How to File Files Correctly

Sure we all know our abc's and think we can file ok, because according to the alphabet, Adam comes before Ant. But where does AWC Company go? After Ant? In the office complex I work in, papers and files are often filed incorrectly making it difficult to find needed documents. With a few simple rules, you will be able to file anything in the correct place.

Same last name, different first name. Simple, when the item you are filing has the same last name but a different first name, filing order is determined by the first name. So Adams, John will come before Adams, Sam in your filing cabinet.

Same last name, same first name. A little harder but there are other things to consider. If there is an initial then the order is determined by the initial so Adams, John B. is placed before Adams, John D. If no initial, then use the state the person or company is located in, and if that is the same, then use the city, followed by street name and finally the street numbers. Work from the larger area to the more specific area when determining filing order.

Easy as ABC.

Initials. Initials like that used in a company name are considered as if each letter were a separate word. So if you are placing a file for AWC Company it would come before Adam Company because each letter in the first company is considered as a separate word. 'A' by itself is filed alphabetically before a longer word.

Confusing company names. How do you file Paul Smith Company? Under Paul or Smith? When it comes to company or trade names, file by the first name. So Paul Smith is filed under P for Paul and not S for Smith.

Numbers and abbreviations. These are filed as if they are spelled out. 3 Sisters Restaurant is filed under T for three. St. Joseph Church is filed as if Saint were spelled out. So the file for St. Joseph Church would be placed before Sam's Diner because Sai comes before Sam.


  • These are standard filing practices. However, a computer does not file this way. A computer reads each name literally so Adam Company in Step 3 will be before AWC Company if there are no spaces between the letters. The computer will also put numbers before letters and does not consider that St. in St. Joseph is actually the word Saint. If you are compiling a computer list and want it consistent with your filing system, then items have to be entered accordingly so the computer sort will be the same. So you would need to put spaces between the letters in A W C Company , spell out the number 3, and so on.

Photo Credits