The email attachment icon seems to always be the same in every client, a paperclip. There are dozens of examples, and I've included some below:

enter image description here

My question: is there a different symbol that could be used to describe an attachment?

I'm not complaining; I think the paperclip is quite an elegant symbol, and it is obviously widely recognised or is would not be so ubiquitous. I'm just wondering if there is an alternative.

Personally I use staples rather than paperclips, because I find they hold sheets of paper together more reliably.

2 Answers 2


The symbol has become so ingrained with everyone using either email, the internet or any kind of SaaS since its conception.

I am certain there is no universally recognized alternatives for the attachment function.

One search on Google Image will answers this question for you :-)


  • 1
    Wait, if you scroll down there is a humble peg! But yes, otherwise a sea of paperclips.
    – onewhaleid
    May 15, 2014 at 21:44

Why change what isn't broken?

This is a convention that is well known by users across cultures, and is generally a very clear signifier.

I guess it comes down to, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

  • I'm not sure the broke-fix argument is appropriate here. What's more - it's largely a black-or-white nonsense arguments: A windscreen with a chip isn't broken, but it's an accident waiting to happen, so you better fix it before it breaks. Code comes to mind here as well. I do agree with the convention part of your answer though.
    – Izhaki
    May 16, 2014 at 0:01

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