Our sister company Carolina Records Center, a document storage company in the Sandhills area of North Carolina, prepared the following report.
We are constantly asked this question so we thought we would share a few facts and thoughts to help you estimate your paper volume using various units of measure.
Figuring out how much paper you have is not that difficult if you just know how much paper is in a various types of boxes and containers. In order to quantify your paper it will be necessary to determine: (A) how many feet or inches of paper you have; (B) how much paper you have in an inch or foot. Once you have both of those numbers the product will give you a very good estimate of your paper volume.
How much paper is in a box?
Paper is generally sold by the case. Each case holds 10 reams each containing 500 sheets of paper or a total of 5,000 sheets. Each case is packed in a box a little larger than a standard archive box. Bear in mind that the paper is very tightly packed at the paper mill by machinery designed to jam as much paper into the smallest space as possible. Your boxes will contain far fewer pages.
According to Staples, each case weighs 20 pounds.
A standard archive box measuring 10″ tall X 12″ wide X 15″ long will contain about 2,250 sheets of paper; if the box is packed tightly, perhaps as many as 2,500-2,700 sheets. Basically, paper volume is approximately 150 sheets of paper per inch. In a tightly packed box you will have about 175-200 sheets of paper per inch.
A so-called Bankers Box measures 10″ tall X 12″ wide X 24″ long. Using the same formula of 150 sheets per inch, this container should hold about 3,600 sheets.
Depth Sheets Weight (Lbs)
Case of Paper (new) 5,000 20
Standard Archive Box 15 2,250-3,000 10-12
Bankers Box 24 3,600-4,800 15-20
File Cabinet Drawer 18 2,700-3,600
File Cabinet Drawer 26 3,900-5,200
Lateral File Drawer 30 4,500-6,000
Lateral File Drawer 42 6,300-8,400
Files vary greatly so your actual volume will depend on how many pages are in each file and how they are bound. If you need a more accurate count you can sample your files to see how much your files vary from the above averages. Simply count how many files you have in a one foot section and how many pages are in a sample of the files. Take the average number of pages in the file sample and multiply it by the number of files in the one foot section. Now you know the amount of paper you have per foot. All that remains is to figure out how many total lineal feet of container space you have.
A typical vertical file cabinet is usually 18 to 26 inches deep and comes in two, four or five drawer variants. A 26″ deep 5 drawer file cabinet has about 10 lineal feet of drawer space. If you have 5 of these cabinets you will have about 50 lineal feet of drawer space. If you have 1800 sheets of paper per foot, your total amount of paper would be 90,000 sheets.
Lateral file cabinets are usually between 30 and 42 inches wide and come with 1 to 6 drawers. A foot of paper is a foot of paper whether it is in a standard banker box or a lateral file cabinet. Just figure out how much feet of drawer space you have and multiply by the amount of paper you have in a foot. A typical 4 drawer 36 inch lateral cabinet will contain about 21,600 images.
Please contact Carolina Records Center with any questions regarding your document storage needs: (910) 245-3688