Setting up a Filing System – Part 2

f.      Filing Rules

Two fundamental rules underlying filing exist:

ALPHABETICAL FILING – filing in conjunction to the letter of the alphabet
DATE FILING – New files on top

These principles are fundamental since they apply to all systems of filing. When we file by name, subject and country, we should always file by date and alphabetically.

Alphabetical filing rules

Rule 1: File by name in terms of the first letter
Example:  American Eagle
                David & Co

Rule 2: If the first letters are the same, file in terms of the second letter.
Example:  Clark

Rule 3: File in terms of surnames
Example:  Dingo, P. Q
                Nkomose W. J
                Shenge D. B
                Youssef B.Y

Rule 4: If surnames are the same, file in terms of the initial
Example:  Cele, JS
                Cele, JU
                Cele, RS
                Cele, TM

Rule 5: Some surnames have prefixes and are filed in terms of the first letter of the prefix
Example:  de Hommen, JR
                de la Hoy, OP
                van der Burg, MN
                van Reinsley, MJ

Rule 6: When there are two surnames, file under the first surname.
Example:  Mokwana & Mtungwa
                Nxamane & Ings
                Salomon & Cassius
                Veratti & Ngobeni

Rule 7: Mac Mc & M’ all files as Mac; St and Saint all filed as Saint
Example:  McLaren
                Saint Gobain
                St Margaret’s

Rule 8: We file the MOST IMPORTANT WORD in the name or the name of the place when the file does not have a person’s name.
Example:  Active Wheel Co
               The Star
               The City of Johannesburg
               Northcliff Printers

g.     Taking files out – [Use the filing key]

Ensure you don’t lose files

We need to make sure they do not lose them or fail to put them back when people take file out of the filing system, or they take records out of a file. People should never take out the suspension files, only take out the flat folder inside the file. We require a list of all the records or documents that people borrow to keep track of files.

In order to do so we can explore:

A file-out book – a file-out book is just a book we write in.

  • Who has loaned the file or record?
  • Name of the document or file
  • When it was lent from them
  • When it was returned


Ms Modisenyana Reports file 10-02-2001 12-02-2001
Mr NdlovuFinance file23-01-2001 

Using the file-out book, the person in charge for managing the system will check who has which files and remind them to return them.

A file-out card – A filing cabinet uses file-out cards. They are the same size as the files and are positioned in the position of the borrowed file.

We write the same details on the file-out card as in the novel, i.e.

  • Who has loaned the file or record?
  • Name of the document or file
  • When it was lent from them
  • When it was returned

Finding information

It is only helpful to retain records in files if we, and anyone else in our entity, knows how to locate the documents required. We store detail so we can quickly locate it. Retrieving information is called locating information that is in the archives.

Everyone who wants to use the files must quickly and easily find information. This implies that the filing system we use must be known to them.

A tiny book that we use to explain how we file documents could be a filing system book. For instance:

  • Under correspondence, all letters a filed
  • All membership cards are filed with the number
  • Reports are filed by subject

An index book can also help us to locate files. It is possible to write the name of each file on the page with that letter. For instance:
The MINUTES file is written on the M page. Then we can write where that file is:
“MINUTES – filing cabinet 1 drawer 2 or file with lever arch 4”

h.     Filing procedure, maintenance and safety

Procedure for filing

Step 1: Receiving the document
If it is a letter or document that came through the mail, you record it
by writing the date received or date stamp in the ‘’email received’’

Step 2: Action
To the person that must deal with it, forward the letter/document.

Step 3: Follow up
Verify that the letter was dealt with.

Step 4: Collecting Documents to be filed
In a filing tray, all documents and two copies of the replies must be gathered.

Step 5: Filing
Choose a daily time to file every day so you never have a big pile of loose documents left behind. To support you file and remember to file by date order, use a sorter.

Maintaining the method of filing

One of the most significant reasons we file a document is to keep it confidential. Therefore, making sure that all documents and archives are kept in a good shape is very necessary. Here are several ways for us to do this:

  • Keep documents waiting to be filed in trays and do not leave them lying on desks or shelves.
  • You can file documents at least once a day, or if you can to it once a week if your organisation is very small.
  • Do not bring too much in folders or files.
  • Put new covers on old files that are used a lot and are worn or broken.
  • More than simple folders can hold box files and lever arch files.
  • Never allow drawers or shelves to become too full for filing. When required, acquire new filing cabinets.

Efficient housekeeping and safety

You can, at the end of the day:

  • Filing all the records that you will register
  • Put away all you cannot file in filing trays
  • Lock up all personal records
  • Place all waste paper in garbage bins
  • Leave desks clean