Staple remover poll

In this thread, there’s a brief discussion about the proper way to use a staple remover. Apparently there’s a difference of opinion.

So on which side of the staple do you use the remover, i.e. which side do you pry up with the “teeth” of the remover?

Damn, for some reason it’s not letting me do a poll. The four options are:

  1. The “top” of the staple.
  2. The “bottom” (where the two little “feet” are.
  3. Either side.
  4. Some other way.

You use it on the bottom. It bends open the “feet” so the staple can slip out of the holes with little damage to the paper.

Yeah, it would sure seem like that, wouldn’t it? But try it the other way sometime: not only does it still bend open the feet (through the paper), but it actually…removes the staple.

(Assuming you use one that matches the staple size, else all bets are off.)

I have tried it the other way. It always tore the paper when I did it.

It may be that I was doing it inexpertly, but if one way works while the other doesn’t, I’ll do it the way that works.

From the top of the staple.

I worked for 3 years of Summer jobs removing staples from documents as part of a Document Archiving program (get the documents from the storeroom, sort them, ensure a complete set of files, remove the staples, microfilm, validate and dispose). I have used jaw style and tongue style, as well as sidecutters (for heavy duty copper staples through 500 odd sheets of paper). My fingers were wrecked, but my back was wrecked more - the sheet feed on the microfilmer was too high and stressed my shoulders.

It was good money in the end, though.


Yep. The flat “front” side. Not only does the whole staple come out, it stays wedged onto the remover, so you can do multiple removals and collect the staples without them dropping all over the place.

Top first and if that doesn’t work, the feet.

Depends a bit on how thick the bunch of papers is. For just 2 sheets, doing it from the top will often just tear the staple through the sheets. So for that case use the remover gently & carefully on the bottom first to open the feet, then on the top to pull the opened staple through.

But for anything above about 5 sheets, just like sandra_nz says. Go for the top & if it doesn’t pull through,then fall back to my first technique.

I wonder if a lot of the difference of opinion is really a matter of what size stacks people work with. At home it’s probably rare to un-staple more than 3 or 4 sheets. At an office it’s probably rare to un-staple less than 15 or 20 sheets. If your work doesn’t involve un-stapling you’d have a totally different experience base than somebody who’s work does.

From the top, flat side. It removes the staple in one motion. If you open up the feet side first you still have to flip the paper over to pull the staple out. If you work in a professional setting where you have to remove a lot of staples you will quickly learn to do it the fastest way.

From the top.

Top first, then go to the bottom if the feet have to get opened. If you’re tearing the documents by going in top first, you need to use a more delicate touch.

I think you all will sympathize with this - I worked at a company where everyone just added onto the staples in a document rather than remove the staple, then staple the new stuff on. We had incredible staple build-up - 10, 20, or more staples in one document pile. And people would staple stuff in crooked, too, so the finished product looked like a complete mess. I always cleaned things up when I got my hands on them.

It never even occurred to me to try it from the top. But then, I don’t think I’ve ever had to unstaple more than one thing in a day, so efficiency was never really a concern.

Fingernails, from the top.

Well, I’ve always been of the assumption that it should be from the bottom. I guess I’ll try it the other way next time.

Wow, first pineapple trees and now this…

Top of the staple. I was shocked at how much easier it was when somebody showed me.

I have paperwork that students need to turn in for online courses, and then I have to photocopy every page.
I put “Do Not Staple. Use Paperclips.” and even have a graphic of a paperclip.
All of this is on the top left side of the page.

I still get people stapling it.

I use the staple remover from the top, long bar side.

Sometimes I will just take scissors and cut off the top corner if I am “in a mood…”

It never even occurred to me to try it from the bottom.

(Hmm, that sounds dirty . . .)

I agree with this. If you try it on the “top”, the paper always rips.

Not for me. And you’re putting your toilet paper on the roll backwards, too! The oddly biased Wikipedia article makes the same claim, though.

Seriously, though, I suspect that LSLGuy may have a point, that the number of pages makes a difference. As does the staple remove quality. But I just did it to two sheets, “from the top”, and didn’t do much damage to the paper (the holes aren’t perfectly round, but they didn’t just rip right through, either, and I didn’t spend half a minute working the staple out).

Depends on the sort of staple remover I’m using. The little jaw type, from the top. The cuticle-pusher type, from the bottom.