Workshops: Workshop Handouts

Files Management Sample Filing Rules

Town of Salina Active Records: Standardized File Classification System

The Uniform Filing System works best when standards are maintained in every Town Department. The following suggestions are provided to assist in maintaining these standards.

Folder Arrangement:

Arrange folders starting from the front of the drawer in the exact sequence of the Master File Plan outline. Prepare a minimum number of folders. Add more folders only as records accumulate and more folders are needed.

Folder Additions:

Use the new file folder form when adding new files into the drawer and database. (See attached)

Unnecessary Categories:

Use only the file codes established on the Master File Plan

    • ADM-Administration
    • CRT-Courts
    • FIC-Fiscal
    • LAN-Land Use
    • PUB-Public Services

Folder Capacity:

Use the scoring on the folder to enlarge its capacity if necessary. When more than one folder is required, use the same folder heading but number the folder (such as 1 of 2, etc.).

Drawer Capacity:

Allow approximately four inches of empty working space in each drawer. Close attention to retention schedules, sending inactive files to the Inactive Storage Areas, and consistent periodic purging should alleviate the need to purchase additional file cabinets and save departments money.

Folder Labels:

The label should show the full file code, heading, series title, beginning/ending dates, and drawer location.

The following are guidelines to help maintain uniformity of file labels:

  1. Use a computer generated file code label. This label is a white AVERY label (8160), size is 1" x 2 5/8 and landscaped. The computer font is arial 75 pt. and centered.
  2. Use a computer generated File Folder Label (Avery 6466). Place the heading on the first line in arial font, bold 10pt. The file series title should be placed under the heading in arial font 8pt. Begin typing two spaces from the left edge and one space from the top of the label. Ex. HIGHWAY Equipment Inventory
  3. Use a computer generated File Folder Year Code and drawer Location Number. This label is a white AVERY label (8160), size 1" x 2 5/8 and landscaped. The font is Arial 25 pts. and centered. Ex. 97/98 Ex. 5
  4. Omit unnecessary punctuation.
  5. Abbreviate to conserve space.
  6. For subject files, the series title should be consistent with similar files. The main subject should be placed on the file label first, followed by a description, a location, or an address. Ex. Zone Change, 103-105 Windham Ave
  7. For case files, the series title should be the last name, first name, and date of birth. Ex. Smith, John 6/22/62
  8. For the project files, the series title should be the tax map number followed by the location. Ex. 017-02-12.0 112 Green Acres Drive

Drawer Labels:

The outside drawer label should show the year(s) of coverage (if applicable) and the file code of the first and last folder placed in the drawer.

Classifying Documents:

This is the process of deciding where a document should be filed within the system. That is, choosing the correct file classification and file code for such.

Scan the document to determine its major subject.

  1. Look for key words. If the subject can not be easily located, consider why the record was created. Refer to previous records on file to be sure of the file code selection.
  2. Read the contents. The subject line of the correspondence may be misleading.
  3. If all else fails, ask the author or somebody familiar with the files for more information.
  4. Be consistent.
  5. Write the file code in the upper right hand corner of the file copy. This coding does not decrease the value of a document. If you wish, enter the code on the back of the document.

Filing Hints:

Set standards that work for your office.

Here are some suggestions:

  • After the document has been properly marked with the filing code, file it.
  • Group like documents to be filed together to eliminate going from file drawer to file drawer.
  • File records with the most current documents in front.
  • The top of the documents should all lay in the same direction in the drawer as the reader faces them.
  • Avoid paper clips, clamps, etc.
  • Don't keep duplicate copies.


The proper tools and standards will make your system work and help you to locate documents as quickly as possible.

Always make it a practice to:

  • Obtain sufficient information to identify the document, such as the subject name, agency, and date.
  • Be familiar with the codes. It will augment the retrieval process and allow you to go directly to the file.
  • When removing a folder always place the appropriate "File Out" card to make re-filing much easier and to track files.
  • Always use the Active Records Master File Plan for proper file codes.
  • If a current document cannot be located it may be among the yet to be filed documents.

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