Choosing the Right Pencil Shape

Hardness and material are important aspects to be considered when choosing a pencil.  Pencil shape, however, is often overlooked.  Though it may seem cosmetic, pencil shape affects grip, comfortability, and, for learners, writing style and technique.

Picking the right pencil shape is not as daunting as it sounds.  We’re going to guide you through the essential pencil shapes – their uses, their advantages, and their drawbacks.



Seen In: Golf pencils, writing pencils, some drawing pencils

Pros: Hexagonal casings are versatile and easy to use. With well-defined edges, they allow the user to establish a firm grip anywhere on the pencil.

Hexagonal pencils won’t roll off the desk as easily as their rounded counterparts. With its hard edges, the hexagonal pencil will stay put on a desk with an incline.

Cons: While Hexagonal pencils are versatile, there are instances and individuals that call for other pencil shapes. Children learning how to use pencils will be better off using a triangular pencil with which they can perfect their pencil grip. Artists may find the hard-edged hexagonal casing hard to shade with and everyday users may find the sharp corners cause calluses.



Seen In: Drawing pencils, some writing pencils

Pros: The close neighbor of the Hexagonal pencil, the Semi-hex has rounded edges for less rigid handling. Often, drawing pencils are semi-hexagonal. The semi-hex allows the artist to twirl the pencil between their index finger and thumb to use all sides of the sharpened point.

Cons: The Semi-Hex may be too smooth for some pencil users to secure a firm holding. Writers may find that the full Hexagon’s rigidity allows them an unfaltering grip.



Seen In: Design pencils, themed pencils

Pros: The round pencil is the bare-bone shape of pencil.  Their sleekness makes them easier to print on than hexagonal or triangular pencils, and it is easier for metal casings to be shaped in a round fashion than with corners.  The round pencil exudes simplicity.

Cons: Round pencils are perhaps the hardest pencils to hold – their lack of grip leaves the weary writer with a sweaty palm more susceptible to slippage and dropping.  This is easily solved: put a grip on your round pencil and you have a comfortable and reliable writing utensil.



Seen In: Elementary school pencils, some drawing pencils, some writing pencils

Pros: The jumbo triangular pencil is well known among primary school teachers for its kindergartener-friendly design.  With three wide edges, the triangular pencil is easy to use for the kindergartner with a small hand and a lack of finesse. Artists may find it easier to shade with a standard-sized triangular pencil as well.

Cons: Adults tend to have a hard time with the jumbo-sized triangular pencil.  Its wide edges are clunky, making it difficult for an experienced writer to practice their finesse.

4 replies
    • Steve Pringle
      Steve Pringle says:

      Ha! Good point. Just learned a new one thanks to you and Wikipedia.

      Writing this with my Apple Pencil and was curious why Apple went with this shape and see is found in “design” pencils.

    • Nick Sese
      Nick Sese says:

      Hi! The main difference between hex and semi-hex is how they feel when you’re writing with them or holding them. Semi-hex pencils are simply hex pencils that have more rounded edges. Some hex pencils can feel like they have sharp corners. Hope that helps explain the difference 🙂


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