Lateral Files

Written by Gregg Ruais
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Lateral file cabinets fit into narrow walkways and rooms better than vertical file cabinets. This is because a lateral file only fits one row of paperwork, which occupies little more than one foot of space when measured from the wall outward. This does not mean that a lateral file cannot hold the same amount of paperwork as a vertical file, because it can.

Lateral Files Vs. Vertical Files

Lateral files occupy significant wall space, whereas vertical files have relatively small widths but extend outwards well beyond the reach of a lateral file. A vertical file can completely block a narrow walkway. If you have little wall space with which to work and an otherwise spacious room, it's advantageous to purchase vertical files.

Many libraries store microfiche tapes in lateral files, because the file cabinets will be set up in multiple rows that need to be fairly close to one another. Lateral file cabinets make it possible for someone to walk around an opened file. A vertical file would interrupt the traffic flow.

Lateral files are often placed on top of one another. Configuring multiple file cabinets this way saves space. If three feet of wall space is already occupied by a file, you really don't lose anything by adding another cabinet above it. Without file cabinets, it's impossible to organize a lot of paperwork in a way that makes document retrieval easy. While both vertical and lateral files can accomplish this goal, purchasing the wrong type can lead to spacial problems.

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