ContactCase Studies
Basket Contact us Call us 01823 663880 Mon-Fri: 8:30am-5:30pm
Skip to content

Office Filing Systems: Vertical Vs. Lateral Filing

General information December 28th 2009
Office Filing Systems: Vertical Vs. Lateral Filing

Organisation in the office can be tricky - especially if your team keeps growing but storage solutions stay the same. Luckily, there’s nothing that an upgrade in filing systems can’t fix!

Although it may seem like a simple task, establishing what time of filing system is best for your office can become pretty overwhelming. This guide will take you through two of the most popular types of filing systems, vertical and lateral filing, to make your decision as easy as possible.

The Importance Of Filing

Before we delve into vertical vs. lateral filing, let’s quickly discuss the importance of filing. If you’re sat wondering whether introducing a filing system into your office is worth it, the following information is for you.

Although much of the important information we keep as a business is kept online these days, some documents must remain as physical copies. To prevent important documents from getting lost or damaged, filing systems are used to keep them in one place. Filing systems help to keep important documents safe, organised, and easy to find.

What Are Vertical Filing Cabinets?

Vertical filing is the most common type of filing - most filing cabinets follow the vertical method. To put it simply, the files hang vertically with the identification tab on the top edge. Papers are added or retrieved from the top.

As this type of filing is used in drawers or filing frames which pull out, it has the benefit to the user in being easier to operate at lower levels. This type of filing system also means that you can save space in the office, as the cabinet stands tall rather than wide.

Office Filing Systems: Vertical Vs. Lateral Filing image 1

Key Features Of Vertical Filing Cabinets

  • Files hang vertically

  • The draws are often deep and pull-out

  • Files are labelled with tabs at the top edge

  • Documents are added and retrieved from the top

  • Easy to operate at lower levels

  • Easy to organise alphabetically

  • Saves office space by standing tall (rather than wide)

What Are Lateral Filing Cabinets?

Lateral filing is when papers are added from the side of the file and the identification tab is on the side of the file. To pull the document out, you grab the sides edges.

The main benefit of this type of filing system is that it is more space efficient. A typical two metre high filing cupboard can house 6 rows of filing, double that of suspended filing. Many people also find that lateral filing cabinets are easier to access, as they don’t always require drawers.

Office Filing Systems: Vertical Vs. Lateral Filing image 2

Key Features Of Lateral Filing Cabinets

  • Files sit on their side

  • Files are labelled on their side

  • Space efficient (you can store a larger amount of files)

  • Easier to access due to not needing drawers

Vertical Vs. Lateral Filing

When examining speed of filing and retrieval, it’s clear to see that the lateral filing system is better. Files tend to remain in a semi permanent location and therefore in the memory. Again, as there is no drawer filing, retrieval is a quick single handed action. However, adding in new files can be an obstacle as the file can sometimes be difficult to move along the rail. TUB or coat hanger file can alleviate this. Although lateral filing wins in terms of speed, vertical filing takes the lead in terms of organisation and accessibility.

What Type Of Filing Is Right For Your Office?

At the end of the day, both types of filing techniques are excellent for storing important documents. The type of filing cabinet you choose will entirely depend on the space in your office and the amount of files you need to keep safe. For example, doctors and hospitals may prefer to use lateral filing systems due to how easy it is to store large volumes of documents. Smaller businesses, on the other hand, may benefit more greatly from vertical filing systems. They don’t have to be an eyesore either - we have many attractive wooden filing cabinets available that’ll be sure to blend in with your office furnishings.

Organisation Doesn’t Need To Be Stressful

We hope that this guide has helped you to establish the differences between vertical and lateral filing systems. Both provide excellent organisation solutions without any added stress! Whether you choose to use both types of filing cabinets or feel confident with choosing one type, your office is about to get a whole lot more efficient.

Start exploring our office and contract furniture collection today

Office Reality is a resource for those who look to source and buy office furniture, contract furniture, healthcare furniture and equipment

Shop now