Posts Tagged ‘file system’

filing drawersYou currently have your files in some type of file drawers and you want to convert your files to open shelving.

Some reasons you want to convert may include:  cost of purchasing additional filing cabinets, size of existing filing system is increasing, want to improve visibility and accessibility of records, losing space for your existing records, etc.. You may just need more space!

Where do you start?

1) The first task is to figure out how much filing capacity you currently have by measuring existing used filing inches.  Take a measuring tape and measure from the beginning to the end of the folders in one drawer.  If all the drawers are similarly filled and the same size you can then multiply this measurement by the number of drawers. Different size drawers will need to be measured individually.  Add everything up and you know how many filing inches you are using for you files.

2)The next step is to figure out how much capacity you need for the open shelving.  If you are increasing the size of your system take the percentage of increase and add it to your existing filing inches.  This will give you how many filing inches you need in the open shelving.

Open shelving filing inches are easy to determine.  The width of each shelve tells you how many filing inches this shelf can hold.  For example:  a 36” wide, 7 shelve high unit has a capacity of 252 filing inches.

3)Now look at what type of folders are currently in the file drawers.  If your folders are side tab folders they can usually be used easily on open shelving.  But top tab folders are another matter.  The top tab is hard to see on open shelving and can sometimes be too high to fit in the space between two shelves (cutting off the top tab is a way to avoid purchasing all new folders).

4)Move the records from the drawers to your new open shelving.

open shelvingA couple different methods can be used to convert top tab drawer style records to open shelving.

A-Transfer the records into a side tab folder (this is a good time to add any planned color-coding)

B-Attach a 2-1/2” x 8” label to the side of the top tab folder to create a side tab (the top tab can be cut off if causes the folder to not fit on the shelf).

C-Move all the existing folders onto the new shelving and convert the records as they are accessed.

After making this change my guess is you will wonder why you did not make this change a long time ago!

For additional information about shelving read my articles  Stationary Shelving for File Folders and Movable Shelving for File Folders

Do you have some ideas to add?

Need folders for your new open shelving system?  Efficiency Solutions carries a great side tab folder.

alpha filingYou have decided to create an alphabetical filing system based on a name. Where do you start?

The order to file alphabetically by name is: last name, first name or initial, then middle name or initial.

1) To get started first determine how many records will be put into the system.  This will determine how much shelving you need.

(Read my article “Questions to Ask Before Choosing Shelving for Your Files”) for help determining what type of shelving to buy.

2) Then, divide your shelving into 26 sections. Studies have determined the percentage of how many people have a last name starting with each letter of the alphabet.  By using the results of these studies, you can estimate what percentage of the file room each letter will use.

File Room Alpha Breakdown

(A=3.2%) (B=9.7%) (C=8.0%) (D=4.9%) (E=2.2%) (F=3.8%)

(G=4.9%) (H=7.8%) (I=0.4%) (J=2.6%) (K=3.6%) (L=4.5%)

(M=9.3%) (N=1/7%) (O=1.3%) (P=4.5%) (Q=0.2%) (R=4.8%)

(S=10.2%) (T=3.4%) (U=0.4%) (V=1.0%) (W=6.8%) (X=0.1%)

(Y=0.5%) (Z=0.2%)

Each section will reflect the information provided above.  An easy way to designate each section is to write each letter on a piece of white tape or a blank white label.  You can stick this lettered label at the start of each section.

3) Put the files in the correct section based on the first letter of the person’s last name.

(Here is a handy tool that will automatically alphabetize lists.)

4) Next, go the second letter of the surname, then the third letter, etc..

Some additional rules are:

-Surnames with prefixes (Mac, Mc.,  etc.), are filed as if they were one word.

-How about if the two last names are the same?  Then go to the first letter of the first name.

-When someone has a title, put the title at the end of their name.

-Any abbreviations in a name should be alphabetized as 
  if they were spelled out (St. – saint)

-Ignore hyphens and file compound names as one unit.

For maximum efficiency-color code your alpha system.

Please share any alphabetic filing stories you might have!

Here is a great place to find supplies for your alpha filing system.

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