A highlighter is a felt-tip pen which is used to draw attention to sections of documents by marking them with a vivid, translucent colour.[1] A typical highlighter is fluorescent yellow, coloured with pyranine.[2]



In 1962, the modern felt-tip pen was invented in Japan by Yukio Horie.[3] A highlighter is a felt-tip pen filled with transparent fluorescent ink. Avery Dennison Corporation invented and trademarked the name Hi-Liter. The new writing tool became popular and was called highlighter.


A pair of highlighters

Many highlighters come in bright, often fluorescent colours. Being fluorescent, highlighter ink will glow under a black light.[4] The most common colour for highlighters is yellow, but they are also found in pink, blue, green, orange, and purple varieties. Red highlighters can be purchased along with a green translucent sheet used to hide the highlighted material. This product is sold in Japan and some other countries, and can also be bought online. Some yellow highlighters may look greenish in colour to the naked eye.

Highlighters are available in multiple forms including ones with a retractable felt tip or ones which have an eraser on the opposite end of the felt tip. Other types of highlighters include the "trilighter," a triangularly-shaped pen with a different-coloured tip at each corner, and ones that are stackable.

Dry highlighters (occasionally called "dry line highlighters") are highlighters that, instead of having a felt tip, have applicators that apply a strip of highlighter tape similar to audio cassette tape. Unlike standard highlighters, they are easily erasable. They are to be distinguished from "dry mark highlighters", which are sometimes advertised as being useful for highlighting books with very thin pages.

Other uses

Yellow highlighting on a page of photocopied text
  • Artists have used highlighters (including erasable highlighters),[5] either alone or in conjunction with other media, to create drawings.
  • Some word processing software can simulate highlighting by using a technique similar to reverse video on some terminals. Similar to this is the program Web Highlighter, which allows users to "attach highlighting, notes, and links to any Web page viewed with Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or later."[6]


  1. ^ WO 2005042654, Schmid, Christian; John L. Stoffel & Bill Sperry, "Ink compositions for use in highlighter markers and associated methods", published 12 May 2005 
  2. ^ http://www.neelikon.com/index.htm
  3. ^ History of Pens & Writing Instruments, About Inventors site. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  4. ^ Highlighter Ink Glowing Under a Black Light
  5. ^ Highlighter Art
  6. ^ Web Highlighting


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • highlighter — ► NOUN 1) a broad marker pen used to overlay transparent fluorescent colour on a part of a text or plan. 2) a cosmetic used to emphasize the cheekbones or other features …   English terms dictionary

  • highlighter — [hī′līt΄ər] n. 1. a pen, usually with a broad felt tip, for marking passages, as in a textbook 2. a cosmetic preparation for adding bright color to the eyes or cheeks …   English World dictionary

  • highlighter — [[t]ha͟ɪlaɪtə(r)[/t]] highlighters 1) N MASS Highlighter is a pale coloured cosmetic that someone puts above their eyes or on their cheeks to emphasize the shape of their face. 2) N COUNT A highlighter is a pen with brightly coloured ink that is… …   English dictionary

  • highlighter — UK [ˈhaɪˌlaɪtə(r)] / US [ˈhaɪˌlaɪtər] noun [countable] Word forms highlighter : singular highlighter plural highlighters 1) a brightly coloured pen, used for marking important words on a document 2) a type of make up that makes particular parts… …   English dictionary

  • highlighter — noun Highlighter is used before these nouns: ↑pen …   Collocations dictionary

  • highlighter — noun Date: 1964 a pen with a broad felt tip and brightly colored transparent ink for marking selected passages in a text …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • highlighter — /huy luy teuhr/, n. 1. a cosmetic used to emphasize some part of the face, as the eyes or the cheekbones. 2. a felt tip pen with a wide nib for highlighting passages of printed material in a soft, transparent color. [1965 70; HIGHLIGHT + ER1] * * …   Universalium

  • highlighter — noun A marker pen used to highlight text …   Wiktionary

  • highlighter — high|light|er [ˈhaılaıtə US ər] n a special light coloured pen used for marking words in a book, article etc …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • highlighter — high|light|er [ haı,laıtər ] noun count 1. ) a brightly colored pen, used for marking important words on a document 2. ) a type of MAKE UP that makes particular parts of the face more noticeable …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English