Naming and Labeling Files

For paper files, identification and labeling allows an office to maintain physical control over current files as well as manage growth of new files.  Labeling serves as a visual aid by identifying individual record series and by identifying folders within each series.

For electronic files, identification and labeling allows an office to maintain intellectual control over current files as well as to manage growth of new files.  Labeling serves as an access tool which allows individual documents to be retrieved in an efficient manner.

When working with paper files three levels of file identification and labeling help simplify and facilitate filing and retrieval:

  • drawer or shelf labels
  •  file guide labels (guide cards)
  •  file folder labels 

Drawer or shelf labels 

Labels should be typed in uppercase and include:

  • primary classification
  • secondary classification (record series)
  • dates

File guide labels/Tabs

File guides serve as "signposts" to lead the searcher to specific portions of the file. Guides may be used within a drawer to highlight a primary classification, to identify a record series, to highlight a specific year, or may be used within a record series to identify portions of the file as required.
Type labels in uppercase and show:

  • primary classification (as appropriate)
  • secondary classification (record series) 

File folder labels

File folder labels should include:

  • file code (if used) or full record series title
  • folder title
  • date(s), usually inclusive dates, of the file contents 

Electronic files

Electronic files follow many of the same file identification and labeling guidelines as paper files. Records are organized by directories which act as the primary classification. Each directory contains folders which act as record series.  Finally, each folder contains individual documents whose names should represent their subject matter.

 

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