A surprisingly popular question in the stationery world is, “How long is an average wood pencil?” When we found out that there was no obvious answer, we go to work to find out.
There Is No Standard Pencil
Wood pencils are not made around a universal, or even a national, standard. While there may be expectations about how long and wide a pencil is, there is no standards body — like ANSI or ISO — that says a pencil should be this or that dimension.
Wikipedia states that a standard graphite-core wood pencil is 7.5 inches or 19 cm long, but that’s simply a generalization. We wanted to dig more deeply into this measurement and reviewed a number of pencils in order to get out findings.
When you are considering the length of a pencil you’ll want to keep in mind that features can make a considerable difference to the length.
First of all, the use of a metal ferrule and an eraser will significantly extend the length of the pencil. A typical pencil with an eraser is 19 cm long, but an art style pencil with no eraser or end cap will be 17.5 cm long.
Secondly, many pencils arrive pre-sharpen. This means they will be shorter than their true length, though the full amount of the loss is hard to judge as it can be difficult to find those models both unsharpened and sharpened versions. Also the angle of the sharpening and the type of sharpener used means more or less length may have been removed. All this noted, a first sharpening of a pencil will typically remove about 0.5 cm from the length.
Here are the lengths of some of the pencils in our collection. All lengths are as the pencil was when it shipped from the factory.
Unsharpened Pencil Lengths
- Amazon Basics: 17.7 cm
- Colleen no. 710: 18.9 cm
- Dixon Ticonderoga: 19.0 cm
- Eberhard Faber Mongol 482: 19.1 cm
- Eberhard Faber Velvet 3557: 18.9 cm
- Faber Castell 9003: 17.5 cm
- Mitsubishi Uni Velvet Touch: 17.7 cm
- Naturaj Stripes: 17. 8 cm
- Palomino Blackwing Eras: 20.0 cm
- Tombow 4007: 17.6 cm
- Tombow Excel 9900: 17.6 cm
- Tombow Ippo 2-color: 17.6 cm
Factory Sharpened Pencil Lengths
- Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood: 17.5 cm
- Caran d’Ache Nespresso: 17.7 cm
- Dixon My First Ticonderoga: 19.0 cm
The above results were taken from between 1 and 12 pencils per model, depending on availability. There is some variability from pencil to pencil, but it’s normally under 1 mm (0.1 cm) so it didn’t affect testing.
Findings From Our Measurements
Ultimately it’s not really as simple as asking, “how long is a pencil?” because the only possible answer would be, “It depends…”
If you were to ask, “How long is an unsharpened pencil with an eraser?” We would confidently say that on average it’s 19.0 cm (7.48 inches).
But if you were to ask, “How long is an unsharpened art-style pencil with no eraser?” We’d say about 17.6 cm (6.93 inches).
If you were to get more specific, this would change. For instance, a Blackwing pencil is 20.0 cm long, thanks to its specialized ferrule and extendable eraser design.
If you have any thoughts or comments, please send us a note.