Pencils are versatile writing and drawing instruments with solid lead cores that end in sharp tips. These leave erasable marks on surfaces and are essential tools for students, artists, and writers. The two broad categories of these writing tools are wood and mechanical. You can find different sizes, shapes, and types of both classes of pencils in the large inventory of writing instruments and supplies at Staples.

Find the right wooden pencils for school or work
The traditional wooden pencil is a more affordable writing implement. Its protective wood casing gives it a classic look and a solid heft. The wood barrel may end in a ferrule that attaches to an eraser. This variety is available in multiple lead grades and the one to choose depends on the intended purpose of the tool. The popular #2 pencil has an HB lead or graphite core that represents medium hardness and blackness. This is the one to get if you need a general-purpose pencil.

Artists and designers may need pencils with harder and softer cores. Harder graphite cores write thin and lighter lines and are ideal for drawing shapes. Softer cores write blacker lines and are best for shading. In addition to lead grade, consider lead size and barrel shape when shopping for pencils. Lead sizes range from less than 0.5 mm to over 5 mm. Thicker leads write thicker lines. A round barrel makes a pencil easy to grip. However, there are units with hexagonal, triangular, and flat barrels. These shapes make barrels less slippery when held and prevent pencils from rolling away when placed on flat surfaces.

Choose mechanical pencils for their convenience and consistency
Unlike a wood-cased unit, a mechanical pencil has a mechanism for advancing its lead. This design offers certain benefits. The thin lead core doesn't need sharpening and doesn't get blunt and thicker with use. By keeping its point sharp, a mechanical pencil writes a consistent line width. This consistency also extends to its heft. As it doesn't get shorter with use, this writing instrument has a consistent balance throughout its lifespan. This benefit is important to artists and designers who want predictable performance from their tools.

Another big difference between wooden and mechanical options is their longevity. While wood-cased units are disposable, mechanical ones are refillable. They're also available in a wide range of barrel designs, including translucent and transparent. While some have lightweight plastic barrels, others use premium metal parts. Most mechanical models have retractable tips. This design protects their sharp tips and helps their leads last longer.

What is the graphite grading scale?
This is a hardness grading system for graphite pencils. The alphanumeric scale goes from 9B to 9H with HB and F grades in the middle. At each end of the scale are very soft 9B graphite and very hard 9H graphite. Very soft graphite is excellent for sketching, while professionals use very hard graphite for drawing maps and technical plans.

Do all pencils write with graphite?
No. The graphite and clay composite referred to as lead is not the only core used in this class of writing tools. Others include charcoal and grease. Charcoal writes blacker lines, while grease can write on a wider variety of surfaces. Graphite has better smudge resistance than these alternatives.  

How do colored pencils differ from regular ones?
Colored units have pigment-infused wax- or oil-based cores. Mostly used by students and artists, these are available in a wide range of bright and pastel shades.
13.59
Paper Mate Sharpwriter Mechanical Pencil, Yellow, 0.7mm, No. 2 Medium Lead, 36/Pack (1921221)
Item #1706689
Model #1921221
  • This non-refillable, disposable pencil is easy to use, requiring a simple twist of the barrel to push the lead into position
  • Built-in eraser for easy removal of errors
5 out of 5 stars with 107 reviews
$13.59
36/Pack
Free delivery
Add to cart
15% off
BIC Xtra-Life Mechanical Pencils, No. 2 Medium Lead, 40/Pack (MPP40MJ-BLK)BIC Xtra-Life Mechanical Pencils, No. 2 Medium Lead, 40/Pack (MPP40MJ-BLK)
12.99
BIC Xtra-Life Mechanical Pencils, No. 2 Medium Lead, 40/Pack (MPP40MJ-BLK)
Item #24276526
Model #MPP40MJ-BLK
  • Mechanical pencils are ready to use right out of the box
  • 0.7mm medium lead features bonded break-resistant quality that provides smooth writing
4.5 out of 5 stars with 85 reviews
$12.99
Reg.  $15.44
40/Pack
Free delivery
Add to cart
3.83
Paper Mate® Sharpwriter® Mechanical Pencils
Item #SS107250
  • .7mm lead
  • Spring-loaded cushion point helps prevent lead breakage
Multiple options
4.5 out of 5 stars with 1459 reviews
As low as  $3.83
5/Pack
Free delivery
Choose options
10.89
Pentel® Twist-Erase® III Automatic Pencils
Item #SS951610
  • Available in .5mm, .7mm or .9mm leads
  • Ergonomically designed barrel for comfort
Multiple options
5 out of 5 stars with 1142 reviews
As low as  $10.89
2/Pack
Free delivery
Choose options
3.73
Staples Mechanical Pencils, No. 2 Medium Lead, Dozen (29082)
Item #2071562
Model #29082
  • Mechanical pencils are ready to use right out of the box
  • Equipped with a No. 2 lead, these pencils feature a 0.7mm medium point for precise writing
4.5 out of 5 stars with 264 reviews
$3.73
Dozen
Free delivery
Add to cart
5.43
Ticonderoga The World's Best Pencil Wooden Pencils, No. 2 Soft Lead, 18/Pack (13818)
Item #731727
Model #13818
  • High-quality wooden pencils
  • This pencil has No. 2 lead that resists breakage for smooth writing
5 out of 5 stars with 181 reviews
$5.43
18/Pack
Free delivery
Add to cart
9% off
Ticonderoga Wooden Pencils, No. 2 Soft Lead, 72/Pack (13972)Ticonderoga Wooden Pencils, No. 2 Soft Lead, 72/Pack (13972)
14.49
Ticonderoga Wooden Pencils, No. 2 Soft Lead, 72/Pack (13972)
Item #2655693
Model #13972
  • High-quality wooden pencils
  • No. 2 lead provides smooth, clear writing
5 out of 5 stars with 182 reviews
$14.49
Reg.  $16.09
72/Pack
Free delivery
Add to cart
2.29
Staples® #2 Yellow Pencils
Item #SS1011237
Multiple options
4 out of 5 stars with 1147 reviews
As low as  $2.29
1440/Carton
Free delivery
Choose options
11.12
Staples Side Advance Mechanical Pencils, No. 2 Soft Lead, 8/Pack (41966)
Item #957039
Model #41966
  • Mechanical pencils are ready to use right out of the box
  • This pencil has No. 2 lead feature a 0.7mm point that resists breakage for smooth writing
3 out of 5 stars with 39 reviews
$11.12
8/Pack
Free delivery
Add to cart
24.25
Ticonderoga The World's Best Pencil Wooden Pencils, No. 2 Soft Lead, 96/Pack (13872)
Item #824797
Model #13872/13882
  • High-quality wooden pencils
  • This pencil has No. 2 lead that resists breakage for smooth writing
5 out of 5 stars with 24 reviews
$24.25
96/Pack
Free delivery
Add to cart

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