Difference between Pen and Pencil

Key difference: Pen and Pencil are common tools used in writing. The difference between the two is based on the different materials used in their making.

The origin of ‘pen’ dates back to 3000 B.C. Then around 500 B.C, the Ancient Indians invented the ‘ink’, and started using ‘feathers’  with a dipping nib, as a tool for writing. Historically, these pens were referred as reed pens, quills or dip pens, and were used to write on the sheets of papyrus. However, it was until 1945 A.D. when the ballpoint pen was invented, and become ready for public use.

Pens are generally made of plastic or metal, and consist of viscous oil or water based ink, which is delivered through the nib, a hard small rolling sphere. Based on their writing point or nib, pens are classified as ballpoint pens, fountain pens, markers and roller pens. Pens are cheap to buy, but the price does increase based on its material and ink quality. Generally, ballpoint pens are quite cheap and reliable, whereas fountain pens are quite costly. They are used for everyday writing, and are very reliable because the ink does not fade easily. Although, most of the written work is done on word processors, pens are still widely used by children and adults.

Pencil is another popular tool used for writing as well as drawing purposes. Though, the usable graphite wasn’t even discovered until 1565 in Cumbria, England. The rods of graphite were used to mark sheep, and in 1790 the wooden covering for the rods i.e. pencil was developed.

Pencils are made of wood, and have a graphite core inside; this core is sharpened and made pointy with a use of a sharpener, and is then used on write on a paper. The core leaves behind a very thin layer of solid graphite on the piece of paper or any other surface that it adheres upon; pencils, which are made of graphite, leave behind a dark grey or black impression on the paper. Though, color pencils are also used for artistic purposes. To make the pencil more useful, an eraser was attached to the end, so that any mistake made can be easily corrected. Pencil is mainly used by students in their formative years of learning to improve their penmanship, and later graduate to pens when they are mature enough to handle ink pens.

Comparison between Pen and Pencil:





A pencil is a hexagonal prism or cylinder-shaped tool used to write and draw, usually on paper.

Pens are made of plastic or metal, and consist of viscous oil or water based ink, which is delivered through the nib.


It is always made from wood.

It is made from plastic or metal.


1500 A.D

3000 B.C.


It is classified based on its hardness and blackness.

It is mostly fountain and ball pens.


It is easy to erase words or sentence written by pencil.

It is not easy to erase words or sentence written by pen.

On paper

It contains graphite in its core that leaves behind a solid layer of graphite that is dark grey or black in color.

It contains ink which is used to write on paper, and leaves behind a layer of black or blue or any other color depending on the ink used.


It is generally very cheap.

It is expensive at times, depending on the brand.


  • It needs to be continuously sharpened.
  • It does not come with a cap.
  • Pencil marks fade over time.
  • They are easy to break.
  • It runs out very easily, and new pencil has to be used.
  • It does not require sharpening.
  • It uses a cap to prevent ink from drying up.
  • It is more permanent, and does not fade over time.
  • They are not easy to break.
  • The ink in the pen runs for a long time. 


  • It is mainly used for drawing.
  • It is given to small children in view to improve their penmanship.

It is used for writing in collages, offices, etc.

Image Courtesy: en.wikipedia.org, services.flikie.com

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