Types of Filing Systems

by Kristen Marquette; Updated September 26, 2017
Filing system

A well-maintained filing system allows vital information to be accessed quickly and saves a company money by saving time. Businesses, schools, government agencies and even everyday people use filing systems to keep their affairs organized. Choose between four different types of filing systems for your office. Each offers its own advantages and disadvantages.

Alphabetical Filing System

Alphabetic filing system

In the alphabetic filing system, arrange records according to name -- either the name of the person, company or subject -- in accordance with the letters of the alphabet. Use this filing system by two different methods. The topical alphabetic filing system, also known as a dictionary system, files individual records in alphabetical order. These filing systems work well when storing a small number of records, less than 5,000 files, according to Ancom, a filing system company.

This system proves to be problematic when you have lot of client or customers sharing the same name. Use a geographical system -- also referred to as an encyclopedia or classified system -- to organize larger volumes of records. In this system, group subjects together under broad categories based on location such as a city, county or state. The categories and the files within each category are arranged alphabetically.

Numeric Filing System

Numeric filing system

When using a numeric filing system, assign numbers to each file and arrange the numbers in sequential order. Files on people with the same name won’t have duplicate headings as with the alphabetical system. This system also offers better file confidentiality since no names are displayed on the files and work well when handling a large volume of files. Instead of assigning files a number, use the chronological system which puts files in order according to date.

Terminal Digit Filing System

Terminal digit filing system

When using terminal digit filing, assign files numbers in sequential order, but file them according to the last two digits. Ancom gives the examples of finding a file numbered 17234. First you go to the 34 section of the filing system, then look for the 72 area of that section and finally look for file 1. This system works well when keeping more than 10,000 files.

Alphanumeric Filing System

Use both letters and numbers to organize files in the alphanumeric filing system. For example, use two letters to signify the state the client lives in, followed by a number to denote his account number. This allows for easier presorting when needing to pull out a large quantity of files from the same location.

About the Author

Kristen Marquette has been a professional writer since 2009 when FireLight Books published her debut novel, "The Vampiric Housewife." Since 2000 she has helped students hone their written and verbal skills in English as a tutor. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University.

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