pencil vs pen

Pen vs Pencil – Which One To Choose[ Know Differences]

People often ask me why I like pencils. It's a fair question and one that is to be expected when you have as many as I do. This is more of a pen vs pencil question. Unfortunately, the question does not have a straightforward answer. I started writing a journal because I wanted to record my thoughts and feelings to still my experiences and collect them for a little reflection. Considering the long-term viability of my writing, my research uncovered a simple alternative to the ballpoint pen I had been using. An alternative which wouldn't distort run or feed- The pencil.

I couldn't remember the last time I'd actually wind up with a pencil. Several years prior, school perhaps, I certainly could remember consciously choosing to pick one. This is the pencil I started with. It was totally black fitting given a description. I started writing in my journal, filling my pocket-up books. I wrote and sharpened, sharpened and wrote. Then I stumbled across the erasable podcast and began researching pencils on their history. I got my first box of black sharpened my first six do too, and it barely left my hand until I reduced it to scope. I was hooked.

Pencils are so much more than just a writing implement. A universal tool used by most people in their childhoods but forgotten by secondary school. A tool for creation and destruction. A mechanically controlled extension of our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. They've become a fascinating land which we can use to view the world around us. I'm not the first to assign such a grandiose notion to the pencil. Others have used it as an analogy for globalization. Or a vehicle for exploring engineering technology.

The tumultuous history of the pencil reflects the history of the world itself- innovation, revolution, mechanization, and entrepreneurism. Pencils provide a distinct and immediate tactile response. They need no batteries, require no cellular signal. They ask of us nothing except one single perpetual question- what do you want to write? That is why I like pencils.

History of Pen and Pencil

Starting with their intrinsic qualities while not taking into account their competition in appreciation both for its simple name and for its resemblance to its cousin used throughout history.


Let's start with the pen. For the most part, pens, as we know them today, began their lives as GB patent number 15630 issued by John J Loud in October of 1888.

There were others similar to it, but this is the first patent to truly resemble the ballpoint seen on most pens now commonplace in stores across the world.

These pens are able to store and refill ink in an efficient manner. And thus are great for someone who wants to reuse a pen by simply adding more ink to it. As the pens have a lifespan solely dependent on the quality and the care given to them by their owners, theoretically, the same pen can be used for years. Giving it the means to attain sentimental value and perhaps if the pen is expensive value as a symbol of wealth.

However, this reliance on ink which although giving what is written down great resolution, typically comes at the cost of being unable to remove what has been written without covering it up. Thus bringing about a reliance on other tools to cover up mistakes. However, otherwise, any other standalone issues are not that important.


So let's move on to discussing the standalone qualities of pencils. Pencils started out as sticks of hardened graphite held together by wrapping some fabric around. It and really started coming together around 1560 when simonio and lyndiana bernicotti, an Italian couple, started surrounding this graphite with wood. Although this was more of a proof of concept than anything else.

The eraser aspect of a pencil gained a pen in 1858 by none other than Hyman Lippmann. Before I stopped talking about this, let me just say to go take a look at the notable pencil users section on Wikipedia.

I got distracted and spent hours reading about the books these authors have written. These people were all very influential writers and inventors. Anyways back to the pencil itself. The pencil has a very intuitive design. It's fairly straightforward as to its application, although I suppose it could look a little odd if it is still unsharpened.

Pencils also make it very obvious when they need to be replaced, which is nice in a sense. Although this does come at the cost of the pencil quite literally shrinking in size. Perhaps, compounding issues with how the utensil is held until it is eventually thrown to the curb in its stub-like state. The eraser is great as there typically are no issues removing mistakes which, if standards are present will inevitably materialize at some point.

However, with me saying that, I do need to say that in my case, erasers essentially always break off or worn away before the pencil is rendered useless. Thus, leading me to either wipe at any mistakes in futility. Let mistakes fester over what I am writing or grab something else to remove the mistake. All options which give me a sense of melancholy towards the utilitarian option once afforded to me.

Finally, there is the duality between sharpness and dullness. You have the option to make each and every one of your pencils needle-sharp which perhaps even makes them viable self-defense weapons in the minds of some in conjunction with their smooth writing ability.

However, this is typically not how things turn out. Although, it may be dependent on the quality of pencil, pencil sharpener, or knife if a sharpener is available. What typically happens in my case, while in class is that I'll go up to sharpen my pencil feel that I have it good, pull it out and find a pencil whose lead has fallen out into the inner machinations of the pencil sharpener lying before me.

I try again, and soon enough, with luck, and perhaps after a few attempts, I eventually get a pencil which is good enough. Maybe sharp but typically not chow li as described above. I think that's enough about the pencil.

Mechanical Pencil

And before we cast any judgment on it, we need to discuss the final contender in this three-way engagement- The mechanical pencil.

The mechanical pencil had its first patent, similar to how we see it today in 1822 by John Isaac Hawkins. And in particular, Samson, who alone went ahead and started selling these pencils.

Today these pencils are all over the place. And for a good reason, they have the same intuitive design as the pencil. And instead of needing to be sharpened, you can simply control how much of a long thin, and most importantly, a sharp sliver of lead you want to write with. Simply extending it when you run low. These pacers typically have an eraser at the end as well. Thus once again, those mistakes can be easily removed so long as this eraser remains intact.

These characteristics alone give this writing utensil a great edge. And although they typically don't last too long depending on the graphite used. They can be refilled, similar to that of pens. Thus once again, allowing them to last for as long as the consequences of hedonistic misuse will allow. Mechanical pencils do break easily.

However, this is becoming more prevalent as the length of the lead extending from the mechanical pencil's tip increases. Although this is less of an immediate issue with the inconvenience as it's easy enough to extend more let out. It easily can bite off a significant amount of time of its life span. Overall mechanical pencils easily find themselves as a fine contender in this lineup. A lineup which will now come ballpoint the doll point to plastic tip as we compare their pros and cons in comparison to one another.

Pen vs. pencil- Which should you pick and why

Pencils are more efficient than pens. Now I won't define this other than to say you fit more efficient than is better effective use of time. Now pencils which are your graphite writing instruments, firstly, have a built-in eraser. And for those who remember the paper-made erasable pens, they're still around, but they're not as popular. BIC pens are the most popular; the standard ink pen. And when you make a mistake with an ink pen, you have three choices.

  • You can either leave it and hope nobody notices. You can use liquid paper and deal with the gunky mess that may or may not harden in time to cover your mistake. Or that you can scribble it out and leave a glaring mess. Now you imagine the people who are writing documents they don't want gunk of ink on their documents. Pencils are great for keeping things clean. Now someone may claim that he never makes mistakes, but I think trying to actually debate this topic would be one of the biggest mistakes of his life.
  • Secondly, for those of you who are planning to travel in space, implants paint pens don't work in gravity. So pencils work fine. You can use them. Chris Hadfield was taking notes with his music with Edie from the Barenaked ladies and making his chord progression changes that way.
  • Thirdly what happens if a pen leaks all over your pocket? Your shirt, your coat, your papers- A complete mess. Pencils, you might get a bit of a mark, and you can erase it.
  • Lastly, you can see how much is left. A pen you might not know how much ink is left you're in the middle of a fantastically important meeting, and you're out of ink, and your brain isn't working, so with having all the points in mind, pencils are more efficient than pens.

Now, if I try to defend the pen as the advancement that this society has in its handwriting tools. I would do this by emphasizing three points in which the pen is superior in efficiency to the pencil.

  • Firstly, the pen provides higher adhesion to a wider variety of surfaces. You can write not only on paper but also in the palm of your hand. You can write anyway. Being said that, you don't need to waste time to find the paper. In the same way, that pencil at that moment requires you to do.
  • Its durability is unmatched by pencil. If you drop a pencil, its led on the inside will crack and leaving you to an unsuspecting failure waiting to happen in your future use of the pencil for.
  • Finally, its independence. The pen will continue to work until the cartridges fail and it's fully empty. On the other hand, if the pencil stops working, you have to immediately depend on a pencil sharpener that is not efficiency.

These are the three points why I believe that pens are the next step in the evolution of handwriting tests.

Pencil vs. Mechanical Pencils vs. Pen

This is a question that I believe relates to students. And I suppose those with the need to write as a whole. What is objectively the better writing utensil?

Is it the wooden pencil that rod containing the cylindrical bounty that is its lead interior? The pen that writing device of antiquity repurposed for the present day? Or is it the mechanical pencil? A modern take on the pencil which carries with it the means of replenishing itself of its lead sustenance.

Let us consider the pros and cons of each device as we move forward.

Pens, pencils, and mechanical pencils all three of these are viable means of expression. Don't get me wrong, but which is better.

Let's come to this ultimately arbitrary conclusion by comparing each utensil, means of satisfying five functional aspects of their use.

These five aspects are:

  1. Expendability- The literal or figurative cost of one of these utensils losing functionality versus the cost of getting more.
  2. Longevity- How long the utensil will last, taking into account maintenance.
  3. Clarity- The quality and consistency of writing.
  4. Maintenance- The ease of carrying out some form of upkeep. And finally,
  5. Universality- The ability of the pencil, mechanical, or pen to adapt to different writing surfaces or purposes.

I could very well add more criteria, but I feel this is good enough as is. I could add a historical significance rating as well. And although I do like to push back against post-modernist precedence whenever I can. I don't think it is too important when talking about functionality. Anyways, let's just go in the order of introduction and start with expendability.


To begin with expendability, it's fair to say that pencils immediately appear to have a great advantage here. Simply due to their cheap and bountiful nature as a staple commodity. However, we should still take a look and see if some aspect of pens or mechanical pencils could perhaps overpower the strong foothold pencils currently have over this aspect.

Mechanical pencils and pens can both be bought cheaply, sure. But this comes at the cost of both an inconsistent level of quality compared to the fairly standard quality present in pencils. Simply due to their simplicity and also no significant improvement to lifespan outside of spending money on additional venues to increase the length of their otherwise relatively mediocre use to society. Due to this alone, I give pencils expendability.


The next empirical quality up for debate is the longevity of each device. Remember this is including the application of sustenance that sees fit to extend each technology's lifespan.

With that, it's safe to say that pencils have already lost this one. Simply due to the fact that as an individual, it is destined at some point in the future to find itself reconstructed into a small pile of paper-thin wood scraps. Simply due to the manner in which it functions.

Pens and mechanical pencils are more complicated since they can theoretically, in a dramaticized sense, be renewed add Infinitum. I took a look to see whether or not ink or graphite globally is more likely to run out of it to determine who should win. But it seems that there are so much of both resources that the probability of either running out seems unlikely.

There is, however, the prospect of what happens if a pen or mechanical pencil is not used for a long time. And as I'm sure many of you have experienced, most pens will eventually dry up and be rendered usable only to the most committed. With that, I give longevity to the mechanical pencils.


The third quality our three contenders find themselves confronted by is clarity. Pencils have the potential for high resolution when writing. But this quickly degrades before it needs to be sharpened again.

This is not an issue with pens or mechanical pencils. However, pens will eventually dry up and lead to a situation where if one doesn't want to or doesn't have the means to replace the ink. Then they will continue to settle for a gradually degrading writing experience as the ink slowly causes the writing to fade out. Mechanical pencils will remain sharp for the entirety of their lives. And so I feel as appropriate they are awarded this aspect.

Ease of Maintenance

Let me speed this up. I'm aware that this is getting dragged out a bit longer than necessary. Next is the ease of maintenance. Pens can leave you an inky mess without much warning. And so I don't feel they should be given this. However, the relationship between mechanical pencils and pencils is more complicated.

While pencils have ease of maintenance through tools, it can become problematic to do so without these. At the same time, mechanical pencils, while not requiring as much effort, require you to go out and buy lead to be able to replace it.

However, since this only takes place at the point where a normal pencil will have been rendered useless as a writing utensil. I feel mechanical pencils have won this.


Since mechanical pencils have earned three of the five already, there's no point in spending any more time on universality as mechanical pencils have already won.

I need to admit that I'm impartial towards mechanical pencils as prior to using them to study, I would use pens. Which even among the higher quality brands would dry up quite quickly.

However, I do feel I was fair in these Rankings. Although if not a bit judgmental depends regardless of how I feel if you disagree with me, let me know in the comments. What you use as all of them have their ups and downs, so this is just my opinion.

Final Words

At the end of the day, it is you only who can make the decision on what to use and whatnot. Pen vs pencil- This has been one of the most famous confusion among the student and professionals as well. I have tried to bring you both the positives and negatives of both of them.

To make your decision even easier, I didn't bother to talk about the mechanical pencils as well. Honestly, I tried to be fair in those rankings. Having said a lot about pen and pencil, I would advise you to think about your demand and application and pick one of them accordingly. I have two well-explained articles on best multicolor pens and gelly roll pen. You can check read them out with buyer guide.

Last of all, this is not a crime to use both the pen and pencil, I must say. Rather, many of us including myself, nowadays are using both according to their suitability.

Step By Step Hardcover Notebooks Choosing Tips 

Lists of Good Stylus Pens That You Need

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *