Marker Fanatics & Facilitating with Great Markers!

Great markers provide you with the option to create many different types of charts, diagrams, and pictures in your training or facilitated sessions. If you don’t use markers in your sessions, that might be a sign you need to make some changes!

Visual elements (and hence markers) are a big part of Training From the BACK of the Room, which is openspaceimagea training framework based on the latest brain science, that increases engagement and retention! I’ll talk about markers a bit more as well as other aspects of great training in another post later this week titled, Is Your Training Amazing & Engaging? Or does it Smell? 

Marker Options

You can certainly use dry erase markers on flip charts or Sharpie even has ‘flip chart’ markers.

Sharpie 'Flip Chart' Markers

Sharpie ‘Flip Chart’ Markers

I used them for years and they do work. Although I got tired of throwing them out and the tips getting smashed. If this is your only option however, I’d rather have them anytime then have no markers at all!

I like the scented markers for students, since they smell better (and it’s fun to see people with dots on their nose — think about it). Having an assortment for each group of students is ideal!

At this point, we at Agile For All, are using Neuland Markers. They are refillable (yes, really), come in tons of awesome colors, you can replace the tips (“nibs”), and you can see what color the marker is when storing them tip down (better ink flow). The markers themselves are not that expensive, but when you buy 25 of them with the refill ink, you might be in for some sticker shock! However, if you add up all the throw-away markers you have purchased, I think you are better off (sorry data wonks, I don’t have a quantitative analysis of the ink usage!). Note: I don’t know anyone who works at Neuland or get any kickback (but if they read this and want to send me some samples, I’m cool with that!).

How to Tell if You or Someone You Love, is a Marker Fanatic

Are you a marker fanatic? I am. I was not always this way… I’m not sure when it happened. But I think I know the person who got me fully hooked.
If you get irritated by more than a few of these, you may be a marker fanatic:

  1. People use your markers and don’t put them back in the holder correctly! Tip DOWN people!
  2. People take your markers with them and you don’t have the color you NEED!
  3. Your marker set mistakenly only has a large grey marker, but you REALLY needed the small grey marker!
  4. You did not know you would need your markers and are stuck using old dry erase markers on a flip chart!
  5. You see other people writing charts that are not complete enough, don’t have borders, or enough colors! (but you restrain yourself from updating their charts)
  6. You DO get up and fix other people’s charts and are incredulous that they are annoyed! It NEEDED a Border!
    You can draw and highlight over the Outliner permanent ink with BigOnes and No.One ink without smearing.

    You can draw and highlight over the Outliner permanent ink with BigOnes and No.One ink without smearing.

  7. The only markers available have a round tip!
  8. You have all the right markers and are marking great visual charts, but you are not allowed to put them on the walls!
  9. What did I miss?

Neuland Markers

I have a lot of clients who ask me what kind of markers we use and which ones I recommend. Some of this will depend on what you are doing. If you only facilitate the occasional session, the full set we use will be overkill. The set I list below is for someone who is doing a lot of training, facilitating, and organizational coaching — and use flip charts! You can browse the Neuland US site or International sites, but be careful, they have some really cool stuff. They do have sets of markers, but we’ve found that the sets they have are not the best mix of colors and sizes. We have a standardized set based on our experience with them. The BigOnes are great for creating charts, No.Ones for writing key text, and the Outliners for writing most of the text on a chart and they have permanent ink that drys instantly so you can highlight over it with BigOnes.

“the set”
All with a wedge nib (not the round nib).


  • 101 grey
  • 102 light grey
  • 200 red
  • 300 blue
  • 301 turquoise
  • 302 light blue
  • 303 pastel blue
    Nueland Markers

    Neuland Markers

  • 400 green
  • 401 light green
  • 402 olive
  • 403 pastel green
  • 501 yellow
  • 500 brilliant yellow (added 12/18)
  • 600 orange
  • 700 violet
  • 701 pink
  • 704 neon pink (added 6/19)
  • 702 pastel violet
  • 801 golden ochre


  • 102 light grey
  • 200 red
  • 201 dark red
  • 300 blue
  • 302 dark blue
  • 304 denim blue
  • 400 greenmarkers2
  • 402 olive
  • 802 dark brown


  • I bring 5 for a 2-3 day class, like Agile For Teams. We use this for most of the lettering so you need more of them. Then using the colors for highlighting and emphasis!


  • You need to get the ink for all the colors you buy, but inkPro Tip: You can get away with only the Outliner ink to start, since that goes the fastest if you use the Outliner black for most lettering. [Note that the Outliner ink is a different ink (permanent) than the other colors].

The mesh cube above that we hold the markers (They allow you to stand up all your markers, so the ink flows to the tip) are no longer available. However, we have found some other cubes that we are using now. You can find them on Amazon.

Although, I really want to do a Kickstarter to create a marker vest modeled after John Popper of Blues Traveler’s harmonica bandolier vest or if you don’t know that reference, picture Chewy, but as a facilitator with markers!Episode_4_Han_Solo_and_Chewbacca_1JohnPopperHarmonica

Questions? Comments? Other marker recommendations? Other colors? Other questions to help determine if someone is a marker fanatic?

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    • They are great. So far I’ve avoided venturing into the other sizes of markers! They have some great stuff! Maybe new need an open space on markers at #Agile2016!

  1. Haha, that was the first question I had at the first Humanizing Work conference I attended: What are those markers! Sounds like I have to take the plunge and order some. The prices are fairly reasonable considering how durable they are.

  2. YES – am a marker fanatic and a pen fanatic too (i order my ink pens from Japan – I’m that picky). And yes!!! Neuland Markers are the Mercedes of markers. I love them. I just wish they would set up a distributorship system in the US so I can avoid that flat rate shipping charge – but, I save up and buy a lot a t a time because these are amazing markers!!! Period.

  3. You know you are a marker fanatic when you are commenting on a 17 month old blog post to ask the author to update the link to the collapsable marker crate because the link doesn’t work any more… #TrueStory. No seriously can you update the link?

  4. Once you’ve found the Neuland pens you usually find your way to Bikablo which is an amazing visual facilitation method. I’m addicted to both Bikablo and Neuland…

  5. I’m a marker tragic because I work for the official Neuland reseller for Australia and New Zealand – Yes, my office is like a candy shop!!!!
    My only comment on your post is that you haven’t included in your set The Two Most Glorious colours in the Neuland range: 500 Brilliant Yellow, and 305 Ocean. But I’m glad to see that 201 Dark Red at least get a mention, even if it is not as a BigOne.

    And now I return to my sewing machine to quietly make a Chewy sash prototype…

    • LOL! So I do have a 500 Brilliant Yellow! GREAT color!! I just updated the post with that color. I was looking at the 305 Ocean, was not sure on that one – maybe I’ll order one. I did just order a – 704 – Neon Pink!! That looks great – but I don’t have it yet. Also considering the metallic ones…

Jake Calabrese

Jake Calabrese is a coach, trainer, and coach-consultant working to help organizations meet the promise of agile by going beyond agile practices to address culture challenges and help teams and leaders reach and maintain high performance. He has unique expertise as an Organization & Relationship Systems Certified Coach (ORSCC), a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC), and Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and as a trainer and coach for Agile Companies (helping non-software organizations use agile). Jake created the AgileSafari cartoon series to introduce humor into the more challenging issues we have to tackle. Jake uses ideas from various areas of thinking such as: Lean, professional coaching, neuroscience, psychology, facilitation, brain-based training, improvisation, agile, kanban, and scrum. Jake regularly speaks at local and national conferences including Mile High Agile, Scrum Gathering, and Agile Alliance Agile20xx conferences.

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