Interesting Facts About Office Supplies

Here are a list of interesting facts about stationery you may not have known. Remember, you’ll have us to thank when you hear these in your next pub quiz!


The Yellow Highlighter Accounts To 80% Of All Sales – Yellow was the first colour to be used for a highlighter so I guess people just stuck by it? It is also the perfect colour for a highlighter. Think about it… Yellow is the middle spectrum of visible light so it can be seen by colour blind people and it highlights words leaving them still easily visible as the colour yellow isn’t as dark as some highlighter colours, such as green, which can hide the highlighted words more. So these reasons are why yellow is the most popular colour for highlighters by some distance.

yellow highlighter

A Bic Ballpoint Pen Can Write For 2km – Researchers from the University of Reading are studying a wide range of ballpoint pens. Extremely interesting, I know! When reading the research into how far will a ballpoint pen write for one of the most interesting bits is that the average writing length of a ballpoint pen is 900 meters (the longest was 2,000). To determine the writing lengths of the pens, researchers used machines that approximated the writing strokes, speed and downward pressure of an average person and wrote until the pens were exhausted. The researchers also measured the length of some common writing tasks to help put those numbers in perspective. According to them, a 900 meter ballpoint pen would write:

  • 6207 signatures
  • 5114 phone numbers
  • 971 Christmas cards
  • 169 letters

ballpoint pen

You Can Revive Old Permanent Markers With Alcohol – When your permanent marker runs out, don’t throw it away! It can be revived with alcohol. Just like you when its 2am on a Saturday night. To do this, you have to soak the marker in some rubbing alcohol until you see the ink start to leak out. Then put the lid back on and let it set of around 15 minutes and you are good to go. You can also revive regular markers the same way by using water instead.

Sharpie markers

King Louis XV Was The First To Use A Staple – when was the last time you had a history lesson? It doesn’t matter, you’re getting one now with this interesting fact! Although staplers don’t seem like a glamorous invention, in the 18th century it was certainly that. At this time, the king of France, King Louis XV, was the first to use a stapler to bind his royal papers. Allegedly, each staple bore the insignia of the royal court and was made out of solid gold and encrusted with precious stones.

king louis XV

The Post-It Note Was Invented By Accident – Almost everybody keeps a stack of Post-Its on their desk, and that’s a fact in itself. But this standard office supply was a happy accident. In 1968, Spencer Silver was working to create a super strong adhesive. He failed. What he created instead was a weak adhesive that left behind no residue. It was not until three years later that Silver’s accidental invention was put to proper use. Arthur Frye, a colleague of Silver’s, was studying a choir hymnal and using small pieces of paper to mark the pages. The pieces of paper kept falling out of the book, until Frye thought to use Silver’s weak adhesive to make them stick: the first Post-It note.

post it notes

Pen Lids Cause An Average Of 100 Deaths A Year – How could this fact be? One of the simplest and most inconspicuous items that can be found on the most common of office stationary, a pen lid, is incredibly dangerous, and even deadly. Pen lids can hardly be describes as the best thing to place into your mouth. Yet it is something that many of us do. Quite often you will see people chewing on the ends of their pens while working or thinking and this is the main way people have seen their fate with pen lids. So statistically, pen lids are more dangerous than sharks…

pen lids

Before Rubbers Were Invented, Stale Bread Was Used – Until the 1770s, humanity’s preferred way of erasing errant graphite marks relied on bread that had been de-crusted, moistened and balled up. While these rubbers were cheap and plentiful, they had a distinct disadvantage: They were, you know, made of bread. They were susceptible, like all bread, to mould and rot. Talk about a kneaded eraser. So the next time you leave a loaf in your cupboard for too long, give it a try!

stale bread eraser

Pencils Are Yellow To Remind Customers Of Chinese RoyaltyPencils first began production in the United States in Massachusetts in 1812. It wasn’t until 1890, however, that the modern, mass-produced pencil began to take shape. At the time, the highest quality graphite was produced solely by Chinese mines. To signal to their customers that they only used the highest grade materials, pencil-making companies began painting their pencils yellow—the colour of royalty and respect in traditional Chinese culture. After that, the colour just stuck.
yellow pencils

The Paperclip Was A Sign Of The Resistance During WWII – This fact came to knowledge when Nazis overtook Norway in the 1940s, students at Oslo University began wearing paperclips on their lapels—as well as paperclip bracelets and other homemade jewellery—as a sign of unity and resistance. Because traditional Norwegian symbols had been banned, students looked to alternative ways of displaying solidarity. The paperclip was chosen not only for the symbolism of its ability to bind things together, but because it was also mistakenly believed to have been invented by a Norwegian, Johan Vaaler, in the early 1900s.

paperclip on lapel