Pens vs. Pencils: The Ultimate Writing Utensil Showdown

Do you prefer the smooth, gel-like consistency of the pen or the satisfying scratch of the pencil? Read two hot takes below!


Sophia Jiang and Elliot Weix

Pencils, Hands Down.

Courtesy of Elliott Weix

Pencils are proof that mistakes are a normal part of life. Do you enjoy struggling with a pen’s inability to conveniently correct a spelling error or change a positive to a negative in a math equation? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Erasers are extremely useful when it comes to correcting errors – and they work on penciled writing, not the ink of a pen. Yes, there are erasable pens, but often these are smudgy and don’t work as well. The only other option for correcting mistakes is whiteout, which takes considerably more effort than simply using a pencil eraser, and isn’t easy to write over. Ever wonder why the use of erasable pens and whiteout is prohibited in some exams, such as AP exams? It’s for these very reasons – the smudge of a pen eraser and the disorder of whiteout can cause issues with computer scanning. 


Don’t you hate it when ink gets all over your hand? Well, unfortunately, pens have a tendency to smear, especially when the ink isn’t quick-dry, rendering your writing illegible. On the contrary, sometimes pen ink absorbs too much and bleeds through your papers! It’s almost as if pens can’t do their job properly! Pencils, on the other hand, do their job quite consistently and rarely disappoint the writer. No matter the texture of paper, pencils don’t smear or bleed – they honorably fulfill their duties no matter the circumstances.


Sure, pencil lead breaks from time to time, but that’s why sharpeners and mechanical pencils exist! It is evident that pencils are much more user-friendly than pens – the inconvenience of using pens far outweighs the inconveniences of using pencils.

By Sophia


Pens are the Way to Go.

Courtesy of Elliott Weix

I’m a sucker for nice pens. Pentel and Pilot, mostly. Yes, I used to be a pencil fanatic—I had, and still have, some *very* nice mechanical pencils that I love to use. But the smooth feel of a pen as it glides across paper simply can’t be beat by the scratchy movements of a pencil. It’s pretty clear to me that pens are the way to go.


You see, pens are on a different level than pencils. There’s no lead to sharpen or break, only a sturdy metal tip through which ink flows. There’s colors (and flavors, probably) for everyone, but even the most basic blue and black ink pens are a joy to use. Plus, the colored pens often look much nicer than their pencil counterparts (for writing, at least; colored pencils are a fine medium for art).


What often holds people back from the jump from pencils to pens is the sense of finality of ink over lead. Ink is permanent and cannot be erased. But I would argue there’s a certain joy in creating indelible marks on paper, and I far prefer the contrast of a good black pen over fainter pencil for my writing—plus, they’re not prone to the same smudging that occurs with pencils. And if fixing mistakes is absolutely critical to you, there’s all sorts of options when it comes to white-out.


I used pens for every single writing assignment I could this past year, and I loved it. Even the twenty-ish cumulative pages of writing I had to do for AP tests was tolerable, if not something I was looking forward to. So do yourself a favor—go to a store, drop a couple of bucks on some solid pens, and give it a whirl. If you hate it, you can always go back to pencils, at least until the professional world refuses to accept it. And where will that bring you? Back to me. Back to pens.

By Elliott