Comparison of Filing Systems

Everyday, 21 million general office documents, 76 million letters, 234 million photocopies, and 6oo million computer printouts, all in paper, are produced by organizations in America alone. These figures came out from a study by the International Data Corp. All of these amount to paper-based files that are invaluable to the maintenance and progress of institutions.

However, as much as resources only become assets if properly handled, these files are only of as much use as an institution knows where they are, and how to access the data they contain (Langemo and Robles).

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In order to realize this, it is necessary for an agency or office to establish a filing system that satisfies both the criteria of effectiveness and efficiency (Texas State Library and Archives Commission). For this, there are a number of selections. Therefore, it is essential to compare and contrast the features that each filing system can offer so that a reasonable choice can be made.
Let us first consider the Alphabetic filing system. Also referred to as a “direct-access system,” it is the most extensively employed classification system. As the term” direct-access” implies, its advantage is that it is user-friendly because anyone wanting to access information from the files need not check with an index.
A user only needs to identify the first letter of the label of the data in question and search for it among the files in the order that it appears in the alphabet. Though there is a standard prescribed in using an alphabetical filing system, most offices alphabetize their files loosely according to their prerogative scheme (Langemo and Robles).
A seeming upgraded version of the alphabetic system is the Geographical classification system. In this system, files are arranged by geographic location, e.g. by city, county, province, state, region, or country, and are further positioned in alphabetical order. Today, government offices and petroleum industries still employ the Geographic classification system in filing land-oriented records (Langemo and Robles).
Meanwhile, when certain type of records requires numeric ordering, Numeric classification systems are employed. This type of filing system makes it easier to manage paper documents either by numbering the border of end-tabbed folders, or by utilizing shelf filing equipment, computer index databases, and color coding schemes (Langemo and Robles).
Finally, when it is inappropriate to categorize records according to names either by individuals, organizations, institutions, locations, or agencies, Subject filing systems are used. This system is divided into two arrangements: dictionary and encyclopedic. When the topics of the files are arranged alphabetically, they are in dictionary arrangement. Meanwhile, in an encyclopedic arrangement, associated items in a subject file are classified alphabetically under a superior caption (Langemo and Robles).
All of these four filing systems are advantageous for specific types of files. It is up to the agencies to evaluate which among these filing systems is appropriate for them. Failure to identify this can lead to a waste of time, money, resources, or worse, legal complications. The decision making practices of an institution will significantly be more effective if fitting filing system is employed (Texas State Library and Archives Commission).
Reference Cited
Langemo M., and Marcel Robles. “Upgrade Your Office Filing System.” Office Dealer and Office Solutions Magazine. Feature. December 2001. 22 Sept. 2006. <>.
Texas State Library and Archives Commission. “Filing Systems.” Records Management Publications. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. 26 Sept. 2002. 22 Sept. 2006. <>.


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