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A Guide to Reading the Numbers on Pencils

Have you ever picked up a pencil and noticed that there’s a series of numbers printed on it? If so, you may have wondered what those numbers mean. The numbers actually refer to the degree of hardness of the lead inside the pencil. In this blog, we’ll explain why this is important and how to read these numbers.

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What Do The Numbers Mean?

The higher the number, the harder the lead and, therefore, the lighter your mark will be. For example, a “2H” means that your pencil has a hard lead which makes it suitable for drawing light lines or writing lightly. On the other hand, if you want bolder lines, you should choose a softer lead like “4B” or “6B”. The letter “H” stands for Hard while “B” stands for Soft. Here is an overview of what each letter/number combination means:

• 2H – very hard lead – light lines
• H – hard lead – slightly darker lines than 2H
• HB – middle range lead – common choice for general writing
• F – firm lead – darker lines than HB but not as dark as B
• B -soft lead – darkest lines possible with a pencil

Pencil hardness scale

Many pencils also come with a numerical scale from 1-5 (or even 1-10) printed on them which helps indicate how soft/hard each type of pencil is compared to other types of pencils within that brand. For example, 5 on one brand may be softer than 5 on another brand since different brands use different formulations for their leads.

How To Choose The Right Pencil For You?

The type of pencil you should choose depends on what kind of drawing or writing style you prefer. If you prefer lighter strokes and don’t want your marks to be too noticeable then an H or 2H would work best for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for darker strokes then an F or B would work better as they provide darker lines than HB and H leads do. Generally speaking though, most people opt for HB as it’s versatile enough to work well in most situations whether it be writing or drawing.

Choosing the right type of pencil can make all the difference when it comes to producing high-quality drawings and writing pieces! Now that you know about how hard leads are labeled and how they differ from one another in terms of darkness produced by them, finding just the right type should be much easier! Don’t forget that different brands use different formulas so keep that in mind when selecting your next set of pencils!

Luke Hickman

Luke Hickman is a printmaker and artist with over 15 years of experience. He studied at Norwich University, graduating with a BA (Hons) Fine Art, and has worked in both the commercial printing and digital marketing industries for over 7 years. Luke's work revolves around the idea of creating art that can illustrate a story with topics covering war, politics and history.

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