Pencil Psychology #1c: Numbers Home       Pencil Psy #1 Home
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.
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:
  1. He/She needed to erase or cross out much of the writing
  2. 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.