A file folder (US usage) or folder (British and Australian usage) is a kind of folder that holds loose papers together for organization and protection. File folders usually consist of a sheet of heavy paper stock or other thin, but stiff, material which is folded in half, and are used to keep paper documents. They are often used in conjunction with a filing cabinet for storage. File folders can easily be purchased at office supply stores. In the UK, one of the oldest and best known filing companies is Railex. File folders are usually labeled based on what's inside them. Folders can be labeled directly on the tab with a pen or pencil. Others write on adhesive labels that are placed on the tabs. There are also electronic labelmakers that can be used to make the labels.
The exact way to refer to this kind of folder is somewhat unclear. There does not appear to be an internationally standard term. The term file folder seems to be one that dominates North American language, but does not seem as common in other countries. As stated, some refer to file folders simply as folders, but in North America this is confusing because folder can refer to several different things. Others use the term manila folders, but this is confusing because not all file folders are made of Manila hemp This type of folder is sometimes incorrectly called a "vanilla folder".
Another commonly used folder type is the hanging folder (also known by the trade name Pendaflex) which has hooks on all four corners that slide over a rail. Normally, hanging folders are used to file one or more Manila folders, and it is not a common practice to put loose sheets directly into hanging folders. When some documents need to be retrieved, the corresponding Manila folder(s) are removed from the hanging folder. The hanging folder itself is left in its place on the rails.
Occasionally, the term for the item changes based on its context. Some may refer to file folders as files when they are being utilized for storage. For example, one might say, "Would you get me the file on the Paterson case?" Or someone might say, "That information is with the files on the insurance claims." File folder or just folder seems to be how many refer to the item when it is being purchased or not containing any paper yet. For instance, someone might say, "Would you give me an empty folder from the box? I need to make a file on the Thompson estate." Or someone might say, "When you run to the store would you get me some legal size file folders?"
The terms are even more distorted in their digital counterparts. In computing, the word "folder" (or, in some cases, "file folder") is often used as a synonym for "directory", while the word "file" is universally used for actual data items on a disk (sometimes called "documents," especially on the Apple Macintosh).
File folders can have tabs. Tabs are often helpful when many files are being stored together and there needs to be an easy way to differentiate them. The tabs can be on the top of the folders (common in business offices) or on the end/side (common in medical offices). Tab sizes vary and are designated based on the size of each tab in proportion to the total length of the folder. They can be: