# hold the piece of paper on its side

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#### VicNicSor

##### Banned
No sooner have children learned to write cat and dog, than they work out how to write BUM backwards on a piece of paper, and then look at it in the mirror the right way around. It's hilarious. It's nothing to do with the mirror itself, which doesn't care if it's held upside down or if you hold the piece of paper on its side. Or if you lie on your side but hold the piece of paper horizontal to the ground, M, U and a back-to-front B, will always come out as BUM when viewed in the mirror.
Why do mirrors flip things horizontally but not vertically? | James May Q&A | Head Squeeze, video by BBC Earth Lab

(click)
Am I right it means holding the piece of paper like this?

Thanks.

edit: the picture is from the internet (not from the video)

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• #### Cagey

##### post mod (English Only / Latin)
That's possibly what it means, but notice that they are giving a list of instructions that are irrelevant to the outcome, so exactly what they mean is not important. I would not generally tell someone to old a piece of paper by its sides, but by the edges.

#### VicNicSor

##### Banned
That's possibly what it means, but notice that they are giving a list of instructions that are irrelevant to the outcome, so exactly what they mean is not important. I would not generally tell someone to old a piece of paper by its sides, but by the edges.
Thank you!

But what would be an idiomatic way of referring to holding a piece of paper with a text or an image on it rotated by 90% from its normal position, like in the picture? (because "by the edges" can mean any of the four edges)

#### Cagey

##### post mod (English Only / Latin)
I'd say "hold it upright, by the edge."

#### VicNicSor

##### Banned
I'd say "hold it upright, by the edge."
I meant that the important part of context is that the text/image is now in the wrong position -- so that we can't read/look at it without bowing our head.

E.g. like this
(click)

Would that be a different term?...

#### heypresto

##### Senior Member
I think you'd have to say something like 'Hold the piece of paper so that the text is reading vertically.'

It's not something we do very often, so there won't be a common or usual way to say it.

#### VicNicSor

##### Banned
I think you'd have to say something like 'Hold the piece of paper so that the text is reading vertically.'

It's not something we do very often, so there won't be a common or usual way to say it.
And, by analogy with "hold it upright, by the edge.", would it be "hold it horizontally, by the edge."? (I mean the picture in #5)

#### heypresto

##### Senior Member
Holding a piece of paper horizontally could mean that the shorter edges are to the right and left, as in picture #5, or that its edge is facing you. That is to say that the text is no longer visible - it's facing the ceiling or the floor.

If it was really important, I think we would be more specific, or more descriptive in our instructions.

#### Trochfa

##### Senior Member
My interpretation is exactly the same as your's Vic. It's funny because, to me, it seems a perfectly ordinary way to explain it.

He doesn't mean "hold the piece of paper by the edge", he means "hold the piece of paper [up while turned] on its side"

The text still has to point towards the mirror, in order to read the reflection. Therefore, in the context of the OP, it can only mean the vertical page facing the mirror is either turned 90 degrees to the left or right - it is then on its side.

[He is essentially saying, "whichever way you turn it, or however you look at it, it doesn't matter". Which is why the others have said the wording doesn't really affect the outcome.]

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#### VicNicSor

##### Banned
Thank you for the replies !

#### srk

##### Senior Member
I'd say right-edge up, or left-edge up (with the text facing the mirror).

#### VicNicSor

##### Banned
I'd say right-edge up, or left-edge up (with the text facing the mirror).
Thanks!

#### Trochfa

##### Senior Member
James May is an English television presenter, and so it appears that this is a certain way of expressing this idea in BrE.
James May - Wikipedia

I have a similar-ish accent to him, which is why, to me, it appears perfectly normal.

From the responses, it obviously doesn't work in AmE.

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