Classification folders are folders that contain separated sections that allow for quick filing and retrieval of individual documents. Sounds simple, right? Wrong! Knowing when to use these folders and then deciding which kind to buy can be extremely confusing.

I have taken the guesswork out of choosing a pressboard folder.

Purchase classification folders here!

A quick guide to specifications is available here!

Classification folders are applicable when:

-Each Record is very large

-Records have a high retrieval rate

-Documents filed in the folder that you need to access quickly

-Currently use multiple folders to separate an individual’s record

-Multiple file folders that are condensed into one folder will help the loss of segments of the record

-Need to file batches of records into one folder (for example: records are filed in a folder based on the date the record was created)

Classification folders are available in so many different configurations that it would be impossible to cover all options in one article. In the spirit of brevity I am listing the most commonly used options below. The easiest way to decide what works best for you is to look at each folder attribute and compare the available options to your filing situation. After you have picked your options you can put together the perfect classification folder that is designed for your particular situation.


-Based on the media that will be filed into these folders you have to choose legal or letter sized folders. Making sure the folder will fit into any existing shelving is also important.

Location of the Tab:

-Top Tab: These folders are designed to be used in file drawers

-Side Tab: If you have open file shelving this is the style to pick-Combination

Top/Side Tab: Used when the folder will be used in both drawers and open shelving

Type of Tab Cut on the Tab of the Folder:

-Straight Cut: Tab goes straight across, no cut out (most commonly used in side tab folders) Advantage is the tab is stronger and provides more room for labels and any text written on the tab.

-1/3rd Cut: Tab takes up 1/3rd of the space on the folder. The position of the tab can be located in one of 3 positions (most commonly used in top tab folders) When the tab position is spread over the 3 positions each individual file is easier to see in the file drawer. Disadvantage is the tab is not as strong as a straight cut tab.

-2/5th Right of Center: One tab position and is located almost in the center of the space. The size of the tab is in-between 1/3rd cut and straight cut. Does create a stronger tab than 1/3rd cut.

Weight of the Folder:

-Manila or Colored Paper: The most common weights used are 15 & 18 point. Used when need to separate the papers exists but folder does not get heavy use.

-Type III Pressboard: This is a good choice for most applications and is available in the more colors than Type II. The least expensive choice of the pressboards and used when budget and availability of colors is important.

-Type II Pressboard: Very similar to Type II (difficult to tell the difference) but because of the higher grade paper the folder feels a little smoother. Type II has very limited color chooses. -Type I Pressboard: A harder, shinier finish, expensive, many colors available. Choose this folder for heavily handled folders and when the budget allows for the extra expense.

-Type I Pressguard: A harder, shinier finish that has a pebbled look. Really expensive, many colors available. Great when folders need to have a finished, professional look.


-The folders come in a variety of colors dependent upon which weight of material is chosen. You can get creative by using colors to designate something like a type of record or the year record was created.

Fasteners Applied onto the Folder:

-Fasteners can be attached into the folder in a number of positions. The most common positions for a classification folder are the top of the front and top of the back of the folder. Using fasteners keeps the papers from falling out which lessens the incidents of lost papers.

Number of Attached Dividers and Expansion

-One Divider: Creates 4 sections and has 1” expansion

-Two Dividers: Creates 6 sections and has 2” expansion

-Three Dividers: Creates 8 sections and has 3” expansion

The divider is made up of 17 point craft material.

Each divider has what is called a dual prong fastener that allows for the papers to be attached to the divider on both sides (a bonded faster can also be used on both sides of the divider).

Deciding on how many inner dividers to use is based on the amount of papers contained in the record and how far you need to go with separating the record into different categories.

Tyvek material is usually used for the gusset that creates the expansion. This is very durable material (commonly used in housing construction) and very seldom rips.

Read my article “Pressboard Folder Type-What Does This Mean?” for information regarding pressboard paper.

Now you can make sure that the classification folder you use meets all your requirements thus allowing you to get the most “bang for the buck” out of your purchase.

Can you think of any other aspect of a classification folder that you would like to investigate?

3 Responses to “Classification Folders-Explanation of Specifications”

  • Chy Anne Osborn says:

    What is the difference between a 2 prong fastener and a K style fastner? Also what is a bonded fastener?

    • Teresa says:


      Thank you for your question. A two prong fastener means the fastener has two prongs to put through paper that has two holes punched. It can be either a bonded fastener, K style dual prong.

      A bonded fastener is glued onto to the inside of the folder. A K style fastener is glued onto the outside of the folder with the two prongs going though the folder so the prongs end up inside to go through the paper with the two holes punched.

      If you have additional questions or would like some pictures demonstrating my explanation, please let me know. Feel free to give me a call at 412-882-1119.

      My website also has folder information.



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