OU stationery lovers, unite! Here’s The Stationery Top 10

OU STEM student and stationery fanatic Lou Robinson shares her ‘Top 10 Stationery Items For OU Study’ in celebration of Stationery Week.

It’s Stationery Week! The next best excuse after starting a new module for treating yourself. Right?

I love everything stationery from the functional basics that keep me on track, to the quirky extras that make my TMA that little bit easier to bear. So here are my ‘Top 10 Stationery Items For OU Study’.

If you too love stationery, you might like to join the OU Study Space and Stationery Ideas Club.

10) The Trusty Lever Arch File

Coming in at 10, but oh so essential, is the lever arch file. I would love to tell you that I have a beautifully co-ordinated pastel collection, but I’m originally from Yorkshire and I like my files as cheap but sturdy as they come. 

High street stationery stores often do great 3 for 2 offers on these files during Back To School season and it’s where I tend to pick them up. Supermarkets often do some very pretty ones that are cheap-ish and come with other co-ordinated stationery if you love an Insta-ready desk space.

I love a lever arch because I can store all my module notes together, can add in both cheap refill paper notes and essential print outs in one place and can use cardboard file dividers to organise my module work into its blocks/units.

They also make a great end of degree survival photo.

Photo of Lou with stack of folders and books on the completion of her Open University degree.

9) All You Need is a Pen

If you’re handwriting notes, I recommend investing in pens that are comfortable for you to write with. I’m a rollerball girl and predominately use uni-ball, but get yourself to a stationery shop and test a few…but also never underestimate the boost that can be brought to you by a novelty pen. I mean who wouldn’t find Calculus more bearable when written out with a Pom-Pom Shark Pen?

Puffin pen pot containing novelty pens. Own photo.

8) Scientific Calculator

At 8, it’s the bestie of the STEM students – the trusty scientific calculator. I love my Casio fx-83 so much I bought it a friend, a Casio fx-85 because like a true Maths student I have one calculator for degrees and one for radians. 

School age me would crease up at this level of dedication.

7) Learning From my Mistakes

I do a lot of scribbling in pencil in my planner and in my notes and having an eraser close by is essential. I love the Milan Capsule 2 in 1 Eraser/Sharpener – it’s great to use and isn’t prone to popping open in my pencil case but as a true 90s kid I guess I will never stop loving the occasional novelty (usually dinosaur shaped) eraser.

Novelty dinosaur eraser and Milan eraser/sharpener. Own photo.

6) Post-it Notes

At 6 and top of my treat yourself this stationery week list are post-it notes. I have my eye on some transparent post-its (yes you read that correctly) to jazz up my note taking/allow me to trace diagrams. 

Fancy transparent notes aside, the trusty post it can be used from everything to a quick calculation, a quick additional note or if you’re like me…a note to yourself about the latest error you keep repeatedly making (I have joked about getting a +c tattoo on my hand before the 10th June but it’s probably against academic regulations so I’ll stick to having these in my face for 2 months).

Maths Error Post-it Notes. Own photo.

5) Page Markers

You can use post-its for this purpose too, but for referencing both items in my trusty lever arch files and in my module texts – I love a page marker and they are probably around 50% of my Etsy purchases. Finding a reference table is so much more fun with paper penguins, pandas, pencils and polar bears poking out of your pages (Anyone know when alliteration week is?)

4) I Can Sing a Rainbow

Fans of my desk highlighter stand your moment has come…at number 4 I’m including a double whammy of stationery fun: highlighters and fine liners. 

These beauties serve a few essential study purposes for me. I use highlighters to draw attention to key terms as well as mark the corners of pages to identify what module my notes are for (useful if you’re studying more than one module and like to keep your desk in a perpetual state of chaos). I also use them in my planner/on my wall chart to mark out different things. I have different colours for different activities so I can easily see when my next tutorial is and even when to take my bins out. Fine liners serve a similar purpose – allowing me to highlight deadlines in my planner or key words/sentences in my notes.

They also add a bit of colour to my study space and I can seemingly take a photo of just about anything on my desk and a stationery lover will appear to comment on the highlighters. So much so, I feel if the REAL Dave Grohl was on my desk, someone would still ask where I got my highlighters from (Amazon – they were on offer at the time and less than £7 before you all crash The Hoot asking).

Photo of desk set up from OU Conference Weekend 2022 including a set of Stabilo Highlighters in a stand and fine liners. Own photo.

3) Academic Wall Calendar

I rave about this every September but it’s the best thing I own. With a dot of highlighter or some small spot stickers you can create for yourself a simple way to spot the key deadlines/tutorials/dates with just a quick glance. I absolutely love these penguin ones from Shiny Shrimp, a lovely small business who does lots of beautiful penguin stationery. They’re paper rather than the shiny material that’s a challenge to write on and are always available as a download as well as poster if you prefer to print your own in a choice of sizes. The 2022 one isn’t out yet and the best time to pick up any academic wall calendars does tend to be towards Back To School season.

Penguin Academic Wall Calendar. Credit: Sian Shrimpton wwe.shinyshrimp.co.uk 

2) A Trusty TMA Notebook

Although I file most notes, I always keep a notebook handy. I have a notebook purely for TMAs where I add in sections or references I think will be handy as I work through my module materials -highly recommend. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy – again check out those 3 for 2 offers and pick yourself up a bargain.

I also have a general notebook I write random notes in. This notebook is always in my bag, on my desk, wherever I am so that if I randomly happen upon something useful – be it a recommended Carrot Cake recipe, a book someone’s enjoying or one of those 1am moments of TMA clarity when you’re already tucked up in bed – it all goes in, in date order, so that I can go back and find what I need at a more convenient time. My brain dump notebook is a bit fancier (and available on the OU Students Shop) and tends to find itself covered in motivational (and dinosaur) stickers.

1) Making Lists Completes Me

Clinching the top spot is the trusty tear off list pad. I love a list pad because rather than strictly scheduling my study I tend to have a rolling list of everything I need to get done. This way I can pick activities like writing an article for The Hoot that I know will give me a boost, or crossing off a module activity. I can even use my trusty highlighters to prioritise tasks as needed. There’s so many funky list pads available and some people even use a whiteboard in place of them but my true favourite will always be my ‘Pad of Productivity’ from the fabulous artist Katie Abey.…and on that note – it’s back to the list to find my next task for the day.

Happy Stationery Week and feel free to comment or share/comment your top study stationery because we stationery lovers are always looking for inspiration.

Pad of Productivity list pad with Lego Minigure. Credit: Katie Abey.

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Lou Robinson

BSc (Hons) Open Degree 2020 PGCE Primary (School Direct) Student 2020/21 Aspiring Primary School Teacher with a keen interest in STEAM and Outdoor Learning.


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