Which of the following is not an advantage of using a numeric filing system?

Which of the following is not an advantage of using a numeric filing system?
Which of the following is not an advantage of using a numeric filing system?



Records management is the science of determining how files will be arranged, categorized, accessed and stored, and in what format. Proper filing practices ensure that the right information will be in the right order, at the right time, at the right place, to be retrieved for the lowest possible cost.

The Records Officer of an office is the "architect" of the filing system in use in that organizational unit. Establishing an efficient filing system involves planning the design of the system to ensure productive workflow. This includes deciding how files will be arranged, type of access, the classification system to be used, coding and indexing schemes, and selecting the proper equipment and supplies.

File Arrangement

All written records have one thing in common: If something is written down, then what is written is important enough either to be filed in a place where it can be retrieved, or a conscious decision to destroy it needs to be made. If there were no need to return to information, there would be no need to write it down. Both official records and grocery lists have life cycles, whether we file them in drawers or in our wallets.

The first step in creating a filing system is to develop a file plan. It specifies the logical order of documents or files and the arrangement or scheme by which documents may be identified, stored and retrieved. The plan consists of:

  • Selecting the file arrangement (e.g. alphabetical, numerical, alphanumeric, etc.)
  • Developing an index
  • Planning file system maintenance

The most common methods of arranging documents are alphabetical, numerical, or alpha-numeric. The file arrangement should be based on how the information will be retrieved.

Alphabetical Filing

These may be topical or classified arrangements. Topical filing arranges files in straight alphabetical order. For example, subject correspondence would be arranged from A-Z, based on the name of the subject. This method is also called the "dictionary" method because it is the method used in dictionaries.

Classified filing places related documents under a major sub-heading. For example, customer complaint correspondence may be filed under the general heading of customer relations. An alphabetical arrangement also is appropriate for filing records that are arranged by geographical locations, such as cities, towns or counties. This system is also called "encyclopedic" because records are arranged first by broad categories (for example, "grants"), followed by sub-headings ("2001"), followed by still other sub-headings ("records" or "security").

Advantages of Alphabetical Filing
  • An index to records may not be needed.
  • Can be effective, if everyone adheres to filing rules.
  • Permits browsing through files.
Disadvantages of Alphabetical Filing
  • More misfiling occurrences than in numerical systems. Misfiles occur frequently with alphabetical filing due to different interpretations of order. For example, the prefix "Mac" and "Mc" may be filed in various positions if users are not adhering to the same rules of alphabetical filing.
  • Name changes can cause problems with retrieval.
  • It becomes inefficient and cumbersome in large systems.
  • Unauthorized persons can easily find records.

Numerical Filing

A numerical arrangement places records in order from the lowest number to the highest. This method also often tells the searcher which files are the oldest (the lowest numbered files) and which are the newest (the higher numbered files). A numerical scheme is easier to comprehend than alphabetical filing and may have fewer misfiles. Numerical filing by file number, social security number, chronologically or by patient or case number is common. Records that have preprinted numbers on them such as checks, invoices, purchase orders, and vouchers also are suited for this filing arrangement.

Advantages of Numerical Filing
  • Users understand straight numerical sequences (1,2,3,4,5,6, etc.) quicker than some alphabetical schemes.
  • Filing expansion is easier, because new numbers may be assigned without disturbing the arrangement of existing folders.
  • Misfiles can be quickly identified because the number out of sequence is easily detected if color-coding is used.

Disadvantages of Numerical Filing

  • It is what is called an "indirect method" because if a requestor asks for a file, it is asked for by its name. If the system is numeric, then the researcher must first look at an index which cross-references the number with the name.
  • The file system is always growing in one direction at the end. When new files are created and old ones are retired, file personnel must continually shift the files backwards to make room for new files at the highest number end of the system.

Alpha-Numeric Filing

An alpha-numeric arrangement uses a combination of numeric digits and alphabet characters to create a flexible filing system. Subjects may be substituted with alphabetical or numerical codes. An index is needed to use the system effectively. For example, ADM-001 could be a code for Administrative files, Director's Correspondence. All records that relate to this subject would be filed under that particular code.

Advantages of Alpha-Numeric Filing
  • Codes eliminate the need for long titles.
  • File security is increased because a user must know, as in a purely numerical system, the meaning of codes before accessing files.
Disadvantages of Alpha-Numeric Filing
  • Users must first consult an index before accessing files.
  • Users must be trained, and, even then, one user may interpret where to file a document differently than another, leading to confusion and a breakdown of the filing order.
  • Misfiles are common and are difficult to detect.


Another aspect of creating a file plan is deciding how files will be accessed. The two methods of access are direct access and indirect access.

Direct Access

A direct access plan allows the user to access the file without first referring to an index. Direct access may be ideal for small offices that produce a low volume of records. (Example: If it is easier to find information by a person's name, the system would be alphabetical. One looks for the file directly by the name.)

Advantages of a Direct Access System
  • Eliminates the need for an index.
  • Allows users to browse through files.
  • Time associated with filing and records retrieval is reduced.
  • Users require little or no training to access the system.

Disadvantages of a Direct Access System

  • Filing for large systems becomes cumbersome.
  • Selecting terminology names may be difficult with subject files.
  • File captions may be longer than codes; filing is tedious.

Indirect Access

An indirect access system requires the use of an index or codes to locate a file, such as assigning a number to a file (e.g., case number, project numbers, patient numbers). An indirect access system generally is used for large or complex filing systems. It may require the use of automated equipment to locate the files, as well as knowledge of the coding system. (Example: If a person comes to look for his/her file, but the system is numeric, the clerk assisting the individual must first look up the person's name in order to find the number of their file.)

Advantages of an Indirect Access System
  • Codes are easier to note and refer to on a document or folder than word captions.
  • Sorting is easier.
  • Greater accuracy in filing and retrieving is achieved with the use of codes.
  • Security of the files is enhanced because users unfamiliar with the system will have difficulty accessing documents.

Disadvantages of an Indirect Access System

  • User access is dependent on the accuracy of the index.
  • Coding and indexing are time consuming.
  • Browsing is not feasible.


A classification is a grouping of records with common characteristics or which document similar functions. The point of having a classification system is to keep all like records together, which, in turn, expedites records retrieval and maintains file integrity.

Generally, if the volume of records exceeds two file cabinets and consists of multiple records series, then a files classification system should be considered. Classification systems sort records by major headings and subdivisions. The major heading name usually is decided by the major function or main purpose of the records; the subdivision would be a small component of the major function. For example:

      Major Heading:       Human Resources Department
            Sub-Heading:             Payroll Section
                  Tertiary Heading:                   Payroll Timesheets

This filing system is often called encyclopedic, because the arrangement is the same as that used in encyclopedias.

A dictionary classification system is straight alphabetic, and many records managers find it easier to use a dictionary rather than invent one. Of the two classification systems, the dictionary system is simpler to operate.

A classification system is usually considered when:

  • The current filing system produces excessive misfiles.
  • Various subjects are filed by the same name.
  • The method for filing documents varies from user to user.
  • The volume of records is so large that an index is necessary to locate a file quickly.
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Table of Contents

Created 2 September 2003
All or part of this handbook may be reproduced for non-commercial educational or training purposes.

Records Management and Preservation Board

What is numeric filing system?

Numeric filing systems arrange records by number. It is an indirect access system because an index to the files must be used to retrieve information. 2. Alphanumeric. Alphanumeric systems use a combination of subject and numbers.

What are some advantages of changing the filing system from an alphabetic system to a numeric system?

Advantages: Accuracy, unlimited expansion, and the opportunity for unlimited cross-referencing are among the advantages for numeric filing. Since numbers can be used to identify the name or subject when calling for correspondence, there is an element of confidentiality when using a numeric system.

When should a numeric filing system be used?

A numeric filing system1 is commonly used for purchase orders, checks, and other records that have a unique number assigned to each document. - A numeric filing system2 uses an index or file plan to associate concepts with specific numbers, which are then applied to the materials being filed.

What are some advantages of e filing quizlet?

Simultaneous access to filed court documents for all participants in the case, wherever located..
Reduced delay from lost/misplaced paper files and reduction of storing paper case files..
Increased security of court records..
Improved legal processes as all parties take advantage of easier sharing of documents..