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3-hole punchers: Help your reports look professional in a binder or folder

A hole punch is a handy tool to have in your office. The majority of punchers are 3-hole punch machines so paper and folders can fit into 3-ringed binders. We’ve gathered the best from basic designs to heavy-duty machines and even an electric option. Our top pick is the Bostitch Office HP12 puncher. It handles several pages at once, is easy to empty and looks professional sitting on your desk.

Best Overall: Bostitch Office HP12 3-Hole Punch

This 3-hole punch handles 12 sheets of paper at once. Its simple design fits nicely into any office setting with a rubber base to keep it stable while working. The waste tray is covered to keep small paper pieces from getting everywhere, though it is easy to open and dump when needed. This hole punch isn’t adjustable, but the three holes are positioned to handle most jobs and line up with ringed binders. It isn’t recommended to use this puncher for heavier materials like cardboard.

Pros:

  • Punches 12 sheets at once
  • Simple, professional design
  • Rubber base

Cons:

  • Not adjustable
  • Not recommended for thicker materials

Best Overall

Bostitch Office HP12 3-Hole Punch

  • $8 from Amazon

Best choice for most jobs

For most, quick office or school jobs, this 3-hole puncher is the best bet. It handles punching several pages at once

Another Good Option: Swingline Precision Pro Desktop Puncher

The Precision Pro desktop hole puncher can adjust from a 2-hole to a 3-hole punch and isn’t locked into the traditional 3-ring binder dimensions. The lever runs the length of the puncher and has a comfortable rubber grip to help you keep a firm hold on it while punching paper. It can punch up to 10 sheets of paper at a time while the scraps are captured underneath. The capture tray slides out when you’re ready to dump it, which cuts down on the mess. However, if the tray becomes too full it can be difficult to open to empty.

Pros:

  • Adjustable puncher
  • Full-length lever

Cons:

  • Less paper capacity than others
  • Capture tray can be difficult to empty

Another Good Option

Swingline Precision Pro Desktop Puncher

  • $8 from Amazon

Punch through with ease

Best for small projects, this 3-hole puncher is adjustable, so you’re not locked into the traditional binder length.

Best Adjustable Puncher: Swingline LightTouch Hole Punch

This high capacity hole puncher cuts through 20 sheets of paper at once. It’s adjustable so if you have a project that needs more holes – up to seven – this hole punch can handle it. And if you have a binder that is smaller than the standard size, the Swingline LightTouch can punch your paper to fit perfectly. The tray underneath the holes collects excess paper and is emptied by sliding the tray out. The lever of this punch doesn’t spread across the device. Instead, it has a handle that depresses the entire puncher without a lot of pressure. There is a bit of a learning curve with this machine. But once figured out it is quite easy to use.

Pros:

  • Punches 20 sheets at once
  • Adjustable punchers
  • Single-lever design

Cons:

  • Little bit of a learning curve

Best Adjustable Puncher

Swingline LightTouch Hole Punch

  • $20 from Amazon

Adjust before you punch

The punchers of the Swingline LightTouch are adjustable and can punch seven, perfectly spaced holes through your paper.

Best Heavy Duty Puncher: Swingline SmartTouch Hole Puncher

This 3-hole puncher has a wide, comfortable handle with a soft grip to make it easy to punch through 45 sheets of paper at a time without a lot of force or strain on your hands and wrists. The handle locks into place for easy storage, and the base has rubber grips to keep it in place. There is an edge guide to help keep paper straight and scraps are captured underneath in a tray that slides out when it is time to dump it. The biggest drawback is the punchers aren’t adjustable, but they are sharp enough to punch through cardboard and plastic.

Pros:

  • Punches through 45 sheets of paper
  • Locking handle
  • Guide

Cons:

  • Not adjustable
  • Big and bulky

Best Heavy Duty Puncher

Swingline SmartTouch Hole Puncher

  • $42 from Amazon

The big one

For heavy-duty projects, this the puncher is the one to get. It cuts through 45 sheets of paper and handles thicker materials.

Best Portable Puncher: WorkLion Binder Hole Punch

For punching on the go, the WorkLion hole punch is lightweight and compact. The three holes are not adjustable, but are perfectly spaced to ensure punched paper fits into traditional 3-ringed binders. There is a 10-inch measuring ruler attached to help guide you where to punch your holes. The top part of this puncher pops off to expose the catch tray underneath that can then be cleaned out. It can only punch through five sheets of paper at a time and is made mainly from plastic that isn’t very sturdy or long lasting.

Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Measuring ruler guide
  • Detachable catch try

Cons:

  • Only punches through five pages
  • Isn’t built to last

Best Portable Puncher

WorkLion Binder Hole Punch

  • $8 from Amazon

Punch on the run

If work takes you places, bring along the WorkLion puncher to ensure projects and reports fit into standard 3-ring binders.

Best Electric Hole Punch: AFMAT Electric Hole Punch

The AFMAT hole puncher is powered with both an AC adapter or six AA batteries. It can punch through 20 sheets of paper at once and only requires you to push a small button when ready. There is a guide on the side of this puncher that slides in and out depending on the size of your paper. This helps keep paper straight while being punched. The scrap paper is collected underneath and is easy to empty when full. Because it does run on battery power, you can keep working even when the power is out, and it makes it portable to bring along on quick work trips. However, it is heavier than non-electric punchers, which may be easier and more portable than the AFMAT.

Pros:

  • Automatic
  • Evenly spaced punches
  • AC and battery power options

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Not adjustable

Best Electric Hole Punch

AFMAT Electric Hole Punch

  • $40 from Amazon

Quick and easy punches

This electronic hole puncher spaces holes perfectly apart every time, so sheets fit in standard 3-ring binders.

Most colorful puncher: PaperPro inPress Hole Punch

For a splash of color on your desk, the PaperPro inPress is a perfect choice. This 3-hole puncher has a fun, purple finish that helps it stand out while also looking professional. It includes an integrated ruler and an adjustable guide to keep paper straight while punching through it. It doesn’t jam as you punch through 12 sheets of paper and the waste compartment is concealed with a door that’s easy to open when disposing of the scrapes. This 3-hole punch is made entirely of metal, which means it is heavy duty and will last a long time. The biggest con of this product is the punchers themselves aren’t adjustable.

Pros:

  • Fun, colored finish
  • Adjustable paper guide
  • All metal design

Cons:

  • Punchers not adjustable

Most colorful puncher

PaperPro inPress Hole Punch

  • $13 from Amazon

A pop of color

The bright, purple finish of this all metal hole punch brings some fun to the office without being unprofessional or distracting.

Our Puncher Pick

The best for most people is the Bostitch Office HP12 3-hole puncher. Though the holes are not adjustable, they are spaced far enough to ensure your punched paper will fit in traditional binders. The lever runs the length of the machine so holes are punched at the same time and the leftover pieces of paper are captured underneath in a full-length tray. When the capture tray is full, you can open a concealed door and simply tip it over to empty.

While there are other hole punchers that offer some additional features, including electronic models, they come with a bigger price tag. Bostitch Office gives you a great option at a reasonable price

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

As a mom of 10 and grandma to five, Nicole Johnston pulls from her years of experience raising her family as she explores, tests and reviews a variety of consumer products from food processors to bed pillows to parental control programs. Nicole has over 13 years of research and writing experience in both the public and private sectors.

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