Records Filing Systems

A filing system is a planned method of classifying and arranging records for storage and retrieval. A disorganized system will incur needless costs in the form of duplication of effort and wasted time trying to respond to requests for information. A good filing system should be:

  • Simple and user friendly – Create something that will be easily followed by staff.
  • Transparent – It must make sense and meet the needs of your department.
  • Follows Record Retention – This allows you to maintain accurate records as well as not store unnecessary records.

Filing Methods

Paper Records

  • Determine whether you are going to use a Alphabetic or Alphanumeric. Whatever method you choose, it is essential that you have documented procedures so that you can maintain the integrity of your filing system even if staff members change.
  • Group all documents that are related to a particular employee, contract, subject matter together. (Make sure all records for John Doe are all in one folder).
  • Organize folders based on the retention period. (If documents always expire at the end of the fiscal year, then it would be best to group all of those files under a main folder for each fiscal year).


Your emails correspondences will typically fall into the categories of Administrative, General or Transitory.

  1. Administrative (1.1.007 – Record Series) is mainly for top-level staff who send out policy and procedural implementation directives.
  2. General (1.1.008 – Record Series) is mostly emails between you and your colleagues which documents the normal course of business activities.
  3. Transitory (1.1.057 – Record Series) is mainly information that are of temporary usefulness and are not essential to the fulfillment of any obligations of the university.
  • Delete any any emails that are non-records (personal emails, emails that you are cc’d on, unsolicited mail and spam)
  • Figure out which emails are the record copies (the sender copy is usually the record copy but in situation where you receive an email that requires you to take some kind of action or documents some action that you took, then your copy of the email is also a record copy).
  • Use the retention schedule to classify the messages based on the content.
  • Create folders based on the retention period for that particular content and then store the messages there. This will make it retention and disposition even easier.