This paper reports the possibility of producing cellulose nanofiber from softwood pulp using a simple ball milling technique under ambient pressure and at room temperature. The effects of milling conditions including the ball-to-cellulose mass ratio, milling time, ball size and alkaline pretreatment were investigated. It was found that milling-ball size should be carefully selected for producing fibrous morphologies instead of particulates. Milling time and ball-to-cellulose mass ratio were also found important to control the fiber morphology. Alkali pre-treatment helped in weakening hydrogen bonds between cellulose fibrils and removing small particles, but with the risks of damaging the fibrous morphology. In a typical run, cellulose nanofiber with an average diameter of 100 nm was obtained using soft mechanical milling conditions using cerium-doped zirconia balls of 0.4?0.6 mm in diameter within 1.5 h without alkaline pretreatment.