What kind of pen should be used on the backs of photographs?
Q. Dear Donia,
What kind of pen should be used on the backs of photographs? Thank you, Nancy
A. Dear Nancy,
This is a great question and one that always seems to elicit a lot of conversation when it is brought up because there are a couple of points of view.
One is to use a stable, archival pen such as the Pigma Pen. These pens will not bleed, feather, or strike through. However it is still a pen and is indelible, so if you need to make changes it will result in strike-throughs rather than a clean change.
My preferred method is to use your average #2B pencil. It will write on the verso of most photos easily and can be changed if any of the labeling requires it. If you need something softer so that you don't create marks on the image side, you can get a 3B or higher pencil but test first for smudging problems.
Finally, you can put the photos into individual polyester sleeves and label the sleeve itself either directly with a Pigma Pen or with an adhesive label. This not only protects the photo from creasing or issues with ink but also protects the photos from fingers.
Regardless of which method you use, always label your photos at the edges so that should any indentation or bleeding of ink occur, it will not be in the image area of the photograph itself.
I know it is not a specific answer but I hope it helps you decide what is best for your collection needs.