File fasteners

A file fastener secures documents to a file cover. The most common types of file fasteners are:

  • single hole fasteners (usually metal, often known as split-pins or file spikes)
  • two hole fasteners (a variety available in metal or plastic).

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The NT Archives Service recommends the use of plastic two-hole file fasteners such as those marketed under the trade names Tubeclip, Dataclip, Fileclip or Enviroclip, for the following reasons:

  • documents can easily be placed neatly and consistently on a file
  • two-hole punching is accepted common practice
  • files can be opened flat for use or copying, without the need to remove papers, reducing wear and tear on documents
  • the recommended fasteners are safe and easy to use
  • they provide better support to a file than single hole fasteners.

Explanatory information

Metal fastners

File and other metal pins, even stainless steel, will eventually rust, especially in humid climates, causing document damage. In the tropics, the development of rust is likely to accelerate in response to wet season conditions.

Experience in recovery of records from disasters, such as the Katherine Flood of 1998, indicates that metal fasteners of any kind, including stainless steel, and particularly single-hole metal fasteners, are more likely to cause damage to records under extreme conditions than two-hole plastic fasteners.

Plastic fastners

Most plastic file fasteners available are made from PVC plastic. PVC gives off chlorine, causing acidity and therefore damage to documents over time. This reaction may be accelerated in enclosed spaces and in response to some other environmental conditions. Nevertheless, the plastic fasteners are recommended in preference to metal.

Reducing damage to documents

Placing a piece of archival quality paper between the file fastener and any document in contact with the metal or plastic will reduce damage to documents.

It is important to hole punch documents for attachment to file, to retain the documents in the best possible condition. Accurate hole punching ensures that documents are aligned on the file, reducing the potential for damage to individual documents. If documents are not punched, they are more likely to tear.

Single-hole fastners

Single-hole fasteners are located on the top left side of the documents on a file. The split pin or file spike is inserted through a hole in a flap, which is attached by an adhesive patch to the top left corner of the inside right-hand face of a file cover.

When using single-hole fasteners, documents should be punched with a hole punch rather than using a pigsticker or bodkin to pierce the paper, or forcing the paper onto the split pin or file spike. Generally, single-hole punches have no guide built in, with the result that holes are not made uniformly. This leads to the edges of some documents sticking out in a file, which may cause documents to be damaged.

To photocopy documents on a file with a single-hole fastener, it may be necessary to remove preceding papers.

Caution is required in using metal split pins or file spikes to avoid injury to users' hands.

Two-hole fastners

Two-hole fasteners offer support to a file by spreading the weight of documents across two fastening points, with some support across the paper between the fastening points.

Two-hole fasteners are located on the left side centre of the documents on a file, and are available in a variety of metal and plastic styles. Two-hole fasteners are usually attached to a file with an adhesive patch to the centre left of the inside right-hand face of a file cover.

It is important to hole punch documents using a two-hole punch with a paper guide for attachment to file, to retain the documents uniformly in the file.

To photocopy documents on a file with a standard two-hole fastener, it may be necessary to remove papers. Better styles of two-hole fasteners enable a file to open out completely flat for use and copying, and enable removal of documents without the removal of preceding papers, thereby reducing wear and tear on documents.


The NT Archives Service wishes to acknowledge that research for this advice has included consultation with the Preservation Officer, National Archives of Australia, as well as significant reference to the following publications:

  • State Records Authority of New South Wales (State Records NSW). 1993. Revised Edition. File format: A guide to the physical design and construction of files in Government Recordkeeping Manual, Volume 2, Guidelines. 1999. State Records NSW, Sydney, NSW.
  • National Archives of Australia website. Accessed 13 September 2000.

More information

The NT Records Service is responsible for developing, managing and implementing Records Management Standards for the NT Government. The regulatory basis for records management is the Information Act 2002, Part 9 - Records and Archives Management.

For further information please contact:

NT Archives Service
Department of Tourism and Culture

Last updated: 29 July 2019

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