manila folder When purchasing manila folders for your filing system a number of decisions must be made depending on how you intend to use these folders.  This article addresses the weight of the folder.

Definition of Weight:

The weight indicates the thickness of the paper used to construct the folder.  Manila folder weight is depicted in “points”. The higher the point the thicker the paper.

Available Points:

9 point folder- Used in very inexpensive folders that will not experience a lot of handling.  Top tab folders used in home filing systems are often 9 point.

11 point folder- This is the most common weight used for business and health care filing systems when the records undergo an average amount of use.  To increase the folder’s durability side and top tab reinforcement is available.  With reinforcement the stress points are actually 22 point.  If the entire folder was 22 point additional filing inches would be needed to accommodate the thicker folders.

14/15 point folder- Used for very active records and/or they contain a large amount of content.  These folders may also be reinforced along the side or top tab to further increase the durability.  Two disadvantages of a heavier weight folder is the cost and the fact that they use up more shelf space.

18 point folder- These folders often have an expansion gusset or inner dividers installed.  Although gussets and dividers can be installed in 14/15 point folders they are not as strong and durable.  This folder is great when the record is heavily used and sections need to be accessed quickly.  Reinforcement is not used on the top/side tab of 18 point manila. Of course, these folders take up more shelf space than lighter weight folders.

Idea! Mylar reinforcement is an economical way to reinforce stress points on any of the folders above.

Now you have the information to decide which point folder will work best for your application.

Need Folders?  Go to Efficiency Solutions.

Let me know of any ideas you have to increase durability of a manila folder.


Tab Dividers (also called Index Tabs) are tabbed sheets of paper inserted into a folder to separate sections of the folder.

When to Use Tab Dividers:

-If the record is very large

-When parts of the folder need to be accessed quickly

-Multiple people use sections of the file

Why Use Tab Dividers:

-Keeps the folder organized

-Saves time (time is money!)

Applications for Tab Dividers:

-Medical Records, Hospital Charts

-Legal Records

-Banking & Financial Records

-Insurance Records

-Mortgage Loan Files

To maximize the efficiency gained by using Tab Dividers it makes sense to customize the dividers to match you particular needs.  Unless the quantity is very small the price is not very different from stock dividers.

Making your own tab dividers may seem to cost less than custom, but when you compare the supplies and time (and they usually end up sloppy) used to construct these tabs they end up being more costly than custom. 

I have listed below the choices you can make when designing your custom tab dividers. 

1: Paper Weight- Tab Divider paper is available in 90lb. and 110lb. weights.  The heavier weight helps increase the durability of heavily used dividers.  90lb. paper takes up less room in the chart and is the most commonly used weight (most of the wear and tear happens to the tabs).

2:  Paper Color-Tab Divider paper is available in white index, manila, and colored paper.

3: Tab Extension-How far the tabs stick out (extension) is available in 5 sizes:

1/4" ext.

3/8" ext.

1/2" ext.

5/8" ext.

3/4" ext.

If the tabs are located on the bottom of the dividers a smaller extension has the advantage of not covering up the side tab of the chart.

For tabs located on the side of the divider larger extensions mean the text is easier to read.

4: Tab Cut-This describes how many tab positions are located on the dividers.  Also described as how may tabs to a bank. The tab cut ranges from 1 tab  per bank to 12 tabs per bank (1/12th cut).   With each addition of a tab to the bank the width of the tab gets smaller.  tab divider grid

4: Printing-Custom printing on the tab can be on one side or both sides of the tab. Body copy is also available.

5: Mylar Reinforcement-Mylar reinforcement on the tabs greatly increases the strength of the tab. 

Also, choosing a different mylar color for each tab makes it easier to quickly identify each section.   mylar colors

The holes may also have mylar reinforcement to keep them from ripping.

6: Hole Details-The holes used to attach the divider to the folder may be located on the top or the side of the divider. 

You can also choose 2 holes (for folders with fasteners), 3 holes (usually for a 3 ring binder), or 5 holes (usually for a 5 ring binder). If the divider goes from a binder then into a folder 5 holes will work with both situations. 

7: Collation-Dividers can be collated into sets.  This is a good idea if every tab title will be used in every chart.  If each chart requires different tabs collating the tabs separately is the best choice.  For times when most of the tabs are used with every chart you can have those dividers collated into sets while the tabs only used with some of the charts are packaged separately.

Do you have any suggestions about paper tab dividers for file folders?

Call Efficiency Solutions for personal help designing your tab dividers!

smead The filing system industry continues to change.  The latest news is Smead closing one of their manufacturing facilities.  Read an article about the closing here.

I always worry about the employees when a facility closes.  With the way the job market is today finding another position is not always easy.

I wish all the workers well.

Do you have any experiences while trying to deal with a changing industry?

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Mobile shelving is an excellent way to increase filing inches while decreasing the amount of square footage taken up by the filing system.

But how do you figure out which type works best for your needs?

Read my article “Questions to Ask Before Choosing Shelving for Your Files” for help figuring out what your particular needs are.

I have listed three commonly used types of movable shelving along with the advantages and disadvantages of each type. I have included Rotary Files, Lateral Movable Files, and High Density Mobile Filing.

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How do you figure out what kind of stationary shelving will best suit your filing system needs?

Read my Article “Questions to Ask Before Choosing Shelving for Your File Folders” for a list of questions designed to help you figure out your particular shelving needs.

I have listed stationary storage units with advantages and disadvantages associated with each type of unit. I have only included units that have a finished look (not industrial) suitable for an office or a record’s department. Units included in this comparison are: Vertical 4 drawer file cabinet, Lateral 4 drawer file cabinet, Stackable Open Shelving , and L&T Open Shelving.

For simplicity purposes I based the comparison calculations on letter size file cabinets.

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An organized filing system can be arranged in a number of ways including:  Alphabetical, Straight Numeric, or Terminal Digit order.

This article focuses on Terminal Digit filing.

Example of a Terminal Digit System

With Terminal digit filing the last two digits of the filing number determine the primary location of the file.  Then you go to the middle two digits, then the beginning digits  (how many digits depends on the size of the number).

A simple way to describe how to file a six digit number in terminal digit order is: last two, middle two, first two.

For example:  the number 13 76 20 would be filed in the (20) section,  then in order by the (76), then in order by the (13).

You are basically taking the entire file room and dividing it up into 100 sections.  The sections start at (00) and end at (99)

You look at the last two digits first (last two) which means the first section in the file room contain all the numbers that end in (00) and the last section contains all the numbers that end in (99).

Terminal Digit File Room Illustration

00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39
40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49
50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59
60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69
70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79
80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89
90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99

These sections pretty much stay constant so knowing the last two digits of the filing number means knowing the section of the file room that contains that record (a number ending 50 will be in the middle of the file room etc.).

Now that the record is in the primary section the next digits to file by in that section are the (middle digits). Then you go to the next digits back (first two with a six digit number).

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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?

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Designing a new filing system may seem like a daunting task! One of the most exhausting parts of filing system design is choosing shelving,  because shelving is available in so many different styles and these styles vary in significant ways.   

Making a mistake purchasing shelving can be very expensive since most companies penalize for returns.

To make matters worse, the problems are often not discovered until well into the project. When it finally is discovered, removing media and taking the units apart is very costly and time consuming.

Reversely, deciding to live with such a “big mistake” may result in years of hassle and even more expense.

Answering a number of questions upfront before making any shelving purchases will help avoid these perils.

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Paper filing system information online is scarce in todays digital world. Because of my years of experience working with paper filing systems I thought it would be helpful to create a forum designed to provide paper filing system information along with a venue to vent.

Categories of filing system help are listed on the right.


My website  is a great place to purchase filing system related products.

What would you like to discuss?

You have decided you need a really strong folder and you want to use pressboard folders for your files. This is the easy step. Now you have to decide what “type” of pressboard folder to choose.

Buy Classification/Pressboard folders here!group pressboard 3

Go here for a quick buying guide.

Pressboard Paper Explanation:

Pressboard paper stock is the kind of paper that these folders are made out of and is available in an array of colors and styles. FiberMark is one of the premier manufacturers of pressboard paper. Basically they take recycled pulp board and press it together (multi-ply construction) to form pressboard paper. You can tell a folder is made out of pressboard when it kind of resembles thick cardboard. A lesser weight folder is usually made out of Manila or Kraft paper.

Type and Point of Pressboard Paper:

Pressboard paper uses two measurements to help determine the durability and thickness of the paper. The first measurement is the Type of paper. The highest paper quality has the lowest “Type” number. Paper quality is determined by the the ingrediaents used for the paper along with how the paper is manufactured.  The second measurement is the weight which is called “point”. The thickest paper measures the highest “point”. (Paper you use in a copier, printer, etc. is measured in “pound”.)

-Pressboard manufactured to be used for folders is available in Type III, Type II, or Type I.

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