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Bit of a Frivolous Question - Doing Math in Pen?

  1. Jun 10, 2010 #1
    At the university level, is one expected to complete math assignments using ink? Maybe a laughable question, but I've heard different things from different people, from "you will never use a pencil after high school" to "math is a different story", etc.

    I ask because I've gotten kind of used to ink and like it, in spite of the unsightly scratch-outs.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2010 #2
    It really depends. I hand in my assignments with pencil and my professor is fine with it.
  4. Jun 10, 2010 #3
    As assignments come, it will usually be a matter of personal taste. If it's neat, it shouldn't matter whether it's in pen, pencil, or typed up. Once you start writing papers and stuff for research, it would be almost necessary to type your work up, often using LaTeX.
  5. Jun 10, 2010 #4


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    Do whatever you prefer to write with.

    I am using a blue pen, for ages, and I cannot understand how people are still writing with pencil.

    Yes if I want to erase something then I put a big X over it.
  6. Jun 10, 2010 #5


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    In college, I used mechanical pencil with soft lead (nice dark lines) that I also had to buy for drafting. Of course, with drafting, you need nice clean erasures, so decent quality paper and a really good eraser were on hand, too.

    Some papers were required to be typed, but for homework assignments, no prof ever complained about getting neatly penciled papers written in a legible hand. Proper lettering for plots and blueprints might be a lost art now - it's been 40 years.
  7. Jun 10, 2010 #6
    I do scratch work in pencil, and final work using a sharpie pen. For homework assignments, I often do problems on a whiteboard first so I can constantly erase and use as much space as I need. You can buy a 3' by 2' dry erase board for just $30 at Staples. If you don't have room for a dry erase board, then you can buy one of the 11" by 14" boards for just $8 at Staples.
  8. Jun 10, 2010 #7
    I don't think I've seen a pencil in years!

    I always use a pen for all types of assignments, except pc based ones. I don't think any of my professors would have a problem with me using pencil, although i would be a tad anxious that things may be accidentally erased .

  9. Jun 10, 2010 #8
    You use whatever you want, depending on the country and faculty. In the US, it's quite up to you.

    I think ink is nice. I don't care about scratch-outs. Pencil can be nice, if it's a good one. Try the graphgear 1000.
  10. Jun 10, 2010 #9
    I try to use pencil because I can get quite messy, but most of the time I prefer pens for everything. I only use Zebra pens (and pencils but thats an extension of my love for their pen)

    Aside from math I prefer to type everything. I type faster than I write legibly so..
  11. Jun 10, 2010 #10
    There's nothing wrong with pencil
  12. Jun 10, 2010 #11
    Haha, a Zebra fan!

    l was always a pen guy up until last fall when I got a metal zebra pencil at Wal-Mart. Those things are awesome! Highly, highly recommend the metal mechanical pencil, a Zebra M-402.
  13. Jun 10, 2010 #12
    Pens. My old notebooks of pencil are all smudged and barely readable, I'll never go back to pencil.
  14. Jun 10, 2010 #13


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    I always used pencil and never was asked to use something different. (Mechanical pencil, 0.5mm, HB or 2B. Yes I'm very picky about my pencils.)
  15. Jun 10, 2010 #14
    Am I like the only person who uses the traditional pencil? Like not the mechanical ones, but wooden ones where you still use sharpeners? (I don't use a knife to sharpen...)
  16. Jun 10, 2010 #15
    I experimented with using pencil last semester, but I like using pen much more. The only time I used pencil was when I wasn't provided with extra paper to try some things out on. I actually prefer to see my failed attempts at a solution right in front of me, and I'm not sure exactly why. I think it helps me keep my train of thought, instead of going in circles.
  17. Jun 10, 2010 #16
    Thanks for all the responses. Looks like I don't really need to worry about this.

    Also, @Leptos I like the idea of a dry-erase board. Maybe I'll get one for my dorm room (although I doubt the 3' x 2' would fit, and the fumes might get a bit much...)
  18. Jun 10, 2010 #17

    I don't recall where he got it, but a friend of mine had found the whiteboard material without the wooden backing. It came on a roll and was sold by the square foot dirt cheap. It was beautiful because you could put it on the wall like a poster and it took up no extra space.

    I used a zebra mechanical pencil for my first two years in college. These last 2-3 I have been using a Pentel mechanical pencil with 2B 0.5mm lead (like Turbo said, soft lead makes dark lines without having to apply much pressure). I also keep a "mars plastic" eraser near by for serious erasing. For light erasing, the Pentel works just fine. That's why I switched from the zebras, the erasers suck.
  19. Jun 11, 2010 #18
    I prefer pen for everything, from note-taking to final work in all classes, with the obvious exception being paper writing. I like the consistency of pens, as well as the way they flow on the paper (it's not as scratchy and there's less friction involved).

    I must say though, if you're worried about math professors getting onto you, let me just say this. I write everything -- EVERYTHING -- in cursive. Thus, take 2sin(4x) -- yep, sin is written in cursive, and the x is made elaborately. I've had three different math profs so far, and none have complained yet.
  20. Jun 11, 2010 #19

    Vanadium 50

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    Ink is fine. Scratch-outs are less fine. I would recommend recopying your work before handing it in. In fact, I recommend this in general. Paper is cheap.
  21. Jun 11, 2010 #20
    My favorite pencil is the http://davesmechanicalpencils.blogspot.com/2009/07/pentel-smash-q1005-mechanical-pencil.html" [Broken]. Looks good, is very comfortable, just the right weight, good grip.

    The http://davesmechanicalpencils.blogspot.com/2009/07/pentel-smash-q1005-mechanical-pencil.html" [Broken] is good for carrying around for use on the go as it is small and has a cap (so the tip doesn't stab you in the thigh when pocketed). The smooth grip section gets slippery in exam conditions though.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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