Which file folders are best?

Whether in the office or at home, keeping your files organized is the best way to keep track of everything from expenses to records to projects and more. With the right file folders, you can keep everything in order and make it easier to find when you need it. 

Particularly useful if you need a large amount of file folders is the Pendaflex 100-Pack Classic Manila File Folders. The manila file folder is a classic in the organization world for good reason. In its simplicity, you can keep your life easily organized in a neat and tidy way without spending a fortune. 

What to know before you buy a file folder

Before making a decision about which file folders to use, it’s important to know your options.

  • Pressboard file folders and an ultra-durable option made for heavy use. They are great for busy offices because they are resistant to wear. If you plan on regularly using your file folders, pressboard folders are a great option. 
  • The classic manila file folders are staples in any office. They can save your files from minor tears and folds because they are typically made of heavyweight stock. They are also a great low-cost option you can buy in bulk. 
  • For extra document protection, try a poly file folder. Made of polypropylene, they provide far more protection for your documents than a paper-based folder will. They come in a variety of colors, making it easier to create a filing system.
  • ⅓-cut tab file folders are similar to traditional folders, other than the tabs. They are typically staggered in sets of three, giving you better visibility of the labels. If you need to frequently locate and access your folders, a tab folder is a simple and convenient solution. 
  • Somewhat unique is the heavyweight file folder. Particularly durable and often available in an array of colors, these feature an extra-large tab giving you 90% more label area. These also work with vertical and lateral filing systems, giving you more filing versatility. 
  • Another option for durability is the reinforced file folders. These are long lasting and offer maximum protection. They are super strong and perfect for archival documentation. 
  • If you rely on a hanging file system, you’re probably familiar with hanging file folders. These work well in filing cabinets. Whether you’re filing charts, important documents, records, etc., you can rely on hanging file folders. They come in different dimensions and you can find them with reinforced tabs, heavy duty construction and extra capacity. 
  • If you’re working with classified or confidential documents, opt for a classification file folder. They come with four, six or eight sections and in a variety of colors. They work well for particularly private documents because they fasten and securely close. Made of heavyweight materials, they will protect your documents against tears and wear. 
  • Another option for important or confidential documents is the pocket elastic file folder, especially if you need to carry them around. Because the documents are securely held in place with an elastic strap, you reduce the risk of them being lost. 
  • If you want to secure your files in a more permanent way, try a fastener folder. These keep your files in the folder using long, flat prongs. The key to using a fastener folder is hole punching your files, typically at the top. They use either embossed prongs, which are threaded through the actual folder, or bonded prongs, which are glued to the folder. 

With so many file folder options, choosing the right style for your desk organizer or filing cabinet can feel overwhelming. Here are some considerations to keep in mind. 

Bulk options

When you find a file folder that works for your needs, the only thing that could throw off your filing system is running out of folders. To make sure that doesn’t happen, check if the folder you like comes in bulk. Along with making sure you can stay consistent with your filing, it will save you money in the long run. 


The material of the file folder you choose will determine how protected your files are. Plastic or polypropylene will be the most durable and last the longest. However, it’s also more expensive. Hard stock paper is cheaper and can still protect your files, but it will be less durable. 

Intended use

Consider how you plan to use the file folders. For light use, simple manila file folders or fastener folders are a great option. If you plan on regularly pulling out and using your files, try a sturdier option, like pressboard or poly folders. If you’re working with confidential documents, opt for a pocket elastic file folder.

What to look for in a quality file folder


If you want to organize several files in the same folder, look for one that has an accordion design. You’ll be able to fit more and organize files within a project. It may also save you space, as you’ll only have the one accordion file folder versus several individual folders.

PVC free

When choosing a poly folder or plastic folder, check that it’s PVC free. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is one of the most commonly used thermoplastic polymers on the market, because it’s dense, cheap and in general proves itself with hardness and durability. It also has excellent tensile strength. However, there is some evidence it could be toxic. 


For the ultimate in organization, look for a file folder that comes in a variety of colors. It’s easier to organize your files at a glance and keep things in order. A color-coded filing system is an excellent way to keep your filing cabinet tidy and file your papers faster. 

Easy labeling

Another thing to look for is how your file folders are labeled. Some poly folders have plastic tabs in which you can insert a label. Others rely on you having printable labels or writing the file name on the tab. Look for a file folder with extra-large tabs or plastic tabs for the easiest labeling. 

How much you can expect to spend on file folders

For a pack of file folders, plan on spending anywhere from $5-$75. The price range is so large because of the variety on the market. The price you pay is determined by the number of files in the pack, whether you buy in bulk and the type of folder. 

File folder FAQ

What is the best file folder for the office?

A. Generally speaking, you want something heavy duty, long lasting and durable for office organization. For a bulk option, go with sturdy manila folders. Other great options are pressboard, poly, heavyweight, reinforced or hanging file folders. 

What is the best file folder for school?

A. Keeping school projects organized can help any student stay on top of their lengthy to-do list. Luckily, these don’t typically need to be especially heavy duty. You can get away with a manila, reversible, fastener or pocket folder. 

What is the best file folder for classified documents?

A. If you’re working with classified or confidential documents, privacy and security should be your primary concern. To ensure your documents stay where they are supposed to be and remain private, use a classification or pocket elastic file folder.  

What’s the best file folder to buy?

Top file folder

Smead Classification File Folders

Smead Classification File Folders

What you need to know: Thanks to the metal fasteners, your documents will stay secure no matter how much you move them. 

What you’ll love: Because there’s a divider in each folder, you can arrange the papers within each file for optimal organization. Labeling the folders is a breeze with the large tabs. And you won’t run out of room thanks to the 2 inch expansion capacity. 

What you should consider: Some reviewers reported the fasteners coming off with heavy use.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Staples

Top file folder for the money

Pendaflex 100-Pack Classic Manila File Folders

Pendaflex 100-Pack Classic Manila File Folders

What you need to know: A classic office organization tool and a respected name in the filing industry, this is the perfect way to start organizing your files. 

What you’ll love: The ⅓-cut tabs make labeling your files a breeze, whether you handwrite or print the labels. There are 100 in this pack, making it an affordable way to start getting your cluttered desk in order. 

What you should consider: These aren’t made of heavier card-stock paper so they will bend if used too heavily. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Staples

Worth checking out

SKYDUE Letter A4 Paper Expanding File Folder

SKYDUE Letter A4 Paper Expanding File Folder

What you need to know: This accordion-style expanding file folder is perfect for keeping your files in order. 

What you’ll love: Available in multiple colors and with five separate pockets, you can easily keep track of a variety of papers. The snap on the top makes sure nothing falls out so you won’t lose a single document. 

What you should consider: With heavy use, the spine might crack.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Kasey Van Dyke writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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