Pens were first used by Ancient Indians around 500 B.C.when they made ink using writing tools out of feathers. However, some even say that primitive forms of pens were used as far back as 3000 B.C.!!! These pens were said to be reed pens used by the Ancient Egyptians to write on sheets of papyrus. But, not until 1945 A.D. did the ballpoint pen become ready for public use.
In comparison, a usable graphite deposit was not even found until 1565 in Cumbria, England. They found that rods of graphite were very useful at marking sheep. In 1790 the wooden covering was developed. In 1858, an eraser was attatched to the end of the pencil.
Similarities and Differences
Pens and pencils, as close as they seem, have very little in common. As you can see on the venn diagram, the color scheme, time of invention, materials they can mark, and price are all very different. Take a moment to look at the diagram before going on to pros and cons.
Pros and Cons: Pencils
- Pencil "lead" has never actually been lead, it has always been graphite. The reason people used to get lead poisoning from pencils is because of the lead-based paint used to coat them. You don't have to worry, though, because lead paint is no longer used.
- Pencils are erasable. Ever since 1858, you can easily correct any mistake you make with a pencil. This is the main reason why pencils are so often recommended over pens.
- Pencils are cheap. Most types of pencils are less expensive than pens.
- Pencils can leave stains. Though pencils are most definitely erasable on paper, if gotten on clothing or accidentally embedded in skin, it can be difficult to get out.
- Pencils need to be sharpened. You never have to sharpen a pen. This is a major factor in why pen users don't prefer pencils. Also, good pencil sharpeners are often hard to find and expensive.
- Generally, pencils will run out much more quickly.
- Pencils break more easily. If you accidentally snap a pencil, it can injure you and sometimes fling wood and graphite across the room.
- Wood can hurt your fingers. If you write with a pencil for any long period of time, you will have a sore spot where you gripped it. Also, you can get splinters from low quality pencils.
- Pencil writing will fade over time, which is bad for long term writing such as a journal or a novel.
Pros and Cons: Pens
- Pens never have to be sharpened. Even if a pen runs out of ink, with most pens you can get a refill cartridge, and refilling a pen is much easier (in my opinion) than sharpening a pencil.
- Pens are permanent. If you want your writing to be permanent, pens are definitely the way to go. Also, pen writing will never fade.
- Pens can be capped/retracted. If you want to carry or store a pen somewhere, especially with paper, its ability to be covered over makes it a better storage item than pencils.
- Pens can write on more surfaces than pencils. Though pencils are limited to paper and sometimes wood, pens can write on both of those as well as many cloths, paint coverings, and other materials.
- Pens can hold special value. There are so many more types of pens than pencils and its not uncommon to have an old pen as a family heirloom. However, you might not want to write with that. ;)
- Pens are permanent. This is both a pro and a con. While it is nice to know your work will not fade or be erased, if you make an accidental marking on something, it's not going to be removed easily.
- Pens are usually more expensive.
- Pens can "dry out" if not capped properly. The ink on the tip will harden and render the pen useless.
- Pens don't work or are not allowed in some school or work environments.
Pens or Pencils- You Decide!
So Which IS Better?
In my personal opinion, I think pens. But there are two sides to every argument and I can easily see where anyone could think that pencils are better.
Please vote here so everyone can see what the community thinks!
plb36 (author) from United States on October 18, 2012:
True. Pencil writing can last for a very long time, and pen also has a possibility of fading. Generally, I still prefer pens because of the ease of use.
icykarma2122 from Colorado on July 18, 2012:
I'm sorry but you're wrong. Pencil is very stable and almost permanent if left alone. Yes, it'll start to smudge and fade if you're constantly rubbing pages together but that would also happen to some degree with pen markings as well. Ink on the other hand will fade over time even if stored properly, unless it's an archival quality ink. Barring that no ballpoint pen I know uses this type of ink and most other styles of pens aren't usually sold with this type of ink so you'd have to go online to find it.
plb36 (author) from United States on February 16, 2012:
Thanks! You're the first person to commen on one of my hubs. =D
syras mamun on February 14, 2012:
I love to have pens as a gift.You reveal some surprising facts about pencil, which is relatively new to pens.great hub.