Ideas for Filing Systems

Create a filing system that works for you.
Create a filing system that works for you. (Image: green files. image by Sorbotrol from

Creating a filing system that works for you is the key to an organized office space. It is helpful to know where everything is at a moment's notice. No rules apply to filing per se, however there are some methods that promote a linear method which, for many people, is easier than less intuitive filing system. A combination of these systems may be used when creating a more complex filing system. You may want main filing categories to be alphabetical, but sub-categories to be numerical. Create and adjust the filing system for your specific project.

Alphabetical Filing

As the name suggests alphabetical filing refers to the way in which folders are organized A, B, C, D and so on. This method is most useful when organizing files containing names of people and companies. Label your files and folders clearly to maintain the order of your system. The label must be visible and the writing clear and prominent. Use as few words as possible and write with a bold pen. Always put the folder back in its respective place.

Color Filing

Color filing is a method in which several colors are chosen to represent portions of the alphabet (i.e. red= A-D, yellow=E-H, etc.) or colors represent dates (i.e. green = 2005, blue = 2006, etc.). Color filing is especially useful when many subcategories are present.

Numerical Filing

Numerical filing is organized through the use of corresponding numbers. Numerical organization is best when working with sequential project or case numbers. As with any filing system it is important to differentiate between permanent and active files. Permanent files are those documents and folders that hold official records, such as tax or legal records. Active files are papers that are often referred to, but do not hold such important or long-term relevance. Choose to differentiate permanent and active files by storing them in separate file sections or folders. Purge your files annually so outdated files don't clutter and confuse the filing system.

Chronological Filing

Chronological filing works best when folders need to be found by date. These folders can be organized by week, month or year (i.e. January, February, March, etc).

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