Most people have no clue what the number of a pencil really is. They just assume that it has something tho do with the type of pencil. This is true, but one could be more specific. Pencil Leads are graphite and clay. The number of a pencil indicates how hard or soft its lead is (how much clay). A harder pencil has a higher number. Harder pencils write more lightly. Most sketching pencils are soft and smear easily. Charcoal pencils are not generic pencils, an they don't even use lead.
For example, the Dixon Ticonderoga 2HB pencil says "SOFT" in yellow letters (on a green background). However, the Dixon Ticonderoga 5H says "HARD" (most people are unfamiliar).
2HB or HB or American 2 There is a scale to the hardness of leads: 9H | 8H | 7H | 6H | 5H | 4H | 3H | 2H | H | F | HB | B | 2B | 3B | 4B | 5B | 6B | 7B | 8B | 9B. As you can see, HB is right in the middle. HB is the equivalent of a #2 pencil. Most pencils are #2. A #2 pencil indicates a normal person with a normal attitude. This person doesn't write too hard, or too light. A person who writes too hard is angry a lot, and a person who writes illegibly light are just too kind. As in the give away my credit card kind of way. Sometimes, the pressure applied to the pencil when writing may be altered by the type of pencil. If it is too hard, the writer may need to press harder. Through extended use, the amount of pressure used during writing will become a habit. Remember: the hardness of lead is the softness of head. People who do write excessively light or dark may change pencils to accommodate. Points It's similar to the erasers. Lets assume two people are working on the same thing. They use the same pencils and start at the same time. When they are both complete, the pencil with the duller tip indicates one of the following:
He/She needed to erase or cross out much of the writing
He/She is very detailed, and spent much time including needless details.
How do they put the lead in the pencil? You may think they slide it in, but they actually glue it between two wood pieces. The pencil is heavily sanded and painted, looking like a single piece.