Zebra Mildliners vs Stabilo Pastel Boss

Highlighter Review/Comparison

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Pastel highlighters as opposed to standard fluorescent colours are currently all the range amongst study bloggers and stationery enthusiasts alike. It is not surprising that these light coloured pens have swept off the shelves and are all over social media websites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr.


When considering the average prices of the pens, we can establish that these highlighters are similar in price. So, which pen is worth splashing out on?


'Stabilo' is a well-established stationery brand, being a brand leader in highlighters for years. The more recently introduced “pastel” range of colours has the standard wide, flat barrel typical in highlighter designs, with a wide 5mm chisel nib. Stabilo also offer a mini series of pastel highlighters, featuring “doodles” on one side of the highlighter.

As of mid-2018, Stabilo only offer their pastel range of highlighters in 6 colours, with their standard range including an additional 9 colours. Unlike standard highlighters, the pastel range do not contain fluorescent ink, with pale, slightly unsaturated hues. These highlighters are particularly juicy, leading to the ink often pooling at the end of a line.

The 'Zebra' Mildliners have a more “pen-like”, thin barrel with a smaller 4mm chisel nib. There are currently 20 colours available in the series, usually sold in sets of 5 highlighters. The pack I will be reviewing today is the “fluorescents” set, containing most of Zebra’s lighter colours.

As suggested in the name, this set contains Zebra’s only fluorescent colours, which is generally highly bright in hue (most notably the pink, orange and yellow inks), despite how pale they are.

Comparing the Stabilo and Zebra brands side-by-side, we can see that the Stabilo highlighters are darker and less saturated than the Zebra highlighters. I absolutely love the colours in both sets of highlighters, although they are mostly very different in hue. The closest matches for colour would be the green Zebra mildliner and blue Stabilo highlighter.

Handwritten & Printed Documents

I tested both brands on highlighters on printed text and handwritten text, to see how the pens compared. For the handwritten test, I used Oxford Campus 90gsm Lined Paper and a fountain pen with permanent blue ink.

Both the Zebra and Stabilo highlighters worked well on the printed text; while I likened the look of the Stabilo pens to the digital highlighting tool of a word processing program, the Zebra pens really brought out the text with their bright colours. Both of these highlighters work perfectly well for this purpose. Due to how light the ink is, the Zebra highlighters also barely showed up when the paper was scanned (though personally I rarely need to scan highlighted notes).

However, when I tested the pens with handwritten text, I found that the Stabilo pens had a good smudge-guard, while the Zebra pens struggled to hold up against the “permanent” ink, despite having the same amount of drying time.


Personally, I prefer the Stabilo BOSS Pastel highlighters, due to the slightly darker and more easily flowing ink, however I can see the positives of using both these brands. It is easy to see how popular pastel highlighters have become over the last few years and I will definitely continue to use both these brands of highlighter in the future.

If you are interested in buying either of these highlighters you can do so through the links below, which also helps support my blog through Amazon Associates!