Although many of the files we currently create may be electronic, we will always have to cope with paper files. This section includes basic information regarding the maintenance of active paper files.

Always analyze and screen material immediately upon receipt. Establish what not to file.  

Processing records for filing

  • check to see that the material is complete
  • analyze the item for inclusion in the appropriate primary classification
  • analyze the item for inclusion in the appropriate record series
  • analyze the item for inclusion in the appropriate folder
  • file the item in the front of folder
  • if a folder does not exist, create a label for a new folder
  • integrate the folder into the system 

Returning records to the file

  • check to see that the material is complete
  • enter the date of return on the outcard
  • remove the outcard and replace it with the folder 

Charge-out rules: outcards 

  • users check out folders, never individual documents
  • outcards are used to monitor the removal of folders from the file 

Information on the outcard should include:

  • file folder title
  • borrower name
  • date charged out
  • date returned 

For convenience keep several outcards in the front of each file drawer or on top of each file cabinet . For greater convenience, outcards can be personalized for individual users. Outcards personalized for an individual need only contain file folder title, date charged out, and date returned.


When to cross-reference: 

  • when the subject matter is broad and contains several different filing features, or is closely related to two or more subjects when the document affects or is functionally connected to two or more departments
  • when a document is moved from one location to another 

Cross-referencing forms 

A cross-referencing form is the recommended means of documenting the existence of related information located in a different section of the filing system. Cross-referencing forms are most useful when they are developed to meet the needs of individual offices.The most simple cross-referencing forms follow the example of outcards and list the location of all material related to each record series on one sheet of paper or card which is filed in front of the record series. It is more effective to use one cross-referencing form per record series than to create a separate cross-referencing form per item or folder. There is little difference between filing a duplicate copy of a document and creating a form for each cross-referenced item. Both increase the need for filing space, supplies, and equipment. Both increase the time spent retrieving or re-filing records.