Types or Methods of Indexing office files
The main types or methods of indexing office files are briefly discussed below.
1. Book Index
The other name of book index is page index and ordinary index. The names of customers or documents or other information are entered in a book in an alphabetical order under this type. One can trace the page number of a customer by referring first letter of the concerned customer. Then, the desired information or data have been obtained.
For example, if one wants to know the debts due to him by a customer named Sankar, refer the page number allotted to Sankar by seeing the name of the customer (i.e. Sankar) in “S” series: There is no need of much time to know the accounts or information relating to Sankar.
This system is highly suitable to small concerns and not suitable to large organization. In case of large organization, there may be many customers in a similar name. Besides, enough space is not available for making many entries in a single name.
2. Vowel Index
There are many names beginning with same alphabet. Therefore, it is very difficult to find the particulars of a specified customer. For example. Anand, Anandaraj, Anandan, Anand Babu, and the like. The first five letters are common in these names. Hence, these names are sub-divided again based on vowels. If so, one can easily locate the page number of respective customers.
This is an improved system of book index. Moreover, vowels are adapted to differentiate the system. Hence, this system is called vowel index. This method of index is suitable to small and medium size business office.
Merits of Vowel Index
1. It is a permanent record.
2. There is no loss of index.
3. Less time is required in searching the index.
Demerits of Vowel Index
1. Only an experienced staff alone found the name of customer in vowel index.
2. The system is inelastic.
3. Only limited pages are allotted to a same letter. (i.e. A, B or C). Hence, addition of a new name under the same letter is very difficult.
3. Bound Book Index
This type of index is maintained as in the form of bound book or register. This book is divided into alphabetical sections in which the names of customers or documents are entered, The leaves of each section may be out at the top of right hand side. If so, the initial letters of all the sections are seen at a glance.
The entries pertaining to a specific letter of the alphabet are arranged in the same section or page reserved for the same letter of the alphabet very strictly.
The cost for maintaining a book index is very cheap. Besides, the durability of book index is very long period. The pages cannot be lost, discarded, or disarranged since they are bound. This type of index is very suitable to small business office.
Defects of Bound Book Index
1. This method is an inflexible.
2. Only small number of entries is recorded.
3. If any wrong entry is made, the alteration or correction in the index is difficult.
4. The names are entered on each page in the order in which they first occur. Therefore, much time is required to locate a name,
4. Loose Leaf Index
This index is other wise called Loose Leaf Book Index. This is another form of book index. Loose Leaf is a ruled sheet like the pages of ordinary index. These sheets are inserted in or taken out from metal hinges or screws, when necessary.
Each customer is allotted a leaf in which the name of customer, the address, phone number, call number, fax number, E-mail, the file number etc. are arranged. These loose indices are kept in a drawer.
Merits of Loose Leaf Index
1. This type of index is elastic.
2. The removal of index of dead file is very easy.
3. Full information can be obtained from this type of index.
4. Additional information can be included without much difficulty.
5. Less time is required to locate the name of the customer and obtain the maximum information.
6. The cost of operation and maintenance of this type of index is very low.
7. The despatch of monthly statements and trade circulars is easy.
Demerits of Loose Leaf Index
1. The cards may torn quickly by continuous use.
2. Trays cover and cards are necessary to adopt this type of index. Hence, this method is an expensive one.
3. There is a possibility of misplacement of cards if the cards are inserted or taken out.
4. This method is a mere waste for small business office.
5. Card Index or Vertical Card Index
A uniform size of the cards is used under this method. The length of the card may be 4″ or 5″ and width of the card may be 2.5″ or 3″. These cards are maintained vertically. Hence, this method is called vertical card Index. The name and important particulars of a customer are indexed. The file number of the concerned customer is recorded at the top edge of the card.
Different colour cards may be used to differentiate and easy location of the files. Cards are arranged in an alphabetical or numerical order. Cards are placed in drawers or boxes in suitable dimensions. Each drawer may have a rod running from one end to other end to hold the cards in a position.
Utility of Card Index
The card index can be utilized to serve the following purposes.
1. To maintain the names, communication addresses and phone numbers of the customers.
2. To keep the particulars of employees.
3. To maintain the accounts of important stores items.
4. To keep the records of investments and fixed assets.
5. To maintain the specimen signatures of account holders in a bank.
6. To keep a catalogue of books in a library.
Advantages of Card Index
The following advantages can be derived by adopting card Index.
1. This method is very simple to understand and operate.
2. The cards can be arranged in any order and the order can be changed at any time according to the requirements of the business office.
3. The cost of installation of this method is very cheap and the cost of maintenance is very low.
4. The cards provide complete information like names and addresses of the persons with whom the dealings take place.
5. This method is highly elastic. New cards can be inserted or dead cards can be removed at anytime without affecting the sequence of card maintenance.
6. Each card can be used according to the particulars desired to be recorded.
7. Many persons can use card index at a time.
8. Only alive cards are kept under this method since the dead cards are removed periodically.
9. Cards can be put to many uses. For example, two types of cards are prepared in a library, one is prepared in author wise, and another is prepared in title of the book wise.
10. Guide cards may be prepared to highlight certain information. For example, the extent of overdue of the customer, Replacement for damaged goods and the like.
Disadvantages of Card Index
Card index has the following drawbacks.
1. There is a high possibility of loss of cards, mutilation, or destruction.
2. A large number of cards are maintained under card index. Hence, not all the cards can be seen at a glance.
3. Much time is required to locate a specific card.
4. Cards are torn due to continuous handling. Therefore, the turned cards should be replaced quickly.
5. It is costlier than the page index.
6. There is a need of continuous supervision, which ensures that the reference cards are put in their proper places.
6. Visible Card Index
This method is an improvement of card Index. Hence, this card index removes the defects of card index. A large number of cards cannot be seen at one sight. Even though, a limited cards can be seen at one sight since many cards are placed flatly in transparent covers. These covers are kept in a shallow tray or metal frame.
The metal frame is placed in such a way that the name and address are visible without touching another card. Then, the trays or frames are fitted vertically to metal stands or horizontally into cabinets. The cards are arranged in alphabetical, numerical, or alphanumerical order. The details can be written on the either side of the card without removing the card from the frame.
Advantages of Visible Card Index
1. Less space is enough to maintain visible card Index.
2. Less time is required to locate a specified card since card is visible.
3. Management can get information very quickly to take timely decision.
4. It helps management in controlling of purchases, sales etc.
5. Large number of cards may be maintained under this method.
6. Signals can be used to draw the attention to certain facts recorded on the cards.
7. The dead cards can be removed very easily whenever necessary.
8. Additional information can be easily written on the cards without disturbing other cards.
9. The preparation of list of customers and suppliers very easily.
Disadvantages of Visible Card Index
The disadvantages of visible card Index and presented below:
1. Costly equipment are necessary to maintain visible card Index.
2. Additions or deletion of entries on the card takes much time.
7. Strip Index
There is a need of maintaining a list of names and communication address of customers and suppliers in every business office for ready reference. Hence, strip index has been designed to meet the above mentioned purpose. One line entry is made on a narrow strip of cardboard. Each strip contains a single item. The strips are placed in a frame in such a way that the strips can be inserted or removed without much difficulty.
8. Wheal Index
The very purpose of maintaining index is quick reference. Therefore, a new method is developed i.e. wheel index. The cards are mounted round the hub of a wheel under this method. The wheel moves on ball bearings. The wheel can be rotated to locate a specified card. Hence, this method is very economical and highly flexible.
Frames are placed on a table as a book form. Sometimes, the frames are arranged on a rotary stand. This method is a developed method of visible card Index.
Merits of frames
1. Quick reference is possible under this method.
2. It is very easy to maintain the index.
Demerits of frames
1. There is a much scope for occurring errors under this method.
2. Only skilled employees are necessary to a top frames.
How to select Suitable Index method?
The following factors have been considered while selecting a suitable method of index.
1. The purpose of keeping the index.
2. The type and extent of information is required.
3. The requirements of the filing system.
4. Whether the information is to be added and deleted frequently.
5. The space is available and required for maintain index.
6. The frequency of card taken out for recording information.
7. The cost of equipment, labour, stationery, and supplies necessary for each method.
8. The need of using the signals.