We’re now well into the second – or possibly third – generation of professional workers who have been promised that the fabled paperless office is right around the corner. Somehow our need for hard copies continues unabated. Keeping track of your important paperwork is an integral part of keeping your office properly organised, and good lever arch files are still a superb tool for that job. Here are some points to consider the next time you buy them.
Lever Arch Files Vs. Ring Binders
Forgive us if we take a moment to bring our English cousins up to speed by introducing them properly to the humble, versatile lever arch file. At first glance, an Englishman is likely to mistake this organisational tool for its nearest equivalent in a UK office, the three-ring binder. The lever arch file fills a similar role, but the fundamental differences between the two products go quite deep.
As you should expect, level arch files are designed expressly to fit A4 sized paper, the worldwide standard for professional use. The vast majority of them also secure their pages with two rings as opposed to the three commonly used in the UK. Finally, most examples of the lever arch file include a handy pull tab or thumb hole in the spine that makes them easier to remove from shelves. This immensely useful little feature seems to have escaped English designers, and it’s rarely found on UK binders.
Today a wide range of different materials is used to construct these lever arch files. Paper or fabric-coated cardboard is the most traditional choice, but synthetic materials like plastic and nylon are also quite common. Synthetic materials allow you to buy files in a wider range of colours, and many manufacturers also offer vibrant patterns.
Most files have a pair of cutouts in the front face so that the rings can protrude through – features known in the stationery industry as “rados”. This reduces the overall width of the file and makes it easier to shelve. (This is another common sense innovation that the English have missed.) On the inside, the arched rings used to secure loose pages are joined by a common locking mechanism.
If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can obtain files with a number of different enhancements that serve to make them more durable and useful. Metal or plastic reinforcement of the holes in the lever arch files – the rados and the thumb pull – serves to prevent fraying or tearing. Similarly, many premium files have metal or plastic safety corners to prevent the edges of the file from deforming.
Some lever arch file manufacturers sell them together with singular or multi-file slipcases that keep them upright. There are also brands designed for secure long-term storage which add side pieces all around the file, converting it into a box rather than a folder. You can also find files designed for more comfortable portability that feature padded covers; these are typically listed as “travel” files in office supplies catalogues.
The prosaic lever arch file is not a flashy bit of office equipment that attracts attention or incites comments. Nevertheless, this is one more area where it pays to invest in quality when you’re stocking your office. Take a moment to look at all of your options the next time you buy files and spend your money on quality workmanship that will work better and last longer.