|MLA Citation:||Bloomfield, Louis A. "Question 1377"|
How Everything Works 25 May 2018. 25 May 2018 <http://howeverythingworks.org/print1.php?QNum=1377>.
To maximize the attraction between the magnets, opposite magnetic poles should be as near together as possible while like magnetic poles are as far apart as possible. With long bar magnets, you align the magnets head to toe so that you have the north pole of one magnet opposite the south pole of the other magnet and vice versa. But long magnets also tend to have weaker poles than short stubby magnets because it takes energy to separate a magnet's north pole from its south pole. With short stubby magnets, the best you can do is to bring the north pole of one magnet close to the south pole of the other magnet while leaving their other poles pointing away from one another. Horseshoe magnets combine some of the best of both magnets—they can have the strong poles of short stubby magnets with more distance separating those poles.
Returning to the paper question, size is less important than pole strength and separation. The stronger the magnets and the farther apart their poles, the more paper you can hold between them.