Number Two Pencils are the Number One Choice
by Debra Karplus
For most of the years that a student is in school, from kindergarten through senior year in high school, pencils, specifically number 2 pencils, are on every school supply list each year. So, why are number 1 or number 3, or some other type of pencil not acknowledged by educators? The pencil numbering system grades the firmness of the writing part of the pencil. People assume that pencils are made from lead, but the part of the pencil that makes the mark is actually graphite, a mineral that comes from a rock rich in carbon.
There’s a worldwide system that grades the hardness of the pencil, 9H being the hardest; 8H is less hard and so no, down to F, a medium grade pencil. The pencils get softer on the B scales, with 9B being the softest writing pencil. In the United States, the grading system is less precise; number 1 pencils are the softest, number 4 are the hardest, with numbers 2, 2 1/2, and number 3 as medium grade softness pencils.
Number 2 pencils are the most commonly used in everyday life, in offices and schools, and for answering questions on standardized tests that are machine-graded and specifically recognize the marks of number 2 pencils for scoring. Number 1 pencils are frequently and are used by artists. Their softness allows for technique, especially utilized by people for sketching, which is difficult to accomplish with the
Number 4 pencils have their value with engineers, architects and other professionals who perform designing and drafting; the hardness of these pencils allows for very sharp lines. Though the dissimilarity between the different grades of pencil may appear subtle to the novice, experts can immediately recognize the differences when tending to a task. If you have the opportunity to experiment with a number 4 or number 1 pencil, you, too, may notice the difference in the hardness and precision of the marks they create.