The Papermate Clearpoint mechanical pencil is overrated

Papermate Clearpoint 0.7 mechanical pencil in black. Photo credited to Allen Wu.

Papermate Clearpoint 0.7 mechanical pencil in black. Photo credited to Allen Wu.

Allen Wu, Contributing Writer

With midterms just around the corner, comes writing and with writing, comes pencils. The Papermate Clearpoint is a pencil that needs no introduction. Every student has come across this pencil at some point in time. It’s one of the most popular pencils of Solon High School behind the Bic Xtra.

But I have a problem with the Clearpoint because it’s a highly overrated, poorly designed and fragile pencil. It has a lot of good ideas going for it, such as the side lead advance button and the twistable replaceable eraser. However, its design is flawed in the fact that it has a major point of structural failure where the cap meets the body of the pencil.

Papermate Clearpoint’s cap and body connection mechanism. Photo credited to Allen Wu.

The flaw is that the mechanism that holds the two pieces together is nothing more than a small nub that holds it in a corresponding socket. In my experience, whenever the pencil falls on the ground, this area will almost always crack which renders it completely useless.

The pencil’s fragility was a shared complaint by senior student Ferhat Yilmaz, who had numerous problems with the pencil’s design.

“I dislike it because it’s fragile, the button is placed too high for my liking and the rubber part is not very comfortable compared to a Twist-Erase,” Yilmaz said.

The pencil’s weak points aren’t just the connecting mechanism. Senior student Benjamin Knox, expressed his opinion on how the pencil could be improved.

“I wish that the clippy thing was stronger so it didn’t break all the time,” Knox said.

Students were asked what traits they look for in a mechanical pencil. Senior student Samuel Ushats considered multiple different key aspects to look for.

“I look for a sturdy, reliable pencil…” Ushats said. “I like my current pencils because they have not malfunctioned on me this year.”

Despite the pencil’s issues, the pencil’s popularity continues. Out of ten interviewees, only three had not used a Clearpoint before. And almost everybody had numerous positive things to say about the pencil. Senior student Henry Tavens gave his input on the matter.

“I personally am a definite fan of the clearpoint,” Tavens said. “I think that the replaceable and extendable eraser on the clearpoint is, in my opinion, its number one facet. I personally tend to make a lot of mistakes when writing and the small, hard to replace eraser on typical mechanical pencils is definitely an impediment to my work flow.”

Senior student Andrew Zand shared nothing but positivity for the pencil when asked if there could be any improvements to it.

“It’d be pretty hard to improve because [it’s] the best mechanical pencil I’ve ever used.” Zand said.

In order to gain an understanding of what makes a good design on mechanical pencils, I asked students what they would look for in a mechanical pencil. Definitive patterns appeared among all the answers.

Senior students Ferhat Yilmaz and Henry Tavens both mentioned the eraser in their responses. Everybody seemed to be a big fan of the twistable eraser along with the fact that it’s replaceable.

Aesthetics also seemed to be a key component. Multiple people stated it as a factor that they would look for in a mechanical pencil, like in the case of Andrew Zand.

“I look for comfort, lead type and… style.”

Tavens had more to say on pencil styling.

“[In a pencil], I also look for a sleek design, a feature which the Clearpoint could slightly improve upon.”

But I am not alone in my distaste for the famous Papermate Clearpoint. Others have seen that while it has good ideas, it has a poor overall execution. Yilmaz, who uses a Pentel Twist-Erase CLICK, offers it as an alternative choice of pencil.

“It’s durable, comfortable, and generally does everything the ClearPoint does better,” said Yilmaz.

Pentel Twist-Erase CLICK. Photo credit from Pentel’s website.

While looks are subjective, I believe that the Twist-Erase CLICK has better overall looks compared to the Clearpoint. Its full grip gives a solid color that contrasts with its clear plastic body rather than the dotted look that the grip of the Clearpoint provides. It even has a metal clip that gives it a sleeker, more professional look along with being a more durable clip, like Benjamin Knox had wished for.

Nicole Williams, a senior student at Solon High School, was another dissident of the Clearpoint, although for different reasons.

“No, I don’t like it,” Williams said. “However, it’s not because there’s anything specific because of the design, it’s solely because I use a pen for every class.”

The Twist-Erase CLICK does not suffer from the fragile cap-to-body connection mechanism like the Clearpoint does. On the Twist-Erase CLICK, the connection is made using the entire circumference of both parts on the pencil. In addition, it has a solid connecting mechanism. This, combined with the friction provided on both surfaces, prevents it from having a loose cap like a Clearpoint would.

The popularity of the Clearpoint was driven by the fact that its good ideas clouded people’s judgement of the pencil since they were unaware that there were other options that did the same thing the Clearpoint does. People should know that there are more options than just the Clearpoint. They should remember that no pencil is perfect, especially not the Clearpoint.

“While it is close to perfect, there are definitely some areas where the Clearpoint misses the mark,” Tavens said.