Filing Methods: Alphabetical, Numerical, geographical, chronological and subject wise

Bases of classification of files

Classification of files refers to the process of selecting heading under which documents are grouped or classified on the basis of common characteristics. The bases of classification are as follows:

1. Alphabetical classification

The filing method under which files and folders are arranged in order of alphabets of the names of person or institution concerned with such file is alphabetical classification. It is the most popular and common method of filing. In case name of more than one person starts with same letter then the second letter of name is taken into consideration. It is a flexible method. It is used in both small and large organization.


  • Simple and easy to understand
  • Doesn’t need a separate index
  • It is flexible


  • Time-consuming
  • Difficult to arrange files
  • Difficult to locate in case of common names

2. Numerical classification

The filing method under which files and folders are arranged in order of number is called numerical classification. All files and folders are given separate numbers. It is an indirect method of classification of filing. In this filing alphabetical index is required. It includes name, address, phone number, subject and other information along with file number.


  • Suitable for large offices having a large number of files and folders
  • An accurate method of filing
  • It is flexible
  • A separate index can be easily developed using numbers.


  • It is expensive
  • It is time-consuming
  • Not suitable for small organization
  • It is not easy to operate
  • Separate alphabetical index is required.

3. Subjective classification

In this filing method, records are classified according to their subject; letters and documents are classified and arranged in files and folders into subject or sub-subject wise. In this filing, subject must be arranged alphabetically. It is widely used in those cases where subject is more important than the name of the person or organization. All documents relating to same subject are filed together in one file.


  • Simple to operate
  • Flexible
  • Convenient
  • Easy to locate


  • Not applicable for filing miscellaneous subject
  • Time-consuming
  • Difficult to locate when subject matter is not properly understood

4. Geographic classification

In this method, files are grouped according to the geographical location of firm, organization or person. Under this method name of places are written in file and are arranged in drawer either in alphabetical or numerical order whichever is suitable for organization. It is used in multinational companies or those organizations whose business and branches are located din many places of the nation or the world.


  • Easy to understand and use
  • Can be arranged in alphabetical and numerical order
  • It used in those organizations whose business is engaged in correspondence with the businesses all over the globe or the nation.


  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for small scale organization
  • Time-consuming
  • No use of card or index

5. Chronological classification

In this method, files and folders of documents are arranged in an order of their date, day, and time. In an office, several letters and documents may be received and dispatched. They all are arranged according to time and date when they were received and dispatched


  • Simple to understand and easy to operate
  • Quickly located if their dates are known.
  • Less expensive


  • Not suitable for large offices
  • When clear dates are not mentioned then there can be difficulty.

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