Most Common Filing Systems

by Kimberly Alexander; Updated September 26, 2017
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Filing systems have evolved over the years from filing paperwork in boxes to sophisticated software programs that store files electronically out of sight. Although you can choose a variety today, all filing systems share one main goal: effective records management. With various filing systems available, it’s important to consider the characteristics of each to select the most appropriate one. The most common filing systems are easy to implement and provide a means of effective file management.

Alphabetic Filing

Alphabetic filing is the most common filing system for less than 5,000 records. Filing by alphabetic order is a system where you arrange files by names of individuals, businesses, institutions, agencies, subjects, topics or geographic locations according to dictionary order. This system is effective for client or customer name files. If filing subjects, use a relative index. The index is a list in alphabetical order of the topic names chosen to represent each subject. Reference the relative index to find out what topic name to file the record under.

Numeric Filing

In setting up a numeric filing system, arrange files in sequential order using the numbers directly from the record or an assigned number. Most systems use an index to retrieve the files. A numerical filing system increases productivity due to increased speed of filing and locating a file. It also provides accurate identification and allows for greater confidentiality. It is capable of infinite expansions and you can use it for more than 5,000 records, unlike alphabetic filing systems.

Alpha -numeric Filing

Alpha-numeric filing uses a combination of names and numbers. You commonly use this type of filing system with subject names and numbers. Arrange files according to alphabetic divisions or subject heading, then by number category. It is necessary to use a relative index for alpha-numeric files. The index will list the number codes assigned to each alphabetic division.

Paperless Filing Systems

Paperless filing systems are becoming common for many businesses and homes. It solves the need for physical storage space and the problem of lost or misplaced information. A paperless filing system allows for shared access across multiple departments. Although shared access provides on-demand access to records, you can set user rights to either view, edit, create or delete files to control access. Types of paperless filing systems include simple software programs, document servers and document management systems.

About the Author

Kimberly Alexander started writing in 2006 and has a background in mass communications and public relations. She writes for various websites on a wide range of topics including education, media, society and family. Alexander obtained her Associate of Arts degree in liberal-arts studies from Rochester College in Michigan.

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