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Chapter: 11th Office Management and Secretaryship : Chapter 5 : Filing and Indexing

Classification of Files

1. Alphabetical Classification 2. Numerical Classification 3. Geographical Classification 4. Subject Classification and 5. Chronological Classification.

Classification of Files:


There are five methods of classification. They are:


1.           Alphabetical Classification

2.           Numerical Classification

3.           Geographical Classification

4.           Subject Classification and

5.           Chronological Classification.


1. Alphabetical Classification:


Alphabetical classification is based on the occurrence of the letters in the alphabet as it is done for the dictionary.

Telephone directory is another example. If several names occur having the first letter, the arrangement takes into account the subsequent letters also, for example:


A, AB, AC ----------- etc

B, Bb, BC ------------- etc.


Under the alphabetical classification, the filing of papers and documents is either by the names of the correspondents or the subjects. In a large office, it would be proper if 26 letters of the English alphabet are divided into small equal parts considering the letters which are bound to have more names. This method of classification can be used in correspondence filing, contracts, orders and staff records.


2. Numerical Classification


In this method of classification, each folder or record is given a number, and the files are placed in strict numerical order. For example Mr. Gnanasekar Ltd, may be assigned No 25. If they deal in a number of lines, each line may be classified with a number beginning with 25, for example, 25.1, 25.2, 25.3, etc.,


The system of numerical classification is generally recommended for filing of orders, sales, invoices, contracts, (where numbered) and committee minutes.


3. Geographical Classification


As the name implies, this classification is based on the geographical origin of a document or paper. This system is combined with one of the two systems already discussed. The classification can be town-wise, district-wise, state wise, country-wise and continent-wise.


The steps in geographical classification are outlined as follows:


(i). First of all geographical limits are set and areas are defined which will make one unit, for example, in export-import trade


(ii). Next step will be to arrange these countries in their alphabetical order, for example, Algeria, Bolivia, Canada, France, Great Britain, USA and USSR, etc.,


(iii). Within each sub-division classification of different parties may be arranged alphabetically or numerically. Such method of classification is very useful for customers’ orders in a given area and for filing of correspondence according to town.


4. Subject Classification:


It is a method of classification in which all documents relating to a subject are brought together in one file, even though they may have come from different sources and from many different people. Following steps are taken to install subject classification

1. Defining Subject

2. Sub-dividing subjects into smaller fractions

3. Assigning numbers or arranging subjects in alphabetical order, including sub-subjects, and

4. Miscellaneous folders are made for subjects which have not been classified.



Main Subjects Classified:





Sub-division of classified subjects:

Purchases -------------- Scooter Parts.

Purchases ------------- Tractor parts.

Purchases -------------- Motor Parts


5. Chronological Classification


Under this method various records are identified and arranged in strict date order and sometimes even according to the time of the day. It is a useful method for filing invoices and other vouchers associated with accounts.


This system may be useful if used along with some other system. The records may be arranged alphabetically first and then can be arranged date-wise within each folder. So this system cannot be used independently.

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