Record Administration

Record Administration


Records administration involves the management of documents and similar corresponding which have been filed, indexed and records kept in various manilla folders. In this chapter, filing indexing and record keeping are
dealt with Every firm/establishment receives and dispatches a great deal of correspondence daily. These letters, circulars, information bulletins and reports must be put away where they can be found when required for reference
purpose. make the “in Tray” tidier; to look busy when the boss is around; to be able  to refer to these papers at a later date; and because they haven’t the courage to throw some.

As we all know, the files of an organisation are its memory, and any malfunction of this memory will severely affect the overall efficiency of the organisation. The test of a good filing system is the time taken to  retrieve any
nominated document the state of affairs which prevails in a large number of companies is that untrained school leavers who lack the ability to acquire secretary skills, are retraited for filing duties. Unless there is a well trained
supervisor, operating a sensible system with the right kind of equipment, chaos and confusion may prevail. Mangers, with their thoughts concentrated on more exoteric  topic, may be tempted to leave things to the good sense of a trusted supervisor, but periodic reviens of filing systems are essentiał if they are to cope effectively
with changes or growth in the company.


Filing may be defined as the storing of letters and documents in a systematic way so that they may be retrieved at a later date for reference  purposes. Filing may also be described as the process of arranging and storing
records so that they can be located when required. A system might achieve this  objective and
Set be too expensive, complicated and full of dead material and thus unsuitable in many ways.


The purpose of filing is to place documents, letters, etc, where they may be found with the minimum of trouble and delay at a future date  Specifically, to look busy when the boss is around to be able to refer to these papers at a later date and because they haven’t the courage to throw some papers where they belong in the waste paper basket.


A good filing system should have the following characteristics:
1. Simplicity in operation. The system shonld be easy to follow and simple to operate, every by a non-specialist member of staff.

2. Security: The system should be as secure as is required by the matter concerned

3. Compactness with comprehensive: Clearly it is not easy to reconcile the two opposite requirements. Generally speaking, we need files to be comprehensive about the matter they are concerned with but we need a  compact
system to enable files to be stored conveniently and with easy access. A clear policy of document retention will enable compactness to be more easily secured overcome this difficulty. Similarly, a ‘follow-up’ system will chase up
kept for longer than necessary and reduce the numbers of files missing from the filing system. Should they be required these files will then be  available

4. Adaptability: It must be sufficiently elastic to cope with extension of  the business

5. Economical in operation: Although it is unwise to grudge the cost of  installing and operating an effective system, it ought to be economical as regards labour consumable equipment and overheads.

6. Accessibility: The records filed must be readily accessible, and particular convenience is required where they are to be written on.
7. Ample space: Ample space should be provided, not only for the general filing system but also for the storage of transfer binders.

8. Protection: Protection against dirt and dust should also be provided for

9. Elasticity: The system adopted must be elastic is its capacity so that  it can expand or contract with the needs of time.

10. Cross-reference: This must be considered, so that a document can be found under different headings especially in relation to correspondence that have similar titles.

11. Safety of the document: There ought to be protection against fire,  particularly in the case of important documents.

12. Location (or reference): Records should be located with the minimum delay possible (records are not always required immediately, and disproportionate expenditure may be involved to achieve this end).

13. Retention: Live material only must be kept for the requisite length of  time, dead materials must be capable of being discarded without too much disturbance

14. Out-guides: These must be placed to reveal when documents are withdrawn from a system and to whom they have been issued.

15. A systematic tracer and follow-up system: Senior staff may call for a  file at any time to deal with an emergency situation. If the file required is out  they may be in difficulty unless it can be traced. An out’ card tracer system
will files for special action.

16. An appropriate classification: There are a number of alternative method  of storing records. The most satisfactory system be selected. bearing in mind the requirements of the business. This sometimes leads to conflicting systems in some businesses, one department presetting records to classification, where the adoption of a conflict is mot likely where the  adoption be arranged geographically, for example, while another prefers a subject themselves to align their arrangements. As a matter of facts, the most  suitable of a centralised systemin forcing departments which have formerly pleased method of classification should be employed without too many miscellaneous files, too much bulk must be avoided.

17. Up-to-date: Records should always be filed up-to-date, although this depend on the staffing and on control.

18. Records: Records should be capable of being produced with the minimum The filing cabinets are closed at hand in the department. may delay possible


(a) Centralised filing system: Centralisation is a filing system resulting  to the physical concentration of all files and filing equipment in one central department. In small and/or medium-size organisation the centralised filing
system is sometimes adopted.


i. There is uniformity of filing

(ii) A specialized staff is employed for  filing activities

(iii) There is improvement in the supervision,

(iv) Elimination of duplication of materials and equipment.


(1) It is time-consuming

(ii) filing staff cannot have the department knowledge
which is so useful and helpful when filing departmentally

(iii) Filing in department is often used as a routine time filler.

(b) Departmental filing system: There are some occasions where some records which are of peculiar interest are kept in the department. Generally, it is to be noted that in some organisations, it is convenient for each department to
maintain its own set of files and the filing is undertaken either by the  secretary or by a filing clerk, depending on the volumn of work. The departmental filing system is used mostly in large business organisation.

Advantages of departmental filing system
I. the staff who does this work becomes intimately familiar with the job  involved.

ii. The filing cabinets are closed at hand in the department.

iii. As departmental filiag implies smaller unus, it is not secessary to meet and adhere rigidly lo such rules and regulations as would be necessary in large units

iv. Easy location of files

Disadvantages of departmental filing system:

i. All materials and equipment are duplicated as each department maintains each equipment

ii. Time is wasted in each department

(iii) Duplication of documents often occurs,


Although there is a wide variety of filing equipment available, basically  there are only four systems; that (horizontal), vertical, lateral and suspended.
(a) Flat (horizontal) Filing: This term is reserved for the storing of files horizontally (one on top of others as on a shelf, It will be appreciated  that this method is not convenient for the average filing, but is it suitable for certain papers, e.g maps or plans which are better stored flat on a shelf or in drawers,

Advantages of fat filing

(i) The method of filing is simple

ii There is probably less risk

Disadvantages of flat filing

i. Space is wasted
ii. There is lack of flexibility
iii. Reference is difficult

(b) Vertical Filing: This is the most popular method of filing in which the majority of filing systems which allow the files to be stored vertically  (one behind the other) as in a filing cabinet drawer.

Advantages of Vertical Filing
i. There is speed of location
ii. There is easy removal of document
(iii) There is room for flexibility
(iv) It is highly adaptable
v. There is economy of space saving.

Disadvantages of Vertical filing
(i) There is facility of removal of documents
(ii) The documents may be lost or mistaid

c. Lateral ling: This term is usually applied to files suspended tier upor (or Shelf upon shelf in a cabinet or cupboard. Sometimes called “floor-to-ceiling this method has the space-saving advantage that drawers do not have to be pulled out as in the diagram below.

d) Suspended filing: Here the files or papers are accommodated vertically in pocket folder suspended in the cabinet drawer. See example below:


There are six broad methods of classifying record: alphabetical, numerical.
geographical, chronological, subject matter and alpha-numerical filing,  although most filing systems use a combination of any two or more methods.

1 Alphabetical: The alphabetical method of classifying files is simple to understand as it is assumed that most clerks know how to spell-though it is surprising how many do not, therefore, little training is necessary. It
expands to accommodate additional files without any trouble: a new file may be inserted in its correct alphabetical position between two other files without difficulty. Filing letters, correspondence in alphabetical order.
the first letter of the surname (not Christian name) is the preliminary guide to the position of the file in the drawer. Using this method of classification as a guide, the filing clerk goes directly to the filing tray with the correct initial letter and searches it to find the file, which  will be in alphabetical order in the tray. This system is suitable for subject titles or names of customers, personnel etc.

2 Numerical: The numerical method of classifying files is also simple to understand and operate, since once again it may be assumed that even the most junior clerk knows how to count. The numerical system of filing has
an advantage in that there is a vast range of numbers that can be used. whereas there are only 26 letters in the alphabet. This method is suitable where there is some secrecy about the titles of the files or where the
subject itself is numerical e.g. numbers allocated by the Department of Trade to registered companies, or the registration numbers of a firm’s taxis or  service Vans, assigning account numbers to customers as used in the bank

3 Geographical: The geographical method filing is particularly suitable where distinction must be made between areas, towns, countries, and so on Sales departments may find it useful to file geographically since each
salesman will normally be allocated a territory (say, part of the country Estate agents may file geographically since they would find it necessary locate quickly and easily houses for sales in certain areas.

4 Chronological: Chronological, i.e filing in date order. This is more commonly used as a secondary classification where, for example, the primary classification is alphabetical.

(5) Subject-matter : Subject-matter lends itself to great use in most offices, as matter to be filed is often referred to and therefore best classified) under subjects. Examples are: Minutes of meetings, social Club, Pensions, Salaries, etc. subjects must of course be filed alphabetically and the  system therefore expands without any trouble. The difficulty lies in that it is sometimes hard to ascertain exactly what subject a letter refers to – it may deal mainly with one subject but also professional firms such as engineers, architects purchasing officers, and the like, where it is most convenient to file contract or type of materials bought.

6. Alpha-numerical : This system is a combination of the other two systems as in (1) and (2) above. Here files are entered in the major sections of the system in alphabetical order, but each letter section is then filed in  numerical order, with a guide card at the files in that section of the filing system.

The classification system chosen for any collection of papers is certainly most important because it can affect speed of reference, accuracy in  filing, and even transfers to reserve storage.

Abbreviations used in record administration: The following are some of the many abbreviations in common use in business offices in the administration and management and the retrieval of records earlier filed.

An index is a device for finding the position of records in a system quickly and easily. This means that an index is anything that “indicates” or  “points out,” and while modern indexes serve many other purposes, their prime function is  to act as a guide to a body of data or to a collection of records. Modern  indexes give
not only individual selection, but also group classification and other  desired information, with the minimum of reference to the records themselves. This ensures economy in operation and speed of reference, which makes it a record aspect  worthy of great attention. While indexing means the arrangement of items in  alphabetic
or numerical order, and filing means the storage of documents in a  pre-determined order to facilitate retrieval, indexing is an essential part of any filing  system, Therefore, the first task in records management is to lay down a standard  procedure for indexing names. The basic rule of indexing is that names are divided into units, each unit being either a complete word or an initial. The names are then arranged in alphabetical order of first units, but if these are identical then the second units are considered, and so on.


Brealey (1976) notes that office index system usually contain limited amounts of information sequentially arranged in an easily accessible form  for quick reference. The ways in which this can be done are described below.

Purpose of indexing: The main purpose of indexing include:
i. It points or indicates where a document is
ii. It tells the direction of files/documents in circulation
iii. It aids in the retrieval of documents
iv. It acts as a guide to a body of data or to a collection of records
v. It makes it easy to refer to any particular record in a system
vi. It’fhoilitates the location of records

Types of indexing: There are five main types of index available: book index, card index, visible edge index, wheel (or drum) index, vowel index

1. Book/page index: It used to be a common practice to keep an index in form of a book in which the right hand edge of the pages was cut away display an alphabetic series of letters, which served as a guide when refer
to the under or entering names in the appropriate pages. Page indexess as are found in the back of most textbooks are useful and helpful when location the exact page number one is looking for. For example, in this book the in
not only shows records administration – with many sub-headings under entry — but also each of the individual entries in its own place in the  index

b. Card index: There are many index where each record contains much more: information than would possibly be accommodated on a single strip, or the are designed to have variable data added from time to time. Examples
such indexes are personal records, stock records.

c. Visible edge index: The visible edge system combines the speed of referees of strip indexing with the capacity of card indexing to correct the above  fault. The cards are housed in binders, trays, or drawers, stored horizontally with
the cards overlapping so that a strip of card is visible. This system is  wide used and pre-printed cards can be obtained for special office uses such stock records, Ledger, H.P. Payment records, personnel records etc.

d. Wheel (or drum) index: This is a card index system, but the cards are  stored in a metal cabinet, with a central spindle. Special cards are used which designed to clip on to the spindle so that when this is rotated by a wheel
protruding from the side of the cabinet, the cards come into view in turn It possible to write on a card without removing it, by inserting a small me platform below card.

e. Vowel indexes: These indexes are used to split up a group of names into columns, to make each names easier to find in the lists. Thus, a list of name beginning with “p’ would be divided up into columns according to the
vowel in the name.




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