How Do I Choose the Best File Cabinet Size?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2019
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When you are trying to decide on the right file cabinet size, it can be helpful to know how many files you might want to place in this cabinet. You may also want to consider whether you are more likely to use letter or legal size papers or files, because this can affect the size of the drawers. The right file cabinet dimensions can depend on the amount of space you have in your office and the amount of space needed to open the drawers.

In order to choose the right file cabinet size, it can be helpful to know how many files you might need to store inside the cabinet. This can often depend on whether you are using the filing cabinet for business or personal use. If you plan to use this furniture at home, a one or two drawer file cabinet might be big enough, but you may want a four drawer file cabinet for a private office.


Most documents are printed on standard-sized paper, legal and real estate documents are sometimes printed on longer sheets. This means that those documents are normally too large to fit into units with average file cabinet dimensions. Likewise, standard file folders may be too small if the file cabinet size is intended for legal paperwork. It can be a good idea to know what size paper you normally file, and if you often file both regular and legal-sized documents, you may need to buy a separate filing cabinet for each type.

It is a good idea to measure the area where you plan to put your file cabinet before you go shopping. This can tell you what file cabinet size might fit in the space you have. A vertical filing cabinet normally takes up less floor space than a horizontal one does. It can also sometimes hold more folders than several four drawer file cabinets placed side by side. This might make it a better choice if you maintain hundreds of records, which could be the case if you manage files for a medical office or school.

Be sure to open and close the file drawers completely so you will know how much room it takes to fully extend them. If you are placing the filing cabinets in a small room or a hallway, you may not have much space to open the drawers. In this instance, you may want to buy a file cabinet that is not as deep. Another option might be to buy one with doors that lift up, as these can be placed in areas that might otherwise be too small for long drawers to open in.


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Post 2

@Pippinwhite -- I hadn't thought about seeing if a used furniture store had filing cabinets! I'm going to need a couple, so I'll check there first.

Fortunately, I can get by with standard sized cabinets. I just need a couple of four-drawer cabinets. And they don't have to match, although my anal retentive, OCD boss would prefer that they did. I'd prefer to save the company money. If I can save a few hundred bucks by getting used cabinets, that's great. I'll get a couple of cans of black spray paint and take care of them, if my boss kicks up a fuss about them being different colors. A little spray paint and everybody's happy.

Post 1

When I needed filing cabinets for keeping old newspapers at my office, I went to a used office furniture store. I didn't need gorgeous cabinets -- they didn't even have to match, as far as I was concerned!

I got a great deal on three cabinets. They were $25 apiece. I told the guy at the store that, as long as they opened and closed, I didn't care how beat up they were. All they had to do was hold papers in order. My boss was pretty pleased that I found three cabinets so cheap. I’ve had them about 10 years and they’ve been just fine.

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