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n. ~ 1. A group of documents related by use or topic, typically housed in a folder (or a group of folders for a large file). - 2. plural (files) · The whole of a collection of records. - 3. Computing · Collections of data stored for use by a computer; see data file.

- v. ~ 4. To store documents in an organized collection for safekeeping and future reference. - 5. To present a document to the clerk of a court or recorder so that it can be entered into the official record. - 6. To initiate a lawsuit.


File1 in the singular generally refers to related documents that are kept together in one or a few folders. In the plural, it typically indicates a larger collection of all or part of an organization's records.

(CJS, Records §24) [file5] There is a well defined distinction between filing an instrument, and offering it for record or causing it to be recorded. The term 'recorded' signifies copied or transcribed into a permanent book, while the term 'filing' signifies merely delivery to the proper official.
(Guercio 2001, p. 248–249) Every record is, therefore, an element in an ensemble of other records, or better, of recordkeeping structures, functional aggregations constructed by the creator in the course and for the conduct of its activity and, thus, set in a specific juridical/administrative and documentary/archival context, in the form of files,1, 2 that is, of records related to the same affair or matter, or of records series, that is types of records which are homogeneous in form (for example, the series of minutes, of decisions, of circulars, or of ledgers).
(Ralston 1976, p. 561) The term file3 must have been one of the first to be used in commercial data processing terminology. Even before the advent of computers a deck of punch cards was often called a 'card file,' a term also applied to the cabinet in which the cards were stored. In the very early days of computers, any collection of data or programs was identified as a file.