These Avery Smearsafe Hi-Liters are smear resistant highlighters that come in four standard colors, yellow, pink, orange, and purple. At first glance when I saw these highlighters I was not immediately impressed because quite honestly, the packaging and the design of the highlighters themselves look a little bit older, but when I saw that they were supposed to work well with ink jet print, I was sold.
The bodies on these smear resistant highlighters are pretty chunky, which I like in my highlighters, however the somewhat conical ends, and clear hard plastic caps give them a little bit of an 80s look to me. In the case of these highlighters though, they were not designed to impress your cube mates with how they look, they were designed to lay down a nice line of highlighter ink on your freshly printed inkjet documents without smearing them.
Now although I am admittedly not a big fan of the way these smear resistant highlighters look, I am a big fan of how they feel in the hand. The nice thick and rubber coated grip has a slight hourglass shape to it and nice thick grooves to help you hold on. The cap slides smoothly and very far over the back of the highlighter for a fit that makes you confident that it is not going to shake or wiggle off. The clips are a nice sturdy metal and seem like they will hold up well to being clipped onto whatever notebook cover or binding you tend to put things on.
So in order to really give these smear resistant highlighters a test, I printed the above sample from one of my favorite websites, The Amateur Economist, and I slapped the tip of the highlighter onto the print as quickly as I could after my printer (an Epson Artisan 800) spit it out. To my surprise, the inkjet print didn’t even give a hint of wanting to smear, so I later passed over it two more times…still no smearing. Now that the ink was really starting to dry, I took a shot with all of the colors and ran over some text 8-12 times, and it was not until the 12th pass where it even gave a hint of smearing the ink. VERY impressive in my eyes. If you look at the scan above, you can see the light pink highlighting and my hand written notes towards the bottom left. Keep in mind when you look at the highlighting sample that in person, the highlighter leaves a much brighter layer of ink behind, for whatever reason the scan waters down the actual intensity.
I think these Avery Smearsafe Hi-Liters are a must have for anyone who does highlighting of smear-prone inks, the only issues you might have is that they only appear to come in the four colors that I’ve shown you here, and they do warn that high levels of humidity may impact the smear proof performance.
An Update for Commenter Bill W.:
Here is a second test as requested by Bill W. I printed the same page and used two different brand highlighters that are not marketed as being smear resistant highlighters. The bottom two lines are my test with one pass immediately after printing, the two lines above were done seconds later and with three passes. You can see that the first test on the bottom lines with one pass show no problems, and the second set of lines when I passed over the text three times really started to show the smearing. Also, something that I should have pointed out in the original review is that the paper I used is HP Premium Choice 32lb Laser Jet Paper. And yes, I know it is laser jet not ink jet paper that I am using in my ink jet printer, but I just really like the paper, its super high quality and handles the ink jet ink pretty well.