The 7 Best Pencils for Writing (in Notebooks & on Paper)

In this guide we show you the 7 very best pencils for writing with, It includes 3 Japanese-made pencils from brands that are widely regarded as the best pencil manufacturers in the world. (Californian Cedar Wood combined with unrivaled graphite manufacturing technology)

For those on a budget looking for a more cost-effective option that provides value for money then there the other four pencils are all excellent pencils in their own right.

The best pencils for writing in notebooks and on paper need to be made from high-quality wood that sharpens easily without splintering. They should have a smooth writing graphite core that is bonded to the wooden case making its point highly break-resistant.

They will have a graphite grade of either HB (#2), B (#1), or 2B depending on your personal preference.

If the grade is higher than HB then the pencil is a little scratchy to write with and the marks are too light. On the flip side if the pencil’s graphite grade is greater than 2B its core is very soft and prone to smudging.

For more information Check out How to Choose a Pencil – Ultimate Guide.

The 7 Best Pencils for Writing

The following are the 7 best pencils for writing with this list is not ranked in any order the first 3 pencils are manufactured by Blackwing, Mitsubishi, and Tombow and these are premium brands.

The Staedtler Tradition HB pencils are one of the best value pencils in terms of quality and performance.

Dixon Ticonderoga #2 and Generals Semi Hex #2 pencils are made by two of the biggest and most well-known pencil manufacturers in the U.S.

Although there is a sad demise in the quality of the pencils from one of these giants. Last but not least is the ergonomic Faber-Castell Grip which offers something a little different.

There is bound to be a pencil to suit everyone’s budget in this list and even the cheapest will be far better than the cheap Chinese imports that can be found in Dollar Tree and Walmart.

Once you have found your pencil then check out our guide on How to Write Faster and Neater in 6 Simple Steps to take your handwriting to the next level.

1. Blackwing 602 Pencils – Japanese Made Premium Pencil

Blackwing 602 Pencil

Buy on Amazon

The iconic Blackwing 602 pencil with its flat gold-colored ferrule that holds an adjustable eraser dates back to the 1930s. Over the years It has been the favored writing tool of many famous authors, poets, and musicians. including John Steinbeck, Faye Dunaway, and Ernest Hemmingway to name but a few.

As for the modern version it is made in Japan from high-quality Californian Incense Cedar Wood and still has that distinctive eraser held in a flat gold-shaped ferrule.

This is a premium pencil and a pack of 12 will set you back around $25.00 Blackwing states that this pencil is firm, and it leaves a dark mark that is similar to a traditional B pencil.

This is not the kind of pencil that you are going to typically buy for your kids to take to high school.

However, if you are someone who likes to indulge in a little luxury and wants to unleash their inner writer this is one of the finest pencils that money can buy.  It is right up there with the Mitsibushi Uni Hi – Uni Pencils and Tombow Mono 100 pencils in terms of quality.

2. Mitsubishi 9800 Pencil – Hi-Quality Japanese Everyday Pencil

Mitsubushi 9800 Pencil

Buy on Amazon

The Japanese-made Mitsibushi Hi – Uni Pencil is their flagship pencil and widely regarded as one of the best pencils in the world.

It is a premium pencil and carries a premium price tag and is therefore not the pencil that the Japanese people use in schools and offices for everyday writing.

They use the Mitsubishi 9800 pencil The Japanese like their pencils to be dark and soft writing and prefer a 2B but for westerners an HB or B will be more in line with what you are more familiar with.

It is a superb pencil and made from Cedar Wood with a top-quality maroon lacquer finish that would rival many western premium pencils.

3. Tombow 8900 Pencils Most Popular Pencil in Japanese Schools

Tombow 8900 Pencils

Buy on Amazon

Tombow is another Japanese giant in the pencil world and their Tombow Mono 100 pencil is regarded as one of the 3 best pencils in the world with the Blackwing and the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni.

But like Mitsubishi, the Japanese people do not generally use a premium pencil for writing with and the Tombow 8900 is the best-selling pencil in Japan for schools and office use.

The Tombow 8900 was first introduced in 1945 as a specialist pencil that artists used to retouch photos with. It is famous for its olive-green barrel and dragonfly logo and is a superb pencil. If you are looking to push the boat out a little more then consider the entry-level Tombow Mono J or R pencils.

4. Staedtler Tradition HB Pencil – Europe’s Most Popular Pencil

Staedtler Tradition 110 Pencils

Buy on Amazon

Staedtler is one of Germany’s oldest pencil makers and is a huge multinational company. If you grew up in the UK or Europe, then you will be very familiar with the Staedtler Tradition pencil with its distinctive red and black livery.

It is the no 1 pencil used in schools, and renowned for its reliability with strong break-resistant lead and easily sharpens to a nice point.

5. General Semi-Hex #2 Pencil – American Classic Pencil

Generals Semi Hex Pencil

Buy on Amazon

The Generals Semi Hex pencil is one of America’s classic pencils with its distinctive yellow livery and slightly rounded edges hence “Semi-Hex). They are made in New Jersey and are available in four degrees.

#1/B Extra Soft

#2/HB Soft

#2 ½/F Medium

#3/H Hard

To compete with the Chinese brands, they may be using cheaper cedar wood than they once did. The general consensus is that they are not as good as they used to be, but they are still a decent pencil and worth taking a look at.

6. Faber-Castell Grip 2001 Pencils – Ergonomic Triangular Barrelled Pencil

Faber Castell Castell Grip 2001 Pencil

Buy on Amazon

Faber Who? some of you may be thinking as Ticonderoga, General Pencils and the Musgrave Pencil company have dominated the U.S market. But make no mistake the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 pencil is not to be dismissed.

Faber-Castell is one of Germany’s oldest pencil manufacturers and the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 is a superb pencil.

It has an ergonomic triangular-shaped barrel with a unique soft nonslip grip. The graphite of the pencil is highly break-resistant and bonded to the pencil with a process known as “Securalverfahren” which is German for secural bonding.

The pencil also stacks up on the eco-friendly front it is coated in an environmentally friendly water-based varnish.

7. Dixon Ticonderoga #2 Pencils – By Americas Oldest Pencil Manufacturer

Dixon Ticonderoga No 2 Pencil

Buy on Amazon

Dixon Ticonderoga is the oldest and biggest pencil company in America and can trace its roots back to 1812. The Ticonderoga is an iconic pencil with its yellow livery and green and yellow ferrule. They are fondly remembered by many people who used them in the classroom.

Although there has been a sad demise in the quality o these pencils in recent years. Due to pressure from cheap imports, Dixon Ticonderoga switched their production from Georgia to Mexico. They may still be made from Cedar Wood, but they just aren’t quite the same as they once were..

If you would like to know more about Dixon Ticonderoga then check out Dixon Ticonderoga a Comprehensive Guide for more information.

Did you know that there are 12 different types of pencils used for sketching, drawing, and marking?

Check out The Ultimate Pencil Types Guide for more information.


Photo of author

Peter Warrior: Pen & Pencil Expert

With nearly a decade of experience in the pen industry, I successfully ran an online pen business for 9 years. My deep-rooted passion for pens and pencils led me to become a part-time blogger, where I've dedicated myself to sharing the wealth of knowledge I've amassed over the years. I'm a firm believer in the power of the written word, as echoed by Malcolm Forbes: "Putting pen to paper lights more fire than matches ever will." My expertise is not just rooted in business, but in the genuine appreciation and understanding of the art of writing instruments.

Leave a Comment