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Types of Filing Cabinets

About to open your own office? Here are the types of filing cabinets you can use.

When running a successful and thriving business, it’s a given that good storage is essential, regardless of what industry you might work in. 

While some companies do make use of digital storage for certain things, there is still plenty that requires good old-fashioned hard copy records.

And for that, you need filing cabinets! However, there are so many different styles these days, you might be wondering where to even start. Keep reading for some of our favorite recommendations for a filing system and under desk storage. 

Determine Your Types of Filing Cabinet Needs

Though filing cabinets are amazing for all kinds of documents, the reality is that some kind of documents do not fit inside standard filing cabinets. 

It’s important to consider the kinds of documents you intend to store, so that you can make sure whatever storage solution you choose is suitable. 

If what you are storing doesn’t fit in a filing cabinet, you may need to explore other storage options to find something that works for those items.

Letter Size Files

Letter size files are smaller documents that can mostly be stored inside standard-sized filing cabinets. However, it’s best to get your measurements right to make sure they will fit. A letter-sized document is usually around 8” x 11” in size.  

Legal Size Files

Since not all filing cabinets are large enough to house legal documents, it’s important to carefully check the measurements of your chosen file cabinet. The average size of legal-sized documents is 8” x 14”. You’ll need to make sure the storage cabinet you choose fits that size or larger.

File Cabinet Features

You should also consider what features you want to look for when choosing file cabinets. Some considerations are:

Style and aesthetics–– does it go with your office decor?

Mobility––can you move it around easily if you need or want to? 

Size––is it large enough to house all you need it to house?

Security––does it have a locking mechanism to keep documents safe?

Deciding these things can help you narrow down your selections and make your choice a tad bit easier. The many choices from a vertical filing cabinet, lateral filing cabinet, modern filing cabinet, to a fireproof cabinet, and more can be overwhelming. Once you’ve decided those things, keep reading as we explore some of the various types of file cabinets available on the market today, and how they’re best used.

Lateral File Cabinets

A lateral file cabinet is laterally designed, meaning it is wider than it is deep. Generally, this type of design includes two or three cabinets. 

Such types are ideal for a high-functioning work environment, where you may need quick access to a document, without taking the time to sort through big piles of paperwork.

With lateral filing cabinets, you can label the various cabinets and the files you put inside. That way, you can just open the cabinet and get what you need. The organizational and storage capacity of lateral cabinets is better than many other types of file cabinet, so you don’t have to store multiple documents across multiple file cabinets.

42” Low Box/File Lateral – Matte Silver


They also usually have some kind of anti-tip mechanism installed, common in lateral cabinet drawers, to help make them safe from falling over. 

The nice thing about lateral cabinets is they can fit both legal and letter-sized documents. Most lateral cabinets are around 32” to 36” in width. Given their dimensions, they may be suitable to be placed under a desk, but sometimes the width can be an issue in finding a good spot for them.

Vertical File Cabinets 

Vertical file cabinets are designed to be taller than they are wide. They typically come featuring several drawers, unless it’s a smaller, two drawer vertical file cabinet. They typically measure anywhere from 15” to 20” in width. 

However, due to the vertical design, the drawers may be narrow, but they can also be deep. The best way to file documents in vertical file cabinets is with a front-to-back approach. They have a high storage capacity, but are better suited for situations where you want to categorize various documents, as this will make the best use of the number of drawers. 

Additionally, vertical filing cabinets need a lot of free space in their surroundings to make sure the drawers can open fully. It’s best to place vertical cabinets in areas where there isn’t a lot of foot traffic, and they may not be ideal for smaller areas. 

Fireproof File Cabinets

Fireproof file cabinets refer to cabinets that are designed with one purpose in mind––security! They are often used to store highly confidential and important documents you can’t afford to have damaged or lost. 

Apart from their fire-resistant qualities, many fireproof cabinets are also hard to open without the key or locking codes and are also water-safe. 

The high security element of fireproof file cabinets make them an ideal choice for any office that deals with sensitive information. These types of filing cabinets come in both vertical and lateral designs. 

Mobile File Cabinets 

As the name suggests, mobile file cabinets are cabinets that can be moved around as needed. They basically work as mobile storage units, that can be rolled wherever you want them.

Mobile file cabinets usually come with at least two drawers, and they can be both vertical or laterally designed. The main goal of mobile file cabinets is to provide high storage capacity, while taking up the minimum amount of floor space. 

Mobile cabinets often fit under desks to help save space and provide easy to access storage when you’re busy working. They can house both legal and letter size documents and most mobile cabinets come with 4 to 5 wheels for easy movement and balanced support. 

Some designs of mobile file cabinets are dual-sided, meaning they have separate cabinets on either side. We offer a variety of mobile storage cabinets at Juniper Office Furniture Solutions, so be sure to browse our website.

Types of filing cabinets

Tambour Door File Cabinets

Tambour door file cabinets are a type of side tab file cabinet. They come with doors that slide or fold back into the storage unit, allowing you to access the stored items that way instead of pulling the drawers out. It is an ideal file cabinet for rooms where there isn’t a lot of spare space.

Flat File Storage Cabinets

Flat filing cabinets are cabinets designed to store large stacks of documents and other office-related items. However, these items need to be flat in order to fit in the layout of the cabinets. 

Because of their flat drawer design they are frequently used to store blueprints and other similar types of documents, to help ensure their shape isn’t damaged. You can also store several flat files in one drawer, as long as they fit properly.

Rotary File Cabinets

Rotary file cabinets are filing cabinets that are designed to accommodate a high storage capacity. These high and narrow cabinets contain a lot of drawers or shelves, without taking up a lot of floor space. 

They can possess anywhere from 2 to 8 shelves on either side. These file cabinets are double-faced, with cabinets on each side, so that they can be rotated around for easy access. Thus the name ‘rotary’ file cabinet! 

Side-Tab Filing Cabinets 

Side-tab filing cabinets are designed to store documents in a vertical formation. These are mostly seen in hospital settings for record keeping. This style of cabinet provides easy access to the documents inside by allowing people to easily find the folder tab. 

Side-tab filing cabinets come in a lot of designs and models, such as with doors for additional security and privacy. Even the doors can be of various styles, ranging from swinging doors to sliding ones. 

Card File Storage Cabinet 

Card file storage solutions are designed to store cards of a specific size, often index cards. They are best suited for a front-to-back storage formation. Most designs can store index cards measuring anywhere from 3”x5” to 4”x6” in size. While these aren’t the largest of office solutions, they certainly come in handy for a variety of things! 

Open-Shelf File Cabinets

Open-shelf cabinets are designed with a shallow structure to house documents in the open area. The layout of an open-shelf file cabinet closely resembles that of a book shelf, typically available as layers of shelves stacked on top of each other. 

They come with an open front for easy access. Open-shelf file cabinets are an ideal solution for increasing storage space without introducing additional heavy furniture items into a room. They are also ideal for narrow spaces, making them a great option for smaller offices.

As you can see, there are all types of filing cabinets, big and small, credenza, lateral cabinet, vertical cabinet and more. To learn more about what is a credenza and browse Juniper Solutions for some ideas, we’re here to help. Or, let us help you choose what suits your needs best.