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Paper Records

General tips

  • Do not overstuff file folders—if a folder is getting full, start a new one.
  • Do not overstuff filing cabinets—it damages the records and makes retrieval difficult.
  • Label file folders clearly and meaningfully.
  • Always date folders.
  • Use dividing markers to label large sections of files within your filing cabinet.
  • Keep track of paper records using an office file plan.
  • Use differently coloured file folders for particular sections/functions – makes refiling quite easy.

Active storage

  • Use filing cabinets in close range for records that are used often.
  • Cabinets should be lockable and held in a secure area.
  • Avoid keeping records on open desktops overnight, especially in open office areas.

Semi-active storage

If you decide to keep semi-active paper records in a storage area, please ensure the following:

  • The area is secure and only accessed by authorized employees.
  • Records are kept in sturdy bankers boxes, not re-used photocopy paper boxes or other flimsy containers.
  • Boxes are kept on sturdy shelves, not piled on the ground.
  • Boxes are not stored on the top shelf under pipes that may leak.
  • Boxes are well labeled with their contents, date range, and date of disposition (destruction or archival transfer).
  • Box contents are recorded in an inventory kept in the office.
  • If boxes contain confidential records, you may not wish to list the contents on the outside of the box. In this case, ensure the box is numbered and easily linked to the inventory.

It is wise to group records according to your office’s file plan and/or by retention/disposition, to allow for easy management of the files into the future.

Electronic Records

Electronic records should also be kept organized and secure. Local computers and servers should be stored and backed up securely. See the Electronic Records section for more information. 

Last updated: June 11, 2013