Terminal Digit / Alpha-Numeric Systems

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Terminal Digit / Alpha-Numeric Systems
  Reduce A Search Group of 100,000 Folders To 10 Folders Almost Instantly.
Some organizations have a database that allows identification of a person, employee or relationship by both name and number. If both pieces of information are interchangeable and included in all documents related to a particular file — so no cross reference is required — a unique possibility emerges. This system is called Terminal Digit/Alphabetic filing, and it was created by Jeter in 1974. Its first application was in the insurance department of a large industrial company. This company had 100,000 employees filed in alphabetical order. Locating records in this active file area was very difficult and time-consuming, because the files were organized in 56 separate A to Z systems based on plant location. Since the company always had the name and social security number of each employee available, Jeter recommended that the file first be separated into 1,000 unique groups identified by the last three digits of the social security number (000,001,002 through 999).

Start With The Last 3 Digits, Then Alphabetize Within These Groups

If a person’s social security number ended in 018, the file becomes one
of only 100 folders in the 018 section—representing just 1/1000 of the total file, or one of our 1,000 uniquely color-coded groups. Within these 100 file folders, the files are arranged in alphabetical order with color-codes for the first letter of the last name to further distinguish each folder’s location. John Smith, with a social security number ending in 018, would be color-coded as shown in the example on the next page.

The letters B, 5, M and a few other common letters each represent a significant percentage of a file system. Out of 100,000 file folders, you
can expect around 10 folders color-coded with the letter S within the
018 group. So this unique organizational technique allows you to go
from a search group of 100,000 file folders to just 10 file folders by
looking at only four color-coded positions — something the average
user can do almost instantly.

A Predictable Pattern Means The Numbers Tell You Where To Find The Folder

Organizing folders in a predictable numeric pattern makes location fast and intuitive. When looking for a file folder in a Jeter Terminal Digit!
Alphabetic system, the number 018 indicates an early section in the system. So users naturally begin where early numbers are located, and then use visually available color groups to pinpoint location. If a person was looking for the start of the M section in an alphabetic file, they would have to determine at what point they were 60-70% from the beginning of the system — a difficult chore. But in Terminal Digit!

Alphabetical systems, the number 650 would tell that person that the file is located exactly 65% from the start of the system. Mentally, this approach is far easier to comprehend and use.

Sensitive Information Is More Secure With Jute, Terminal Digit/Alphabetic Systems

It takes more than a name to determine file location within the Terminal Digit/Alphabetic system. You also need to know the last three digits of their social security or employee identification number. So if an untrained person were to seek a particular file, it is highly unlikely that they would be able to find it. This makes the system ideal for confidential information you want to protect from unauthorized access.

Even tighter security can be provided with a slight change in color-coding. Instead of coding the last three digits, we code the 2nd, 3rd and 4th digits from the end of the number, ignoring the last digit. This maintains all the efficiency and ease-of-use advantages of the system, while further complicating access for unauthorized people. Breaking the code and finding a certain folder would be very difficult. So records are securely protected — often more so than in locked files.


In addition to Jeter, we also represent several other major manufacturers should you need to match an existing system. For a free analysis of your existing operation or to simply discuss a future application, please feel free to call us or fill out our “request for information” form.



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Copyright © 2009 Datamation Systems Inc.  Last modified: Thursday July 10, 2014