The 12 Rules of Filing (Information organization & management)
(Based on Established Rules of ARMA)

Alphabetic Indexing Rules and Procedures

 Learning Objectives:

  • Define purpose of filing, and the importance of following filing rules.

  • Identify terms such as unit, indexing, alphabetizing, and case

  • Index and alphabetize data according to established ARMA rules

Every business must develop and maintain an organized way to store written communication, such as reports, letters, memorandums, order forms, invoices, and other such information so that it is available for efficient retrieval or reference. This method of storing records is called filing. While there are a number of different methods for storing or filing information – alphabetic, subject, numeric, and geographic - the most common method is the alphabetic filing system.

Procedures for storing records alphabetically will vary among organizations and even among departments within an organization. Therefore, the filing procedures to be used in any one office needs to be determined, recorded, approved, and followed, without exception. Without written rules for storing records, procedures will vary with time, changes in personnel, etc. These changes could cause difficulty in future retrieval of records or even in the loss of records. 

The Association of Records Managers and Administrators, Inc. (ARMA) is an organization designed to help professionals in records management perform their jobs easier and better. ARMA has published a list of Alphabetic Filing Rules, containing standard rules for storing records alphabetically. The 12 rules you will learn in this chapter follow the same principles as the ARMA rules. 

Basic Filing Terms 

Before learning the 12 filing rules, an understanding of filing terms is necessary. 

Unit - Each part of a name is a unit. Names are alphabetized unit by unit. If there are two parts in a name, the name has two units.

 

Indexing - Indexing is determining the order and format of the units in a name. Is a person’s record filed by first or last name? Is a business record filed under T if the name begins with The? Is punctuation considered with alphabetizing a name? Indexing is deciding which name to file a record under and then arranging the units in that order.

 

Alphabetizing - When you arrange names in alphabetical order, you are alphabetizing them.  There are 3 basic categories for alphabetizing names: Personal Names, Business or Company Names, and Government Names.

·        Alphabetizing Unit by Unit. The first step in alphabetizing is to alphabetize Unit by Unit. If the names in Unit 1 are exactly the same, then continue to alphabetize by Unit 2. If the first and second units are the same, the next step is to alphabetize Unit 3, and so on.

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

Jessica Marie Adams

ADAMS

JESSICA

MARIE

Susan K. Adams

ADAMS

SUSAN

K

Susan P. Adams

ADAMS

SUSAN

P

·        Nothing Comes Before Something. In alphabetizing, it is important to remember that nothing comes before something.

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

Ann B. Shoemaker

SHOEMAKER

ANN

B

Anne B. Shoemaker

SHOEMAKER

ANNE

B

J. Tilden

TILDEN

J

 

John Tilden

TILDEN

JOHN

 

Case - The case of a letter refers to whether the letter is written as a capital letter (A), called uppercase, or written as a small letter (a), called lowercase. In alphabetizing, uppercase and lowercase letters are considered the same. For example, McAdams and Mcadams are considered to be exactly the same when alphabetizing

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

Ashley Mcadams

MCADAMS

ASHLEY

 

Ashley K. McAdams

MCADAMS

ASHLEY

K

Patrick McDonald

MCDONALD

PATRICK

 

Phillip Mcdonald

MCDONALD

PHILLIP

 

A.B. Stillworth

STILLWORTH

AB

 

Abe Stillworth

STILLWORTH

ABE

 

The 12 Rules

Rule 1

Names of Individuals. When indexing the name of an individual, arrange the units in this order: last name as Unit 1, first name or initial as Unit 2, and middle name or initial as Unit 3. When two names in Unit 1 begin with the same letter, you consider the next or second letter in arranging for alphabetical order. If both the first and second letters are the same, consider the third letter, and so on until the letters are different.

 

A unit consisting of just an initial precedes a unit that consists of a complete name beginning with the same letter. Punctuation, such as a period or apostrophe, is omitted.
 

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

Rebecca P. Adams

ADAMS

REBECCA

P

Susan B. Anderson

ANDERSON

SUSAN

B

Terri Anderson

ANDERSON

TERRI

  

William Ken Jackson

JACKSON

WILLIAM

KEN

William Johnson

JOHNSON

WILLIAM

  

Wilma Johnson

JOHNSON

WILMA

  

Frank Shields

SHIELDS

FRANK

  

Frank B. Shields

SHIELDS

FRANK

B

Debbie Shirley

SHIRLEY

DEBBIE

  

Ann Marie Williams

WILLIAMS

ANN

MARIE

Anna Williams

WILLIAMS

ANNA

  

David Williamson

WILLIAMSON

DAVID

  

Exercise #1:


Index and alphabetize the following names. Present your work in the same format as in previous examples (table layout with unit headings).  Write names in all capital letters; do not include any punctuation. 

Rule 2 Personal Names with Prefixes – Articles and Particles. Prefixes, such as Mc in McAdams is considered as part of the name it precedes. Ignore any apostrophe or space that may appear within or after the prefix.

Commonly used prefixes are a, la, d’ D’ de, De, Del, De la, Di, Du, El, Fitz, La, Le, Lo, Los, M’, Mac, Mc, O’, Saint, St., Ste., Te, Ter, Van, Van de, Van der, Von, and Von der.

 

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

Olivia DuBerry

DUBERRY

OLIVIA

  

Paul Duberry

DUBERRY

PAUL

  

Anna L’Aubourne

LAUBORNE

ANNA

  

Chuck B. Launders

LAUNDERS

CHUCK

B

Jerry A. Mcdonald

MCDONALD

JERRY

A

Terri C. McDonald

MCDONALD

TERRI

C

Celeste Van Ivan

VANIVAN

CELESTE

  

John Vanivan

VANIVAN

JOHN

  


 

Exercise #2:        Index and alphabetize the following names. Present your work in the same format as in previous examples (table layout with unit headings).  Write names in all capital letters; do not include any punctuation. 

Rule 3

Hyphenated Personal Names. Consider a hyphenated first, middle, or last name
as one unit. Do not include the hyphen in the unit name.

 

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

Valerie Anderson-Smith

ANDERSONSMITH

VALERIE

 

Jason DeTemple

DETEMPLE

JASON

 

Tammy DeTemple-Jones

DETEMPLEJONES

TAMMY

 

Gary Shawn Lee

LEE

GARY

SHAWN

Alison Shawn-Lee

SHAWNLEE

ALISON

 

Kay-Lu S. Shuttle

SHUTTLE

KAYLU

S

Exercise #3:


Index and alphabetize the following names. Present your work in the same format as in previous examples (table layout with unit headings).  Write names in all capital letters; do not include any punctuation.

  • Linda Harper-Hoff
  • Patrick Wang
  • Shelly-Lee Ackerman
  • Holly Jamison
  • Tracy H. Hoff
  • Gina James-Ackerman
  • Luke DeJoy
  • Jackie Wang-Lu
  • Yvette Duke-Williamson
  • Angela-Marie D’Everson
Rule 4

Single Letters and Abbreviations of Personal Names. Initials in personal names (J.D., A.J.) are considered separate indexing units. Abbreviations of personal names (Wm., Jos.) and nicknames (Bill, Rick, Ali) are indexed as they are written.

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

A. J. Anderson

ANDERSON

A

J

Liz Billings

BILLINGS

LIZ

  

Lou Chandler

CHANDLER

LOU

  

Wm. Danielson

DANIELSON

WM

  

T. J. Sampson

SAMPSON

T

J

Geo. T. Vickory

VICKORY

GEO

T

 
Exercise #4:

Index and alphabetize the following names. Present your work in the same format as in previous examples (table layout with unit headings).  Write names in all capital letters; do not include any punctuation.

  • B.J. Tassleman
  • Vic Albright
  • J.O. McVey
  • K.T. Banks
  • Geo. M. Macinley
  • Ray J. Allwine
  • Wm. Sanderson
  • Lou Vickers
  • V.C. Wilson
  • Mary-Liz Jackson

Rule 5

Personal Names With Titles and Suffixes. When used with a person’s name, a title or a suffix is the last indexing unit when needed to      distinguish between two or more identical names. A title appears before a name (Capt., Dr., Miss, Mr., Mrs., Ms., Prof., Sgt.). Suffixes appear after a name and include seniority terms (II, III, Jr., Sr.) and professional designations (CPA, CRM, CMA, MD, Ph.D.). Some terms may appear either before or after the name (Senator, Mayor). If a name contains both a title and a suffix, the title is the last unit.

Royal and religious titles (King, Queen, Prince, Princess, Father, Sister) are
considered professional designation suffixes unless they are followed by either a
given name or a surname only (Father John, Princess Anna) in which case, they
are indexed as written.

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

Unit 4

Susan Bilderson, CPA

BILDERSON

SUSAN

CPA

  

Father John

FATHER

JOHN

  

  

Mrs. Anna Jones

JONES

ANNA

MRS

  

King Abdula

KING

ABDULA

  

  

Mrs. Judy Lenderman

LENDERMAN

JUDY

MRS

  

Ms. Judy Lenderman

LENDERMAN

JUDY

MS

  

Sister Mary Smith

SMITH

MARY

SISTER

  

Peter K Teasdale III

TEASDALE

PETER

K

III

Mr. Joshua Wade, Jr.

WADE

JOSHUA

JR

MR

Dr. Frank Williams

WILLIAMS

FRANK

DR

  


Exercise #5:

Index and alphabetize the following names. Present your work in the same format as in previous examples (table layout with unit headings).  Write names in all capital letters; do not include any punctuation.

  • Sgt. William Trundle
  • Rose Nuggard, MD
  • Mrs. Phyllis Asker, Ph.D.
  • Queen Anne
  • Jeffrey A. Quinley, III
  • Ms. Katrina Chance
  • Dr. Elizabeth Peterson
  • Senator Jack Rigley
  • Prince Phillip III
  • Mrs. Katrina Chance, CPA

Rule 6

Names of Businesses and Organizations. Business names are indexed as written using the letterhead or trademark as a guide. If the letterhead is not available, use sources such as directories (phone, Internet) and advertisements.

Each word in a business name is a separate unit. Exception: When The is the
first word of the business name, it is treated as the last unit. Business names
containing personal names are indexed as written. Hyphenated names and
names with prefixes are considered one unit.

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

UNIT 4

Betty’s Boutique

BETTYS

BOUTIQUE

  

  

The Bottom Dollar Store

BOTTOM

DOLLAR

STORE

THE

Computers and Such

COMPUTERS

AND

SUCH

  

Computers Are Us

COMPUTERS

ARE

US

  

Cpt. John’s Seafood House

CPT

JOHNS

SEAFOOD

HOUSE

Doug Tevor Hauling

DOUG

TREVOR

HAULING

  

Dr. Allen’s Tree Repair

DR

ALLENS

TREE

REPAIR

El Amigo Mexican Restaurant

ELAMIGO

MEXICAN

RESTAURANT

  

EZ Travel Agency

EZ

TRAVEL

AGENCY

  

St. Paul Lawn Care

STPAUL

LAWN

CARE

  

The Worthington Coat Factory

WORTHINGTON

COAT

FACTORY

THE

Zachery Grey Daily News

ZACHERY

GREY

DAILY

NEWS

Exercise #6:


Index and alphabetize the following names. Present your work in the same format as in previous examples (table layout with unit headings).  Write names in all capital letters; do not include any punctuation.

  • The Paris Daily News
  • Bank of London
  • South West Lawn Care
  • Sgt. Pepper Clothing Accessories
  • The Bank of Loylds
  • El Camino Horse Club
  • Betty Johnson Elementary School
Rule 7

Letters and Abbreviations in Business and Organization Names. Single letters in business and organization names are indexed as written. If single letters are separated by spaces, index each letter as a separate unit. An acronym (word formed from the first few letters of several words, such as ARMA and F.I.C.A,) is indexed as one unit regardless of punctuation or spacing.

Abbreviated words (Mfg, Co., Corp., Inc.) and names (IBM, GE) are indexed as written and as one
unit regardless of punctuation or spacing. Radio and television station call letters (WBCO, ABC)
are also indexed as written and as one unit.

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

UNIT 4

A K Electric

A

K

ELECTRIC

  

A OK Restaurant

A

OK

RESTAURANT

  

ACE Repair Co.

ACE

REPAIR

CO

  

KKRS Radio Station

KKRS

RADIO

STATION

  

L A N Industries

L

A

N

INDUSTRIES

LAN, Inc

LAN

INC

  

  

Regal Mfg. Corp.

REGAL

MFG

CORP

  

US Bank

US

BANK

  

  

USA Today

USA

TODAY

  

  

Exercise #7:


Index and alphabetize the following names. Present your work in the same
format as in previous examples (table layout with unit headings).  Write names
in all capital letters; do not include any punctuation.

  • V. J. Golf Course
  • Carpets Ltd. of CA
  • OK Tire Center
  • Garner and Garner, Attys.
  • KHTY Radio Station
  • Kellie Hiring Agy.
  • Dr. Pepper Bottling Co.
  • C. K. W. Towing
  • Fashion Corner, Ltd.
  • GTE Electric Co.
Rule 8

Punctuation and Possessives in Business and Organization Names. All punctuation is ignored when indexing business and organization names. Commas, periods, hyphens, apostrophes, dashes, exclamation points, question marks, quotation marks, and diagonals (/) are disregarded and names are indexed as written.

 

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

UNIT 4

All-in-One Pawn Shop

ALLINONE

PAWN

SHOP

  

Bob’s Rent-a-Car

BOBS

RENTACAR

  

  

The Crow’s Nest

CROWS

NEST

THE

  

How Much? Thrift Store

HOW

MUCH

THRIFT

STORE

Inside/Outside Glass

INSIDEOUTSIDE

GLASS

  

  

Jack-N-Jerry Catering

JACKNJERRY

CATERING

  

  

The Pepper!

PEPPER

THE

  

  

Exercise #8:


Index and alphabetize the following names. Present your work in the same format as in previous examples (table layout with unit headings).  Write names in all capital letters; do not include any punctuation.

  • The Rod-N-Reel Shop
  • Nor-East Import’s
  • Do-Rite Medical Supplies
  • Sam’s Hot-Dog Café
  • Lu-Lu’s Clothing Outlet
  • Debbie’s Lil’ Tots Daycare
  • How’s That? Hotel
  • The On/Off Freeway Café
  • Nell-Carter Law Firm
  • A-OK Repair Service

Numbers spelled out (ONE, TWELVE, FORTY) are filed alphabetically and appear after numbers written in digits or Roman numerals. Names with numbers included are filed in ascending order (lowest to highest number) before alphabetic names (B4 SHOP, B12 VITAMIN CLUB, BATTING A THOUSAND SPORTING GOODS). Names with numbers appearing in other than the first unit are filed alphabetically and immediately before a similar name without a number (PIER 28 IMPORTS, PIER AND PORT RESTAURANT). The letters st, d, and th following an Arabic number are ignored (1st is indexed as 1, 2nd as 2, 5th as 5 and so on).

 

Inclusive or hyphenated numbers (7-11 Grocery Store) are indexed according to the number before the hyphen and the number after the hyphen is ignored (7 GROCERY STORE). Hyphenated numbers that are spelled out (Thirty-one Flavors) are considered one unit and the hyphen is ignored (THIRTYONE FLAVORS). An Arabic number followed by a hyphen and a word (7-Gables) is considered one unit (7GABLES) and the hyphen is ignored.

Rule 9

Numbers in Business and Organization Names. Arabic numbers written in digits (1,15,189) and Roman numerals (II, IV, IX) are considered one unit and are filed in numeric order before alphabetic characters with Arabic numbers preceding Roman numerals (2, 156, III, XIV).

 

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

UNIT 4

1-2-3 Easy Shopping

1

EASY

SHOPPING

  

1 Stop Shopping Center

1

STOP

SHOPPING

CENTER

4th Street Market

4

STREET

MARKET

  

7-Days Extended Inn

7DAYS

EXTENDED

INN

  

XXI Movie Theatre

XXI

MOVIE

THEATRE

  

Annie’s Buffet

ANNIES

BUFFET

  

  

Gary’s 9-Way Service Co.

GARYS

9WAY

SERVICE

CO

Gary’s Auto Repair

GARYS

AUTO

REPAIR

  

Twenty Mile Steak House

TWENTY

MILE

STEAK

HOUSE

Twenty-First Street Photo

TWENTYFIRST

STREET

PHOTO

  

Exercise #9:


Index and alphabetize the following names. Present your work in the same format as in previous examples (table layout with unit headings).  Write names in all capital letters; do not include any punctuation.

  • 99 Flavors Yogurt Shoppe
  • 1 More Time Clothing
  • The Makco Five, Inc.
  • 7th Street Pharmacy
  • Henry IV Restaurant
  • 2nd-Hand Music Equipment
  • Makco 5 Gas Station
  • Fifty-Fifty Auction Market
  • Sixth Dimension Insurance Co.
  • 6th Avenue Apts.
Rule 10

Symbols in Business and Organization Names. If a symbol is part of a name, the symbol is indexed as if spelled out. When a symbol is used with a number without spacing between ($5, #1), it is considered one unit and the symbol is spelled out (5DOLLAR, NUMBER1).

 

SYMBOL

INDEXED AS

&

AND

¢

CENT

$

DOLLAR or DOLLARS

#

NUMBER, POUND, or POUNDS

%

PERCENT

 

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

UNIT 4

50¢ Burger Den

50CENT

BURGER

DEN

  

D & B Bargain

D

AND

B

BARGAIN

Dan’s Donut Shop

DANS

DONUT

SHOP

 

$ Days Hotel

DOLLAR

DAYS

HOTEL

  

The Dollar Smart Shop

DOLLAR

SMART

SHOP

THE

Just Good ¢ Store

JUST

GOOD

CENTS

STORE

Exercise #10:


Index and alphabetize the following names. Present your work in the same format as in previous examples (table layout with unit headings).  Write names in all capital letters; do not include any punctuation.

  • #1 Auto Repair Shop
  • Kasey & Anderson , Attorneys
  • $ Saved Used Furniture
  • The 99¢ Bargain Basement
  • High $ Real Estate Agcy.
  • 110% Above the Rest
  • # One Appliances
  • Dollar Drug Store
  • Kasey & Kasey Bookstore
  • N & K Auctions

State and Local Government

State and local government names are indexed first by the name of the state, providence, county, city, or town that has jurisdiction over that government agency. The distinctive name of the agency is considered next. For example, a city will have jurisdiction over a board of education, so the city would be indexed first, then the board of education. The words "State of", "County of", "City of’, "Department of", etc. are added only if needed for clarity and if it is in the official name.

Rule 11

Government Names. Government names are indexed first by the name of the government unit – country, state, county, or city. Next, index the distinctive name of the department, bureau, office, or board. The words "Office of", "Department of", "Bureau of", etc. are separate indexing units when they are part of the official name.

NAME

JURISDICTION

INDEXED NAME

Court House, Evans County
Hazard, Kentucky

County

EVANS COUNTY
COURT HOUSE
HAZARD KENTUCKY

Board of Education,
Freemont, MO

City

 

FREEMONT
EDUCATION BOARD OF
FREEMONT MISSOURI

Banking Office,
Dept. of Commerce,
Dallas, TX

State

TEXAS
COMMERCE
DEPT OF
BANKING OFFICE
DALLAS TEXAS

 


NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

UNIT 4

UNIT 5

UNIT 6

UNIT 7

UNIT 8

Court House,
Evans County
Hazard, Kentucky

EVANS

COUNTY

COURT

HOUSE

HAZARD

KENTUCKY

 

 

 

Board of Education,
Freemont, MO

 

FREEMONT

 

EDUCATION

 

BOARD

 

OF

 

FREEMONT

 

MISSOURI

  

 

 

Banking Office
Dept. of Commerce
Dallas, TX

 

TEXAS

 

COMMERCE

 

DEPT

 

OF

 

BANKING

 

OFFICE*

 

DALLAS

 

TEXAS

 

  

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

  

UNITED

STATE

GOVERNMENT

  

     

  

NAME

UNIT 4

UNIT 5

UNIT 6

UNIT 7

UNIT 8

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Forest Service

AGRICULTURE

DEPARTMENT

OF

FOREST

SERVICE

 

U.S. Department of Labor
Employment Standards

 

LABOR

 

DEPARTMENT

 

OF

 

EMPLOYMENT

 

STANDARDS

 

Bureau of Prisons
Justice Department

 

JUSTICE

 

DEPARTMENT

 

PRISONS

 

BUREAU

 

OF

 

U.S. Treasury Department
Customs Service

 

TREASURY

 

DEPARTMENT

 

CUSTOMS

 

SERVICE

 


Foreign Government Names

Foreign government names are indexed first by the name of the country, then by the name of the
distinctive department, bureau, or board. The words "Department of", "Bureau of", "Ministry of",
etc. follow if it is part of the official name.

NAME

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

UNIT 4

UNIT 5

Republic of India

INDA

REPUBLIC

OF

  

 

 

Federal Republic of Germany

 

GERMANY

 

FEDERAL

 

REPUBLIC

 

OF

 

 

Consulate General
Peru

 

 

PERU

 

 

CONSULATE

 

 

GENERAL

 

 

 

Department of Human Resources
Tunisia

 

TUNISIA

 

HUMAN

 

RESOURCES

 

DEPARTMENT

 

OF

 

Rule 12

Addresses   When personal names and names of businesses and organizations are otherwise identical, the filing order is determined by the address. The elements of the address are considered in the following order: City, State (spelled out in full), Street Name, Quadrant (NE, NW, SE, SW), House or Building Number

NOTE: Because space is limited in example below, Unit 1 is displayed above and indexing begins with Unit 2.

 

 

UNIT 1

 

 

COMPUTERWORLD

 

 

 

NAME

UNIT 2

UNIT 3

UNIT 4

UNIT 5

UNIT 6

ComputerWorld
12th Avenue NE
Akron, Ohio

AKRON

OHIO

AVENUE

NE

12

ComputerWorld
86 Elm Street
Akron, Ohio

AKRON

OHIO

ELM

STREET

86

ComputerWorld
600 Warner Ave
Columbus, Ohio

COLUMBUS

OHIO

WARNER

AVE

600

ComputerWorld
7TH & Main
Portland, Oregon

PORTLAND

OREGON

AND

MAIN

7

ComputerWorld
7TH Avenue SW
Portland, Oregon

PORTLAND

OREGON

AVENUE

SW

7

ComputerWorld
257 Norris Drive
Portland, Texas

PORTLAND

TEXAS

NORRIS

DRIVE

257