I have a bit of a meta-question about academics.

I am a graduate student and teaching assistant. I often find myself flipping, organizing, and searching through stacks of hundreds and hundreds of sheets of paper, whether I'm grading, reading, or doing research.

I seem to have an issue where my hands get dry quickly, and I find myself licking the tips of my fingers to get better friction. Sometimes I have to do this quite often, and I am wondering if there is a better way. I tried using hand moisturizer, but that wears off.

Are there special gloves, lotions, or anything that can help with flipping through huge stacks of paper?

  • 6
    unless you have acquired a particular liking for the taste of paper (or your finger), I suggest you use a digital library manager (preferably one that allows you to categorize and keep track of your lecture notes as well)
    – posdef
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 15:45
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    @posdef this would not be useful for when you are grading papers, since they are seldom submitted electronically. Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 16:12
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    @posdef: Just getting that many papers into a scanner will require a lot of handling. All the bulk scanners I've used have a nontrivial jam rate. And in the case of things like exam papers that will only be handled one, I doubt that digitizing will be worth the time. Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 1:08
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    @posdef: You're suggesting exactly the opposite of the grading workflow I find most effective: Print out the electronically submitted files, mark them up by hand, and then scan them back in (which is easier because they're all on the same paper stock).
    – JeffE
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 4:40
  • 2
    See discussion about this question on meta: meta.academia.stackexchange.com/q/443/102
    – user102
    Commented Mar 30, 2013 at 19:25

2 Answers 2


Some 20 years ago before all the electronics changed our ways of dealing with stuff, post and bank employees who had to deal with piles of paper (or banknotes) throughout day used a device which was essentially a piece of a wet sponge in a small bowl. They had this on the desk and whenever were about to touch paper, they would simply brush their fingers through it. Something like that could help you... To construct it, I would use a plastic travel-soap container and a small sponge for dishwashing.

Later edit: Indeed, this is what I had in mind.


An alternative to walkmanyi's wetting solution would be to employ rubber finger tips.

On the plus side:
They protect from drying out of the natural oil from your finger tips, and protect against paper cuts.
On the negative side:
Well you are wearing little caps on the tips of your fingers and you lose some tactile feedback. I imagine it would take some getting used to.


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