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Guide to choosing office staplers and paper punches

Staplers and paper punches keep the chaos out of mountains of paper, and they help you easily prepare for presentations or projects. To choose the right stapler and paper punch for your needs, it's time to get reacquainted with the types of tools available today.


Two types of staplers, manual and electric, still dominate the home and office. Within those categories, you'll find subcategories for different types of jobs and projects.

  • Portable/desktop electric stapler: One of the most common styles of stapler, the electric stapler is ideal for one-handed stapling. These sleek models use standard staples, and they can stamp together up to 20 sheets at a time. Look for an easy and wide paper lead-in to allow you to slip in papers at any angle for quick stapling. Also look for a stable, non-skid base, so the stapler doesn't wobble or slide around when stapling with one hand.
  • Mini manual stapler: Mini-staplers are probably the most portable of the entire line of staplers. Kids and adults both love them because these staplers are easy to tote around and store in a drawer. Though small, they can still do a good job of stapling together up to 20 sheets of paper at a time. Students can keep these little staplers in backpacks, lockers or at home to have on hand when needed.
  • Standard manual stapler: The workhorses of staplers, basic manual tools are reliable for daily light-duty tasks. They're typically made from high-impact plastic or metal with a non-skid base and use a long strip of standard staples. Manual staplers can staple up to 15 or 20 sheets of paper depending on its paper feed base. Most models open 180 degrees for bulletin board or wall tacking. Some models have a feature that can be used to "pin" papers rather than staple them together. Pinning is a temporary staple that can be easily removed, eliminating the need for a staple remover.
  • Fashion stapler: Not all staplers are black or gray. You'll find standard manual and electric staplers in fashion colors, such as hot pink. You'll find some models molded into novelty shapes like a high-heeled shoe. Some models even have built-in pencil sharpeners and staple removers to make the tool even more useful.
  • Plier stapler: This type of stapler is often used by dry cleaners and florists who need a flexible tool that squeezes easily with one hand while the other hand is used to position what needs to be joined together. It's an easy tool to use at home or in any other setting. Look for a model that guarantees no-jam technology and one with a fast top-loading design for staples. A plier stapler uses plier staples.
  • Long-arm stapler: When you need a stapler to reach across long or wide documents that are up to 40 pages thick, you need a long-arm stapler. Throat depths can reach up to 12 inches away from the edge of the paper, for example. Specialty long-arm staplers include booklet staplers for pamphlets, brochures and other centerline stapling projects. Another specialty long-arm stapler, called a swing arm swivel stapler, is ideal for stapling larger sheets and booklets with its versatile arm positions.
  • Industrial-style stapler: For tasks that require stapling of 500 pages or up to 3,400 sheets of paper, grab an industrial-strength stapler machine with bins to support packets of stapled papers that are sized from letter to legal and more. Staples are purchased in cartridge form for continuous stapling.

Paper hole punches

You may have encountered a manual three-hole puncher in school to use for your book reports. These sleek long pieces of metal are ideal for your home and office to keep documents organized in a binder. Just like a stapler, the hole punch has evolved to make it easier to use. Here are some features you'll find in paper hole punch tools:

  • Electric: Hole punches are electric or battery operated to make it effortless to make clean holes in paper. Just stack the right amount of sheets in the slot, press a button and voila, two- or three-punch holes are complete. As with manual versions, there's a built-in chip tray to collect the holes.
  • Adjustable: Hole punches are adjustable. For example, from medical charts to legal documents to school papers, holes are not always in the same place on a page. Many paper punches have ruled document guides that slide back and forth to help you measure where the holes should be punched.
  • Ergonomic: The single hand-held hole punch is ergonomic and often with cushioned rubberized handles that fit comfortably in the hand.
  • Portable: Just like the mini staplers in jewel colors, students can benefit from mini single hole punches that fit into a purse or bag.
  • Five-hole punches Adjustable five-hole punches are ideal for specialized medical forms.
  • Fashion colors: Just like staplers, hole punchers come in more colors than simply black and stainless steel. Look for bright pink, blue and green to match your office, school supplies or craft room decor.
  • Crafting: Hole punchers go beyond the office. Special hole punch tools are ideal for crafters. Tools punch scallop circles, large squares, circles, hearts and other shapes in paper.