What’s the difference between left and right-handed office supplies? Do left-handed employees really need different office supplies, such as left-handed scissors, left-handed ballpoint pens, or left-handed fountain pens?
The answer to most of those questions is yes, and no. Many office products work for both left and right-handed employees, but there are certain office supplies that cause left-handed workers a lot of trouble and irritation. Buying supplies with only your right-handed employees in mind is a form of discrimination, and if you’ve ever tried to use the wrong type of scissors, you’d understand.
Continue reading to learn more about what it’s like to be left-handed and what left-handed tools and supplies are needed to make lefties feel just as valued as those in the classroom and workplace who are right-handed. We’ll also include a number of links to products either designed specifically for or better suited to left-handed people. If you’re looking for gifts for lefties—look no further!
What It’s Like to be Left-Handed
Left-handed people, also known as lefties or southpaws, comprise about 10% of the global population. And that 10% has included some remarkable human beings. Notable left-handed people include Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, and Oprah Winfrey.
But unfortunately for that 10%, the vast majority of tools, utensils, and writing implements are designed with right-handed people in mind, which means it’s hard out there for a lefty.
Discrimination against left-handers may be less common than it once was, but it’s still very much out there, and not just in the inherent right-handed bias in the design of tools. Back in the day, left-handed people were considered sinister and evil, so they were forced to learn to use their right hand. But this hasn’t changed everywhere. Two-thirds of the world’s lefty population still faces discrimination.
Scissors, notebooks, rulers, pencil sharpeners, keyboards, and much more have been designed by right-handed people and for right-handed people. From a very young age, lefties are disadvantaged by the standard instruments that right-handed people take for granted. Everything from writing in a notebook to using a standard mouse for a computer is more difficult and feels unnatural.
Schools and workplaces must be aware of a left-handed person’s needs and offer them necessary supplies, such as a pen for left hands, left-handed scissors, and left-handed keyboards. Left-handed people deserve to live and work in comfort, which means it’s up to offices, schools, and supply stores to ensure they have ample products designed specifically for left-handed people.
Left-Handed Ballpoint Pens
In general, ballpoint pens aren’t left or right-hand specific. They work for every type of writing style, but for those who write with their left hand, choosing ink that doesn’t smudge is important.
Unfortunately, lefties need to stick to the status quo, writing from left to right on the page. This often means your left hand is dragged across the ink before it has time to dry.
The ideal left-handed ink pen will dry instantaneously to ensure no smudging or smearing occurs. Lefties should look for pens with quick-drying ink, and schools and offices should only stock pens that are quick-drying. It’s best to address this problem head-on by seeking out pens that will work for everyone in the office, not only those who are right-handed.
Gel pens are known for taking a long time to dry and should generally be avoided for those who are left-handed. That said, Zebra’s Sarasa Gel Medium Point Retractable Pens utilize rapid drying ink to reduce smudging. The fast-drying technology is also available in Colored Gel Medium Point Retractable Pen sets.
Left-Handed Fountain Pens
For a long time, it was recommended that lefties should either purchase special left-handed fountain pens or avoid writing with fountain pens altogether. This is because older pens had soft pen nibs (tips) that caused ink to splatter if the pen nib separated when scratched across the page—a common occurrence for left-handed writers.
But the good news is fountain pen technology has come a long way, and all types of fountain pens can now be used by left-handed writers. There are still left-handed fountain pens available, but what matters more is the technique of the left-handed writer. Lefties need to utilize an under or over writing technique to ensure the fountain ink doesn’t smear when writing.
Some of our favorite fountain pens:
For more information and other pen options, read our Guide to the Best Pens.
Left-handed scissors are a must for lefties. The left-handed scissor allows a left-handed person to see the line they are cutting, and the handle fits the natural contour of their hand.
Scissors are designed with a small thumb loop and a larger opening for the rest of your hand. When a left-handed person uses a pair of right-handed scissors, they either need to use their non-dominant hand, which can be dangerous for cutting, or they need to flip the scissors upside down, which is uncomfortable; it also makes it more difficult to cut clean lines.
Left-handed scissors are made for people of all ages, from very young children to elementary students to office workers to construction workers.
Another option is to choose left and right-handed scissors that work for both left and right-handed people. Universal scissors make office inventory simpler, and they reduce some of the discrimination lefties face when searching the office for their specific type of scissors.
School Smart Loop Scissors are not right or left-hand specific, so you don’t need to worry about how many of each type you have around the office or classroom. They reopen automatically and close with a simple squeeze of the handles.
Left-Handed Keyboard and Mice
A keyboard for left-handed people places the number pad to the left side of the keyboard, allowing lefties to more naturally utilize their dominant left hand. It’s also possible to purchase a separate left-handed number pad, which can be placed on either side of a keyboard. This gives people an option to use it on the left or the right, depending on personal preference.
Ergonomic mice are designed for a right hand, leaving a comfortable spot for a right-handed person’s thumb to rest. Some mice have additional side controls that are all designed around a right hand as well, making it difficult for those who are left-handed to control the mouse.
Left-handed people can use a generic shaped mouse that will work for left or right-handed people. This means the mouse is symmetrical and can be used by either hand. This is ideal for schools or workplaces where computers may be shared by multiple individuals.
If you only need a mouse for your personal use, ergonomic mice are available for the left hand. They are designed with a groove for your thumb and contain additional side controls.
Left-Handed Computer Desk
Yes! Left-handed desks exit. Mostly this distinction is for L-shaped desks or ones that have extra storage to one side. For left-handed people, it’s ideal to have the “return” portion of the “L” shaped desk to the left side.
For most people, a regular desk will work no matter which hand is your dominant one. It all comes down to personal preference. In an office space, you may choose to avoid L-shaped desks to ensure that your left-handed staff don’t have to endure any additional inconveniences.
More from Blue Summit Supplies
We’ve covered a number of other best of articles to help you choose the ideal supplies for your office, school, or personal needs. There’s no need to choose between left-hand vs. right-hand products for the following supplies!
💡 Office supply inventory management is a tough job. Learn how to ensure everyone on your team has the supplies they need when they need them with our guide to Office Supply Inventory Management.
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