Buyers Guides & Videos - Filing and Archive
What type of document filing do I need for my office?
Offices have many different types of documents that need to be filed or stored, and we’ve outlined the best filing solutions for all these documents below. We also recommend thinking about what type of documents you have, how you use them and who will see them, so you can find the right files for your needs. For example: are they hole punched; do you need to take documents with you when you leave work or school; and what space do you have available in your filing cabinets or storage cupboards?
Lever Arch Files
Lever arch files are an easy way to organise hole punched documents as they have an easy-to-open metal filing mechanism and come with spine labels to help categorise documents. Designed to last, these box files are usually supplied with compressor bars to help secure the sheets of paper.
Traditionally, lever arch files are made with sturdy cardboard and covered with paper to deliver a high quality and long-lasting file. These files are available in a range of different colours and many of them are also environmentally friendly as they use over 50% of recycled materials.
If you require increased durability then plastic and polypropylene lever arch files are a good option for filing your documents. They too are available in a large range of colours and they provide great protection to documents as well. Polypropylene files in particular use heavy-duty and wipe-clean material that is ideal for offices, educational institutions, public bodies and home offices.
A4 lever arch files are the most common size of files available but if you need larger files there’s also a small selection of A3 and foolscap lever arch files. Alternatively A5 lever arch files are great if you have smaller documents or if you’re looking to easily take your files out of the office.
Ring binders are great for use in the office or at school and university. They’re not as bulky as lever arch files, so are easier to carry but they can hold a decent amount of documents too. These binders are made exclusively for hole punched paper and come in two ring or four ring variations. Two ring binders are more common as paper is usually punched with only two holes but four ring binders offer extra stability and security when holding larger quantities of paper.
The binder’s rings are pulled apart when sheets of paper need to added or removed and there are two types of rings used for binders. O-ring binders are more common and use a circular ring shape with the mechanism attached to the spine of the binder. D-ring binders have a mechanism that is fitted to the back cover and use a squarer ring shape that enables documents to sit straight against the edge of the binder. The size of rings will determine the capacity of the binder and sizes start from 15mm and go up to 65mm with standard ring binders using a 25mm ring size.
A5, A3 and A4 ring binders are designed to be hard-wearing and are available in paper over board, polypropylene over board or PVC constructions. Ring binders come in multiple colours and many include spine labels while some have a cover pocket so you can easily personalise your binder.
Box files are a great filing solution for loose sheets of paper and for smaller items that need to filed alongside standard documents. These easy-to-use files have a flush fitting lid and are opened using a press button catch while their internal spring lock secures papers and documents. Box files come in a huge range of colours including the well-known cloudy effect paper finish, and contents can be easily identified using the label on the spine. Available in two sizes, A4 box files comfortably hold A4 sized documents whereas foolscap box files hold oversized documents or flat folders.
Standard box files are made from quality board and are designed for everyday office use. Premium box files use hard-wearing and durable polypropylene, are available in a range of depths from 30mm to 70mm and typically use a twin-clip locking system that helps prevent corner lift.
Magazine files provide a great open filing system on your desktop or within an office cupboard. Available in A4 or foolscap sizes, these files are primarily designed to hold magazines, brochures and literature as well as contracts and proposals. Thanks to their cutaway design, contents are accessible and files can be easily labelled for categorisation and identification purposes.
Cardboard magazine files come flat-packed but have a self-locking design that is easily assembled within seconds. Lightweight yet sturdy enough to hold most documents and magazines, these files come in a variety of different widths and are a good cost effective filing solution for most offices.
Plastic magazines files are available in a variety of widths, as well as a good range of colours and styles. Designed for everyday usage, these files are durable and can be easily moved around the office. Polystyrene magazine files are similar to plastic files but they offer strong resistance to high impact and are a good option if files are placed on a high shelf on a bookcase or in a cupboard.
Expanding files are ideal for filing documents like invoices, bills and bank statements in one place. Suitable for business and personal use, these files come in A4 and foolscap sizes and offer multiple compartments for files, yet take up minimum amounts of space due to their expanding nature.
There are four different styles of expanding file with compartments broken down alphabetically, numerically or with coloured or blank tabs for your own system. Alphabetical expanding files usually have 19 compartments and offer an easy way to file invoices and contracts by company name.
Numerical expanding files use numbered divisions and are available in a range of different sizes, from 13 compartments to 31 compartments. Files by 5 Star, Rexel, Pukka Pad and Snopake are made from cardboard or plastic and allow documents to be filed by a numerical value for future easy reference.
Blank and coloured expanding files allow you to label your own compartments and have between 3 compartments and 13 compartments. Blank expanding files usually have paper labels which you can write on, while coloured expanding files have coloured tabs for categorising documents.
Document wallets sit between plastic pockets and box files for filing and storing documents. They hold a larger quantity of documents than plastic pockets but take up less space than box files. They are also available in a wider range of sizes from A5 and A4 to DL and A3 wallets. These types of wallets don’t use a filing mechanism so sheets don’t have to be punched to be filed either.
Traditional document wallets are made from heavyweight manilla card and feature a flap opening so documents can be added and removed easily. Available in a good range of colours, these wallets are best used internally within offices and often feature space on the flap for labelling and identification.
For a more professional look, popper document wallets are typically made from polypropylene and have a flap opening that is secured by a popper so documents stay protected within the wallet. As a result these wallets are good for taking files out the office or for taking work home from school.
Manilla, board and plastic folders are another option for holding loose sheets of paper together and while similar to presentation folders, these folders are more suited for internal office use. The folder styles available include square cut, spring file, cut flush, cut back and elasticated and they come in A4 or foolscap sizes. These folders typically only take unpunched sheets of paper except the spring file folders which are designed to hold punched sheets of paper with their flat bar mechanism.
Square cut and spring file folders are basic in design but open flat out so are useful for easily finding and examining documents. Both cut flush and cut back folders are open on both sides to give quick access to documents but with cut flush folders there is no overlap between the two sides of the folder while cut back folders have one side that is cut back so documents can be searched without having to remove them from the folder. Elasticated folders also open flat out but have elastic straps across their front to securely hold papers and documents while on the move.
Folders are available in different materials with square cut and spring file folders usually made from manilla or card while cut flush and cut back folders are made from polypropylene. Manilla and card is hard-wearing and available in a range of colours but plastic folders offer protection to documents from spills, dirt and moisture. Elasticated folders are available in both manilla and plastic versions.
Plastic pockets are used to hold loose sheets of paper and protect them from damage. Perfect for use in lever arch files or ring binders, A4 plastic pockets generally open at the top and are available in multi punched, pocket or cut flush styles. Multi punched pockets usually include a reinforced strip for added strength when the pocket is inserted into a folder or binder. Cut flush pockets open at the side but don’t have punched holes so are best used as separate folders for documents.
Clear plastic pockets are common but a variety of different colours are available and most pockets are suitable for use in presentations or for holding contracts, quotations and proposals.
Which folders are best for presenting documents?
Presentation folders, also known as report covers, allow you to display your work in a stylish and professional manner. These folders generally have a clear plastic cover, are made from either PVC or polypropylene and come in a range of different sheet capacities, filing systems, colours and styles.
Capacities range from 10 sheets to 300 sheets per folder with the lower capacity folders suitable for holding proposals, quotations, essays or even CVs if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd. For sales materials or presentations, folders that can hold 30 sheets or 60 sheets would be more suitable and for larger reports there are folders that have a 250 or 300 sheet capacity.
The way documents are secured within a presentation folder varies from clips for unpunched sheets to two-hole flat bars for punched sheets. Durable Duraquick and Rexel Colour Clip folders use slide-on clips at the side of the folder to secure documents. These types of clips are quick and simple to use and don’t require sheets to be hole punched but won’t be able to hold large quantities of paper.
In comparison, large capacity folders from Durable and Rexel generally use fold down metal clips or a flat metal bar for use with hole punched paper or punched pockets. Budget folders from 5 Star, Leitz and Esselte also tend to use this type of filing mechanism so sheets stay secure.
What's the best way to archive files and documents?
Documents like invoices, contracts and employee details often need to be kept for longer periods of time and as companies grow so too does the amount of documents needing to be archived. There’s a good range of options available to businesses that are looking to keep these documents protected without them taking up too much space and we’ve listed the best filing solutions below:
Archive boxes are corrugated board storage boxes and are a cost effective solution for the long-term storage of files and documents. Strong and reliable, these boxes have a reinforced construction for maximum stacking strength and include two carry handles for easy transportation. Archive boxes are designed to hold either A4 or foolscap files or folders and include a lid to help protect the files inside.
Fellowes are the biggest manufacturer of archive boxes with their Bankers Box range and they offer boxes with different dimensions to fit standard and non-standard files and folders. The Euroffice Essentials range presents a good value storage box that use 100% recycled material and is supplied flat-packed with easy-to-assemble instructions on the side of the box. If you’re moving boxes around the office regularly then Leitz boxes are a good option to consider as they include metal handles.
Plastic Storage Boxes
For storing or archiving documents, items or even computer equipment, plastic storage boxes are strong, durable and designed to be long-lasting. Most boxes are stackable and include handles for easy transportation so are perfect for both general storage and when moving offices or homes.
Plastic storage box and lid sets are available but boxes and box lids are also sold separately so you can mix and match items as and when they’re required. Clear, black or blue boxes are available in a huge range of sizes with Really Useful and Strata being the main suppliers of boxes at Euroffice.
Transfer boxes are a cross between box files and archive boxes so can be used for general filing or for storing files that are less frequently needed. They’re usually constructed from heavyweight board and are available in a range of heights and depths for A4, foolscap and legal documents. Fellowes and 5 Star offer boxes with hinged lids, tab lids or dust flaps that help protect documents and the majority of transfer boxes have spine labels so you can quickly and easily identify their contents.
How do I label my files and folders?
Correctly labelling the contents within your files, folders or wallets makes it easier to organise and find documents. Filing solutions usually include space to label the contents within each file and many have pre-printed layouts for this purpose. For handwriting labels on manilla or board files it’s best to use a black or blue marker pen so text can be easily read.
Alternatively, sheets of adhesive filing labels can be bought for labelling files and folders. One of the benefits of using separate labels is that you can print out labels using your printer. Another benefit is that you can update your existing labels by simply sticking a new label over the top. Filing labels are best for plastic folders and wallets as they don’t have pre-printed layouts.
For our full guide on filing labels and labelling in general please click here.
What filing accessories do I need?
To help organise your files there’s a selection of filing accessories available including page dividers, labels and filing units. Page dividers are used predominately within lever arch files and ring binders as they come with holes that fit their metal filing mechanisms. They come in bright colours to help differentiate between sections and are available as alphabetical, numerical or blank dividers. Other accessories for lever arch files include storage units for up to six files and replacement spine labels.
Filing strips, clips and corners are also available to help protect paper in files or folders, and adhesive filing labels can be used across most filing solutions for organisation and identification purposes.