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It’s All Foreign to Me: Three-ring Binders

I started this blog series about differences between America and Germany with the major differences I have noticed so far between the food easily available here and that in America. It was a very general topic, I know.

This time, I am going to talk about one single item. Definitely a more specific example of contrasts between the Fatherland and the good old Red, White, and Blue.

Let’s start with a picture, as the visual is very strong.

Here is an American three-ring binder, one I use to organize family’s and friends’ birthdays.
And here is a German two-ring binder.

The main differences are quite apparent. The American-style binder has three rings, while the German one has two rings. But the differences do not stop there.

If you take a close look at the German binder, you will see that it has more “parts” than the American one.

If you notice, there is a metal and plastic piece on top of the papers. The black plastic part is a button. To lock the papers in place (so they don’t rip while you transport the binder to and from school and home), just push the button closed. When you are ready to get a sheet out or move them around, click the button open. Then, you get this:

The metal part is out of the way, and you can open the rings by lifting the lever, which seems to be sticking out of the bottom of the rings. Life the lever, open the rings:


There is one more difference. Have you noticed the hole in the spine of the binder? If not, scroll up to one of the previous pictures. . . .

See it? That hole is there so that you can easily pull the binder off of a shelf. It’s very useful!

Okay, last feature. You’ll have to look closely for this one. See the little lip of metal that is sticking out at the bottom of the hole in the front of the binder?


It holds the front cover of the binder closed. Just that simple little metal addition keeps the binder closed.

So, I prefer the German binders over the American ones for sure! I always hated how pages in my binders got torn the longer they were in the binder and the more I carried it around. The metal and plastic thingy (I wish I knew the name for this!) holds all the binder pages in place during travel so they can’t rip. Because of the design of the rings, even small 1″ binders hold what feels like much more than 1″ American binders, although I have seen binders with “D-shaped rings” in America that boast of holding more than normal.

If we ever move back to America, I’m going to have to have Rob’s family send me these all the time! :)


4 thoughts on “It’s All Foreign to Me: Three-ring Binders

  1. Linden

    27 Feb on 2008 at 5:17

    I’m living in Germany right now, and since I didn’t even know that German ring binders were superior to the American ones until we moved here. Which means that I never looked for them when I lived in America.

    If you’d like, I could mail some to you. Contact me for more info: linden.mueller(at)gmail.com. I know that if we ever move back, my in-laws are going to have to get me German binders for Christmas and birthday. :)

    Sorry I can’t directly answer your question!

  2. Anonymous

    26 Feb on 2008 at 23:09

    I love the German Ring binders. I am a German living in the US. Where do I find them here?

  3. Linden

    16 Dec on 2007 at 10:19

    I did! You know I love office supplies! :)

    Plus, it’s these kinds of little things that we never imagine might be different or we can’t imagine how they are different that I find fascinating.

  4. Beth

    16 Dec on 2007 at 9:24

    Did you really just do a multi-pictured blog about a 2-ring binder??? :)

    Very efficient, those Germans…