At least my overhead is cheap…

If you’re a copyeditor, don’t make the mistake of buying Ticonderoga checking pencils. Brittle, breaking, light-marking, hard-to-erase . . . Yuck.

What brand do you like? I can usually only find those or Sanford Col-Erase at the stores, and I’m not wild about Col-Erase either (though they’re a far cry better than the Ticonderoga).

8 thoughts on “At least my overhead is cheap…”

  1. Col-erase all the way for me, though I wish they were more erasable.

    I do have some Crayola colored pencils I got at Duane Reade when I was in a bind and had left the house without a red pencil. They’re too soft to hold a good point, but I can make do with them in a pinch. But one great thing about them is that they’re almost totally erasable. If you’re copy editing a book where you think you might rethink some decisions, but aren’t making a whole lot of marks, they might be the ticket.

  2. I am a fan of the Col-Erase in Carmine. I sharpen them a LOT to keep a sharp point, and they really erase far better than any other colored pencil I’ve tried.

    I made the mistake of getting red lead for my Pentel mechanical pencil… don’t waste your money on that either! Hard to get the mark to show up, so brittle it breaks easily, and then it’s impossible to erase!

  3. I went on a crazy spree years ago when Sanford was threatening to (and briefly did) discontinue most of their individual Col-Erase colors. So I will probably never lack for editing pencils as long as I live.

    Tuscan Red: My all-time favorite. Perfect.
    Violet: I loved this color, even though it can look blackish. Erased well enough. I can’t find boxes of it anywhere.
    Purple: When it’s soft, it’s excellent. Have run into harder and softer batches.
    Carmine Red: Neck and neck with Purple, but because I’ve rarely run into a hard batch.
    Rose: Too hard. Don’t bother.
    Brown: Pretty nice, but can be hard to erase.
    Blue: Can be fine, but this might not photocopy, so avoid.
    Indigo Blue: Same as Brown, even harder to erase, though.
    Green: Could be softer. Doesn’t erase so well.
    Lavender: Pretty, erases, but not as soft as Purple.
    Orange: Lovely and soft, but way too hard to see.
    Vermilion: Hard to erase, and looks odd to me.
    Grass Green: Hard to see, but soft.

    I agree that the colored leads for mechanical pencils are crap. ALSO don’t buy Prismacolor Verithin pencils with erasers. I had to white-out and switch their Crimson Red because it just would not erase and was so dark.

  4. What a fascinating discussion! Who knew?

    Would a set of Laurentians work? Or do those not erase?

    When I have to edit on paper, I just use a plain old mechanical pencil with a 5mm lead, and of course a honking great Staedtler eraser. That situation is pretty rare, however.

    In the days before Acrobat Pro, I used to have to proofread on paper, marking in three colours: red for copy-editing errors, blue for typesetter errors, green for editor/author alts. It was for this reason that I discovered the wonder that is the Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5; but what I really needed was some kind of magical erasable ink…

  5. I tested a lot of colors for copying ability back when I was at Harcourt, and Col-Erase Indigo Blue came out better than anything except brown. I used it for years, but finally gave up on it because I got sick of production editors insisting (after they got the manuscript back but before they tried to copy it) that I shouldn’t have used it because it wouldn’t copy. (It always did, of course, and quite well, but I got tired of going through it.)

  6. My husband is not a copy editor. (He’s a tattoo artist.) But he uses colored pencils to do layouts for designs. Sometimes he prefers non-photocopy colors, but almost as often he wants to be able to copy the layout drawing so he can trace over it on a light box to make linework for a stencil. Too much information… Let me get to the point.

    He has a lot of experience with different brands of colored pencils and knows whether or not they erase and how well. I’ll try to remember to ask him what he’s using now. I know for a while he used Col-erase red. He hated the Ticonderogas too. I know. I bought him a bunch by mistake once, and we still have them.

  7. When I can, I prefer to use an extra-fine point roller-ball pen with green ink, using white-out if necessary (I love the new Liquid Paper bottles with caps that do double-duty as both brushes or pens). When I was first trained as an in-house production editor, ink was the only thing accepted by my employer because of its superiority in copying, and now I’m spoiled.

    Of course, some publishers and/or projects require pencil, and in those cases I use Col-Erase Carmine Red, Green, Purple and/or Tuscan Red. I would like to find Violet, but it seems it’s only available in the assorted color sets now. Recently I won an eBay auction for a dozen Venus Col-Erase Carmine Red pencils, presumably from before they were bought by Sanford and obviously a different formula (that or aging the pencils does something to the “leads”). They’re wonderful! They’re both soft enough to erase well and hard enough to hold a point. Sweet! I’ll be disappointed when they’re gone.

  8. You can find all the Col-erase individual colors at (not sure of the spelling; you can google it). My favorites: violet, tuscan red, purple, indigo blue.

    Even though I’m author and do copy editing on the side still, these pencils are also great for highlighting my textbooks.

    Does anyone know where to find nonrepro blue highlighter markers? A publisher I work for often likes this for trailing notes. The nonrepro pencils don’t last long enough.

    Thank you, Patty

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