What is Record Filing? Purposes, Importance, Methods, Indexing

  • Post last modified:3 October 2021
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What is Record Filing?

Record Filing is the process of so arranging and sorting original records, or copies of them, that they can be readily located when required.

In other words, It is the process of arranging and storing the information in a systematic and scientific way so that it can find out without any difficulty when required. All documents and information are valuable for the office works for taking decisions. Filing is considered as an important function of an office. The success and efficiency of an office depends upon presentation, safety and rapidity availability of important information and documents

Filing is a form of record-keeping. Documents are filed in order that they may be available for use at some future data, which is the precise purpose of making records. Filing providers a means of preserving records of business transactions. Letters, circulations, bulletins, reports, vouchers, contract, statement letters, etc. are the forms of correspondence.

So, filing is the process of systematic and scientific preservation of these documents. Every organization receives and dispatches a large number of correspondences every day. Filing is a form of record-keeping.

and created. These documents play a very important role in business operation and for taking some decisions. So such documents should be preserved to obtain at the time of need. For that a filing system is developed in every organization.

Hence, filing is the process of systematic and scientific preservation of official documents for future reference or evidence. It is putting the documents, letters etc into a file. It is a scientific and systematic process of saving important documents for future reference. Filing is the memory of any organization.

Purposes of Filing in Office and Organization

The main purpose of filing is to preserve important letters and documents safely. Scientific and systematic methods are applied so that any documents can be found out quickly for reference.

Despite this main objective, there are some subsidiary objectives of filing in an office which are as follows:

Collection and classification of documents

This is the first objective of filing. An office receives and sends a large number of documents from internal and external sources every day. They can be reports. Vouchers, bills, contracts. So, these documents should be classified into various categories on the basis of their nature and importance.

Preservation of documents

After the collection of data, another purpose of filing is to preserve the documents for future reference. The filing provides protection to all the important documents from rats, insects, dust, water and from the dishonest staff of the company as well.

Systematic arrangement of documents

The purpose of filing is to arrange all the documents in a scientific and systematic order in proper drawers, racks and cabinets, so that when it is required it can be obtained without any difficulty and delay.

Provide proof

Several transactions take place concerning different subjects’ matters in an organization. Filing serves to settle misunderstandings and disputes between the business organizations and the different parties such as the government, customers, other business organizations etc. Then the preserved documents can be presented as proof whenever required.

Rapidity in office work

The objective of a good filing system is to make rapidity in official work. If the papers, documents, information and materials are properly filed, they will be easily found whenever needed, which helps in the quick performance of official work.

Provide information

Provide different dates and necessary information for formulating plans, policies and taking quick and rational decisions for the organization.

Provide guidance to the staff

The filing provides proper guidance to the staff in performing their duties which increase to develop working efficiency of the staff.

Importance of Filing in Office and Organization

Filing is an important activity in any office. It is important for every type of office big, medium or small. It plays a very crucial role in smooth functioning of official work. The importance of filing can be highlighted from the following points:

Protection of records

Filing protects the records by keeping it in safe cabinets and drawers so that important documents can be preserved from rats, insects, water, sunlight, dust and sometimes from the dishonest staff of the office as well.

Helpful in setting disputes

Filing is important for settling disputes between the contracting parties. A document related to the agreement will be required to show the evidence. The records may be presented in a court of law in case of legislation. Nobody can deny the facts and figures given in the documents

Ready reference

Previous records are generally needed for future reference. So, the filing makes the documents immediately available at the required time. The records will be made available only if they are properly and systematically preserved.

Helps in planning and decision making

Formulating effective plans and taking quick, rational and correct decisions in the function of management real and factual data which is available from past records. So, filing is important.

Better control

Filing system is helpful for contracting business transactions. Modern business transactions are carried on through various documents. Several types of documents are received and sent daily. If those documents are maintained in and scientific way naturally management will get great help in evaluating performance and taking corrective action.

Facilitates follow ups

Follow up action is necessary in case of securing orders, collecting payments and compliance of rules, policies etc. Filing facilitates follow up action by preserving the records

Methods of filing

There are different types of filing system. Office has to adopt a filing system as per its needs. In a broad sense filing system can be categorized into two parts:

Traditional Filing System

Traditional filing systems were used at the beginning stage of office management. When the scale of business was small and numbers of documents were limited, in spite of being old they are still in practice in small business organizations.

Various Traditional Filing System

Some important old filing systems is discussed below:

Wire or spike filing It is the oldest and the cheapest method of a filing system. Under this method, a thin steel rod, about one foot long, is used from an upper end to form a hook and at the bottom end a wooden or plastic disk is fixed to act as a stopper. All incoming are threaded in order of date. The hooked wire is usually hung on a nail fixed on the wall or is placed on the disk. It is used to keep a temporary type of documents.

Advantages of traditional filing system

  • This method is very simple. Anyone staff of office can use it without any difficulty.
  • This is a very cheap method as only wire is sufficient for filing.
  • It requires minimum time and space.

Disadvantages of traditional filing system

  • It is not suitable to big business.
  • It is not attractive.
  • As documents are kept open there is great chance of loss of documents.
  • Letters and documents are not protected against damage by dust or water.
  • Secrecy cannot be maintained.

Pigeon Hole Filing

In this method, an almirah with several holes which can be seen just like pigeon holes is used for filing of letters. Each hole can be labelled with one or more alphabets or numbers as per need. Letters and records can be kept inside the hole in accordance with the alphabetical or numerical order.

It can be used for daily inward mail of different departments. Under this filing system, almirah with 24 compartments have been used.

Advantages of Pigeon Hole Filing

  • Pigeon hole filing is simple to understand and easy to operate.
  • It is very economical
  • Paper or documents will be available quickly.
  • It protects documents against dust, water and insects.

Disadvantages of Pigeon Hole Filing

  • It is not appropriate for large organization.
  • Because of small space different sizes of documents cannot be saved.
  • It takes time in searching the documents.
  • Secrecy cannot be maintained because pigeon holes are open.

Card Board Filing

In this cardboard filing system, a thick cardboard is used. There will be a cover paper on both sides of the cardboard. All the letters and documents will be kept inside the cardboard which will be covered by the cover paper and duly tied with lace or thick thread. Different types of documents can be filed in separate cardboard files. These files can be stored in the almirah for safety. These types of filing systems are suitable for small businesses.

Advantages of Card Board Filing

  • It is very simple and easy.
  • It is cheap.
  • It is safe because it can be placed in the almirah.
  • It is very compact and needs little office space.

Disadvantages of Card Board Filing

  • It is not appropriate for large type of business organization
  • It takes time to locate document because of lack of indexing
  • There are chances of misplacement of documents.

Box Filing

Box files, as the name suggests are made in the shape of a box which is 3 to 4 inches deep are used for filing papers. “The boxes are fitted with spring clip to hold the papers down in their proper places. Sometimes papers may be placed in manila folders which may be kept in the box.” Documents are filed chronologically. Separate boxes can be used for each subject. Since documents are kept in box so, it is called box filing.

Advantages of Box Filing

  • It is very simple to understand and easy to operate
  • It is very cheap.
  • It needs only box to preserve records.
  • Box remains closed, so it is safe system.
  • It is not necessary to punch the document

Disadvantages of Box Filing

  • It is unsuitable for large types of business organization.
  • It creates problem to takeout a document from the middle.
  • It is not flexible because it has limited space.
  • There are chances of misplacement of documents.

Press Copybook Method

Under this method, all outward letters are coped out in a book. Actually, the practice is to get an extra carbon copy of each letter. The copes are then filed in the master file in chronological order. This helps to preserve documents which may become evidence. But it is a time-consuming method. Location of documents and cross-reference is difficult.

Advantages of Press Copybook Method

  • Sent out letters copies of are safe over here.
  • Preserved letters can be used as evidence.
  • Easy location of document.

Disadvantages of Press Copybook Method

  • It only preserves the dispatched letter.
  • A letter book has limited pages. So there is lack of flexibility.
  • It is an unsafe method because a clerk has to frequently take out the documents.

Modern Filing Methods

The conventional filing methods and equipment are obsolete and useless from the standpoint of large-scale organizations. This equipment was useful when the number of records was very small. Many sophisticated, improved and new filing equipment have been developed to meet the filing requirements of a modern business and these may be classified as.

Horizontal Filing

Horizontal filing indicates the horizontal positions of files. Under this method, papers, folders, other containers are placed in a horizontal or flat position” one on the top of another on shelves or in shallow drawers.” The paper are filed in chronological order (datewise). These files come in a variety of folders. some of these are.

Flat files

These are covers of cardboard or thick papers, fitted with metal hinges with which to fasten the papers together. A separate cover (file) is allotted to each customer or subject, and all the correspondence and document relating to the customer or subject is placed in that cover in chronological order.

Arch files

These are strong cardboard folders containing strong metal arches, which can be operated by leaves. If a paper is to be filed , it is punched with holes with the help of a punching machine; the lever is then moved upward which opens the springs or metal arches.

Vertical filing

Vertical filing indicates the vertical position of the files. Under this method, paper folders or files are kept in upright or standing positions. This system is an improvement on the horizontal filing system in which a great deal of time is consumed in locating a paper or document.


Folders are the basis of vertical filing. They are made of manila paper or some other strong paper and are used to hold papers and documents.


For general office use vertical filing cabinets made of wood or steel are fitted with four drawers. The drawers in these cabinets run on ball bearings and are deep enough to hold the folders in a standing position.

  • Suspension filing
  • Lateral filing
  • Open-shelf filing
  • Visible filing (card filing)


An indexing is anything that points out or indicates. It is a ready guide to the location of the required file or records. It is a process of determining the documents which are to be filed. It is an important aid to filing and finding because, when a large number of files are maintained for various purposes, they can be located are indicated by some sort of a guide which is known as an index.

Types of Indexing

The various types of indexing is also known as methods of systems of indexing. Some of the important types of indexes are given below:

Page Index

An ordinary page index consists of a page for each letter of the alphabet, fitted with a tab showing the letters, and on each page is written the names beginning with that letter and quoting the relevant page number. This type of index may take the following forms:

  • Bound Book Index
  • Loose Leaf Index
  • Vowel Index.

Loose or Vertical Card Index

A loose card index is used to overcome the difficulties (limitations) of an ordinary page index. It consists of a number cards of small size (12cms x 7cms), each concerned with one item of the index. The references heading is written along the top edge of a card, and the remaining space is used to indicating the place where the corresponding record may be found.

Visible card Index

Under this system, the cards are laid flat in transparent covers in a shallow tray or in a metal frame. Each card is fitted into a metal hinge so that it overlaps the one before it in such a way that a narrow strip at the bottom, containing the name or title, remains visible.

Strip Index

In every office, whatever the organization, a list of the names, addresses and telephone numbers, etc., of the correspondents, has to be maintained.

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