Stationery refers to commercially manufactured writing materials, including cut paper, envelopes,
writing implement A writing implement or writing instrument is an object used to produce writing. Writing consists of different figures, lines, and or forms. Most of these items can be also used for other functions such as painting, drawing and technical drawing, ...
s, continuous form paper, and other
office supplies Office supplies are consumables and equipment regularly used in offices by businesses and other organizations, by individuals engaged in written communications, recordkeeping or bookkeeping, janitorial and cleaning, and for storage of supplies ...
. Stationery includes materials to be written on by hand (e.g., letter paper) or by equipment such as computer printers.

History of stationery

Originally, the term 'stationery' referred to all products sold by a stationer, whose name indicated that his book shop was on a fixed spot. This was usually somewhere near a university, and permanent, while medieval trading was mainly carried on by itinerant peddlers (including chapmen, who sold books) and others (such as farmers and craftsmen) at markets and fairs. It was a unique term used between the 13th and 15th centuries in the
manuscript culture A manuscript culture is a culture that depends on hand-written manuscripts to store and disseminate information. It is a stage that most developed cultures went through in between oral culture and print culture. Europe entered the stage in ...
. Stationers' shops were places where books were bound, copied, and published. These shops often loaned books to nearby university students for a fee. The books were loaned out in sections, allowing students to study or copy them, and the only way to get the next part of the book was to return the previous section. In some cases, stationers' shops became the preferred choice for scholars to find books, instead of university libraries due to stationers' shops' wider collection of books. The Stationers' Company formerly held a monopoly over the publishing industry in England and was responsible for copyright regulations.

Uses of stationery


Printing is the process of applying a colouring agent to a surface to create a body of text or illustrations. This is often achieved through printing technology, but can be done by hand using more traditional methods. The earliest form of printing is wood blocking.


Letterpress is a process of printing several identical copies that presses words and designs onto the page. The print may be inked or blind, but is typically done in a single color. Motifs or designs may be added as many letterpress machines use movable plates that must be hand-set. Letterpress printing remained the primary method of printing until the 19th century.

Single documents

When a single document needs to be produced, it may be handwritten or printed typically by a computer printer. Several copies of one original paper can be produced by some printers using multipart stationery. Typing with a typewriter is obsolete, having been largely superseded by preparing a document with a
word processor A word processor (WP) is a device or computer program that provides for input, editing, formatting, and output of text, often with some additional features. Word processor (electronic device), Early word processors were stand-alone devices ded ...
and printing the document.


Thermographic printing Thermographic printing refers to two types of printing, both of which rely on heat to create the letters or images on a sheet of paper. The simplest type of thermography is where the paper has been coated with a material that changes colour on ...
is a process that involves several stages but can be implemented in a low-cost manufacturing process. The process involves printing the desired designs or text with an ink that remains wet, rather than drying on contact with the paper. The paper is then dusted with a powdered polymer that adheres to the ink. The paper is vacuumed or agitated, mechanically or by hand, to remove excess powder, and then heated to near combustion. The wet ink and polymer bond and dry, resulting in a raised print surface similar to the result of an engraving process.


Embossing is a printing technique used to create raised surfaces in the converted paper stock. The process relies upon mated dies that press the paper into a shape that can be observed on both the front and back surfaces. Two things are required during the process of embossing: a die and a stock. The result is a three-dimensional (3D) effect that emphasizes a particular area of the design.


Engraving Engraving is the practice of incising a design onto a hard, usually flat surface by cutting grooves into it with a burin. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an in ...
is a process that requires a design to be cut into a plate made of relatively hard material. The metal plate is first polished so that the design cut can be easily visible to the person. This technology has a long history and requires a significant amount of skill, experience, and expertise. The finished plate is usually covered in ink, and then the ink is removed from all of the un-etched portions of the plate. The plate is then pressed into paper under substantial pressure. The result is a design that is slightly raised on the surface of the paper and covered in ink. Due to the cost of the process and expertise required, many consumers opt for thermographic printing, a process that results in a similarly raised print surface, but through different means at less cost.


*Business Stationery:
Business card Business cards are cards bearing business information about a company or individual. They are shared during formal introductions as a convenience and a memory aid. A business card typically includes the giver's name, company or business af ...
, letterhead, invoices, receipts *Desktop instruments:
hole punch A hole punch, also known as hole puncher, or paper puncher, is an office tool that is used to create holes in sheets of paper, often for the purpose of collecting the sheets in a binder or folder. A ''hole punch'' can also refer to similar t ...
, stapler and staples, tapes and tape dispensers, *Drawing instruments: brushes, colour pencils, crayons, water colour, *Erasers *Ink and toner: **
Dot matrix printer A dot matrix printer is an impact printer that prints using a fixed number of pins or wires. Typically the pins or wires are arranged in one or several vertical columns. The pins strike an ink-coated ribbon and force contact between the ribbon ...
's ink
ribbon A ribbon or riband is a thin band of material, typically cloth but also plastic or sometimes metal, used primarily as decorative binding and tying. Cloth ribbons are made of natural materials such as silk, cotton, and jute and of synthetic mater ...
**Inkjet cartridge **Laser printer toner **
Photocopier A photocopier (also called copier or copy machine, and formerly Xerox machine, the generic trademark) is a machine that makes copies of documents and other visual images onto paper or plastic film quickly and cheaply. Most modern photocopiers u ...
toner *Filing and storage: ** Expandable file **File folder **Hanging file folder **
Index card An index card (or record card in British English and system cards in Australian English) consists of card stock (heavy paper) cut to a standard size, used for recording and storing small amounts of discrete data. A collection of such cards ei ...
s and files **Two-pocket portfolios *Mailing and shipping supplies: **Envelope *Paper and pad: ** Notebooks, wirebound notebook, writing pads, college ruled paper, wide-ruled paper, **Office paper: dot matrix paper, inkjet printer paper, laser printer paper, photocopy paper. *Writing instruments: ballpoint pen, fountain pen, pencil, porous point pen,
rollerball pen Roller ball pens or roll pens are pens which use ball point writing mechanisms with water-based liquid or gelled ink, as opposed to the oil-based viscous inks found in ballpoint pens. These less viscous inks, which tend to saturate more deeply ...
, highlighter pen

School supplies

Many shops that sell stationery also sell other school supplies for students in primary and secondary education, including pocket calculators, display boards, compasses and protractors, lunchboxes, and the like.Virginia Department of Taxation "School Supplies and Clothing FAQs"

See also

Office supplies Office supplies are consumables and equipment regularly used in offices by businesses and other organizations, by individuals engaged in written communications, recordkeeping or bookkeeping, janitorial and cleaning, and for storage of supplies ...
* List of stationery topics * New Zealand standard for school stationery


External links

* * {{Authority control Office equipment