Glossary Terms

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Terminology Description
File plan:

A pre-determined classification plan by which records are filed and/or electronically indexed to facilitate efficient retrieval and disposal of records.


The National Archivist must approve all file plans before governmental bodies implement them.


Detailed design and implementation guidelines for file plans are contained in the National Archives and Records Service's publication Directive R1: Background and compiling file plans. Detailed information regarding the application and maintenance of paper-based filing systems is contained in the document Directive R2: Application and maintenance of filing systems.


Guidelines regarding the compilation of file plans is available in Standardizing main series for support functions of governmental bodies. Prototype file plans for local authorities, yMinistries and MEC'S as well Committees and Commissions of Enquiry also exist and should be used by governmental bodies as a framework when compiling file plans for paper-based and electronic records.


File reference:

A unique identifier for a file. This can be a numerical, alphanumerical or alphabetical identifier. It is used to link a record to its specific subject file and subject grouping. 

Filing system:

The collective noun for a storage system (like files, boxes, shelves or electronic applications and storage systems) in which records are stored in a systematic manner according to a file plan. 


1) An organised arrangement of records on the same subject accumulated in chronological order within the same cover/container.

2) The physical action of allocating file reference numbers to records and placing them inside the cover/container.