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How to File Names in Alphabetical Order Correctly When Doing Your Filing

Updated on December 5, 2017

Filing correctly in any environment is important, whether it be financial papers at home or medical records in a hospital. If things are not filed correctly, then things get lost, meaning loss of income or in the worst-case scenario a possible loss of life.

For many the first time they encounter filing is when they leave school and start their first job. This can be very daunting for them and frustrating for the employer and fellow employees who already know what they are doing, and therefore expect you to know too.


Most employment offices request that filing is done in alphabetical order, but for many this just means all A’s go together, and all B’s go together and so on through the alphabet. This can prove rather difficult when it comes to finding the documents you are looking for, especially if you are looking for medical notes in a doctors surgery where there may be anywhere up to 20,000 patients.

Therefore, if there are many names beginning with the same letter it is important that you file in exact alphabetical order, meaning that names beginning Aa go before Ab, for example Andrews would be filed before Ash and Whitby before Wood. If you have names that have the first two letters the same then you go to the third letter, for example Wade would go before Waite. This does look very straightforward and easy, but it is surprising how many ‘educated’ and ‘not so well educated’ people are incapable of doing this.

Filing in exact alphabetical order can become slightly more difficult when names beginning with Mc and Mac become involved. In most working environments names beginning with these letters are filed before all other names beginning with M, for example MacDonald would be filed in front of McCloughlin, and McCloughlin in turn would be filed in front of Matthews. However, if you are starting a new job it is always best to get clarification from the person who is in charge of filing if you are not sure what the protocol for filing is.

how to file

Filing in exact alphabetical order is literally that, so once you have established where the surname goes in the filing system you then have to work out where the document goes within that surname by using the persons first name, after all if there are some 50 Smiths' and Jones’ in your filing system it would take far too much time to find the correct file you are looking for if you did not file using first names as well.

For example, you are given three files, Amanda Smith, Abbie Smith and Adam Smith. The first thing you notice is that they must all be filed under the surname Smith. Ok, so you have found the Smiths, now you must find the Smiths with first names beginning with A (these would be at the beginning of the Smiths). Once you have found the Smiths with first names beginning with A you must determine the exact alphabetical order of the three files you have, in this case it would be Abbie, Adam and then Amanda.

By following these simple instructions you should have no problems when it comes to filing, or when you are asked to find a file.

Filing documents at home is obviously not quite the same as filing things at work, for a start you may not have the room for a 3-drawer filing cabinet, so where should you file everything? One of the easiest places to file information is in large A4 ring binders.

Label each ring binder individually so that you know exactly what is in each one, for example labelling up a folder ‘financial documents’ is not very clear and could mean anything from bank statements to endowment policies. You should mark each folder with the exact wording such as bank statements followed by the name of the bank and then do the same for credit cards and loans.

All car documents should all be kept together in one folder, however make sure that if you have more than one car you again label the folder with each cars details and make sure that all the documents to the individual cars are in there own little groups, after all it would be no good if the police requested a copy of an insurance certificate for one car and you produced one for another just because you could not be bothered to separate them out would it.

Filing can be a rather daunting process as well as tedious, but it is however a necessity of life. If done correctly, it is easy and things can always be found promptly without any bother, if done incorrectly things may never be found!

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    • nasus loops profile imageAUTHOR

      nasus loops 

      4 years ago from Fenland

      Hi Lisa

      Unfortunately like most things in life we have to practice at it to get better. However, I find that taking one thing at a time helpful, so in your case if you were filing Jacob Riley Smith you would start with finding the Smiths. Then find the J Smiths. Once you have the J Smiths you can slowly work your way through the individual letters, JA then JAC etc. Breaking things down generally makes things easier otherwise many things are to complicated for most of our normal brains to process.

    • profile image

      lisa 

      4 years ago

      my filing is bad. when it come's to alphabetical order. i know my alphabet's . but i just can't get it. how can I learn?

    • nasus loops profile imageAUTHOR

      nasus loops 

      5 years ago from Fenland

      Hi Dee

      Not straight forward. I would suggest that Miss Linda Wilson go behind Mrs L.A Wilson. I would file W. R Robinson under the R's and St Johns College under the J's. I hope this is useful.

    • profile image

      dee 

      5 years ago

      how would you rearrange the following:W.R Robinson and Sons Ltd ,St. John's College 3rd Avenue shoppe, Miss Linda Wilson , Mrs. L.A. Wilson

    • nasus loops profile imageAUTHOR

      nasus loops 

      7 years ago from Fenland

      When filing names you file using the surname first followed by the first and then second name for example Johnson, Kevin Alan.

    • profile image

      Kevin Alan Johnson 

      7 years ago

      What order would I write the first middle and surname of Kevin Alan Johnson on his folder?

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