other smartphone, for example.

Why do I need a stylus pen?

What a stylus pen is used for largely depends on the pen’s type. If you have a passive/capacitive stylus, you can:

  • Swipe
  • Surf the internet
  • Type

As for professional use, resistive or active stylus pens with narrower rubber tips are more suitable. With this tool, you can:

  • Draw or paint
  • Take notes
  • Create 3D models
  • Scroll and select with accuracy

Do stylus pens work on all touch screens?

Before purchasing a stylus, you should learn what is a stylus pen and how it can benefit you. This device allows you to communicate with a touchscreen without using your fingers. Pens compatible with every touchscreen are passive stylus pens. Active styluses, on the other hand, are device-specific.

Milica Milenkovic
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