Ever think about size of pencil lead?

Sunday , October 15, 2017 - 12:00 AM

By SCOTT SWAIN
TX. Correspondent

Writing is a form of self-expression, and the tool we choose to write with, though seemingly insignificant, is part of our identity.

Just like handwriting, word choice and phrasing, the medium in which the text is written can be part of understanding the writer. Everybody has their own preference of ink or graphite, thick or fine, soft or hard, etc.

The distinguishing trait of a pen is that pens use ink to make a mark on a page. Quill pens were first used centuries ago. Over time the pen has advanced into the ballpoint and fountain pens that we use today.

As they use ink to write, pens are generally easier to write with than something like a pencil. Ink, being liquid, allows for much smoother writing.

Pens also have the advantage of being permanent, making them the choice for writing official documents. Though, the writing being unalterable is not always the best.

When mistakes are made with a pen, they never disappear. As Davis High student Billy Elliot says, “I love the feeling of writing with a pen, but I make a lot of mistakes.”

Mistakes and smudges leave pen writing looking sloppy.

Pencils are made from wood and use graphite to write. Compared to pens, pencils are a new invention, first appearing in the 1600s. A notable characteristic of pencils is the ability of a rubber eraser to get rid of graphite marks, allowing changes to be made.

The eraser is the primary benefit of using a pencil instead of a pen. Many prefer to use pencils to keep work tidy by getting rid of errors. Schools often encourage the use of pencils knowing that as students learn they will make mistakes.

Pencils are incredibly cheap when compared to nice pens. Some fancier pens can cost a lot of money, while the cost of a pack of pencils is negligible. This leads to the more frequent use of pencils rather than pens.

Though pencils are cheap, they also are used up very quickly. Lead can break easily, and the need to sharpen a pencil constantly can be a hassle. Additionally, pencil sharpeners often malfunction and more time spent sharpening is necessary.

Another popular writing utensil is the mechanical pencil, which has characteristics of a pen and a pencil, having the structure of a pen and the erasing ability of a pencil. One characteristic of mechanical pencils is the choice of different sizes of lead for different purposes.

Thin lead is used for clear, small, exact lines and is often used in technical drawings. The drawback of thin lead is that it snaps easily, resulting in the waste of both lead and time.

Thicker lead sizes are used for big, strong, solid lines. Thick lead is frequently used due to the relative strength of the lead. However, writing with thick lead can look sloppier than thin lead and can be harder to read.

People may have other preferences when it comes to writing utensils. For example, some love to color code and use colored pens or pencils, while some prefer simple black and white.

With many writing tools to choose from, the one we choose can show a lot about ourselves and what we’re writing. Our choice of writing utensil can show just as much as the words we choose to write with it, so be sure to pick the tool best fitted for you.

Scott Swain is a junior at Davis High School. He plays marimba in the marching band and enjoys cinematography. Email him at 19sswain@davis.k12.ut.us.

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