Although it shares the same name, pencil lead is not the same lead known to the State of California
to cause birth defects and such. It's actually graphite, which, among other things, is neither
poisonous nor designed for eating. Lead is the fundamental difference between generic pencils and
mechanicals. Normal generic pencils require sharpening to keep the lead unsheathed from the
wood tube, as well as to keep the point sharp enough to write neatly.
Mechcanical pencil lead is thin to begin with, as if it is "pre-sharpened." So when the lead runs
short, you just click the button. But, thin lead is more fragile than thick pencil lead, such that
applying too much pressure will snap the lead. For heavy-handed writers, there is thicker lead. For
delicate strokes or weightless fingers, there are leads the break on contact.
The Standard- 0.7mm
0.7 mm lead is the most common type of mechanical lead (and pencil) used because it is
reasonably break-resistant yet allows for reasonably neat strokes (which are 0.7mm wide). The
wider lead, however, smudges a little more than usual, especially in a folder or binder where papers
are constantly pressed together. If you use 0.7mm lead, you're in with the majority.
The Neet Freek- 0.5mm
0.2mm thinner than 0.7mm, this lead breaks more often. Girls often use these pencils, and some
pencils that use this lead have no erasers. It breaks easily, especially when refilling the pencil. The
thinner lead forces you to write with less pressure, and it produces neater, lighter lines that are less
smudgable. Neat people use white out on every mistake, weather it's a comma that's too long or a
period thats not round. People who have this pencil in their arsenal - and use it - often also keep
white-out and an eraser not far away.
The Arm of Weight- 0.9mm
If you naturally push hard while writing (for whatever reason), you've probably invested your money
in this pencil. It's a little bit harder to find, but even if 0.7mm lead isn't thick enough, you need this. If
you scribble your notes like an enraged kangaroo, this lead can withstand your writing's sharp twists
and turns. If you are always angry or annoyed for whatever reason, this lead could be what you're
The Infinitesimal Speck- 0.3mm
Although I've never seen one, which confirms its rarity, a person who uses this pencil lead every day
must be the envy of The Neet Freek (see above). These people must not only be careful of how
much pressure they apply, but also how much they extend the lead to avoid breaking it. Their
white-out brushes and erasers are too dull to erase neatly. The thin lead also wears away faster,
because more lead is needed lo write the words.
The Why-Not-Just-Use-A-Darn-Pencil- 1.6mm
If you use this, why not just use a darned pencil? Using a 1.6mm mechanical pencil is like a dull
pencil you can't sharpen. This pencil is used almost always only for art purposes. It's also more
expensive, even though all you get is 0.7mm more lead. This pencil is for "special" people. People
who write like paper explodes if you don't write on it. Don't worry. The time-tested paper and pencil
setup is far more reliable than your word processor.
The 4-Step Program
If you're one of these "Special" persons, maybe you want to wean yourself of your heavy habit.
Luckily, the pencil industry offers a wide selection of lead sizes to assist your downsizing.
1. Start with the pencil size you normally write at.
2. After 3.1415 months, downgrade your pencil one size.
3. After 68582956.84 seconds, downgrade to 0.9mm lead.
4.After 86.4894842 days, use 0.7mm pencils
If you want to go one step further, downsize your pencil one last time, after 9.622 weeks.
But please just stay there - people still want to read your periods!