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A filing classification system is a collection of files that organizes information used in an organization. It helps create an easy-to-find yet protective environment for the information held within these files. The filing classification system provides a systematic way to group records so they can be retrieved when needed.
It is a systematic approach to indexing and filing documents – a set of rules used to help create a structure for storing information within a large body of records.
There are three main types of filing and classification systems: alphabetical, numeric, and alphanumeric. Other subset filing and classification systems include alphabetical topical, alphabetical encyclopedia, alphabetical geographic, straight numeric, duplex numeric, and chronological filing systems.
Alphabetical filing system
Alphabetical filing and classification systems are the oldest form of classification used for indexing files or documents. The files and documents are sorted according to their first word or letter.
Alphabetical filing systems are commonly used in library catalogs and indexes. In libraries, the catalog or index is alphabetized by author; in other uses, it may be sorted according to the title or some other heading.
Alphabetical topical filing systems
A common variation of this system is where the label and topic information are cross-referenced, as in an index, making documents easy to retrieve later.
The alphabetical filing system is one of the most frequently used filing methods. It is used by government agencies, corporations, small businesses, and individuals to organize items.
The best example of an alphabetical topical filing system is the index of your local library. Entries in the library index relate to the subject of each book, and they’re clearly arranged in alphabetical order. So, if you’re looking for information on British history, you can easily locate books on that topic listed in an alphabetical system.
A topic in an alphabetical system is generally described by a word or a short phrase. Each topic is then assigned a letter. The topics within each letter are arranged in alphabetical order, making them easily accessible to library users seeking that information.
Alphabetical topical systems can also be simple or complex. Simple alphabetical topical systems use the first letter of the record identifier title as the classification code, while more complex alphabetical topical systems use the first letter of each word in the record identifier title as the classification code.
A top-level subject file is often assigned to “A,” the label on this file usually reads “Miscellaneous.” Subordinate Subject files are often assigned a second-level classification code derived from a combination of the first two letters of the subject’s title, e.g., AFI for “Airframe” and AGB for “Ground Support Equipment.” The use of multiple classification codes in a filing system provides flexibility in locating topics not included in the system, and it discourages subject titles from being used or abbreviated differently than they are used in other parts of an organization
An alphabetical topical filing system can be useful for a small business or individual who has to store and retrieve a wide range of documents. This type of system is usually simple and inexpensive to implement. It is also easy to use with index cards, which are frequently used to file information. This method is often used by individuals who need an easy system for storing information temporarily.
Alphabetical encyclopedia filing systems
The encyclopedia filing and classification system involves organizing information by general category, then sub-categories placed in alphabetical order. This type of organizational system is best for items that are largely informational, such as research, media, or textbooks.
With the alphabetical encyclopedia filing systems method, it is possible to organize information and files by categories and sub-categories, making it easier to find the exact information needed at any given time.
For example, if you wanted to store information on children’s books, you would first break it down into general categories such as Fiction/Non-Fiction, Author/Illustrator, and Genre. All Fiction books would be filed under the ”F” section on the bookshelf, all Non-fiction books would be filed under the ”N” section, and each author or illustrator would be filed under their individual last name.
Another example, you may have a general category “animals” with a further breakdown into “mammals” and “fish.” You can then place your articles about fish into two subcategories, “freshwater” and “sea.”
Many people use an encyclopedia filing system for their personal files. They break their information down into several topic categories such as family, financial, health, etc. By placing related files in a certain category, you can quickly retrieve whatever is needed without having to search through all the files.
Encyclopedia filing system is also great for businesses. Since encyclopedia filing systems group all records together for one topic within a category file – within each main category, there are usually several sub-categories, each of these categories may have several subdivisions. Businesses that keep mostly paper records will benefit from this filing system.
By using encyclopedia filing systems for your business records, you will be able to store all current records in one area while continuing to add more as needed. This will help simplify finding specific business records when they are needed.
Alphabetical geographic filing systems
An alphabetical geographic filing system is a subset of the encyclopedia filing and classification system in which the major categories are broken down by locations. It is simply a section of your filing system that is subdivided by a geographic area.
The system is hierarchical. In a geographic system, the major categories are broken down by location or by the origin of the subject matter. These categories are then broken down further into more specific categories.
This type of filing system is common in businesses that have operations in many different countries.
There are two ways to implement a geographic filing system: one is by subdivision by state, and another is by subdivision by county.
An example of the first type of geographic filing system would be an insurance agent who represents multiple insurance companies but divided the types of policies he offers into a location file. An example of the second type of geographic filing system would be a law firm that has clients in different states that are broken down into the counties where they reside. Each firm uses its own hierarchical arrangement for its geography filing system.
Any business or organization can benefit from having a geographic filing system. Businesses that frequently deal with clients from all over the world, such as an IT consulting company, have to have a way to keep track of their clients and can utilize a geographic filing system to do so. For example, a large company with employees in different states and countries can have a geographic filing system for its human resources department. The person in charge of hiring needs to know where job openings are located and what qualifications they are looking for when hiring for those positions.
Even though it is based on alphabetical order, a geographic filing system does not totally rely on the alphabet, as it also considers the origin of the subject matter. For example, in the category of “United States,” there would be a subheading for “California” and another for “Texas.”
Numeric filing systems
Numeric filing and classification systems are used for words or numbers. For example, the government uses a tax code based on the first three letters of the taxpayer’s last name and the first number of his or her social security number. In a library, subjects are numbered:
This numeric system is widely used because it is relatively easy to implement. Cards are punched with holes to indicate a number and then filed in order. Such a filing system can be either manual (cardboard cards or strips of paper) or computerized using a database program.
Straight numeric filing systems
Straight numeric filing and classification systems are used in organizations with many different documents or files that they need to keep track of. These systems are also very easy to use, since they generally start with file number “one” and simply call each file with the subsequent number. This means that all new files you create will have a sequential number, and you can easily find the next available number to assign.
You start by creating a master list of all your current files. Then, create a second list of all the files you anticipate being needed in the future. Look at the master list to decide which number is next to get assigned to a file. For instance, if the current master list ends in 8, but there is another file you want to add to your collection, assign it the number 9 and add it to the master list.
This method of filing is used in offices where there are many similar types of documents, such as a collection of invoices. This type of system is also ideal for storing catalogs or price lists for an office supply store.
Although simple to use, numbering systems can be complicated to set up, especially when it comes to organizing them. For example, if you would like to use straight numeric filing for your tax information, and you have many years of past tax records, you would need to create a master list that will help you determine the order in which you want to file each document. However, if your tax files are filed by year, you only need to remember the year in which each document was created.
Straight numeric filing systems are used for simple filing needs and are one of the most common types of filing systems that businesses use. However, there are limited cases where this type of filing system may not be so simple to use.
The first thing one should do is decide how many filing units are needed for the papers that need to be filed. After that, it is a good idea to decide how big each filing unit will be. For example, if there are going to be fifteen filing units and each unit will contain ten files, it would be more efficient to have five large files or ten smaller ones. It might be helpful to draw out a chart for the filing system and draw lines to connect all the units that are the same size.
The next step is to place a number label near the top of each file folder to easily identify the contents. If there are more than twenty-five files in any particular unit, it may be better to have two or more folders in each unit.
Duplex numeric filing systems
Duplex numeric filing systems are filing systems in which files are given numeric labels with several sets of numbers. It’s a filing system that divides data into several sets of numbers.
In these filing systems, files are given more than one numeric label, such as two-digit numeric labels, three-digit numeric labels, or four-digit numeric labels using a duplex scheme.
Sometimes the first set of numbers is termed the Major category number; this is used for major headings such as A, B, C, etc. The second set of numbers is termed the subdivision number, used for minor headings under the major heading. The third set of numbers is the serial number (or “part” number); this is used for sub-divisions under the minor heading. Sometimes the fourth set of numbers is termed as the sequential number; this is used for sub-sub divisions under the sub-divisions.
For example, let’s look at a company that files a lot of invoices. It might be a manufacturing company that uses three sets of numbers. The first set is the name of the person paying the invoice – this may be a corporation, a department, or an individual. The second set is the name of the product – for example, towels, T-shirts, and pants. The third set is the type of product – there could be many variations of the item depending on the size, color, etc. For example: medium-size white towels, medium-size black pants, etc. Of course, it might also be necessary to further classify these invoices by other criteria (date, price, quantity sold). However, this third level of filing might not require another full set of three digits because the same digits can be reused for different types of classifications and sub-classifications.
In duplex numeric filing systems, the different sets of numbers do not have to be sequential; the second set of numbers does not necessarily have to be greater than the first set of numbers.
This type of filing system can be illustrated by using an encyclopedia as an analogy. The major categories are the different sections, while the sub-categories are the different entries. For example, in the encyclopedia section “Biology,” the entry on “Mammals” is classified as a sub-category. There are only nine major categories in an encyclopedia, but there can be many more sub-categories, depending on how detailed one wants to get.
In the United States, this type of filing system is most commonly used by the social security administration (SSA) to track social security numbers. Other examples of duplex numeric filing systems include car registrations and patent applications.
The older versions of this form of filing system were first developed in the late 19th century and served as the inspiration for the Dewey Decimal classification system, which most libraries use to catalog their collections.
The idea was to put objects into classes based on how many particular characteristics they shared. For example, if two objects were both two inches in diameter and made of wood, they would be in the same class.
Chronological filing systems
Chronological filing systems are a subcategory of numeric systems in which files are arranged by date. Typically files are grouped by year, month, then by day. Within those groupings, there can be further breakdowns based on the date the document was created or received — either the actual date or a default date assigned by the filer.
For example, a company could use today’s date as the filing date for all documents or it could use a fiscal year or contract year as its filing date.
Chronological filing systems are used when the most important criterion for file organization is the date of creation or, less frequently, receipt. The files should be grouped by the year in which they were created (or by their transaction date), with more detailed breakdowns within the year. Then the files are arranged within each year by month, with more detailed breakdowns within the month. Finally, the files are arranged within each month by day, with more detailed breakdowns within the day. When chronological systems are used for receipts only, a file may be kept for a single day.
Chronological systems are best suited for active files that contain a lot of correspondence, memos, or documents that can be filed in date order. A chronological filing system is also usually used with records that need to be accessed frequently, because they are arranged by date.
Chronological filing systems work well in offices where most business activity occurs on a day-to-day basis. The most common chronological system is the one for arranging files by the year and then the month within the year.
In such a filing system, January 1 is stored in a folder marked “2018” and so on. The other method of arranging files by year is to start with the earliest year and fill each new folder from back to front. Thus, “2018” would be placed behind “2017” and so on. Each new entry is placed behind the last one, not beside it.
This method is sometimes called reverse chronological or backfile arrangement. The advantage of this system is that it allows you to arrange your files on the shelf, so those belonging to each given year lie next to each other.
In a typical hard copy paper filing system, the system that many businesses and government offices utilize, files are arranged by date. Typically they are grouped first by year, then by month, and then lastly by day. This allows the most current information to be filed closest to the front of the file cabinets and to minimize the amount of digging through paperwork that must be done in order to find the desired document.
It is also common for large businesses and governmental agencies to employ software programs that allow for electronic data entry of documents. Within such programs, files can be organized in chronological order as well. When using these programs, some businesses may choose to group the documents year by year, but may choose another grouping method for documents such as by month or quarter. This allows for more efficient searching of documents related to the date.
The date that the document was created is often recorded as part of its filing information, which allows for the documents to be easily retrieved when needed. For example, someone may need to determine the current age of a customer in order to provide them with a service. A chronological system would allow for easy retrieval of this information by accessing the date that the customer was created in order to determine their age.
Starting a chronological filing system involves deciding on a starting point. In this case, a starting point needs to be decided for each year of files that will be kept from the system. Some companies might decide that they only need to keep files from one year back. Others might choose to keep five years worth of files. Once a starting point has been chosen, the folders for each month can be created. Within each month folder, folders should be created for each day in numerical order (1-31). Then within those folders, files can be placed based on their document type and any other relevant information that might be important.
Alphanumeric filing systems
An alphanumeric filing system is a filing system in which a variety of alphabetic and numeric characters are used to classify information that is considered important for business or other purposes. In most cases, a “number-letter code” is used to denote each category, often with the letters indicating the broader class and the numbers being more specific.
The filing systems used in most academic libraries are based on the principle that files, folders, and boxes should be arranged in a systematic manner. Most libraries use the alphanumeric filing system, which relies on letters and numbers to classify records. In this system, information is classified by categories in an encyclopedic system, but using both numbers and letters to denote categories.
While we have many filing systems that classify information by categories, such as the Dewey Decimal system, which is commonly used by libraries, and the Library of Congress Classification System, which is alphanumeric and used by more academic libraries, there are also filing systems that use numbers to categorize information as well. An example of this would be the Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) filing system.
This system is used to classify books in most libraries, and it uses five numbers to categorize them into a particular scheme. The first number represents the category that the book falls into, such as science or education. The first number is then followed by a letter that represents the next level of classification. The subsequent numbers then represent more specific categories under the letter classification. Lastly, a fifth number represents the specific year when the book was published. For example, a book may be classified as follows: LCCN: QD31 .R45 2017
In this instance, this is a science book that was published in 2017. This provides a level of specificity not offered by most library-based filing systems.
If you are filing your tax return, applying for a bank loan, or doing some other paperwork that requires you to classify information, you might encounter a filing system that uses both letters and numbers. In such an alphanumeric system, the letters signify the categories and the numbers represent the items in each category. The numbering starts from 01 to 99 for each letter, making it possible to distinguish among 100 categories, each containing 99 items. The categorization and classification make alphanumeric filing systems useful for managing and storing vast amounts of information.
Alphanumeric filing systems are massively used by companies, organizations, and government agencies to organize and store papers, reports, and other forms of information. They are widely used because they provide a great deal of flexibility. In some cases, you may want to use the same system for all of your filing needs, while in other cases, you may want to have separate alphanumeric filing systems when you need to collect information from different sources or for different purposes.
Additionally, alphanumeric filing systems are actually used in a number of different contexts. Some business applications use alphanumeric filing for codes that identify specific products. There are also some applications in which alphanumeric filing is used to designate the contents of containers used in shipping or other types of transporting.