What is card indexing and explain its advantages and disadvantages ?


The system of card indexing was propagated by a French Person called Abb’e Jean Rozier (1734-93). The index is prepared by allotting a separate card to each piece of information. The required information are written on the cards. All cards are of uniform size and are arranged in alphabetical, numerical or geographical order. Cards are put in the steel drawer and a rod is put through them to hold them together.

The placement of card is done in vertical position but sometimes these are placed in horizontal position. In this case, the main heading of the card are visible. This method of indexing is widely adopted in libraries. Sometimes this method of index has also gained popularity in banks because bank uses this method for keeping the signature of the account holders. Cards are used for a variety of purposes by the business houses:

  • It serves as a catalogue of books in libraries.
  • This is used to record particulars of important documents.
  • This is meant to keep record of hire purchase and installment sale.
  • It is used to contain specimen signature of customers.
  • It is used to maintain accounts of customers and account of store items.



The following are some of the advantages of card indexing:

(a) The system of card indexing can be used for any purpose.

(b) Once index cards are prepared, it becomes easy to operate card indexing. So this system of indexing is very simple.

(c) Cards provide a complete record on names and addresses of all persons with whom the business transactions are made. This, system is so simple that any card may be added or removed without disturbing the sequences of other cards.


(d) Similar nature cards are grouped together by the use of colour signaling or tracers. The use of these items in grouping of cards facilitates quick reference of letters.

(e) This system facilitates cross-referencing by the use of loose cards in the place of cards taken for cross reference. After the cross reference is over the loose cards are removed.

(f) This system ensures comparative cost benefit. The initial expenditure on card indexing is high but its operating cost is low.

(g) This system of indexing does not create any problem in location as the cards are arranged alphabetically. Card indexing becomes cheaper when there are large number of customers in the organisation.



The system of card index suffers from the following limitations:

(a) A wrong placement of card will create a substantial problem in locating cards.

(b) This system of indexing is a blind system. As the cards are handled directly, the chances of disfigurement and gradual destruction of cards are much greater in this system. The chances of mutilation or destruction of cards are much higher.


(c) A small organisation cannot adopt card indexing system because it involves much initial expenditure.

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