A Definition of Office Stationery

Office activities such as purchases, sales, payment of remuneration, etc., may be recorded in physical form and/or electronic form. Though there are electronic vouchers, bills, and other documents, paper is still used extensively in offices, especially small and medium sized businesses. Paper sheets are also used for recording internal communication within an office premises, as well as communicating any terms and conditions to outsiders, or ordering any material. Therefore, most of the office stationery is in some way used in relation to paper.

The list of such office stationery includes, ball pens, graphite pencils, highlighters, markers, erasers, crayons, sketch pens, pencil sharpeners, blades, paper and adhesive tape cutters, adhesive tapes, scissors, paper clips or clamps, pins for paper charts, files, folders, trays to keep incoming and outgoing documents, staples, and staplers, printer ink, printer ribbon, toner, glue, sticky notes, memo holders, etc. The list of office stationery mentioned above is certainly not exhaustive.

An essential characteristic of any office stationery is that it gets consumed within a short period, and cannot be reused. Therefore, a chalk or marker used in the conference room to explain and discuss certain strategies would also be office stationery, even though it is not used on any paper. However, the board on which something is written with pen can be used for several years. Therefore, the board may not be classified as a stationery item.

This differentiation is, of course, for accounting purposes. There are accounting standards and guidelines for such classification of objects and consumables used in any office premises. It may be argued that refills may be used in pens. Again standards would allow classification of pens as office stationery primarily because of costs. Consumables used in office premises are different from consumables used in factory premises. Whereas consumables in manufacturing unit get blended or integrated into the product being sold by the company, such direct consumption of office stationery is not there. But in case of businesses offering services, office stationery is equivalent to the consumables of the manufacturing company.

Over the years, consumption of office stationery has come down due to new electronic tools. But it will be sometime before electronic medium completely replaces paper vouchers, and documents. Security and portability are the main reasons for using physical copies of any documents such as vouchers, invoices, salary statements, agreements, etc. While a person can carry the information on a laptop or tablet PC, taking a hardcopy of all the information generated electronically is a good practice because PCs can be stolen, or damaged. Another drawback is the dependence on power for retrieving any information in electronic medium. One of the reasons that paper vouchers are still around is the accounting stipulation relating to them. The accountant is required to obtain recipient’s signatures on vouchers when payments are made in cash. This is difficult in electronic medium.