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  • Sophie Xie

Stationary 101

At the start of every school year, there is always one dire question on every student’s mind: what school supplies will I actually use this year? When the supply list goes up, we all click on it to see what we need. There’s always a notebook and possibly colored highlighters, but never explicit instructions on what you need in a pencil case. If you’ve ever been conflicted about what to bring, this article can help you.

The most essential components of a pencil case are pencils, pens, erasers, and white-out. For the perfect pencil case, I would also add lead, highlighters, a ruler, a protractor, scissors, tape, a mini-stapler, and sticky notes, but I will only detail the essentials.

First up: pencils. Pencils are why you need a pencil case and are arguably the most practical school supply. They can take notes, draw sketches, erase said notes and sketches, and even provide a tool for you to vent your frustrations! Now, there are two categories: one is the traditional wood pencils used when taking state tests, and the other is mechanical pencils that never dull and don't ever need to be sharpened. The type you choose is personal preference, but let it be said here: mechanical pencils are more cost-efficient and durable in the long term than traditional pencils.

There is more variety, and it’s easier to customize your pencil to be uniquely yours. BIC pencils are the best budget pick in mechanical pencils. If you’re willing to splurge, Pilot’s Dr. Grip has a grip that doesn’t tire your hand out as fast as the slimmer pencils! That said, traditional pencils are better for test taking and bubbling in answers on the Scantron. They can come in many varieties, but the most classical option is the Ticonderoga yellow #2 pencils. For those of us looking for a more arresting color, Ticonderoga also has a series of pencils with assorted tints. Even with color, pencils can be so ordinary. If you’re ever looking for something more fun, try a bendy pencil! Tie it into a knot – or not!

Sometimes the eraser on the top of your pencil works well and sometimes it doesn't. To avoid a scenario where you’re taking a test and can’t erase the answer you bubbled in by accident, try the white Hi-Polymer erasers by Pentel or Staedtler. Sadly, those erasers get dirty and always look the same. You can also try a Blossom eraser for some color.

Next, onto the school supply that you can never erase: pens. If I were to dive into the endless sea of possibilities, this article would never end. For now, I’ll just focus on ballpoint and gel pens. Ballpoint pens won’t smear if you get them wet, and you can highlight them right after writing your notes. The only problem is that they can get stuck easily, so you could find the perfect pen right away or have a pen that needs to be warmed up: and then you’ve got the perfect pen. Black, red, and blue are the three most common colors, and pink, orange, and green are also out there. If you’re looking for a particular brand, Zebra and BIC work pretty well. As for gel pens, there’s much more to talk about. Even though they do smear if you touch or highlight them after writing, there’s a much smoother experience when taking notes. You can choose from many colors, but if you’re bored, try a lava pen!

While pens are generally permanent and you can’t erase them, there is one thing that can help cover it up, and it’s called white-out. People have differing opinions about white-out; some think it’s terrible, because the whole reason you use a pen is so that it won’t accidentally disappear! Yet, mistakes happen, and that’s when white-out is invaluable. There are liquid and tape-like white-outs. Either is usable, yet liquid white-out takes a while to dry and can be bumpy, resulting in a less-than-ideal writing experience. Tape white out is smoother and more portable, with no concern of leaking in your pencil case. If you’re only looking for white-out based on function, BIC makes white-out with some colors for variety. If you want something cuter, try the milk bottle white-out from Kasmena! BIC also has white-out pens for those who prefer to use liquid white-out but want to apply more precisely.

I’ve covered four types of school supplies in this article, but you should have many more in your pencil case. Hopefully, this list helps when you’re compiling your school supplies at the beginning of the school year or just need to replace the pen that’s recently died!


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