Can You Identify All of These Office Supplies?


By: Olivia Cantor

7 Min Quiz

Image: fcafotodigital/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Are you an expert in identifying office supplies? Let's try it with this quiz!

But first, let's be clear about our definitions. When we say office supplies, we will include many consumable items in this quiz. Consumables include materials used often and their supplies run out within a week or even a day. They're the ones that the administrative department replenishes regularly. 

These consumables also have various categories. Most of them are paper products, though. Yes, no matter how hard we try to go paperless, certain offices find it impossible to do so. Certain official requirements really need paper.

Aside from paper products, many consumables are writing supplies, too. Even if an office is well-equipped with computers and digital devices, "analog writing" still saves the day in certain cases. Technically, small office appliances or equipment also count as office supplies. But for this quiz, we'll leave out this stuff and include universally known small devices only.

People who plan to set up a home office can enjoy knowing the different categories. A Staples expert recommends making a checklist to help people monitor their office supplies needs. Their recommended categories include desk supplies, filing supplies, paper products, computer-related supplies, time tracking materials, mailing supplies, binding needs and identification supplies. You'll find many examples of these materials in the quiz.

So, are you ready to clock in? Let's get to it, then. Happy working!

"Clack-clack," said the big kind. What's this small tool that keeps papers in a bind?

No matter what business they're involved in, companies need staplers in their offices. The first stapler patents appeared during the 1860s and 1870s. Different inventors worked on their own versions for their respective patents.


Paste 'em here, paste 'em there, paste 'em everywhere! What are these rainbow-colored little ones that'll make you stare?

Our digital sticky note apps for computer desktops owe a debt of gratitude to paper Post-its. It's the known 3M brand of sticky notes that now come in colorful designs and shapes. The original Post-it, though, looked like a small block of legal ruled yellow pad.


"Snippety-snip," said the small one. Which tool has the highest cutting reliability?

Your office scissors may look snazzy, but this tool already existed during antiquity. Records and artifacts show that Egyptians were using their own kind of scissors a long time ago. Ancient Romans followed suit and created scissors of their own design.


Brainstorming? You must have some of these to jot down ideas for all to see.

Whiteboard markers are easy to erase using a soft cloth or even tissue paper. No matter the brand, these writing instruments dry up easily when their caps are not put back on them. Some brands also emit a pungent, offensive smell; choose what to use wisely.


Tack, tack, tackin' on cork boards? Pick one of these from their prickly horde.

Push pins differ from thumbtacks, so don't mix the two up. Push pins have longer heads, which make them easier to grab and pin to a surface. Thumbtacks have flat heads that make removing them frustrating and challenging, no matter what IQ level you have.


Scribbling down instructions from the boss? Use one of these so you won't be at a loss.

In Scott Adams' humor book "Build a Better Life by Stealing Office Supplies," you can see Dogbert carrying a bunch of ballpoint pens on the cover. You can't see which brand his office uses, though. But for real-life reliable brands for office use, there's Bic and Pilot.


Ran out of staple wires? This temporary holder's for hire!

We're all familiar with the two-loop design style of paper clips today, thanks to its ancestor named Gem clip. This Gem clip kind is the earliest prototype of this paper clip design; it appeared in the market during the early 1890s.


Before email arrived, these were our superstars. Stamps aside, what helps carry your correspondence far?

The prototype of the modern-day letter envelope came after the invention of postal stamps. Before the invention of the envelope, people just folded their letters and used special seals to keep them private. Since stamps were costly then, only the rich could afford to send letters in envelopes.


You rest your wrist here as you maneuver a computer peripheral. Name this one, office pal!

Aside from making the mouse move better, a typical mouse pad also helps workers lessen muscle stiffness or pain in their wrists. It's advisable to have one if the mouse you're using still has a rubber ball. If you're using an optical mouse, the mouse pad still serves as a good wrist assist.


Going paperless? Mother nature thanks you! Now where do you store digital reports that are due?

You can hear the term "USB" thrown around offices sometimes, but that's not the proper word for it. USB stands for universal serial bus, which refers to the computer port. A flash drive is the one that's inserted inside the USB; you can call it "USB flash drive" to be more accurate.


Finished working on those printed documents? Keep 'em here, so to the shredder they won't be sent!

Those brown or tan-colored envelopes in your office supplies closet are manila envelopes. They're made from manila hemp known as abaca; it's harvested from a banana species endemic to the Philippines. The name comes from the Philippine capital city of Manila.


Don't forget to "activate" this one before starting your day. What tally do they use to determine your pay?

Offices that haven't gone digital yet still use time cards for their employees. All workers need to insert these heavy cards on a time clock or punch clock. The card will make a time stamp of the employee's arrival and departure time at the office.


If you've got an inkjet one, refill the container. Otherwise, laser printers need one of these to purr.

An inkjet printer uses liquid ink for its printing needs, while a laser printer uses a different device. Its ink version is in powder form, contained in a toner cartridge. Sometimes it's also called a laser cartridge, to differentiate it from an inkjet cartridge.


Setting a date for a meeting? You must check which item for double bookings?

An office won't survive without a calendar, since schedules and deadlines are huge in this world. Offices that streamline their schedules online use calendar software that's accessible to all employees. A popular example is Google Calendar, which employees integrate into their email systems.


Packing, masking, clear and duct. Which sticky thing is an "office must"?

Adhesive tape comes in many forms that address various needs. Scotch tape is the common clear tape used in offices, but "Scotch" refers to a specific 3M brand. Another common office tape is masking tape; this one's easier to tear and handle.


Something needs to give those papers order and discipline! What's this perfect candidate that'll keep your work desk clean?

Employees who can't get enough of artistic paperweights can join a club for this hobby. There's an American nonprofit organization called Paperweight Collectors Association Inc., which holds conventions every two years. They offer different membership types for paperweight enthusiasts.


When there's text that needs emphasis, pick a color to use for that biz. What do you need for that, office whiz?

Thank the Japanese for thinking of how to mark paper without ruining the ink already printed on it. Credit goes to Yukio Horie who combined a felt-tip pen with water-based ink to invent the highlighter. American manufacturer Carter's Ink picked up this early '60s invention and mass-marketed it.


Good luck printing that report without this! What's this essential office supply you should not miss?

Before loading that office printer with paper, check which kind of printer you have. Inkjet printer paper comes in varied types which depend on what you'll be printing. Laser printer paper suits office paperwork better.


These prong things will keep papers secure inside a folder. Do you know what they're called, partner?

The prong kind of paper file fasteners are still popular for office filing use. Effective workers use these to secure loose paper documents inside a file folder. They then store the folders inside filing cabinets or on office shelves.


When pens commit you too much to paper, this alternative offers something lighter.

When the pencil first came about, it wasn't all round like what we use today. Carpenters used square ones since the round ones would roll off their tables. You can see this pencil type in Faber-Castell's private collection; they own the oldest known pencil, discovered in a 17th-century house.


If you need something to hold a piece of paper for you, what office item will do?

Digital natives might be more familiar with the clipboard concept found in mobile technology. But we still use the actual masonite or acrylic clipboard in various industries today. On media production sets, you can see people holding clipboards to check attached script pages, shooting schedules or checklists.


Stick 'em on, stick 'em down or stick 'em under. Which supply will do this wonder?

Mother nature was our first glue supplier, thanks to flora and fauna products. In ancient Egypt, hieroglyph records show that they used animal glue during that time. In the 1800s, manufacturers experimented on rubber tree extract to produce a natural kind of glue.


Well, you need to hold that tape inside this contraption. What's this device that renders cutting tape an easier action?

Only the very Zen office mate has the power to get a piece of Scotch tape without a tape dispenser. The rest of us mere mortals have to thank the 3M employee named John Borden for inventing the first tape dispenser.


Good luck erasing its marks on your conference room whiteboard! What's this writing instrument called?

In case a sleepy office mate used permanent markers to write on your office whiteboard, don't fret. Write over the permanent mark using the whiteboard markers, then erase them. You can also ask around if someone has nail polish remover; acetone works, too.


If your document needs holes, use this device to fulfill your goals.

Calligraphy enthusiasts might be familiar with Friedrich Soennecken because of his round writing method. This German guy also invented the office puncher with the two holes. He also invented the ring binder folders.


When pencil pushers need to compute, what do they use to help with their mathematical route?

You can find a calculator in any typical office; but do you know which kind? The most common one is the basic calculator; it does the simple math calculations you need on a daily basis. But your finance department might also have a financial calculator for more complicated needs.


Received! Approved! For filing! Which inky tools will mark paper things?

Delivery people know this stamp pad system all too well. Whenever they hand out a document for delivery, they need to make sure it's officially received. The receiver will use a stamp pad and mark the paper accordingly, adding in a signature and the date.


Sending out stuff to a client? Use this so they'll know where it gets sent!

Certain office supplies stores call it different names. There's shipping label, return address label or parcel label. No matter the term, it has one clear aim: to state the sender's name and address. There's another label that also states the recipient's name and address.


Wipe mistakes out with this little one. What's this item that gets things done?

Offices usually buy rubber or gum erasers to supply erasing needs. But these types often leave particles and can damage the paper. If you want an eraser that won't leave particles, buy the kneaded eraser type used by artists.


"Here's my number," you tell a potential partner. What item do you hand out for new business ventures?

During the17th century, before the invention of the business card, sellers and advertisers used trade cards. These looked more like pretty postcards; they had product illustrations on the front and the sellers' or product details on the back. These trade cards eventually gave birth to business cards.


Someone might get hurt in the office, too. What should you keep in store in case they need to heal, boo?

Offices have mandatory emergency kit supplies as part of office supplies, too. They should have basic medical supplies, like gauze, hand sanitizer, thermometer and more. Adhesive bandages like Band-Aids should be there, too.


Removing those wires is a mental challenge. Which handy tool do you use that won't leave you in a bend?

Office mates with ninja moves can remove staples without the aid of staple removers. The rest of us need to thank William Pankonin for patenting this invention in the '30s. His proposed style for removing staples was to snag it from the whole staple side, not the folded ends side.


When your needs are elastic, using these is fantastic!

Pre-Columbian populations like the Aztecs and Mayans already discovered rubber during ancient times. In modern times, other inventions paved the way for the rubber band's discovery. Vulcanized rubber and the rubber eraser came first before making the rubber band's existence plausible.


Too many new contacts giving you their digits? Store them here to be neat and legit!

Employees in charge of business development need card holders on their desks. They're handy to use for safekeeping those important business cards from potential clients. The office can provide the plastic kind, the metal or mesh wire kind, the wooden kind or the leather kind.


Boss told you to organize their shelves? Using a pair of these will hold and help.

When bookends were invented in the 1870s, the patent didn't label them as such. Patent records show that they were called "book support" instead. While they're clearly called book support, the patent mentioned that we can also use them for holding up photographs, cards or engravings.


They're often ruled for your writing pleasure. Which paper supply is an office treasure?

Did you know that a notepad comes in different ruled kinds? They typical wide-ruled pads are the white ones, while legal pads come in yellow. For those who don't like ruled paper, there's also an unruled version for the free-flowing writer in you.


Pack delicate items with this for safety unless you want to pay damage fees!

There's a Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, people; this is not a drill! It's celebrated every January, specifically during the last Monday of that month. If you run out of actual wrap to pop, you can buy a Mugen Pop-Pop keychain that simulates the experience. You're welcome!


Need one item to carry them all? Get one of these for an easy haul.

Did you notice that they also call these storage boxes "banker's boxes" sometimes? As its name suggests, banks were the original customers of these sturdy cardboard boxes. Today, these boxes are reliable enough to store more than bank records.


Hang out by the cooler for this. No, it's not gossip, but this liquid without fizz. Guess what it is!

Any office that treats employees as valuable humans should have a water cooler setup in their premises. Thirsty workers can drink cold or hot water whenever they want. There's a water cooler option now that dispenses sparkling flavored water, too.


Of course, you need this in the office pantry. What fuels employees' productivity?

No office is complete without a running coffee supply. Offices may offer different ways to fill this need. An office pantry usually has one coffee maker, but some offices prefer having coffee-dispensing vending machines for variety.


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