Office Filing Systems: Vertical Vs. Lateral Filing

Vertical Vs. Lateral Filing

Office Filing Systems: Vertical Vs. Lateral Filing

If you are running a business, you will need a filing system. It is so that you can keep track of all the invoices, receipts, and other documents.

A filing system containing all your paperwork will help your office space stay organized. It will, in turn, help your operations run as smoothly as ever!

However, you can file all your paperwork in two ways: vertical and lateral. Each of them has its ways of accessing all files quickly and efficiently. You have to choose which one you would prefer to use. 

So, keep reading if you are still determining which office filing system would be better for you and your workspace. You will find details on the two systems and their pros and cons.

The Importance Of Filing

Whether your business is new or old, you are bound to have documents pile up. You will have papers covering every inch of your office without a filing system

, from contracts to invoices, receipts, and records.

You will need a filing system to avoid adding extra effort to your income tax time because the numbers do not add up.

Moreover, you might need the paperwork you have for years to come. Many industries need to keep their paperwork for 3-5 years at least. So, having a filing system will help you retrieve these files easily. 

Types of Office Filing Systems

If you are trying to decide if you want a vertical or a lateral office filing system, you are here at the right place. Here are the two types of filing systems:

What Are Vertical Filing Cabinets?: Key Features Of Vertical Filing Cabinets

A vertical filing system refers to the upright position of files in a filing cabinet. This method organizes files perpendicular to the identification tab at the top edge. Papers, in a vertical way, have to be added or retrieved from the top. 

Since this filing system uses drawers or filing systems that need to be pulled out, it is better to use vertical filing cabinets. These cabinets are great for those who want to save space in the office as they stand tall and are not wide. Moreover, they are easier to operate as they are at lower levels than other types of cabinets.

Here are some of the critical features of vertical filing cabinets:

Key Features Of Vertical Filing Cabinets

  • The files are organized vertically
  • The drawers are deep and pulled out
  • Documents are added and retrieved from the top
  • Easier to organize files alphabetically or numerically
  • Easier to operate at low levels
  • Stand tall rather than wide and save office space
  • Other papers are not disturbed when pulling out the documents needed
  • The cost of maintenance is low
  • Close to 1000 folders can be stored in a cabinet with four drawers
  • The drawers can be easily locked, and safety and security can be ensured
  • Cabinets are fireproof and protect files

Check out here more: Best Filing Cabinet Divider In 2022

What Are Lateral Filing Cabinets?: Key Features Of Lateral Filing Cabinets 

A lateral filing system refers to the Filing in which papers are added from the side of the file. The identification tab is at the side of the file, and documents need to be pulled out by grabbing the side edges.

They are also great for saving space since a typical two-meter-high filing cabinet can store six rows of Filing. It is almost double what a vertical cabinet can hold. They also do not require any drawers, making it easier for people to access the files.

Here are some of the key features of lateral filing cabinets:

Key Features Of Lateral Filing Cabinets

  • Files are stored and taken out through the side
  • They are labeled on the side
  • Can hold a large number of files
  • Easy to access and does not need drawers
  • Other papers are not disturbed when pulling out the documents needed
  • The cost of maintenance is low
  • It can store more files than the vertical cabinets
  • Files are not at risk of wear and tear
  • The folder is lighter, thus easy to retrieve from top shelves
  • Documents can lay flat in the file for easy photo-coping

Vertical Vs. Lateral Filing

When it comes down to questioning whether the vertical or the lateral filing system is more sufficient and helpful, it is essential to remember that they both have their pros and cons.

When it comes to organization and accessibility, vertical Filing takes the cake. The files are much easier to locate and organize when stored vertically. However, files can be subjected to wear and tear in this method.

If you want to prioritize speed and retrieval, lateral Filing should be your go-to. In this method, files remain in a semi-permanent location. And, since no drawers are involved, it is a one-handed action.

However, one disadvantage of this system is that it can be challenging to add new files as the files can be difficult to move along the rail.

You can weigh your pros and cons and choose the filing system that is best suited for you.

What Type Of Filing Is Right For Your Office?

Both the vertical and lateral methods are excellent for filing important documents. Hence, choosing one depends entirely on your office space and the number of files you need to store.

A vertical filing system might be the perfect match for you if you have a smaller business. On the other hand, if you are running a hospital with essential data and way too much of it, it is better to get a lateral filing system.

How to paint a Metal Filing Cabinet

If you have decided on which filing cabinet you would like to buy, you can go ahead and renovate it. You can match it to the decor of your room and customize it however you like.

If you are buying a metal filing cabinet, here is all the information your will need to paint it:

Preparing the Space for Painting

Before you paint a filing cabinet, you must prepare a space for it. After all, you do not want spray paint everywhere in the room, do you?

Although it is recommended that you use spray paint in a controlled environment where there is no direct sunlight, wind, or humidity, it is unlikely you have a dedicated space for it. It is why you must prepare the space you do have.

For this step, you can get an old piece of fabric and cover the entire floor with it. You can also cover your equipment, like your computer, desk, carpet, etc., to avoid getting paint on them. You can put your appliances in cardboard boxes or wrap them in newspapers.

Prepare the Filing Cabinet that needs to be painted

Next, you will need to prepare your filing cabinet. To do so, you will need sandpaper of 220 or 320 grit. Use it to file the surface of the cabinet to smoothen it out, and make sure that you remove the previous coat of paint as well. Otherwise, the new coat of paint will not stick to the surface.

You can also use tape to cover the handles and knobs, so they do not get covered in paint.

Use a Primer to Paint File Cabinets

Before painting, you must coat your metal cabinets with primer. It will help the paint o on better.

Try to use a spray-on primer that is also fast-drying. It will help you save time and shorten the process.

Use the Appropriate Paint for a metal filing cabinet

Not all kinds of paints stick well to metal cabinets. So, you will have to choose high-quality paint for metal cabinets, so they do not start chipping after a year or two.

It is still recommended to use spray paint as it paints the cabinet much faster. Moreover, it does not leave brush marks and can become opaque with just 2 to 3 coats. 

However, ensure you only spray a little on in a single coat, as it can create drip marks all over the surface.

Implement the Right Technique

For efficiency, try using the proper techniques when spray painting. Make sure you shake the can before you start, and paint using the on/off action. Also, let each coat dry before your put on the next coat.

How to Remove Drawers from Filing Cabinet

If you are planning on reorganizing your filing cabinet, and want to remove the drawers from the cabinet, here is how you can do it:

  1. Take everything out of the cabinet
  2. Start from the top and remove the topmost drawer first
  3. Pull out the drawer as far as you can
  4. Locate the latch or clip on both sides of the drawer
  5. Hold on to the drawer tightly and lift or push to release the drawer
  6. Gently remove the drawer
  7. Push the runners back into the filing cabinet

If you have filing cabinets with friction disconnect, pull the drawer out as far as possible, and it will disconnect itself. On the other hand, if you have cabinets with rollers, remove them by carefully swaying them from side to side.

Materials Used

Filing cabinets are mainly laminate, metal, wood, or plastic. If you are planning on purchasing one, you can choose from them.

Laminate or wood veneer

Laminate or wood veneer can give your office the aesthetic you desire without costing a ton of money.


Although wood can be expensive, it is excellent if you want to add beauty to your room. However, it is not very practical as it is not fire-resistant.


Metal filing cabinets are the most durable of all. They keep files from fire and water damage and are great for protection against theft.


Plastic cabinets can be significant if you want a lightweight and affordable option. However, these are not secure against theft, so we would not recommend them.

Different Types of File Cabinets for Your Workspace:

Among the filing cabinets, there are multiple types you can choose from. Here are a few you might want to consider:

1. Letter Size

Letter-size file cabinets can store, as the name suggests, letter-sized files. They are compact and great if you only need a little space.

2. Legal Size

Legal-size file cabinets can hold documents that are the size of legal documents.

3. Lateral File Cabinets

Lateral file cabinets are also great for saving space since a typical two-meter-high filing cabinet can store six rows of Filing. They can fit both letter and legal-sized hanging folders.

4. Vertical File Cabinets

Vertical file cabinets use drawers or filing systems that need to be pulled out. They can be used to file from front to back and are easy to navigate.

5. Mobile File Cabinets

Similar to vertical file cabinets, mobile file cabinets are great for small spaces, like beneath the desk.

6. Open Shelf Filing Cabinets

Open Shelf Filing Cabinets are easy to access and can be used in large office spaces.

7. Side Tab File Cabinets

Side tab file cabinets open from the sides, making file management and organization easy.

8. Flat Filing Cabinets

Although they have shallow drawers, side tab file cabinets are great for oddly sized items.

9. Storage Islands

They provide beautiful aesthetics along with a multipurpose storage space that you can use to store files.

10. Fireproof Filing Cabinet

If you have essential documents, fireproof filing cabinets can store them so they do not get damaged during emergencies.

You might want to know more about: How to Organize an Office Filing System


So, now that you know everything you need to know about filing systems have you decided which one you would prefer?

Depending on what you need, you can choose the vertical or lateral filing systems and buy cabinets accordingly. So go ahead and make your purchase today!

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