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Staple right, staple left or staple middle?

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Dear Administrative Professional Today:

“Say that within a three-page document, the first and third pages are vertical, and the middle page is horizontal. How do you arrange them for stapling? Do you turn the middle sheet to the left so the staple is in the upper right-hand corner of the middle sheet, or to the right so the staple is in the lower left-hand corner?”  — Anonymous reader

Style guides differ on the topic, so to answer the question, we talked to Alice Barnes, a consultant with 20 years’ experience working with Fortune 500 companies, to find out how other admins in corporate America handle this.

Here’s what she pointed out: If you created the “mixed” document in Microsoft Office 2007,  it will rotate the landscape pages counterclockwise when you print them. So if you stapled the document directly after printing, it would look like your first scenario above.

Barnes says she sees it done this way most frequently, and it’s how she personally prefers it. “It’s just easier to read the entire document that way,” she says. Otherwise, your staple hides too much, and it’s awkward to hold in your hand.”

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L Fox June 5, 2015 at 6:30 pm

To clarify this topic of how to staple landscape documents, think about the end result? After the documents are handed out where could the recipients end-up putting the documents, other than the waste-bin; most likely, on a “peg” in a file, or in a binder! So how would you put the landscape documents into a file or binder? Let’s stick with the binder scenario. Logic would say since you hole-punch the left-margin-side of the portrait documents, that would make it hole-punched on the top-margin-side of the landscape documents. If you stapled landscape documents on the corner to coincide with the written contents, the staple would now be on the lower-left in the binder, or if you turn the documents upside down, to ensure that staple is on the top in the binder, your landscape documents are now hole-punched in the binder with the staple on the top-right and the contents are also upside down in the binder. In both of these cases, it now makes it quite difficult to open the landscape documents, no matter which way you have hole-punched them, because the staple is now in-the-way and restricts reading and access to the stapled documents. That means extra frustrating efforts are now required to pull out the staple, and if you want to keep that bunch of papers together in the binder it requires a new staple in proper top corner. Therefore, to have the harmony with both portrait and landscape documents; alone, on a “peg” in a file, or in a “binder”, rule-of-thumb is that all portrait documents are stapled in the upper-left-corner and all landscape documents are stapled in the upper-right-corner; whether alone or mixed. That way you can NEVER go wrong. Try it out! Staple a bunch of papers in all of the various scenarios debated online and hole-punch them for a binder! Forty plus years ago when proper business admin procedures were taught in school, this was one of the very basic business admin 101 techniques. Yes…there were photocopiers back then, as crude as they were! However, this kind of teaching, such as how to staple, how to properly answer the telephone, how to properly prepare documents, and so on, no longer exists and has created this hodgepodge of debates as evidenced online. Just search the internet and you will see what I mean. Now days just in-case you may be shown the wrong technique, take a moment to use “common sense” and “logic” to figure it out and think of the end-result. That also includes taking a moment to figure out how to feed the documents and set the staple-finishing in a photocopier because that is also where many go wrong!


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