How to sort alphabetically (with pictures)

How to sort alphabetically (with pictures)
How to sort alphabetically (with pictures)

Whether in your private life or in your professional life, it is important to organize your documents in alphabetical order. This makes it easy for others like yourself to find what you need and to tidy up files more quickly after use. Thus, documents do not risk getting lost and are available immediately. There are many rules regarding alphabetical ordering that you should know beforehand.


Part 1 of 2: Sort alphabetically

File Alphabetically Step 1

Step 1. Make a filing plan

Even if the alphabetical classification is a priori a fixed order, there are still several variants of it. You must choose one and adhere to it scrupulously.

  • You can sort using letter succession, taking into account each letter in each word in the order in which they appear, and choose to ignore all spaces between words.
  • Sorting can be done using word succession instead, sorting the records based on the first letter of each word in the order they appear.
  • You can also rely on all characters, taking into account not only words, but also abbreviations and initials. This is the option that is generally recommended.
File Alphabetically Step 2

Step 2. Group items together

Once you have all the files you need to organize in front of you, decide how to group them. You can present them as in a dictionary, putting them all in one and the same alphabetical order, whatever their content. You can also proceed as in an encyclopedia, by grouping certain elements by subject or by type, then establish an alphabetical classification within each group.

If you have a large number of different types of documents (eg receipts, invoices, letters, etc.), it is advisable to opt for the encyclopedic mode. Start by grouping your documents by type, then classify each group from A to Z. Groups of different documents should be clearly separated by dividers or be placed in folders according to a specific color code

File Alphabetically Step 3

Step 3. Index the folders

Indexing is a technique of listing each part of a title correctly in the unit that corresponds to it. To index a document before filing it, you must separate each of the elements of its title and use them to forge a standardized title suitable for appearing in alphabetical order and which will sometimes differ from the usage title.

  • For example, imagine that you had to classify and index a document on the aardvark with the following title: "Eating at night: the case of the nocturnal feeding of the Cape Aardvark", a biography of the specialist. of this species, Jeanne Robert, accompanied by the promotional brochure of a zoological park which organizes an exhibition on this animal.
  • The biography of Jeanne Robert will be indexed under "Robert Jeanne", because the last names must always be placed before the first names. The document will therefore be classified under the letter D.
  • If you organize your documents like in a dictionary, the article "Eating at night: The case of the Cape Aardvarks night feeding" can be indexed as is. It will therefore be in the M folder (like "eat").
  • On the other hand, if you choose the encyclopedic method, you can index it under the terms "Cape Aardvil (night feeding)" and store it in the O folder. This choice will only be meaningful if all of your documents does not cover the Cape Aardvark.
  • The advertising brochure may be indexed under the term “Cape Aardvil, exhibition (Detroit Zoo)”. This classification method will be perfectly logical if you plan to receive several publications on exhibitions around Cape Aardvarks, for example if another document is indexed under the term "Cape Aardvarks, exhibition (Toledo Zoo)".
  • You can also index this leaflet under the term "Detroit Zoo (Cape Aardvarks Exhibition)", which will be more relevant if you think you will have several documents related to the Detroit Zoo in the future or if you choose to group them together. items by geographic location, such as in an encyclopedia.
File Alphabetically Step 4

Step 4. Sort alphabetically

Use the index terms you choose to sort the documents from A to Z. You may need to rely on more specific information to ensure that each item is in its right place. Let's see what this gives with our example.

  • Depending on the classification system for which you have chosen, the order of the documents will be: "Eating at night: the case of the night feeding of the Cape aardly", then "Robert Jeanne", then "Detroit zoo (exhibition on Cape Aardvarks)”or“Cape Aardvarks (nocturnal feeding)”, then“Cape Aardvarks, exhibition (Detroit Zoo)”, then“Robert Jeanne”.
  • A folder on the "wallaby" will be placed after the one on the "emu", and the one on the "kangaroo" will be in between. Likewise, the "eagle" dossier will precede "bison" and "emu". We obtain the following sequence: “eagle”, “bison”, “emu”, “kangaroo” and “wallaby”.
  • Suppose you add a “bonobo” folder. It will be just after “bison”. These words both start with the letter B, so you need to consider the second letter (an O and an I respectively) to put them in the correct order. The new sequence will be: "eagle", "bison", "bonobo", "emu", "kangaroo" and "wallaby".
File Alphabetically Step 5

Step 5. Name the folders

To more easily find the place of each document, clearly label the folders in which they are stored, respecting the chosen indexing terms. This will also make it much easier for you to put new folders in the correct order.

  • Drop each document in the folder that suits it.
  • To make your life easier, you can use a color code. For example, if your classification is of an encyclopedic type, you can give each thematic group a different color. You will only have to add to each folder in the thematic group the color that corresponds to it.
File Alphabetically Step 6

Step 6. Explain your classification

Whatever indexing and ranking systems you choose, you must adhere to them rigorously. Everyone who uses the file directory should also be familiar with the rules for organizing it. You can write a summary sheet that you will make available to everyone so that everyone can respect them. This is the best way to keep the established order over time.

File Alphabetically Step 7

Step 7. File the new documents correctly

They should be placed in the cabinet in alphabetical order, according to their index terms. Sometimes you will need to shift folders from one department to another to get the new ones in the right place.

Part 2 of 2: Manage special cases

File Alphabetically Step 8

Step 1. Classify the documents under a meaningful term

Sometimes it's best to put a document under a keyword regardless of the order in which it appears in the title. It will thus be indexed in a more relevant way and put in a logical place.

For example, “the largest banks in Paris” could be indexed under the term “Paris, the largest banks”. In this case, the keyword is “Paris” and not “the biggest banks”, all the more so if you have documents with similar names, like “the biggest banks in Lyon” or “the banks and the banks”. Paris companies”

File Alphabetically Step 9

Step 2. Sort by last name

In general, the last name is used to sort personal names because it is much more relevant than the first name.

  • The “Jeanne Robert” file will therefore be indexed and classified to “Robert Jeanne”.
  • Honorary titles (Dr., Pr., Etc.) will be mentioned last. “Dr. Jeanne Robert” will be indexed and classified under “Robert Jeanne (Dr.)”.
  • Make it a rule to order proper nouns letter by letter, as they are written. For example, "MacDonald" will precede "McDonald". Also consider that particles like "D", "L", "Le" or "De" are an integral part of the proper name. You will thus have the sequence "Hésini", "Le Guin", "L’Englois" and "Vaurier" (and not "L’Englois", "Le Guin", "Hésini" and "Vaurier".
  • However, there is an exception to the rule in force for proper names. When they are part of the official name of a company or organization, they will be considered as an indivisible unit of meaning. For example, the company "Jeanne Robert carpentry-cabinetmaking" will be classified under the letter J and not indexed under the terms "Robert Jeanne, joinery-cabinetmaking".
File Alphabetically Step 10

Step 3. Ignore the meaningless words

When indexing files, certain words are ignored that are not considered meaningful. These are articles ("un", "une", "le", "la", "les"), conjunctions (for example "and", "but", "or") and prepositions (" in "," for "," of "). This rule is valid even when they are at the beginning of the title of a document.

  • For example, the article "an investigation into the feeding of the emu" would be classified under the letter E and indexed to "emu", since that is the most significant term in the title.
  • “Robert et Vaurier carpentry-cabinetmaking” will be placed just after “Robert Jeanne”. Indeed, in both cases, the first index term will be "Robert". You must therefore rely on the second meaningful term (respectively "Vaurier" and "Jeanne") to sort them. The word "and" will be ignored.
File Alphabetically Step 11

Step 4. Pretend the abbreviations aren't

You might see abbreviations like “inc. "(For" incorporated ") or" & co. "(For" and company "). When indexing, treat them as if the whole word is written.

“Jeanne Robert & co. "Will, for example, be placed before" Jeanne Robert inc. "

File Alphabetically Step 12

Step 5. Put the numbers in order

The titles of your documents may contain numbers. If so, consider the order of the numbers, not the spelling of the words that refer to them. It is customary to place the numbers before the letter A.

  • For example, the folder "3M" will be before "100 big ideas for the business". Indeed, the number 3 is lower than the number 100.
  • "Big Ideas for the Business" and "Great Business Leaders" will be ordered after "100 Big Ideas for the Business", since the numbers are always placed before the beginning of the alphabet.
  • Numbers which are written out in full should be treated as words and not as numbers. So the ranking sequence will be "100 great business leaders", then "big ideas for the business", then "three hundred big ideas for the business".
  • Be aware, however, that if this is more convenient for you, you can make your own rule and decide that the numbers will always be ordered according to how they are spelled when spelled out.
File Alphabetically Step 13

Step 6. Learn how to handle special characters

Printed characters which are neither numbers nor letters should also be taken into account. The place you give them will depend on their type.

  • To classify or index, we generally ignore all punctuation marks (periods, commas or apostrophes for example). You will put "McDonald's Stéphane" after "McDonald's Brest".
  • An accented letter is at the same level as the corresponding unaccented letter. So classify "Eclair" like "Eclair" and "Über" like "Uber". Please note, if your classification is in a foreign language, you must respect the alphabetical order in force in that language. In Spanish, for example, the letter "ñ" is after the letter "n".
File Alphabetically Step 14

Step 7. Stick to the “nothing before something” rule

In general, we do not take into account when classifying spaces and non-significant elements. However, if you have documents that start out the same, space will determine what you put away first, according to the "nothing before something" rule.

  • You will therefore have in the order "Bank of the South West", then "Bank of the South West" then "Bank of the South West and Businesses".
  • Likewise, the “Robert Jeanne” folder will be before “Robert Jeanne (Dr.)”.
File Alphabetically Step 15

Step 8. Differentiate the folders with additional information

In some cases, the alphabet is not enough to determine the order in which to file two documents. It is then necessary to include other information to distinguish them from one another.

  • If you have two individuals in your file with the name Jeanne Robert, you can sort them by date of birth. "Robert Jeanne (born in 1853)" will then precede "Robert Jeanne (born in 1967)".
  • To distinguish two elements, you can also use geographical indications. If you have for example three files devoted to three chambers of commerce bearing the name of "chamber of commerce", you can sort them by department: "chamber of commerce (Ile de France)", then "chamber of commerce (Lorraine)", then “chamber of commerce (Rhône)”.
  • Likewise, if you have articles about different types of bears, you can categorize them by species. You will then have "bear (brown)", then "bear (grizzly)" or "bear (North America)" then "bear (Europe)".
File Alphabetically Step 16

Step 9. Specify special rules and exceptions

Please ensure that everyone who uses your file is aware of the exceptions to the general rules. This will allow everyone to store documents in a relevant and efficient manner.

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