And the winner of best score is…

I’m a few weeks late for the Academy Awards, but scores have been on my mind. Far from an avid movie-goer, I’d be hard pressed to match most pieces of music to a film, but I’ve been pondering a different kind of score.

These are the types of scores that make hardly a sound. They are invisible to the uninitiated. When then their presence is known and understood, their power is mighty. They are of the variety that pass through my fingertips with some degree of regularity. They were introduced to me during my first museum job. They are not some understated form of decoration. They have a purpose. They are a great tidying force in the lives of those who work with papers. They often elicit some version of, “Ah ha!” or “Oh, so that’s what that’s for!” from clients.

Care to be amazed? Let me show you.

The wonder of which I write exists on a very mundane and highly functional object: the file folder. There are a few variations of folder in residence in my home office. The one on the left is a fairly standard-issue folder with three scores visible on the bottom. It’s the kind I use in the filing cabinet for keeping personal, business, and research organized and findable. Somehow a handful of folders with two scores are in there as well. The folder on the right happens to have four scores and was procured from an archival supply company for a client project. I have yet to shop for folders based on the number of scores on them. (Do people do that?)


When tucking a few sheets of paper in a folder, there’s usually no need to think about or engage the scores. But when there’s a large enough chunk that hovers above the crease, can you see how a score might come in handy?


Folding a score to match the thickness of contents residing within the folder keeps the papers sitting flush on flat surface while also keeping the tab on the folder visible. Notice the pre- and post-score folding difference below?


For the client archive I’ve been working on, there are some hefty sets of papers that need to be filed and grouped together. The scores of scores are beneficial for keeping the documents tidy and well protected…


…not to mention sitting pretty in the archival boxes. Here’s an “aerial” view of the interior of a file box with the four-scored folders at work. (Oh geez, now I have the Gettysburg Address stuck in my head!)


So the next time you want to dazzle and amaze someone, show them how scores work. It’ll be music to their ears, or fingertips, and files.



Debra Baida is the owner of Liberated Spaces.