The File Folder Buying Guide

By Nicole Tinkham


Staying organized in the office can be frustrating especially when you don’t have the correct supplies. While Keeton’s carries many office organizing supplies, we are going to focus on file folders in this post. And although that may not seem too exciting, when you consider the many different options besides size and color, the thrill of shopping for them becomes unbearable. Are you pumped yet? Let’s dive in and explore the exciting world of file folders!


  • Interior folders fit inside hanging file folders. They are smaller than a standard file folder so the tabs don’t extend above the hanging folder. These are used to keep organized within hanging folders.
  • Standard folders come in letter (11 ¼” wide) and legal (14 ¾” wide) size with assorted tabs.
  • Guide height folders have a higher tab than the standard folders allowing it to be seen above a guide or in a hanging folder.

Special Features

  • Antimicrobial folders resist the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew which prevents stains and odors.
  • CutLess folders are made with a thicker stock and a softer edge to reduce paper cuts.
  • Water-resistant folders are made to resist liquid spills allowing you to easily wipe the folder clean. These folders can easily be written on with ballpoint pens, roller ball pens, and pencils.
  • Archival folders are made to be stored long-term without yellowing or fading. They are usually made of acid-free materials.


  • Colored folders stand out and are great for color-coding. Although several colors are available, you will often find them in green, blue, purple, yellow, and red.
  • Kraft folders are a natural brown color. These folders have a resistance to smudging.
  • Manila folders are buff-colored and very popular for their smudge and tear resistant qualities.

Heavy Duty

More durable file folders are also available in pressboard and polypropylene. Both of these types offer excellent durability- pressboard being great for constant use and polypropylene having water, tear, ink and toner resistant qualities.


When purchasing file folders, you may notice different tab options regarding size and location. The tab cut refers to how large the tab is across the folder. You will often see them in either 1/3 or 1/5 cut, meaning the tab is either 1/3 or 1/5 the length of the folder. You may also notice a straight cut folder which indicates no tab at all.

Choosing a tab position depends on how you are going to store your file folders. You will notice there are both top tab and end tab folders.

Expanding & Box Bottom Folders

For storing more, you may want to consider expanding or box bottom file folders. You will notice that some hanging file folders have a box bottom. This makes storing bulky items easy. Expanding folders offer more room with anywhere between a 1” and 3 ½” expansion.

Hanging File Folders

Hanging file folders have small hooks on the sides so they can be hung in a filing cabinet. These folders come in both letter and legal sizes. The most common tab cut for these folders is a 1/5 cut, although 1/3 cut is also available. Sometimes you will see these folders with built-in classification folders or dividers. While they come in many different colors, you may recognize hanging file folders by their common dark green color.

Classification Folders

Some file folders have fasteners which secure important documents. Both top and end tab folders are available with fasteners as well as hanging folders. Some file folders have multiple sections with fasteners. These types of file folders are called classification folders. These folders come with 2, 4, 6, or 8 sections. A four section folder would have one insert with fasteners on both sides as well as fasteners on the inside of the front and back of the folder. Sometimes classification folders can get confusing. If you have further questions on the number of sections, please feel free to ask us!

Other Specialty Folders

And that completes our file folder buying guide! You are now off to a great start in organizing your office. Stay tuned for more organizing supplies and tips in our future office supply blogs!


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