Proper filing — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

Proper filing

Get PDF file

by on
in Admin Pro Forum

Question: I work for a real estate company that manages apartment buildings. Problem: Proper filing as it pertains to our building names. Each apartment building we manage has a name, i.e., The Residences at Morgan Falls.

When I put names in the database, should I be filing those apartments that have the word "The" in their name under "T"? Example: "The Residences ..." Is that to be filed under "T" or "R"?

When people are looking for the name in the database, some people look under "R" and assume it's not in the database, and some people look under "T" because they are including the word "The" with the name. Which is proper?

When we refer to some of these properties, we call them by name, i.e., The Residences, or The Estates, but I thought I remembered that, a long time ago, there were something called "Proper Filing Rules." That's when the word "the" was part of a name. It would be presented like so: "Residences at Morgan Falls (The)." It showed that the word "The" preceded "Residences" but it allowed the name to be filed under "R".

Help me, please. This is driving me nuts as what to do about filing our property names.

Thanks.  -- Anonymous


You should be filing without using "the". Proper way:
"Residences at Morgan Falls (The)." The word "The" precedes "Residences" but it allows the name to be filed under "R".
I hope this helps!

I agree - you should not be using "the" when determining where to place these files. As long as you're consistent, people will know how to follow your system. [Perhaps a quick e-mail or memo could let them know how your system is set up; that way, they'll know to ignore each "the."]

You are correct that you should file with "The" at the end of the building. If you are putting information into a Word or Excel spreadsheet, anyone looking for information can do a search. That way you will not have to enter the information twice once under The and the proper way. Good Luck!

Our company works with several home builders in a subdivision. So we also cross reference our projects by subdivision for example we would use Morgan Falls, The Residences at. That way, we would be able to find all projects for Morgan Falls.

I remember taking a full semester course in secretarial college called "Filing Procedures and File Management." It's not as simple as knowing your ABCs. As a matter of fact, your "The" problem is one of the traditional filing rules that is in a state of change. Anything with an "A" or "The" used to get filed under the second word ("R" for "Residence" rather than "T" for "The"). However, this has been undergoing a shift for about 20 years. As new companies choose stranger and more bizarre names (combining lower case and capital letters, putting punctuation in odd places), the rule has become more literal. Just look in the Yellow Pages, and you will find pages of businesses under "T" for "The." Also, did you know that if the name of the business starts with a number, you file it under the spelled out number? So a business name that starts with "1001" gets filed under "O" for "One Thousand One"? I recommend following the Yellow Pages rules on these kind of things and just be consistent all the way through. Good luck!

I used to work for a property management company, as well. Whether there is an official filing rule, or not, I personally don't know. The system that worked best for us was that we would file under "Residence" instead of "The". We also had several numerically named buildings such as, "5000 Fifth Ave." which we would file under "F" for five thousand. Perhaps you could start a new project of reorganizing the files & make the rest of the office aware of the new filing system via memo. This project may take some time, depending how many properties you have & your regular daily work load. However, in the long run, it will save you a lot of time & frustration helping managers locate documents.

I agree that it should be filed under "R" for Residence. You could put a cross-reference in under "T" for all those that start with "The" if you wanted to, but that would be unnecessary.

I looked up the rules in my Pittman Office Handbook and it suggest names are filed as written unless it is name after a person in which case the family name is considered first. It also says short words (an, and, of, by, on, the) are ignored for sequencing and put in parenthesis on the file label. Finally, as far as numerals go, files beginning with numerals should be in number order prior to the alphabetic files e.g. 2000 McKenzie Street (under “2” before A-Z). The only time they should be filed amongst the letters is if they are spelled out in the name e.g. Three Small Men with Big Hearts (under “T”).

There are more rules than these in the handbook, but to keep from typing a novel I have touched on those mentioned above. Hope that helps!

I have worked in numerous companies with terrible filing systems, and have helped revamp some of them. I found many of the same errors, and when in doubt, I followed what I was taught in school. Which is ignore "The". The biggest problem that I faced (which Karen brought up) was companies that were named after a person. Do you file by surname or by incorporated name? After much hemming and hawing, I decided (since I was the one in charge of the project) to file by incorporated name (i.e., John Smith Industries, Inc.). I simply retrained our department on how everthing was to be filed. It took awhile but everyone got the hang of it. One tip, make sure all computer and paper files follow the same pattern. It is so much easier to find something either way if there is only one way.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: