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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

February 22, 2001

Q: Why do most staplers have an alternative configuration in which the staple points are bent outward rather than inward? That configuration does not hold papers together very well.

A: That is precisely the reason. When the points are bent outward, it is much easier to remove the staple without tearing the papers or using a staple remover. That configuration is used for papers that need to be held together for only a short time, such as a check attached to a letter. Some professions, such as stockbrokers, have long required that papers be held together by pins for easy separation, and staples with the points spread out provide an acceptable alternative.

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