Documents can be archived for many years so it's important to choose the right archive boxes to store your documents safely.

In this guide we will look at the following aspects of archive boxes:

Archive box sizes:

Although A4 is the standard size for most documents, archive boxes are available from small sizes to suit A5 documents to large archive boxes for A3 documents. Please note: all sizes are approximate.


Document size: 297 mm x 420 mm

Archive box size approx.: 331 mm x 108 mm x 442 mm

Large archive boxes are often needed for documents such as drawings, diagrams, newspapers, marketing materials or even X-rays. A3 archive boxes tend to be shallower than A4 boxes, so contain fewer sheets.


Document size: 210 mm x 297 mm

Archive box size approx.: 380 mm x 321 mm x 290 mm

A4 archive boxes can typically hold five lever-arch ring binders. As a lever-arch file holds around 500 A4 documents, just one archive box can hold 2,500 pages.


Document size: 148.5 mm x 210 mm

Archive box size approx.: 256 mm x 180 mm x 76 mm

A5 documents can comfortably fit in A4 folders and archive boxes. However, you may want to file smaller documents, such as photographs, separately in A5 boxes.

Archiving box features

Heavy duty

Archive boxes are used to hold bulk documents for many years, sometimes decades, so it’s crucial that they are made from strong, heavy-duty cardboard.

A heavy-duty cardboard archive box should have the following features:

  • Double layer walls - these feature two layers of fluting (the corrugated cardboard between the two smooth outer cardboard layers). Fluting helps protect the cardboard against damage from impacts. As a minimum, a heavy-duty archive box should have a double layer of fluted cardboard on the handle ends and the base.
  • Constructed from long-fibred pulp - boxes made from long-fibred wood pulp are usually manufactured from softwood trees such as pine and fir. The long fibres from these trees create cardboard with high tension, which makes it stronger and more resistant to tearing.
  • Secured with staples or stitches - glue is usually used as an adhesive for cardboard boxes and will be strong enough for boxes that are being used to archive documents. However, if you're archiving something heavy or are looking for the ultimate in strength, choose archive boxes with seams that have been stitched or stapled.


If you choose to store your documents with a specialist archiving company, you won't need to worry about lockable storage boxes as these facilities are highly secure and ensure that only authorised personnel can access documents. Depending on how many documents you want to archive, it may actually be more cost-effective to use an archiving service than multiple lockable archiving boxes.

Lockable archive boxes cost around £20 each and often feature locks that could be easily smashed open. If you're looking to archive a large number of documents securely, using an archive management service would be a better option.

As an alternative to lockable archive boxes, Russell Richardson sell document storage boxes that can be sealed and tied for added security.


Plastic, waterproof storage boxes are a great idea for storing important personal documents but can work out very expensive when archiving documents in large numbers.

Archiving documents on premises that have been assessed for their flood and fire risk is a safer and less expensive choice than protecting documents from water damage in individual waterproof boxes.


Paper and cardboard contain acids that, over time, can discolour documents and other materials (such as photographs or textiles) and make them brittle and fragile.

Archive boxes that are acid-free or acid-neutral will help protect documents from damage.

Archiving boxes for different types of documents

It isn't just paper documents that can be put into storage - you can also archive items such as textiles, books, newspapers and photographs.

For newspapers

Companies and individuals decide to archive newspapers and magazines for a number of reasons - it could be to keep a record of press coverage for a business or a record of family achievements, births, deaths and marriages for individuals.

It's important that newspapers and magazines are stored in acid-free archive boxes, or for clippings, acid-free envelopes. Often the newspapers and magazines are stored in a polythene bag before being archived.

For photographs

Many individuals choose to archive photographs that are taking up valuable room in the home. But photos that aren't stored properly can easily be damaged.

When archiving photographs, choose a sturdy archiving box which can be fully closed and in which the documents can be laid flat, without being folded or scrunched up. As with newspapers, the archive boxes you choose should be acid-free.

Different options for archiving boxes

Plastic boxes





Reinforced corners

Bulky when not in use


Difficult to recycle


Not made from environmentally friendly materials

Highly durable and easily reused


Transparent so you can see what's inside


Easy to clean


Cardboard boxes




Not waterproof


Not lockable



Easy to assemble and can be flat-packed


Designed specifically for archiving paper documents


Easily sealed for added security


Made from environmentally friendly materials


Document bags

Document bags (such as plastic wallets/pockets) are ideal for adding an extra layer of protection to documents which are going to be archived in boxes. However, they're only really effective for protecting plastic or cardboard folders.




Not durable

Available in plastic or card

Not stackable

Environmentally friendly (card)

Only suitable for a small number of documents

Waterproof (plastic)


Archiving boxes costs

You should expect to pay around £4-£5 for one heavy-duty cardboard archive box for A4 files. They're often sold in bulk and it's usually much cheaper per box to buy them that way.

Russell Richardson sells heavy-duty archive boxes in packs of 5, 10 and 20. Buying bulk in packs of 20 for £65 means customers pay just £3.25 per box. We also provide smaller and larger archive boxes, however, these are not readily available in stock so there may be lead times and costs implications for these.

Plastic boxes vary in cost depending on size but you can expect to pay more when compared to cardboard boxes.

A high-quality 64-litre plastic archive box, with handles, will cost around £13 per box. Archive boxes this size will hold six A4 level arch files. Bulk-buy deals for plastic boxes are less common than cardboard, so you may need to shop around to find one.

Storage costs

The price to store documents will depend on the number and type of documents you have.

Russell Richardson's prices are tailored to each customer's requirements. Pricing is dependent on:

  • the number of boxes needed for storage
  • the level of indexing required
  • retrieval requirements
  • the type and size of boxes being used for storage

Although many archiving companies charge exit fees for customers to get their documents out of storage, Russell Richardson doesn't.

Find out more about the document archiving services available from Russell Richardson here, or contact our friendly team on 0800 294 6552.

Our complete guide to document arching services will give you all the information you need on what's involved in archiving and how to choose the best service for your business.

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