In an organized filing system folders are arranged in some kind of order (we hope!). Some commonly used methods include: alphabetical, straight numeric, terminal digit numeric, or by some category. Sub categories can also be added to the above methods.

 Straight numeric filing is basically putting the folders in order of lowest number to highest number.

Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of the various systems upfront will allow for an informed decision based on your particular needs.

This article provides information regarding straight numeric filing.

1) Choosing a Number

Before putting the files into numeric order you have to decide what number will be used to designate each folder. Some numbers commonly used are: medical record number, account number, billing number, assigned number etc.

2) Determining if Straight Numeric is the Correct Choice

-How folders many will make up the filing system?

-The number of digits that make up the chosen number?  

-How long the records will be kept in the system?

-What factors will determine when they are purged?

-Will the records be color-coded?

3) Advantages of a Straight Numeric Filing System

-Works well with smaller filing systems.

-Because pretty much everyone knows how to count from lowest number to highest number training is minimal.

-If the records are assigned a number in numeric order and continued activity is not a factor purging is easier.

-You can often remove sections of folders at a time.

4)  Disadvantages of a Straight Numeric Filing System

-Need to shift all the records to make room for the new numbers. 

-Difficult  to keep large numbers in correct numeric order.

-Color-coding less efficient.

-May need to have a cross reference to find correct file number.

5)  How to Color-Code with Straight Numeric Filing

If you decide to color-code then you want to choose digits to color that will have the same number long enough to form a pattern.

But, if the pattern of color is too large then the color-coding becomes meaningless.

For example, color-coding the last digit of a number means it changes every record, the next to the last digit changes every 10 records, the 3rd to last digit changes every 100 foldersand the 4th every 1,000 records.

In most file rooms color-coding the 1,000th and 100th digits allows you to get the most “bang for your buck” out of your color-codes.

I would not recommend color-coding all the digits since this defeats the purpose of color-coding by creating a rainbow of color and making spotting misfiles difficult. In addition, color-coding  digits that change too infrequently is a waste of money. 

Why spend money on color-coded labels that will not contribute to the efficiency of the filing system? Color-coding is designed to help spot misfiles.   Using color-coded labels to number a chart is costly and inefficient.

If you would like to review how to file in terminal digit order before you make your decision read my article “Analysis of Terminal Digit Filing”.

Need folders or labels?  Go to Efficiency Solutions for a great selection of filing products.

>What has your experience been with straight numeric filing?

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