Alphabetical filing, straight numeric filing, alpha-numeric filing and terminal digit filing are some of the common office filing systems. Over the years, filing systems have evolved from filing papers in boxes to sophisticated software programs.
For less than 5,000 records, alphabetical filing is the most common office filing system. Files are arranged according to dictionary order by names of businesses, subjects, individuals, institutions or geographic locations. This filing system is effective for customer or client name files.
Straight numeric filing involves filing numbered documents in a numeric sequence order beginning with the lowest number and ending with the highest numbered file. An advantage of this filing system is that there is no need to train filing personnel because most people can find files when numbered from lowest to highest number. The other advantage is that old files can be retired with ease because old files are the ones with the lowest numbers.
An alpha-numeric filing system uses a combination of numbers and names. Files are best arranged according to subject headings or alphabetic divisions, followed by number category. For alpha-numeric files, it is important to use a relative index that lists the number of codes given to every alphabetic division.
Terminal digit filing involves filing files with similar final digits in one section. Terminal digit filing is common in offices that handle large files, such as banks, hospitals, government offices and insurance companies.