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How to File Alphabetically

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Though some companies may create numeric filing systems to keep things organized within the office, when it comes to filing, many organizations still rely on alphabetical order. Filing alphabetically is as simple as knowing your ABCs, though it can still be a big job if you have hundreds or thousands of items to file. Having a step-by-step method can speed up the filing process and allow you to effectively and efficiently file alphabetically.

Check each folder that you want to file to make sure that it is properly labeled before you begin filing. If you find incorrect labels, make a new one for each incorrectly labeled folder and replace the old label.

Choose the markers by which you plan to arrange the alphabetical files. When working with names, files are generally filed alphabetically by last name and then by first name if two people share the same last name. If filing folders or paperwork dealing with landmarks or buildings in multiple states, you may choose to file by the state first and then by the name of the building. Whatever markers you choose, keep the file markers consistent for every file.

Divide the files into piles by the first letter of the first marker that you chose, such as last name or state. Create separate piles for each letter of the alphabet and keep the piles in alphabetic order to make the process easier when you finally start filing.

Alphabetize each of the piles you created. Once you have all of the last names or states that begin with “A” in a pile, for instance, sort those files into alphabetic order, such as Alabama, Alaska, Arizona or Adams, Allen, Arnett.

Sort the files in the pile again if you have multiple files with the same first marker. If you have five people with the last name Adams, for example, you would then sort the Adams folders by first name, such as “Adams, Anthony,” “Adams, Bonnie,” “Adams, Chad,” “Adams, Derek” and “Adams, Emily.” Continue this pattern of sorting throughout the pile.

Place the first pile of folders, once you have them sorted into alphabetical order, in the file cabinet or box in which you want to store the files. Once you have the first “A” pile of folders filed, repeat the process of sorting the files for each letter of the alphabet into alphabetical order, beginning with the “B” pile. Place the sorted “B” files directly behind the “A” files in the cabinet or box, and continue through the alphabet until all the folders or documents have been filed.


Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.

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