What Is A #2 Pencil?

If you look at the ads in the newspaper this week, you will see a reoccurring theme…Back To School Sales. (You’ll notice them because they are usually accompanied with a clip art apple and ruler)

It is the time of year when parents dread going shopping for school supplies and kids dread going back to class. According to a stat I just made up, more folders, notebooks and pencils will be purchased during the next month than in the rest of the year combined.

Thinking of pencils brings me to today’s Wonder Why Wednesday…

What does the 2 stand for in a #2 Pencil? And, why is it the most well known pencil?

To find the answer I went directly to the source,

According to the pencil people, the number of a pencil has to do with the HB graphite grading scale used to classify the pencil’s graphite core. The higher the number, the harder the lead and lighter the markings.

However, most pencil manufacturers determine their own internal standards for graphite hardness grades and overall quality of the core. Meaning, a #2 pencil from brand A will not necessarily leave the same mark as a #2 pencil from brand B.

In the U.S. numbering system, a #2 pencil falls in the middle of the scale. #2s are number one because they are not too soft and not too hard. They are just right, making them the Goldilocks of pencils.

So basically, no one can agree on an universal grading scale and everyone has their own scoring system. Yet somehow they find a way to crown a champion. Sounds a lot like college football with the BCS.





Photo credit: Wikipedia