Just a few days ago I asked a friend of mine what ‘B’ stands for when we refer to the different hardness of pencil leads. There’s HB, 2B, 3B pencils etc. I remember in primary school, we weren’t allowed to use HB pencils cos it was too light to be seen. So everyone was supposed to buy 2B pencils instead.

But what’s ‘B’?

Here’s what I found:


Pencil leads are graded by hardness and B stands for ‘Black’. The number/alphabet in front is the rating of hardness eg. H is for Hard while increasing numbers means increasing softness.