Major Office Activities: Traditional Methods of Filing: Spike, Folder, Pigeonhole, Box and Guard Book Filling

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After making classification, files must be preserved carefully by using any suitable methods of filing. There are various methods of filing based on the type of equipment they use. These methods can be classified as:

Methods of Filing

Methods of Filing

Traditional Methods of Filing

There are some traditional methods of filing like spike filing, folder filing, pigeonhole filing, box filing, guard book filing, and arch lever filing. Although these methods of filing have limited use now a days, but these are suitable for small organisations. These methods are briefly described here.

Spike Filing

A thick steel wire with one sharp end and a wooden, plastic or steel round at the other end is used for filing. It is kept on the table or hung against the wall after filling is done.

Folder Filing

There are covers of cardboard or thick paper fitted with metal hinges for fastening the papers together. A separate folder is allotted to each customer. All the letters relating to that customer are kept in the file date-wise. The papers are punched and then inserted. The papers lie flat one above the other.

Pigeonhole Filing

It is a special almirah or cupboard divided into number of small compartments. It is open from one side and the compartments are square holes called ‘pigeonholes. Each pigeonhole bears a letter of the alphabet. When letters are received, they are sorted according to the alphabet or subject wise.

Box Filing

Box file, as the name suggests, is made in the shape of boxes. Quite often papers are first put into folders and then they are placed in box file. It helps to preserve papers better as they are safe and gather less dirt. For classification purposes, papers relating to different subjects can be folded. This method is useful for travelling agents and where correspondence is stored temporarily.

Guard Book Filing

Under this method, the paper or vouchers are pasted in bound book date-wise. This method is often used for recording minutes and preserving receipts and vouchers. It avoids the possibility of loss or misplacement of any paper.

Arch Lever Filing

This system uses strong cardboard folders containing strong metal arches. These arches can be operated by a lever. When a paper is to be filed, it is punched with two holes with punching machine. The lever is then moved upward which opens up the metal arches or springs. After paper is inserted through the holes the lever is pressed down to close the spring. The paper in the file lie flat one upon the other.

Modern Methods of Filing

In addition to the traditional methods of filing as mentioned above, you will find some modern methods of filing which are very much popular now a days in both big and small organisations.

Horizontal Filing

In this system papers are kept in file covers or folders one upon the other in horizontal position. The papers are kept in chronological order inside cardboard file covers. The papers are held together by metal hinges or levers. The files are then kept in cupboards in a horizontal position one above the other. When any paper is required, the relevant file is taken out and after use it is put back in the same position.

Vertical Filing

This is the most modern method of filing. In this method papers are placed in files and kept in an upright, standing position. The folders are stored in specially designed cabinets. The front side of the folder is slightly shorter. The extended part of the back is used to indicate the code number of the file. The drawers of the steel cabinet are deep enough to hold the folders in vertical position. In order to divide the drawer into convenient sections guide cards are placed at appropriate places. Under this method, a separate folder is provided for each customer or subject. The folders may be arranged alphabetically, numerically, geographically or subject-- wise. This system has become very popular in large offices and big business houses.


  • Index is something that ‘points out’ or ‘indicates’. So, ‘indexing’ is a method of providing indicators for a body of data or collection of records. For example, the list of contents of a book is an index which assists the reader to locate pages on which various topics have been discussed.

  • Indexing is an important aid to filing. It is a process of determining the name, subject or other captions under which the documents are filed. Index is a guide to records. The main purpose of an index is to facilitate the location of required files and papers. Index helps the staffs to find out whether a particular file exists for a party or subject, and its place in the container. It also facilitates cross-referencing. Where records are classified in numerical order or subject wise an index is necessary.

  • The purposes served by indexing are as follows:

Purposes of Indexing

Purposes of Indexing

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