Take NoteWe believe some colleagues in the archives profession will be chastened to read the following notice published in the British Weights and Measures Association annual report for 1907. The information is perhaps still as relevant now in the computer age as it was then.
Most progressive people now-a-days use card indexes of some sort or other, and with these obtain the necessary drawers, etc, for filing them. The standard sizes of these cards are 3 x 5, 4 x 6, and 5 x 8 — cabinets being sold to fit. We would warn all our members to make sure in purchasing these cabinets that the drawers will fit these sizes of cards. There are some cabinets on the market at present with drawers presumably of the standard size, but on looking closely at the circular or catalogue describing them, you will find the word “approximately”. These cabinets are not made in England, and are made to take cards according to millimetre sizes, which are incommensurable with British sizes.
If you should unfortunately get this make of cabinets in your office you will find yourself tied to obtain your future supplies of cards from the firm, or pay extra if you go elsewhere, as a drawer 75 x 125 millimetres will not take a 3 x 5in standard card. The difference is slight but just enough to tie you to one firm for supplies at their prices. We don’t want tied houses in the stationery trade, neither do we want confusion introducing into our sizes, which are based on the Imperial standard inch. There are excellent makers who supply cabinets to British standard sizes, and our members should insist on having these sizes.
British Weights and Measures Association