Pencils create marks by physical abrasion, leaving a trail of solid core material that adheres to a sheet of paper or another surface. They are distinct from pens, which dispense liquid or gel ink onto the marked surface.

Read about pencils and their different types according to their different application by Pritish Kumar Halder blog

Most pencil cores are made of graphite powder mixed with a clay binder. Graphite pencils (traditionally known as “lead pencils”) produce grey or black marks that are easily erased, but otherwise resistant to moisture, most chemicals, ultraviolet radiation and natural aging. Other types of pencil cores, such as those of charcoal, are mainly used for drawing and sketching.

Coloured pencils are sometimes used by teachers or editors to correct submitted texts, but are typically regarded as art supplies, especially those with cores made from wax-based binders that tend to smear when erasers are applied to them. Grease pencils have a softer, oily core that can leave marks on smooth surfaces such as glass or porcelain.


By marking material


Graphite pencils are the most common types of pencil, and are encased in wood. They are made of a mixture of clay and graphite and their darkness varies from light grey to black. Their composition allows for the smoothest strokes.


Solid graphite pencils are solid sticks of graphite and clay composite (as found in a ‘graphite pencil’), about the diameter of a common pencil, which have no casing other than a wrapper or label. They are often called “woodless” pencils. They are used primarily for art purposes as the lack of casing allows for covering larger spaces more easily, creating different effects, and providing greater economy as the entirety of the pencil is used. They are available in the same darkness range as wood-encased graphite pencils.


Liquid graphite pencils are pencils that write like pens. The technology was first invented in 1955 by Scriptol and Parker Pens. Scripto’s liquid graphite formula came out about three months before Parker’s liquid lead formula. To avoid a lengthy patent, fight the two companies agreed to share their formulas.


Charcoal pencils are made of charcoal and provide fuller blacks than graphite pencils, but tend to smudge easily and are more abrasive than graphite. Sepia-toned and white pencils are also available for duotone techniques.

Carbon pencils

Carbon pencils are generally made of a mixture of clay and lamp black, but are sometimes blended with charcoal or graphite depending on the darkness and manufacturer. They produce a fuller black than graphite pencils, are smoother than charcoal, and have minimal dust and smudging. They also blend very well, much like charcoal.


Colored pencils, or pencil crayons, have wax-like cores with pigment and other fillers. Several colors are often blended together.


Grease pencils can write on virtually any surface (including glass, plastic, metal and photographs). The most commonly found grease pencils are encased in paper (Berol and Sanford Peel-off), but they can also be encased in wood.


Watercolor pencils are designed for use with watercolor techniques. Their cores can be diluted by water. The pencils can be used by themselves for sharp, bold lines. Strokes made by the pencil can also be saturated with water and spread with brushes.

By use


Carpenter’s pencils are pencils that have two main properties: their shape prevents them from rolling, and their graphite is strong. The oldest surviving pencil is a German carpenter’s pencil dating from the 17th Century and now in the Faber-Castell collection.


Copying pencils (or indelible pencils) are graphite pencils with an added dye that creates an indelible mark. They were invented in the late 19th century for press copying and as a practical substitute for fountain pens. Their markings are often visually indistinguishable from those of standard graphite pencils, but when moistened their markings dissolve into a coloured ink, which is then pressed into another piece of paper. They were widely used until the mid-20th century when ball pens slowly replaced them. In Italy their use is still mandated by law for voting paper ballots in elections and referendums.


Eyeliner pencils are used for make-up. Unlike traditional copying pencils, eyeliner pencils usually contain non-toxic dyes.

Erasable coloring

Unlike wax-based colored pencils, the erasable variants can be easily erased. Their main use is in sketching, where the objective is to create an outline using the same color that other media (such as wax pencils, or watercolor paints) would fill or when the objective is to scan the color sketch. Some animators prefer erasable color pencils as opposed to graphite pencils because they do not smudge as easily, and the different colors allow for better separation of objects in the sketch. Copy-editors find them useful too as markings stand out more than those of graphite, but can be erased.


Also known as non-photo blue pencils, the non-reproducing types make marks that are not reproducible by photocopiers (examples include “Copy-not” by Sanford and “Mars Non-photo” by Staedtler) or by whiteprint copiers (such as “Mars Non-Print” by Staedtler).


Stenographer’s pencils, also known as a steno pencil, are expected to be very reliable, and their lead is break-proof. Nevertheless, steno pencils are sometimes sharpened at both ends to enhance reliability. They are round to avoid pressure pain during long texts.


Golf pencils are usually short (a common length is 9 cm (3.5 in)) and very cheap. They are also known as library pencils, as many libraries offer them as disposable, leak-proof writing instruments.

By shape

1)Triangular (more accurately a Reuleaux triangle)



4)Bendable (flexible plastic)

By size


A standard, hexagonal, is cut to a hexagonal height of 1⁄4-inch (6 mm), but the outer diameter is slightly larger (about 9⁄32-inch (7 mm)) A standard, #2, hexagonal pencil is 19 cm (7.5 in) long.


On 3 September 2007, Ashrita Furman unveiled his giant US$20,000 pencil – 76 feet (23 m) long, 18,000 pounds (8,200 kg) (with over 4,500 pounds (2,000 kg) for the graphite centre) – after three weeks of creation in August 2007 as a birthday gift for teacher Sri Chinmay. It is longer than the 65-foot (20 m) pencil outside the Malaysia HQ of stationers Faber-Castell.

By manufacture


Mechanical pencils use mechanical methods to push lead through a hole at the end. These can be divided into two groups: with propelling pencils an internal mechanism is employed to push the lead out from an internal compartment, while clutch pencils merely hold the lead in place (the lead is extended by releasing it and allowing some external force, usually gravity, to pull it out of the body).

The erasers (sometimes replaced by a sharpener on pencils with larger lead sizes) are also removable (and thus replaceable), and usually cover a place to store replacement leads. Mechanical pencils are popular for their longevity and the fact that they may never need sharpening.

Pop a Point

Pioneered by Taiwanese stationery manufacturer Bensia Pioneer Industrial Corporation in the early 1970s, Pop a Point Pencils are also known as Bensia Pencils, stackable pencils or non-sharpening pencils. It is a type of pencil where many short pencil tips are housed in a cartridge-style plastic holder. A blunt tip is removed by pulling it from the writing end of the body and re-inserting it into the open-ended bottom of the body, thereby pushing a new tip to the top.


Invented by Harold Grossman for the Empire Pencil Company in 1967, plastic pencils were subsequently improved upon by Arthur D. Little for Empire from 1969 through the early 1970s; the plastic pencil was commercialized by Empire as the “EPCON” Pencil. These pencils were co-extruded, extruding a plasticized graphite mix within a wood-composite.