What Is a Four-Hole Puncher?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2019
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A four-hole puncher is an office tool used to punch four separate holes into paper so it can be set in binders. The distance between each hole is governed by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 838, so each four-hole punch should have the same distance between holes. While this hole punch is not as common as two- or three-hole punchers, the four-hole pattern is usually more secure. Depending on the model and how it is powered, this punch may be able to go through up to 100 sheets with one punch. Some two-hole punchers can be used to make the correct four-hole punch, a capability usually indicated by a particular symbol on the device.

ISO 838 is a standardization rule that tells hole-punch makers how far apart each hole should be. With a four-hole puncher, the two center holes are made to be in the middle of a sheet, while the upper and bottom holes are each 3.14 inches (8 centimeters) away from the nearest center hole. There are two sizes, meant for 8.5-by-11.69 inches (21-by-29.7 centimeters) sheets and 5.8-by-11.69 inches (14.8-by-21 centimeters) sheets; both are common European sizes, but they are not common in America.


Four-hole puncher devices are not as commonly used as other punchers, such as the two- or three-hole tools. Despite this, a four-hole punched sheet does have the advantage of being more secure. It is usually harder for the sheet to come loose from a binder, and it also is harder to rip out because of the extra holes.

Hole punchers can have different power sources; the most common is by manual, but there also are electrical and motorized devices. On average, a common four-hole puncher can go through up to 100 sheets at once. Manual punchers have the lowest one-punch levels, handling between 10 and 40 sheets per punch, while electrical punchers typically handle between 20 and 60 sheets per punch and motorized punchers offer up to 100 sheets per punch, if not more.

While a four-hole puncher is most commonly used to punch four holes in sheets of paper, some two-hole punchers also can be used for this. Known as 888 punchers, these two-hole punchers will have the numbers 888 printed somewhere on them. They come with guides to show the operator exactly how to place the punch and where to make the holes to be compliant with ISO 838 standardized hole measurements.


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