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Talking Time's Top 50 Office Supplies


Round and round I go
Staff member

Post-it notes

Score: 271 - Votes: 10 - Highest vote: 1st (Mogri)​

Bulgakov said:
(4x6") Ideal for daily task lists, or instructions on a project that that involves more than a couple of steps. I outline and scope on these all the time.

(3x3") The standard square, essential for short notes on one topic

Violentvixen said:
Fun fact: "Sticky notes" are specifically banned according to the Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 Good Manufacturing Practices because of Data Integrity concerns. Someone could modify the data later (no longer Contemporaneous or Attributable) or lose the note by forgetting to attach it to the lab notebook (no longer Original, Enduring or Available). This is one of the many, many, reasons I'm happy to be in R&D rather than GMP, we're still not allowed to use them for data recording, but we are able to take notes on them for data review. If anyone from R&D needs to go into the GMP area we have to take some qualification quizzes and there's ALWAYS a question about post-its to remind us not to use them. Many pharmaceutical employers outright ban the purchase of post-its at the corporate level to avoid writeups during an FDA audit.

Kirin said:
the best scrap paper, it stays where you put it

Dracula said:
Are these dumb, or are they absolute genius? Regardless, we can't stop using them.

Falselogic said:
I love the classic yellow sticky note but I love them in every color and size.

JBear said:
Sticky notes can get *completely* fucked. I don't want a note that I need to fold in half before it becomes usable.

What if note, but sticky? While it looks like not quite everyone is on board with Post-its, they are the favorite by a wide margin. Sorry, JBear.

The Post-it is the quintessential "leave a note" supply. About to leave work but need to remember something tomorrow? Write it on a Post-it and stick it to your monitor. Leaving the house but need to tell your roommate something? Stick it on the fridge. And then there's the "swim lane" approach of writing tasks on Post-its and moving them from column to column to keep their statuses up-to-date.

And that's just scratching the surface. Post-its can be art. Other office supplies can make art, but few of them can claim to be a medium on their own -- canvas and paint at the same time.

Sure, you don't always want your note to be sticky, and I think our list reflects that, but by popular demand, the Post-it is the undisputed king of the office supplies.

Clippit said:
You may have heard the story: in 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a 3M scientist, had set out to develop a super-adhesive, but he accidentally created the weak, reusable adhesive now used for the Post-it note. It was several years before anyone came up with a use for the adhesive, and the Post-it note wasn't actually sold until 1980.


Summon for hire
Yeah, I was pretty sure that was gonna be #1. I had it at #2 on my list (after a throw-away personal thing in the top slot). This whole list kept coming back to the fact that I just don't use much paper in my current job, but when I need a little paper, the stack of sticky notes is there for me.

Aside from just a space for momentary ideas, calculations, or records that are quicker to jot down for easy reference than to put into the computer, my job also uses sticky notes in one other big way - once a year we get together the entire software team and upper management and have a huge planning system, where we basically write down every possible idea for future software improvements on individual notes, put them all onto a big white-board, and then re-arrange them into rough priority order like "Now" / "This Year" / "Later" and so on. It works pretty well! We did have to do it using some online collaboration software at the height of the pandemic, but it's really just not the same as grabbing notes and marking them up and moving them around physically.


????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
I guess I'm not quite as enamored with them as some of you - I only had them at #17 on my list.


definitely not a robot
(He/Him + RT/artee)
figures a bunch of posters would vote for post-its

Thanks for doing this Mogri! (Sorry I forgot to submit a list.)


Yes, that Russian author.
I enjoyed watching my daily life kit get ranked and thrown into the abyss depending on others. Thank you Mogri!


Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
I just want to be clear, for anyone not reading closely, that I 100% did not vote for post-it notes. I voted, very specifically, for a non-sticky notepad. I hate post-it notes with the red hot fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. What if notepad, but bad? Absolutely awful. I do not understand the appeal at all, and I hate how ubiquitous they are.

Johnny Unusual

Here's my list. I don't work in an office but I played around with a ton of this stuff when my Dad was working at the University.

1. Desk Chairs
2. Pencils
4. “Cow Clips” (Binder Clips)
5. Staple Remover
6. Staplers
7. Sharpeners
8. Printing paper
9. Paper Punch
10. White Board
11. Cardboard box
12. Water Cooler
13. Paper Shredder
14. Binder
15. Planner
16. Printer
17. Scissors
18. Dry Erase Markers
19. Paper clips
20. Sticky notes
21. Rubber Bands
22. Erasers
23. Highlighters
24. Staples
25. Business Cards


????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Here's my list:
  1. AdjustabLe date stamp (24)
  2. Oval shaped metal paper clips (3)
  3. Jaw style staple remover (4)
  4. Swingline 747 classic square stapler (2)
  5. Perforated notepad (20)
  6. Pens (18 & 21 & 23)
  7. Little round magnets
  8. Rubber stamp & ink pad (24)
  9. Binder clips (5)
  10. Thumb tacks / push pins (10)
  11. Single hole punch (29)
  12. Clear (Scotch) tape (27)
  13. Printer paper (16)
  14. Mechanical pencil (15)
  15. Kim wipes (31)
  16. Manila folders (30)
  17. Post-it notes (1)
  18. white board (9)
  19. Dry erase markers (21)
  20. Calculator
  21. Single page paper calendar (38)
  22. Mouse pad
  23. Badge reel (57)
  24. Clipboard (52)
  25. Wite-Out / correction fluid
Got a lot of hits. I guess there really just aren't all that many different office supplies. But I am a bit surprised that the magnets and wite-out didn't make the list.


I didn't have a full 25 but here's mine. I did okay on hits.

1. Electric Kettle - Maybe your work doesn't have a stupid coffeemaker or water policy. But mine does. And I can ignore it all because I have an electric kettle. Tea or coffee whenever I want. A must have for every office!
2. The Daily File - This is particular to my line of work. The Daily File is put out by both houses of the California State Legislature and is basically the agenda for the houses. My work and what I am doing is largely controlled by this document. With it I can look up any active piece of legislation and see where it is in the process, the last few actions on it, etc. Getting a physical copy of it every morning was a ritual before COVID. Truly a thing of beauty.
3. Hobonichi Techo (Day Planner/Organizer) - This is what I use to organize my work life and my personal life. I've been using Hobonichi's for the last six years and I love them.
4. Sticky notes - I love the classic yellow sticky note but I love them in every color and size.
5. Fountain pen - This is how I class up my writing when I want to. Also, whenever I pull one out I get a nice comment on it.
6. Ballpoint multi-pen - You know what I'm talking about. Those pens with red, blue, and black ink them. They have those fun sliding clickers. They're the best. You can find ones today with 4 inks AND pencil lead! I'm rocking the Pilot Dr. Grip 4+1!
7. Lead Pencil - I swear by Blackwing 602s. Nice firm graphite and a wide rubber eraser is just perfect. They also look good too.
8. Washi tape - Its colorful! It doesn't leave sticky residue, and it's not permanent. Super useful
9. Pushpins - When you work in cubicle hell, and the walls are that soft weird fabric you can just jam everything up on them. And I do.
10. Work cellphone - A lifesaver. I just turn it off at 5. I don't want people knowing my personal cell phone or intruding on my personal life. Thank goodness for the work phone!
11. The Fax Machine - I love the ones that let you make copies on that awful heat activated paper. The worst. What's that? Who still has faxes? Oh buddy! I work for the state and at least once a week I've got to fax shit.
12. Forever stamp - Yes, physical mail still exists. I still have to use it. The Forever stamp is the best. Lots of variations. I don't have to worry about 1 or 3 cent stamps anymore. Just slap one of these babies on it and drop it in the mail.
13. Composition notebook - I tried fancy looking legalpads with leather or canvas covers. But nothing works quite as well as a composition workbook. I've got loads of them full of meeting notes. Dirt cheap too!
14. Index cards - Hipster PDA anyone?
15. headphones/earbuds - Another essential in a cubicle hell office space. The last thing I want to hear about is what Todd in accounting did over the weekend


Red Plane
I did not even think of post its, to the point that when I saw them as number one I thought “that’s a very mainstream fake #1”. I do use them, but not often. I’m much more of a scrap of paper guy (A6, if it’s going), and even when I do want to attach a note to something I usually use sticky tape.


Summon for hire
Thanks for running, Mogri!

Here's my list. Most of my entries that didn't rank unsurprisingly have to do with the bespoke hardware side of my software job. That plus snacks, anyway. Pretty much all of these things are always on or by my work desk.

01. Bantam Tool Desktop CNC Milling Machine (It makes stuff! I make the software for it! It goes on your desk!)
*02. Post-It Notes (the best scrap paper, it stays where you put it)
*03. Binder Clips (the paper clamp things with a black triangular sheet spring)
*04. Water Bottle (need water to live)
*05. Pencils (still pretty useful for jotting stuff down)
06. Cookies (snacks are an office necessity)
*07. USB data drives (sneaker-net is still sometimes easiest)
*08. FiFine Digital Mic (or any decent one, for podcast/video recording)
~09. Small Plastic Toys (i liek mudkips)
10. Hex Wrench Set (sometimes stuff's gotta get hexed)
11. Tiny flag-style post-it notes (stuff needs flaggin')
12. Digital Calipers (these things are so cool)
13. Tape-measure (for when the calipers aren't long enough)
14. Isopropyl Alcohol (sometimes stuff needs dissolvin')
15. Power Strips (need... more... power...)
*16. Sharpie (sometimes ya gotta write dark)
*17. Highlighter (sometimes ya gotta write light)
*18. Whiteboard and markers/erasers (for taking big notes)
19. SD Cards (some things don't have USB ports)
*20. Scissors (snip snip)
*21. Scotch Tape (when a thing needs to be stuck to another thing)
*22. Double-sided Tape (when a thing needs to be stuck a particular way)
23. Trail Mix (for when the cookies run out)
24. Tissues (allergy season)
25. Box of Miscellaneous Electronics Cables (maybe I'll need one someday!)


Round and round I go
Staff member
Here's the spreadsheet I used for tabulation. Don't look too closely -- there are a number of errors despite all the automation -- but this is a fully general top 50 tabulator, which I suspect is useful for anyone running a top 50. Put all the votes in the first tab, make sure you fill in the canonical name for everything, and the other tabs take care of themselves.


Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
  1. Pens (I like a nice Parker pen)
  2. Stapler (Swingline or nothing!)
  3. paper clips
  4. Tape dispenser
  5. post-it
  6. Highlighters
  7. Metallic Sharpies
  8. Sharpies
  9. rubber stamp pad & inks
  10. Dry erase markers and whiteboard
  11. desk organizer
  12. Stamps
  13. Coffee
  14. Water
  15. Copier
  16. envelopes
  17. calendar (the kind you peel off for every day)
  18. tchotkes (aka desk toys, bric-a-brac, etc)
  19. stickers
  20. glue stick
  21. File folders
  22. paper
  23. notepad
  24. clipboard
Huh. Haven't done this well since the Musicals thread.


Red Plane
Here’s my full list. I phoned it in a little towards the end, but I had fun writing this and I hope it’s a good read. This list and thread was much more fun than I expected from office supplies, thanks Mogri.

1. Disposable scissors
It is a truth widely known that a good nurse always has scissors in their pocket. A smart nurse's scissors will be disposable - sometimes you need to cut something disgusting at short notice, and you don't want to be putting those scissors back in your pocket after that. Essential for opening packaging, removing bandages without having to unwind them, prying the tops off vials, spinning around a finger while walking down corridors, and many other things.

2. Stapler
Specifically plier staplers, the reasonably heavy handheld type. The limb is off, it's in the bag, the bag needs sealing and the specimen form attached. Fold over the edge a few times, and stick some staples through it. Chunk chunk chunk. Satisfying.

3. DeBakey Forceps
Maybe better known to the wider public as tweezers. What, are you picking that up with your fingers? There are many types of forceps - toothed, non-toothed, serrated, smooth, short, long, fine, broad. Gillies, McIndoe, Bonney, Adson, Russian, Ring, Gerald, Bayonet, Packing. As good as any, and perhaps better (which tool is best of course depends on the task at hand), is the DeBakey. Available in a range of lengths and with tips of varying width, they have a pattern of fine teeth that reduce the force required to hold tissue without being rough enough to damage it. The same pattern is widely used on clamps for the temporary occlusion of blood vessels or bowel.

4. Clicky Pen
There's a hole at one end, and a button at the other. Press the button and the nib appears. Press it again and it goes away. Click! Usually there's a hook on the side to help it stay in place in your pocket. Aside from feeling good, this is the best pen for one-handed use. No need to remove the lid or turn the end. Take it out of your pocket, bang the back on something, and start writing.

5. Fingers
It is said that all bleeding stops eventually, and that's true. But sometimes you want to help it stop a little quicker. Sure, a clamp will last longer. A stitch or clip is a permanent solution. Give it a buzz with the electrocautery device. Pour on some peroxide if you're sure it won't cause an embolism or pneumocephalus. The clotting cascade or exsanguination will get you there eventually. In the short term, though, press on it! You can't stick a thumb on the aorta forever, but it might just cover the trip from emergency room to operating room. For smaller bleeds a few minutes of pressure might be all you need. Don't try it on brain tissue, though.

Fingers are also useful for almost everything else.

6. Guillotine
A larger version of this device is highly placed on my top 25 revolution supplies list, but here I'm talking about the one that lets you make straight cuts in paper. Very satisfying, but watch your fingers.

7. Magnifying Glass
Sometimes it is hard to see. A handheld glass makes you feel like a detective, though surgeons more often use spectacle-mounted loupes.

8. Mayo Scissor
There are many types of scissor. If I were a surgeon, I might nominate the ubiquitous Metzenbaum, or the slightly more specialised Tenotomy scissor. But I'm a nurse, and I mostly use the Mayos. Reasonably heavy with blunt tips, they're suitable for cutting sutures and dressings as well as (some) tissue. The trick to making scissors cut (after you've blunted them cutting dressings) is to push with your thumb and pull with your fingers so that the jaws are forced together. If you're holding the scissors in the wrong hand (left hand for righty scissors, right hand for lefty scissors), you gotta reverse the motion. Even if they are blunt, it's a poor worker who blames the tools.

9. Portable Phone (for clarity, I mean a landline with a wireless handset, not a mobile phone)
Communication is a necessary evil, but in the modern age you don't have to be tied to the wall to do it.

10. Label Maker
This is mine, and this is mine, and this is mine. Also, here is where the DeBakeys go, and if you can see this label you need to order more 4-0 nylon, preferably a week ago.

11. Pencil (wood)
While I prefer a pen with a spring retraction mechanism to a plain one, the opposite is true of pencils. Keep it simple. Supposedly the American space program dedicated huge resources to making a pen that would write in space, and the Russians used pencils. I don't know if that's true, and I don't want to risk looking it up and finding out that it's not.

12. Eraser
We all make mistakes. More correctly known as a rubber, but I don't want you to think I'm talking about something else.

13. Display Book
The good thing about these is people can see what you've put on paper, but they have to put at least a little effort in to take the paper out of the sleeve if they want to scribble on it, which seems to deter erroneous "corrections".

14. Hole Punch
Oddly satisfying. A source of confetti.

15. Sharpener
Sharpening is relaxing. Or intensely frustrating when the lead keeps breaking.

16. Computer
Beep beep boop.

17. Lever Arch File
The arch always seems to get out of alignment and start dropping pages, but until then these can hold a lot of paper.

18. Blu Tack
My parents told me off for using sticky tape on the walls when I was a kid.

19. Deaver Retractor
This is a broad flat strip of metal curved to a kind of question mark shape. Stick the big curve in the patient and pull on the other end until the surgeon can see what they're doing. This seems to be the instrument surgeons in M*A*S*H ask for most often.

20. Laminator
Sometimes a piece of paper isn't durable enough.

21. Thumb Tack
22. Paperclip
I hope these two are self explanatory.

23. Pen (with lid)
Not a patch on a clicky pen, but still a pen. Successfully taking off the lid, writing something, and recapping the pen with only one hand free the whole time is satisfying, but losing the lid and subsequently drawing a whole lot of lines near the pocket of my scrub top is the more common experience. Perhaps that's why the scrubs are such a dark colour?

24. Mechanical Pencil
Better than no pencil.

25. Rib spreader
A couple of thick bits of smooth metal with curved ends, mounted on arms attached to a rack and pinion. Make a cut, stick this thing between the ribs, and wind the handle until you have access to the chest. An absolute life-saver in the right circumstances. Unfortunately some can be assembled incorrectly, a costly error when every second counts. I've suggested alterations to some of the manufacturers that would make it impossible to misassemble the instrument. The feedback I got was that these are to be used by people who know how to use them, which shows that even very smart people can say very stupid things if they don't understand the circumstances in which their products are used. Anyways. Learn how to use it before you need to use it, and have a spare in case someone messes it up.

Also: None of the above is medical advice. I'm not a doctor. Don't try to get access to the chest, and don't use peroxide for bleeding.


don't use peroxide for bleeding.

I'm curious about this actually. I had to go the ER for a cut a few years ago, it seemed to seal well but then a few days after it looked very not okay. We always put hydrogen peroxide on cuts growing up before bandaging them, but when I went to the ER they were horrified that I'd done that. Was this always wrong and a weird thing my family did or is avoiding peroxide something that came up recently?


Red Plane
I don’t really know the history of it, but I know peroxide can be used for haemostasis and antisepsis. Plus it looks cool, all fizzing up. The risk as I understand it is that it releases oxygen gas when it reacts with blood. If it gets into an enclosed space in the body this gas can put pressure on surrounding structures. If it gets into a blood vessel, it can create an air embolism. I don’t think either is likely to happen with a small cut, but again I’m not a doctor and this is not medical advice.


I think it's just one of those things that has been received wisdom that has been called into question by science, as the article Torzelbaum linked gets at. Soap and water or Hibicleanse followed by an antibacterial cream or ointment is still the best way to address cuts and scrapes.


I'm glad to see even this doctor grew up with that!

Thinking back it also makes sense because a lot of times these were out in the wilderness, or on the farm or lake or whatever. Clean water and soap were usually miles away or involved getting water and boiling it which would be a lot of time and effort while the cut was open and bleeding. We had peroxide in our first aid kits that was quickly available. I guess even after clean water was in pipes the habit stuck, and although reading through and knowing the chemistry/biology it's obvious what's happening I'd just never questioned it. Oops.