Stationery 101: How to Select and Manage Your Inventory


September 7, 2021

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“There was something very comfortable in having plenty of stationery.” 

– Charles Dickens

I do feel the same way, Mr. Dickens. Let me think about the most frequent example here. A new adorable notebook always grabs my attention, even though I already have a pile of them at home—not to mention those cute colorful pens and pencils. There is something about stationery that we can hardly resist, and it is satisfactorily agreeable to have a new member to your existing plentiful stationery collection. 

We all have our favorite writing tools and materials—pens and paper. Speaking of which, do you know other things that fall into this category? If so, do you have any preferences before buying new ones? Since we have them at home, schools, or offices, do you have specific tips for managing them?

Read more to know all about stationery and find the answers to the above questions. 

What is Stationery?

Sumber : AQR Studio

One of the short yet general definitions for stationery is paper, envelope, and writing tools. It is a collection of paper, matched envelopes, and other things you usually use to write letters or cards.

We date back this meaning to the origin of the word. Stationery in Middle English is ‘estacioun’ and ‘estation’ in Anglo-Norman. Both have meanings a post or a position. It came into use in the mid of 1600s and had its first recorded version in 1727. The term ascribed more to the word ‘stationer’, which means a book and paper seller. Therefore, the people would know the products simply as stationery. 

Another further definition for stationery is commercially mass-produced writing materials. They include cut papers, envelopes, writing implements like pens and pencils, continuous form paper (continuous stationery), and other office supplies. 

Due to the technological age, the definition has expanded. Once referred to as materials exclusively used as handwritten products (such as letter paper), it now embraces technological devices like printers (computer printing). 

Let’s move to the classification in stationery.  You implicitly know some in the above definition outlines. 

Types of Stationery

Sumber : AQR Studio states that the most relevant synonyms for stationery are letterhead, envelopes, office supplies, pen and paper, and writing paper. We have more here, from notepads to hole punch, from sticky notes to calendars, and many more. 

Papers and pads

They include notebooks (either wirebound or not), notepads (writing pads), college ruled papers (filler or loose-leaf paper), and more.

Writing implements

There are plentiful and colorful choices. To name some are ballpoint pens (ball or biro pens), pencils, fountain pens, highlighter pens, rollerball pens, and felt-tip pens (and markers). 

Office papers

You will have, among others, dot matrix papers, photocopy papers, and laser and inkjet printer papers. 

Business stationery 

Business cards (calling cards) and letterheads are two of the most common here. Other examples are receipts and invoices. 

Desktop appliances

You will generally see hole punch, staplers (and staples), and tapes (and tape dispensers). 

Filing and storage

They are a-must stationery supplies to offices, namely file folders, expandable files, index cards and files, hanging file folders, two-pocket portfolios, and so on.

Snail mail supplies

In addition to letter sheets and writing tools, you need envelopes, either in matching colors and designs or not. 

Drawing tools

They are sets of paintbrushes, colored pencils, watercolors, crayons, and alike.


It can be a piece of rubber, a pad of felt, and other implements used for wiping out something written, typed, etc.

Ink and toner

Inkjet cartridges, ink ribbons for dot matrix printers, laser printer toners, and photocopier toners are several items in the inventory list.  


We have not mentioned sticky notes yet, have we? There are more in this category. You can handwrite them, but most of them are now readily printable and customizable.  

    • Planners
    • Personalized letter sheets (papers)
    • Sticky notes. They can be so colorful and available in the organizer set as well.
    • Notecards. It is a sort of decorative card with blank space for a short message (usually 20-30 words). 
  • Invitation cards
  • Thank you cards
  • Holiday cards
  • Name tags. There is even one with a peel-and-stick feature.  
  • Book labels
  • Calendars. You may choose between wall or desktop calendars. 

So, what stationery collection do you have so far? Or perhaps you are running out of them already? It seems that it’s time for you to go stationery shopping and re-stacking your inventory. You have to consider several things before that unless you will only waste unnecessary time, money, and energy. 

Things to Remember Before Buying Stationery

Sumber : AQR Studio

Buying stationery requires a sort of good management, both for personal and office purposes.  Picking the necessary and the right supplies requires careful actions like checking, thinking, comparing, searching, and calculating.  

Personal stationery buying

The following are a few helpful tips before finding the right personal stationery (or often for business as well). 

#1 – Get personal. There is a saying that “your stationery choice reflects your personal style”. There are plenty of popular stationery styles and colors that fit different personalities and tastes. So, choose the ones that reflect yourself the best. 

#2 – The purpose. Think about the purpose of any stationery you are going to buy. How you are going to use them may help decide what kind to pick.  For example, you can select letter sheets if you wish for something stylish for personal and business purposes. 

#3 – Your budget.  There are two questions here: how much do you have in your wallet, and how much are you willing to pay. Simple stationaries sometimes are surprisingly better compared to elaborate or intricate ones. A tip here: don’t go overboard while making your choice.  

#4 – The stationery company. Be sure to buy stationery from a company that has high credibility and guarantees their products’ quality. If you buy online and offline, don’t be hesitant to ask the customer service. 

Office stationery buying

Taking all of the workplace factors into account, here are a few essential tips before buying office stationery supplies. The purpose is to make your job well-organized and easier. 

#1 – The Whole Year Plan. Regardless of big or small offices, they always demand bulk stationery inventories. Planning a bit ahead is crucial, and planning for at least one year is a clever decision. You can do a pre-calculation of how much stationery each employee will use. Also, you are most likely to get plenty of discounts for bulk ordering.

#2 – Only the Essential Supplies. Choose only the ones that the office and employees exactly need and use.  You can write down the necessary supplies. Sticking to the list helps you prevent any useless spending and also saves much of your time.

#3 – Quality over Quantity.  High-quality products will last longer, which means more cost-effective. Since office stationery is a whole-year plan, it is better not to harm your company by using low-grade supplies. Of course, you need to consider it with the price factor. 

#4 – Good Suppliers. You can search for stationery brands that offer high-quality products or have been serving for years with good credibility testimonies. 

#5 – Additional Unexpected Expenses. There is a frequent possibility that your whole-year stationery calculation may go awry. Therefore, it is advisable to set aside an additional budget (a mid-year stationery needs) for unexpected or emergency expenditures. 

#6 – Responsible Usage. This tip usually works after you have carried out all the above recommendations. You can encourage the employees, co-workers, and everyone in the office to use the office stationery responsibly.  Sending them emails about responsible usage may be one of the examples here.  

Since you already have your stationery supplies, tt leads us to the next question, how to manage your stationery

5 Tips to Manage Your Stationery

Sumber : AQR Studio

Essential to the entire office, there is a high chance of stationery usage abuse. As an example, the employees use up too many supplies all at once, in a blink of an eye. Likewise, you need to come up with strategies to manage and monitor the supplies. If not, you will end up with repeated over-spending, re-ordering, and thus over-ordering.

Let’s check out several tactics you can apply to manage your office supplies wisely and cautiously. 

#1 – Limit the access

Due to the flexible office environment, the supply storage room opens for all employees. You can create some restrictions to prevent the stationery supply from misuses. The first common strategy is by having an inventory log. By this journal, each respective employee must sign, detailing what and how many items they have taken.   

Alternatively, you can put someone in charge of monitoring and controlling the supply-taking procedures. Another option, if the budget allows, you can put a numbered lock on the supply room to regulate the stationery out-flows.  

#2 – Organize the existing supplies

Once you effectively put a restriction to the access, set aside time to organize the existing supplies. You have to put them in each category so that the employees can find them easily. It is better to put the most used things in the most accessible place. 

If you notice a few supplies are not in all use, you can give a little note in the inventory log. You probably will not order them for the time being. 

#3 – Finish all the supplies entirely

It is better to make use entirely of all the items before re-ordering the new ones. You can encourage the employees to use up all the supplies within a specified time. Otherwise, they will be useless. In other words, it might be an absolute wastage for the company. Consequently, you have to inspect the available inventories, and right after that, you can place a new order. 

#4 – Re-order appropriately and necessarily 

As previously mentioned, bulk buying always means many discounts. However, it doesn’t mean that you can re-order in excessive quantities. You have to consider the essential supplies so it will not create any wastage or useless expenses. 

#5 – Encourage the responsible usage

Yes, it is the same as the above tips before purchasing your stationery for office usage. This strategy may also be helpful for a somewhat cluttered and disorganized workplace. 

How to manage stationery at your desk? It can be the last question here. The following are some tips and tricks on how to be organized in the office. Luckily, you can find that some of them may work at home too. Let’s check them out. 

Step 1 

Take out all of the stationery you have and put them on your desk in front of you. By doing this, you can have a clearer view of everything. You can decide which ones are working or not. You can pick those that need throwing out. Or, you realize a few items that are not yours. 

Step 2

Return those supplies that belong to anyone else in the office. 

Step 3

Throw away all the items that are no longer working (mostly pens, for example). You can also separate any useless items to go to recycling or not (e.g. papers). 

Step 4

Now, you have only the remaining ones. All you need to do is divide them into the following uses:

  • Items you use several times a day. 

They are, for example, pens, staplers, calculators, and the like. Organize them nicely on your desk where you can easily reach and frequently use them. 

  • Items you use several times a week.

You can store these items in the top drawer territory. 

  • Items you use once a week.

You can keep them in the lower desk drawers.

  • Items you hardly ever use.

They may go to the lower drawers. Consider if you need them or not at all.

  • Items that you don’t have any single idea why they are on your desk.

It often means that you need to return them to the stationery cupboard.  

Step 5

The last step, find good desk organizers. You can start with holders for pens, trays for letters, or holders for magazines, brochures, and so on. Place them on your clean desk and give them space to avoid a cluttered feel or sight.  

There you have it—a more organized desk with a more pleasant look.  

Lastly, it brings us back to the excerpt by Mr. Dickens. We do love stationery, plenty of stationery. However, always keep in mind several things to consider before bringing home one or more as a collection or office inventory. Moreover, don’t forget to manage and keep on top of everything. You need to know when the best time for a stationery clear-out.

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