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Learn More About File Cabinets

What type of file cabinet do you need?

Vertical file cabinet


Ideal for: Offices where floor space is at a premium. A vertical file cabinet uses a minimum of floor space when drawers are closed, but requires considerable room when drawers are open. Works best for long–term storage where file retrieval is infrequent.

Key features:

  • Taller than wide and holds vertical files. Requires space equal to depth of cabinet (about 29"), plus length of drawer when open (another 29"), for total footprint of about 58".
  • Two to five drawers that hold letter or legal–sized documents placed from front to back, facing the front of the drawer. Usually cannot hold both document sizes in the same drawer. Some drawers have adjustable dividers for further organization.
  • Most cabinets are made of steel for strength; some are made from wood or have wood accents. Steel cabinets are best for heavy–duty use, such as in busy office environments. A reinforced base and double–walled steel sides provide additional sturdiness. Wood is less durable, but would be acceptable for home office or light use.
  • In addition to paper files, some cabinets can accommodate three–ring binders.
  • Look for built–in locking systems for security of confidential files.
  • Some models have core removable locks, which allow you to lock all your file cabinets with the same key.

Tip: For safety, be sure that the cabinet has interlocking drawers to prevent more than one drawer from being opened at a time. This will keep the cabinet from tipping over.


Lateral file cabinet


Ideal for: Crowded offices with a high volume of files that will be retrieved frequently. Wider than vertical cabinets, but not as deep. Holds about a third more material than a vertical cabinet, yet takes up less space when the drawers are open.

Key features:

  • Most are about 19.5" deep with a 19.5" drawer extension, for a total footprint of about 39". Holds lateral files.
  • Two to five drawers hold letter or legal–sized documents placed either left to right, or arranged front to back in multiple rows. Both sizes of files can be can be stored in the same drawer. Some have adjustable drawer dividers for further organization.
  • Most are made of steel for strength; some are made from wood or have wood accents. All steel is best for heavy–duty use, such as in busy office environments. A reinforced base and double–walled steel sides provide sturdiness. Wood is acceptable for home office or light use.
  • In addition to paper files, some cabinets can accommodate three–ring binders.
  • Look for interlocking drawers to prevent the cabinet from tipping over and built–in locking systems for security of confidential files. Some models have core removable locks, which allow for you to lock all your file cabinets with the same key.
  • Some 5 drawer lateral units have a pull out posting shelf, which holds a pad or notebook and makes note taking easier.
  • Some models have receding doors and roll out shelves.

Tip: Some two–drawer models are designed to fit neatly under most work surfaces, which saves additional space.


Open end filing system


Ideal for: Law or medical offices or any office that has a high volume of files that need to be accessed repeatedly throughout the day and stored for the long term. No drawers to open; just find file and remove it from shelf.

Key features:

  • Sets of shelves, generally with open fronts and wire dividers to keep files in place. Up to six shelves per cabinet.
  • Approximately 37" wide, 16" deep, and 75" high.
  • Flexible and convenient file storage. Made for end–tab filing, a color–coded filing format that provides easy, quick access to files.
  • Can be placed side by side in a file area and added to as filing needs expand. Rows of cabinets can be created.
  • Cabinet sets are made of double–walled, heavy gauge steel for durability and strength.

Tip: Intended for use with open filing supplies, but accepts standard file folders (sold separately).


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