Types of Hole Punches

by Autumn St. John; Updated September 26, 2017
The hole punch is standard equipment in most offices and classrooms.

A hole punch is a piece of equipment that makes holes in paper, allowing documents to be conveniently stored in ring binders. The hole punch was invented in Germany in 1886 and today is a common fixture in offices and schools. The hole punch comes in a several different models which vary in the number of holes they punch, the number of sheets they can punch at one time, and the way they operate.

Manual Hole Punches

Hole punches come in various shapes and sizes.

Manual hole punches are more common than electric ones. You use a manual hole punch by inserting a few sheets of paper into a slot and applying pressure to the top handle until it clamps down on the paper and punches a hole in it.

Electric Hole Punches

An electric hole punch is operated with a push-button control. Electric punches are useful for tasks where many sheets of paper need to be punched throughout the day. Some of the pricier models feature a jam-clearing mechanism.

Four Hole Punches

The four hole punch is not as common and is mainly used to punch holes in paper that is placed into a four-ring binder. Some office supply stores sell four-hole extensions that can be attached to an existing two or three hole hole punch.

Three Hole Punches

The three hole punch is by far the most popular model.

The most popular type of punch is the three hole model. It is used to punch holes in paper for use in the ubiquitous three-ring binders. This type of punch is available in manual and electric models. Some three hole punches allow the punch heads to be adjusted by loosening a screw, sliding the head along a track, and tightening the screw to secure the head in place.

Two Hole Punches

The medical and legal professions use the two hole punch.

Two hole punches are not as common as the three hole models, but they are widely used in the legal and medical professions, where two hole clipboards and clipboards are common. A two hole punch usually takes less effort to operate because less pressure is required to punch two holes than three or four.

Single Hole Punches

A handheld single hole punch.

The single hole punch is typically used for custom punching and punching a single hole in the top corner of a stack of documents for convenient binding. Casinos use single punches to render decks of cards useless by punching a hole in each card. This prevents cheaters from substituting or marking cards from old decks.

About the Author

Based in London, Autumn St. John has been writing career- and business-related articles since 2007. Her work has appeared in the "Guardian" and "Changing Careers" magazine. St. John holds a Master of Arts in Russian and East European literature and culture from University College London, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in modern history from the University of Oxford.

Photo Credits

  • hole puncher image by studio vision1 from Fotolia.com