What is a Lateral Filing Cabinet?

February 07, 2020

What Is It?

A lateral file is one of a few different types of file cabinet and is differentiated from its vertical counterpart by its short and wide build. The shape allows for lateral files to hold more documents than other types of file cabinets and makes it more versatile in general. lateral files now come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, but they generally have 2-3 drawers,  are about 20" deep and are between 30" and 42" wide. Overall, lateral files are an excellent and efficient way to keep your office (large or small) tidy and organized.

Benefits of a Lateral File

First of all, lateral file drawers are built with dimensions that are suitable for both legal and letter sized files making it very versatile. They can also be set up to allow for the files to be stored either front to back or side to side, though storing files front to be back means you will not be able to hold as many files in each drawer.

Due to the width of the drawers, they are capable of holding more files than any other filing system. This means that while a lateral file will take up more floor space than a vertical file will, a lateral file is much more efficient with the space it takes up.



The other benefit of lateral filing cabinet being wide is that the top can also be used. You can use it for your printer or to make your space more homey with photos and decor. This makes the lateral file an even more efficient use of space!

Unlike vertical cabinets, lateral files allow you to store files in the drawers horizontally rather than vertically. The drawers are also less deep and don't pull out as far, which means that seeing and finding files is much quicker and easier than it is in the long drawers of vertical files. This makes it ideal for files and other documents that need to be referenced or used regularly.

Lateral File vs Vertical File

So if lateral files are so great, why get ever consider a vertical file? How can you know whether a lateral file or vertical file is right for you? it all depends on what your needs are and what you need to file.

As mentioned before, if you are running a business or a practice you will have certain files that you need to use frequently and get to quickly. If that is the case, a lateral file is probably the way to go. However, if you need a file for personal use, or need to store documents that you need to have but don't need to reference often (tax documents and other personal information) a vertical file cabinet is a fine choice.

Vertical file cabinets take up less floor space which makes them great for use at home where you might be shorter on space. The are much narrower than lateral files, and they are also much lighter making them easier to move if need be.

There are also mobile files, which are nearly always vertical files, and feature casters that make the file super easy to roll around to wherever you need it! Lateral files are much more difficult and awkward to move.

While the tops of these mobile and vertical files aren't as spacious as the lateral files, they can still be used to hold your printer. This can save you even more space.

Vertical and mobile files can be quite tall, but they are also very easy to find in sizes that will fit conveniently under your desk. So, if holding a lot of files and quick access aren't your priority, a vertical file cabinet is a perfectly viable option.

Hopefully this clarifies the differences between the two main types of filing cabinets and helps you to figure out what best suits your needs. If you are actually in the process of finding a filing cabinet feel free to browse our many options!

If you have any questions about this or any other office furniture we are happy to help, just contact us.


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