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Discussion Forum > Filing Cabinets

(Up-front explanation: I'm in Germany and I use A4-sized 'manila folders'.)

In the US, manila folders (ultra-simple cardboard folders) are one of the most-used filing systems. Therefore, there are filing cabinets to store them. Those filing cabinets usually have movable metal back plates to keep the folders from slipping or tilting.
Unfortunately, US paper sizes (letter, legal) are very different from European ones (esp. A4), so there are no suitable filing cabinets I could import from the US. In Germany, manila folders are almost unknown, but I managed to find A4 ones. However, no such luck with filing cabinets. Most filing cabinets are for hanging, Pendaflex-style files, others are for lever arch files.

Hence my question to Mark or readers from the UK:
I know that A4 is also a common paper size in the UK. Are A4 manila folders (no idea how they would be called there) used in the UK, and if so, do filing cabinets of the above mentioned kind (with movable back plates) for A4 paper sizes exist in the UK? Any hints where one could buy them?
November 5, 2008 at 20:43 | Unregistered CommenterAlex W.
Hi Alex. You could try the Websites for Staples or Ikea perhaps.
November 6, 2008 at 11:17 | Unregistered CommenterLeon
Hi, Alex

We certainly use Manila A4 folders in the United Kingdom, but I don't know whether there are filing cabinets specifically designed for them. I know I've seen cabinets in the past with sliding metal plates - but I don't know whether you could find them nowadays.

There's a discussion on the subject (from an American point of view) on 43 Folders at
November 6, 2008 at 14:51 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Dear Alex....
I don't know about paper sizes but I've had no problem buying filing cabinets with the back piece that slides. . There's one thing I should mention though........They are well over US $130 for a simple 2 drawer unit. (The cheapest version....yes, they can get much more costly. I was satisfied with their cheapest version....not cheap to me, though! LOL) Because I also use Lever Arch Files for most of my Action files, that's all I needed. They are, of course, very well-made.
They only come with one back sliding thing per drawer. I added more (I used some extras from some filing cabinets of the same brand I gave away because they didn't accomodate my lever arch files well.....I over -baught....5 down to 1....*blush*.because they "partition off" categories and make it easier to both see and maintain.
November 8, 2008 at 18:39 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
I apologize...focus is hard at present......the cheapest brand name is Hon. $130 plus tax for two drawer file for the letter size 8 1/2 x 11 inches and only 27 inches deep. Of course, you can get more drawers, deeper cabinets and more sturdiness in the pricier Hon models....The deeper models give you 2 sliders per drawer.
As I mentioned, I was able to put more sliders in from other Hon cabinets that I bought and didn't keep. They are quite easy to install, slide easily.....yet they stay firmly in place.
Tip: I wasted more money on a filing cabinet that had the back piece that slid on the bottom rail. I prefer this newer way of them sliding and locking into indents in the drawer itself. They NEVER stick or collect dust as the "rail system" kind did.
I bought mine from Office Depot and some from Staples. Staples has a more liberal return policy. Hope this helps.....(I, too, hate those hanging files)
***A huge sure to buy the taller drawer models. They WILL accomdate binders with the spine facing up. For my archives binders, I used a back plate for EACH binder so they won't crash into the files....but I don't know if you can buy extras. I was fortunate to have extras from other files. The deeper drawer files come with TWO each per drawer. I lifted a few and retrofitted my smaller cabinets to my specs. The folks I gave my larger 4 cabinets to didn't even notice the difference. They were happy with one per drawer and free to boot! LOL!
November 8, 2008 at 18:54 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
just to be sure. Please make sure you buy the model with the taller drawers. The ones with the shorter drawers don't easily accomdate the bigger envelopes, the binders or the odd sized portfolio binders. My drawers are 11 1/4" tall and 13 1/2 inches wide. Believe me, it does make a difference! The shorter drawer models with the back piece don't accomdate the binders, larger envelopes, well.
November 8, 2008 at 19:09 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
You might also be able to get stacking boxes. They're portable, which helps in some situations (like moving choir music from off-site library).

Germany, eh? Can't help with actual products, but I'm sure you're not the only person with the need. Someone must be making money filling that need.

Are there second-hand office supply stores? Or army surplus? Our local Habitat for Humanity Store sold dozens of high end cabinets for $12 each (that's 1/10 or less of the regular price) when a local large office redesigned their space..

Don't go cheap if you can help it. When I my only cabinets were warped, the pile of papers on top was usually large. Get ones with the racks built in, even if you don't currently expect to use them. It's much faster to put single papers away in hanging folders. Enough faster enough that I actually do it every week when I pay the bills. That's a bit of a miracle.

I also file project folders on shelves, along with books and magazine boxes. It's not as quick to put papers in, though, and the folders designed for that are more expensive. I use regular folders on one shelf, but it's much harder to see the label tabs, since you can't look down on them.
January 30, 2017 at 21:52 | Registered CommenterCricket
I've also used large envelopes instead of manilla folders. Sometimes I sealed the opening and opened the other side. You could probably cut three sides and create a manilla folder of sorts. Still a pain to create a tab sticking up, though.

US legal size is 8-1/2 x 14, so A4 would fit in it. Often, cabinets are letter in one direction (front to back and legal the other (side-to-side).

If you use shelves, don't underestimate the weight of paper. I had to replace the little dowels holding up the shelves a few times.
January 30, 2017 at 21:59 | Registered CommenterCricket