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General Filing (A-Z), Straight line or left,center, right?

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  • General Filing (A-Z), Straight line or left,center, right?

    I love this filing system. I'm doing left, center, right with 1/3 cut manila folders from Staples. I'm noticing that many times that I can't see some file folder tabs, and that sometimes I'm looking in the wrong places. Today, I was at Staples and saw that they had manila file folders that were all on the left, all in the center, or all on the right (tabs). This got me wondering if straight line filing was better. It would make sense if your eye was always focused in the same place (for example, left side).

    It seems like with left, center, right filing that you always have those extra files that are not in the order, and mess things up. It would all be uniform if we all had the same tabs (left side).

    What do you prefer l,c, right? Or straight line filing?


  • #2
    I prefer left, center, and right. If I'm inserting a new folder, I can choose the position that's different than the one before or after the new folder.

    I'd think that having all on one side would hide more folders than the left, center, right method.


    • #3
      A suggestion posted on another thread in past: Each letter is assigned left, center, or right (e.g. A = left, B = center, C = right, D = left, E = center, etc.). This gives some organization and limits the folders to search. It seems to work well for me...and is more visually appealing.



      • #4
        General Filing (A-Z) - aligned left - photos

        Originally posted by BillyIdol View Post
        It would make sense if your eye was always focused in the same place (for example, left side).
        I agree but please judge for yourself from these photos:
        Last edited by pwhite; 10-26-2008, 02:35 PM. Reason: incorrect URL


        • #5
          Originally posted by BillyIdol View Post
          What do you prefer l,c, right? Or straight line filing?
          I just pick a new folder at random. It's faster and I still seem to be able to find the files just fine.

          - Don


          • #6
            I do straight-line filing down the right side; it's easy to thumb through file tabs that are all on one side. That's just my preference. However, I have colored lettered index tabs that are in left, center, and right positions.


            • #7
              straight line file alphabetical is the best way. (I prefer left)

              It is so easy to run your eye down one straight column of names.

              I've tried the other ways, not as good.

              Google "straight line filing"

              For years I tried doing taxonomies in the file cabinet. They don't work.


              • #8
                Left, Centre, Right Tab Convert!

                I initially preferred straight line filing; either all tabs aligned left or simply straight cut folders. A random mix of left, centre or right tabs always looked messy to me!

                However, due to finding a job lot of A4 plastic file folders with left, centre and right tabs, at a ridiculously discounted price, I had to have a rethink.

                I could have only used the left tabs and discarded the rest, but that meant it wouldn’t have been such a good discounted deal!

                Instead I searched these forums and found the following idea;
                A=Left, B=Centre, C=Right
                D=Left, E=Centre, F=Right
                G=Left, H=Centre, I=Right
                and so on…


                Works a treat for me, the tabs are staggered enough to so you can see the individual A, B, C groups etc – for instance once you’ve found the first D tab, you know where all the other D’s will be too!

                I’ve also created a custom label for printing to my Brother PT-18R labeller from the PC. The first initial in the label title is recreated in a large point size, white reversed out of a black square, with the label text itself along the top edge in a smaller size, black on white.

                The cool thing is that all the initial letters act as their own divider so it’s very easy to see where all the G, H, I, etc groups are!

                You wouldn’t think it would be possible to write this much about simple filing and folders, but it’s taken me a while and some trial and error to get to this point, but I’ve now got complete closure on the filing thing!! Its sorted!

                Hope this helps,


                Attached Files
                Last edited by AndyD; 10-30-2008, 11:29 AM. Reason: Typo!


                • #9
                  I just pull a random file,its quicker and easier for me.

                  For my tickler though I use 1/5 cut hanging files in a file holder on my desk. The months are all left aligned with the days using the other four tabs.



                  • #10
                    use all three tabs and tweak

                    I use all three tabs, usually at random, and only rarely do I find that I obscure one folder tab with another. I suppose the odds are 30% if you pick a new folder to add at random, but in fact it seems to be more like 10%. I do find that one will cover another, I might put this folder two steps out of order so that its tab is not covered. Or, if it is right or left handed, I might refold it so the tab is on the other side. If have a subject that I have separated into two or more folders and I want to be reminded that they are separate but related I will deliberately select folders whose tabs would line up in row. Thus I might have: College: applications; College: notes from meetings; Colleges: Art; Colleges: Canada; Colleges: Special Education; Colleges: New England. I know DA does not use this type of thing, but I like to know where to look. If it gets too big, with too many sub-headings, however, you will sef-defeat. You will struggle with where to put something and where to look for it. You also be less likely to cull your folder when you pluck it because you won;t be forced to look through each paper.

                    I also make it much easier to find things by using colored folders: green=anything with money that can be archived at end of year; light green heavier folder: money related but that folder gets kept open from one year to the next; red=anything about a person who is known to me, all these folders begin with a name, purple=personal self development, yellow=something we own, plain manilla=information. This isn't perfect, e.g., cars are owned but since they are money related and go on from year to year, they are in light green. I started the color coding about 6 years ago and have only used it for new folders or ones that I have had reason to consult, but it makes is so much easier to locate what you re looking for in a big system. I love my color coding system.

                    In one drawer, I have folders that all have long tabs. These accomodate long headings that reflect the chapter headings and related divisions from a major text in my field. When this book is revised, I can readily add a division. A photocopy of the table of context is kept handy in the front of this drawer, stapled to a folder with a long tab and outlined with black marker and I will note on the photocopy, by hand, when a topic is not where you would expect it and where to find it (the kind of thing you discover by using the index or by trial and error). This is fabulous for me and I highly recommend. it for people whose professions and interests can be organized around known rubrics . No need to re-invent categories or struggle with how to alphabetize. This works great with recipes, just file as if you were adding to Joy of Cooking, using one folder per chapter. If in doubt use Joy's index.


                    • #11
                      I spent four hours one Saturday about six months ago converting my files from random to straight-line. I think it does depend a lot on your personal preference, but I love looking at my files and seeing a straight line of tabs. It feels relaxing to me the same way a clean house or clear desk does. I couldn't find all left-side tabs, so I took a 1/3 cut package and turned all the right-side ones inside-out. I use leftover center-cut ones for two things: yearly financial files that will be archived at the end of the year (also makes it easy to file the statement every month) and project support materials/anytime I need to carry something in a file folder to keep it neat.