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Do I have to spread out my hanging file tabs into the five positions or can I put them into a straight line?

You can arrange tabs in the filing cabinet in whichever way suits your needs best. When setting up month folders, consider spreading them out in rows of four tabs as shown in the example.  This will make the files easier to read and prevent the tabs in adjacent rows from blocking each other. The 10-year tax archive will also benefit from having tabs fanned similarly, in two rows of five tabs.  For other areas of the filing system that may be more likely to change over time (e.g. Resource/Permanent/Remove-Replace etc.), you can spread tabs out or use straight-line filing (also double-line filing in two columns is sometimes used).  The advantage of single line filing (placing tabs in a single column position) is that when you remove a file from the drawer or add a new folder, you do not have to shift the position of any tabs. Some argue that it is easier to visually scan a single column for the correct alphabetic heading, while straight-line filing is more visually tidy.  Other evidence shows that many people do not search for files alphabetically, but instead recall the file's physical position in the drawer, while straight-line filing can cause tabs to be obscured when adjacent in the filing drawer, negating the benefit.  If you spread tabs out in, say rows of four, when adding a new tab simply create a row of three and a row of two.  Standard hanging file tabs can be adjusted very quickly.  Remember not to worry—either tab placement method will function more than adequately and the choice will not be a major factor in the success of your filing system.

 
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