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The perfect angle to staple paper

Simon Cox

04 Feb 2010


The perfect angle to staple paper

On July 2nd 2004 I posted a small article about stapling sheets of paper together. We all have these small thoughts but don't usually say them out loud - this time I did.

I asked myself what is the best angle to staple sheets of paper at?

This article got picked up by Metafilter and traffic went mad for a few weeks. Readers wanted more info and suggestions were that a thesis should be written, I even had to change the original graphics as someone, quite rightly pointed out that they were technically incorrect. I was still getting searches through to the new website for this article several years later so decided to republish it. Here is the article:

I have just stapled four sheets of paper together in a routine that I do several times a day and yet it only just occurred to me that there may be a perfect angle at which to staple the paper together for ease of reading. For example, if I were to staple at the classic 45 degrees would it interfere with my desk space more than a 90 degree fixing?

So I set out and did some testing and you can see from the results what happened:


0 degrees

stapled paper at 0 degrees angleAt 0 degrees the paper is thrown out to the side making it quite unwieldy and easily prone to unwanted movement if you are reading. Not recommended unless you have a shallow space at your desk.


22.5 degrees

stapled paper at 22.5 degrees angleOur photocopier has automatic stapling and uses a 22.5-degree fastening and you would think that a large company would have tested this aspect a lot but it seems not as I find this angle quite uncomfortable to use.


45 degrees

stapled paper at 45 degrees angleAt the classic 45 degrees all seems well but undue strain is put on the paper especially as you get to the back pages of a large document. the lifted pages wave about a bit.


67.5 degrees

stapled paper at 67.5 degrees angleA slight twist on the classic 45 degrees fixing. This has a little more flair as it starts to adhere to some of the Golden Mean rules. My personal preference and the one I think Da Vinci would have gone for (and he may have done - if only the Vatican would allow us to see the books.). Similar to the 0 degree option but this time goes forward rather than out to the side. Same problems but could be useful if you need to concentrate on the document as it stops you getting to your keyboard. People with attention deficiency should choose this.

The next question to arise is do left-handed people staple to the left or right of the document?

Later on I will be examining what is the best angle to use if you intend to fold the page behind, such as if you are reading documents while on the train, and a lot of people do for I have read many interesting internal mails over people shoulders.

If you know of any references to this thorny problem please leave a comment with a link in to them.

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