Harold James Barrett.

Modern methods in the office; how to cut corners and save money online

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B University Research Library



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University Research Library




This book is DUE on iast date stamped below

JAM 2 1924

APR 1 192B
JUL 2 6 1951 •

NOV 2 6^957

^ JAN 31 7?


JUN 3 197-





author of
"dollars and sense"




Modern Methods in the Office
Copyright, 1918. by Harper & Brothers
Printed in the United States of America

5 541


CHAP. P^^^

•v) Foreword *^

^ I. Typing and Correspondence 1

^ Typing Signatures Prevents Trouble— Renewing Typewriter

Ribbons— Measuring Typed Matter— Increasing the Life of
Carbon Paper— How to Improve a Business Letter — Office
Time-savers — How Daisy Bennett Secured a Merited Pro-
motion—Office Economies Which are Worth While— For the
^1 Stenographer Who Seeks Efficiency— Tips for Typists— Let-

*v) ters: Their Physical Appearance — How to Obtain Good

V DupUcates and Triplicates on a T>'pewriter— Carbon Copies

vs. Press Copies; Plain Envelopes vs. Window Envelopes-
Dictation by Telephone— A New Wrinkle in Business Cor-
respondence—Saving Typists' Time— Is Your Business Cor-
respondence Up-to-date?— Cutting Correspondence Costs —
For the Stenographer— A Simple Idea Increases this Stenog-
rapher's Speed— A Time-saver for Typists— Pointed Para-
graphs for Enterprising Typists— A Carbon Copy Inclosed
with the Original Letter— Envelopes of Various Colors Serve
to SimpUfy Sorting of Mail— Efficiency Principles Eliminate
Ten Typists.

II. Problems of Personnel^ 34

Efficiency in the Office— Quantitative Tests for the Selec-
tion of Employees — Salary and Bonus for Typists— How
Good Management Stimulates Employees to Their Best
Efforts— Increasing the Efficiency of a Stenographic Force—
An Equitable Distribution of Work Means Contentment—
A Simple Plan Which Changed the Mental Attitude of This
Office Force— Saving Time in Office Work— Hiring Help Scien-
tifically—Are You Mentally Subnormal?- A Concern with
the Right Spirit— How to Hire Men— Saving Defivery Ex-
pense—How to Hire Competent Employees— " An Executive



Should Possess a Good Working Knowledge of Psychology,"
says the President of this Hardware Concern — Reducing Labor
Turnover More than One-half — Test Yourself by this Stand-
ard — "The Man, Not the ^Money, Is What Counts ,"says this
Credit-man — How Siebolt Saved His Firm $6,000 a Year —
The Value of Personality in Business — A College Education
, for Business Men — Wanted: Self-starters — The Business Man
of the Futiu-e — ^Character Analysis in Selecting Employees —
To-morrow's Executives — Keeping Executives on the Jump
— A Royal Road to Experience — " Make Apphcants for Credit
Pass an Examination," says this Credit-man — Democracy in
Management— What Makes a Successful Executive — A Passage
from Exodus Solved tliis Business Man's Problem — Have You
Perspective? — Piece-work vs. Day-work — How to Insure a
Satisfactory Volume Under a Piece-work System — "Profit-
sharing Meana Permanent Employees," says this Executive

III. Pointers on System 110

A File within a File — For the Office Employee — The FiUng
System — How Perforations Enable One to Instantly Locate
a Misplaced Card — FiUng Facts — "My Partner, the Tick-
ler" — Apply the Aquaphone Test to Your Organization —
An Error-proof Receiving System — A Simple System Cover-
ing Shipments Returned for Credit — How Henry Brooks
Gained a $10 Raise in Pay — The Case of Melton, the Man
Who Lacked Originahty — Scientific Management and Its
Results — Standardizing — Packing Economies — Rules for Re-
ceiving-rooms — Inter-Departmental Mail Service Saves Labor
— "An Efficiency Expert Is Merely a Piece of Cheese" —
Toward Efficiency— A $13,000-a-year Idea— Too Much
System — This Executive's Plan for a Proper Distribution of
His Time — "Graphs" and Their Usefulness.

IV. For the Accountant 138

Saving Labor in Bookkeeping — Tips for Your Traffic Depart-
ment — Efficiency in Filling and Billing Orders — A Penny
Saved is a Penny Earned— "Mark a Definite Due Date on
Your BiUs; It Means Quicker Collections," says this Man —
A Daily Trial Balance Saves Worry and Labor — New Ideas
in Cost-keeping — A Series of Collection Letters — What a
Traffic-man Discovered — Trade Acceptances: a Forward
Step — A Short Cut in Accounting — Card Ledgers: Time-
and Labor-savers.



V. Toward Efficiency 156

A Chairless Office Conserves This Man's Time — "Don't Lock
Up Your Desk," is a Rule of this Office — Saving Time in
Figm-ing Postage on Parcel Post — Reducing Freight Charges
— The Tendency of the Times— The Value of Business Read-
ing — "Don't Carry Your Coals to Newcastle," says this
Successful Young Executive — Foresight: Its Value in
Launching New Enterprises — How One Man Secured a
Promotion — $150,000 for Information — What Analysis Has
Done for Modern Business— Getting the Right Attitude —
Heat, Ventilation, and Efficiency — Are You Avaihng Your-
self of This Institution's Facihties? — Commercial Abbrevi-
ation in the Export trade — The Government's Pamphlets
on Business— Methods, Not Money, Win Success — How the
Bureau of Standards Serves the Business Man — Why the
Business Man Should Understand Economics — Overstock-
ing + Poor Accounting + Quahty Stock = Failure —
Is Your Business Suffering from Arterio-sclerosis? — Job
Analysis in Modern Industrial Plants — How a Bank Can
Help a Young Business Man — "Most Concerns are Over-
stocked," says this Business Man — Centralization : The Mod-
ern Tendency in Business — A Problem in Organization —
The Work of the United States Bureau of Standards —
Why a Shorter Work-day Increases Production.


Many of the articles in this volume were previously
pubUshed in the New York Evening World and other
newspapers, under the title, ''Dollars and Sense." It
is in response to the requests of readers that they
are republished in book form, together with several
which now appear in print for the first time.

From messenger to manager, the writer has sought
to touch upon the needs of every one in the office.
Stenographers and typists will find more than a score
of articles devoted to their interests.

Needless to say, the volume makes no pretense at
being a comprehensive treatise upon office work or
management. But the pointers offered are culled from
every-day experience and possess the merit of being
thoroughly practical.





Typing Signatures Prevents Trouble

''Fifty years ago a good handwriting was a valu-
able asset for a young man," said a local office manager.
"Every 'Help Wanted' ad. demanded legible handwrit-
ing as a requisite for clerical jobs. The result was that
our forebears developed a beautiful, clear chirography.
They had to. An illegible handwriting was a distinct
handicap in business life. It meant danger of serious
errors in transactions conducted through the mail.

"Chirography, however, is now well-nigh a lost
art. The present generation sees no necessity for
developing a clear handwriting, because of the om-
nipresent typewriter. The result of this attitude is
that millions of business men actually cannot sign
their names so that one can read them.

"We have had considerable trouble right here be-



cause of this fact. Many of our executives are lament-
ably weak in chirography. For a long time, letters
in answer to our correspondence arrived addressed to
names which were never represented on our pay-roll.
The recipient had been forced to make a wild guess
at the writer's signature.

"A very simple idea has obviated the trouble. Now
every letter which leaves here contains the full name
of the dictator, typed in the lower left-hand comer,
with the stenographer's initials beneath it; this in
addition to the signature. I expect to see this idea
universally adopted in business correspondence."

Renewing T3TDewriter Ribbons

"In a large office," said an office manager, ''the
cost of typewriter ribbons is a significant item.

''It occurred to me one day that there must be con-
siderable life left in the old ribbons which are dis-
carded as worn out.

"I tried the experiment of inclosing them in a re-
ceptacle with a wet sponge. The dried ink thus be-
came dampened. Upon reinserting the ribbons in the
machines, it developed that they had taken a new lease
of life. This plan serves to materially lengthen the
life of ribbons and substantially reduces this expense

Measuring Typed Matter

"Our typists are paid by the square inch," said an office
manager who is in charge of several score operators.


"This necessitates the measuring of all work turned
out. Formerly I used an ordinary rule for this pur-
pose, but have recently adopted a ver>'^ simple device
which I saw in use elsewhere. It consists of a trans-
parent celluloid sheet which is divided into half-
inch squares by the use of indelible-ink lines. Each
square contains a number representing the total
area to that point measured from the top and left

"Thus, by merely laying the sheet over the type-
written matter, taking care that it just registers cor-
rectly with the top and left margin of the latter, the
total area is indicated by the figure appearing in the
square which covers the lower right-hand corner.
Simple, isn't it?

"Then, by allowing five square inches for ad-
dressing the envelope, inserting the date, name,
address, salutary and final line, the total area in
inches to be credited to the employee is easily de-

"A still better plan, hov/ever, and one which I
intend to install, is to equip each machine with a
cyclometer which registers the number of strokes.
This insures absolute accuracy and saves labor in
measuring each piece."

Increasing the Life of Carbon Paper

"What in the world are you doing that for?" in-
quired the new stenographer, as the girl at the next
desk stood by the steam-pipe and slowly rubbed the


uncoated side of a carbon sheet over the warm

''This carbon is nearly worn out," was the reply.
"It has begun to render very dim impressions. Ap-
plication of heat to the back moistens the carbon
on the front; it gradually distributes itseK over
the surface and, after it dries, it gives a sharp
impression again. This method increases the life
of a sheet of carbon paper about twenty-five
per cent."

How to Improve a Business Letter

The correspondents of a large Western concern
are provided with the following printed sheet of
instructions. These instructions are sufficiently
general in character to apply to all business houses.

Instructions to Our Correspondents

1. Don't use a long or big word where a short one will do as
well or better. For example: "begin" is better than "commence,"
"home" or "house" better than "residence," "buy" better than
"purchase," "Hve" better than "reside," "at once" better than
"immediately," "give" better than "donate," "start" or "begin"
better than "inaugurate."

2. Carefully avoid such words and stock phrases as "beg to
acknowledge," "beg to inquire," "beg to advise," etc. Don't

3. Don't "reply" to a letter; "answer" it. You answer a letter
and reply to an argument.

4. Don't say "inclosed herewith." "Herewith" is superfluous.


5. Don't say "kindly" for "please." Avoid "the same" as
you would a plague.

6. Don't write "would say." Go right ahead and say it.

7. Be wary of adjectives, particularly superlatives. "Very,"
"great," "tremendous," "excellent," etc., have marred many an
otherwise strong phrase and have propped needlessly many a
good word all-sufficient of itself.

8. Don't try to be funny.

9. Carefully avoid even the appearance of sarcasm.

10. Never use the first personal pronoun "I" when writing as
this company. "We" is the proper pronoun. Where a personal
reference is necessary, "the writer" may be used; but even this
should be avoided wherever possible.

11. There are some common grammatical errors so inexcusable
that no letter bearing the signature of this company ever should
show them. "We was" should be cause for dismissal.

12. Don't forget that certain small words are in the language
for a purpose. "And," "a," "the" are important, and their
elimination often makes a letter bald, curt, and distinctly in-

Office Time-savers

"Here are a couple of time- and money-saving de-
vices which we have recently apphed," said the man-
ager of a concern which, in addition to its regular sales,
does a large mail-order business.

"In making carbon copies of an outgoing correspond-
ence — which, by the way, we have concluded is much
cheaper and more effective than using even the most
modern type of letter-press — we were accustomed to use
one sheet of paper for each page copied. Now, in case
of a two-page letter, we use both sides of the copjdng-


page, thus cutting our stationery bill for this item in

''Also we use a different-color paper for the carbon
copies of the correspondence of different departments.
This results in a great saving of time in looking up
correspondence. ' '

How Daisy Bennett Obtained a Merited Promotion

"So Grace Stephens is going to get married,"
reflected Daisy, thoughtfully, on the morning that
Miss Stephens, the head stenographer, arrived,
proudly displaying a gleaming soUtaire. ''That
means that one of us girls will be promoted to her
position. I wonder which of us it will be. It
means an increase of five dollars a week — five dol-
lars which I could use very satisfactorily. I be-
lieve I'll make a play for it myself," and Daisy
sailed into her notes with renewed vigor, postpon-
ing a consideration of ways and means for a leisure

"The more I'm worth to the concern the more
they're going to pay me," mused Daisy at lunch
that day. "I'll wager I can find a lot of waste and
inefficiency around that office if I really try. With
our staff of twenty girls, a little saving here and
there will amount to a lot in the monthly balance
sheet." And Daisy returned to the office, deter-
mined upon unearthing some money-saving oppor-

"What do we spend for typewriter ribbons in a



month?" inquired Daisy of the cashier a day or two

"About thirty-five dollars," was the reply.

Daisy did a little investigating during her lunch
hour the following day.

In the afternoon, while taking dictation from the
general manager, she remarked:

''Mr. White tells me that we girls spend thirty-five
dollars a month for typewriter ribbons. I have a plan
for reducing that expense a half."

''What is it?" inquired Hammond, pleased and sur-
prised at this evidence of initiative on the part of a

"I understand that the office is to be equipped with
new machines," said the girl.

"Yes, we're considering the question right now,"
agreed Hanmiond.

"If you'll buy machines with two-color attach-
ments and insert a one-color ribbon, we can set
the machine for black, using the top half of the
ribbon; then, when that's worn out, set it for red
and run the ribbon through again. Our present models
have no two-color attachment; the type strikes in
the center and the ribbons last only about two

"A mighty good idea," exclaimed the superior,

studying his stenographer with renewed interest,

"and one that had never occurred to me. There's

a saving of two hundred and ten dollars a

year just from the exertion of a little common




When the new machines were installed, a week later,
they included two-color attachments.

Some days later Daisy remarked:

"By the way, Mr. Hammond, I think that we're
wasting money on carbon paper. We obtain it in
full-sized sheets, although much of it is used on
half-sheets and telegram blanks. After it is used a
few times a sheet is discarded, even though a large
proportion of its surface is fresh. Can't we obtain
it in half-sheets and full sheets? Then we'll be
sure that none of it is wasted; that every sheet is
thoroughly used before being thrown in the waste-

"A very good suggestion," replied the boss.
'^I'll speak to White about it." And thereafter
the carbon paper was bought according to Daisy's

The girl felt encouraged by this ready response to
her suggestions, and became more interested in finding
methods of saving time and money.

Every few days she propounded a new one.

Once it was the substitution of printed reply blanks
to be filled in for acknowledgment of orders, instead
of writing a separate letter in each case. This saved
the labor of two girls. They were transferred to an-
other department.

Again it was the substitution of fountain pens
in the accounting department. This meant elimi-
nation of ''lost motion" in the constant dipping of

In another case it was the utiHzation of both sides



of the second sheet in making carbons, saving half the
cost of writing-paper.

And so it went. In a few weeks' time her ideas
had effected an annual saving amounting to her

Upon Miss Stephens's resignation, two months later,
she was elevated to the position of head stenographer,
and her envelope contained just double her previous

Office Economies Which Are Worth While

To buy typewriter ribbons in quantity means a sub-
stantial discount. But, on the other hand, many an
office manager has discovered that, unless carefully
preserved, they rapidly deteriorate through becoming

Here is a method of insuring the preservation of
ribbons for an indefinite period. Place them in a tin
box provided with a lock and key; line the bottom of
the box with a pad of cotton batting incased in a
covering of cheese-cloth. Soak the pad with glycerin,
then, after placing the ribbons in the box, lock it up.
This will keep the ribbons fresh and moist.

As the pad becomes dry, treat it from time to time
with applications of glycerin.

In offices where a large force is employed, pencils
run into money. The use of metal pencil-holders will
save money on this item. Instead of supplying the
staff with pencils in their original form, cut them in
two and have them insert a half-pencil into their


holders. Then every inch of pencil will be used before
the pencil is thrown away.

One office manager was puzzled to account for the
enormous consumption of penholders. Investigation
disclosed the fact that the metal barrel of the model
he had been purchasing soon became so rusty that
the pen could not be easily removed. The penholders
were broken in the tussle that ensued to remove the

He purchased a more expensive holder, one
with a cork grip and an automatic ejector. This
proved to be a money-saver. The demand for pen-
holders decreased 80 per cent., far more than off-
setting the increased investment in the improved

For the Stenographer Who Seeks Efficiency

"When I have to make erasures on the original
sheet and carbons are beneath it, I avoid smudging
the carbons by placing a rule under the original along
the platen," says one tj^ist.

"If, as often happens, certain data are required
upon carbons which it is desirable to eliminate from
the original, I avoid two operations by a simple
method," she added. "By placing an extra small
sheet over the face of the original and then typing
the necessary data upon this slip, the carbons
register and that portion of the original remains

"As it happens," said another stenographer, "my



educational opportunities have been superior to those
of the other girls in our office. My suggestion that I
proof-read all outgoing correspondence for the pur-
pose of correcting errors in spelling and punctuation
delighted my employer. He has developed the idea
even further by installing a bulletin-board upon
which repeated errors are posted, with the name of
the girl making them appended. This plan has re-
sulted in greatly increased accuracy among our office
force and is gradually raising the standard of edu-

"When making carbon copies," said another typist,
"I found that often the carbon sheet would become
wound about the roller of the machine, thus becoming
torn. By binding the sheets of paper together with
a cUp after their insertion in the machine, I now avoid
this difficulty."

''Often our mail directed to points abroad would
get away bearing only domestic postage," said one
typist. ''To avoid this I adopted the practice of
writing the word 'Foreign' in the upper right-
hand corner of the envelope at the time of typing
it. This solved the difficulty, and ,at the same
time saved the mailing department much time and

"When making four or five carbon copies of a letter
or document," she added, "I tear off the top right-
hand corner of each carbon. Then, after extracting
the sheets from the machine, by holding the top right
corner between the thumb and forefinger and giving

the sheets a slight shake, the carbons promptly drop



out, thus saving the trouble of handhng each sheet

"My employer was much pleased," said another
t}T3ist, "at an idea I suggested some time ago. It was

merely to t j^^e in caps the words ' not over dollars '

on the line intended for the signature on his checks.
This device affords complete protection against raising
the amount, as to tamper with my typed words would
mean defacing the signature, which would render the
check void."

Tips for Typists

"Here are a few pointers which I've picked up in
the course of the day's work," said a competent
typist. "Possibly they'll be of value to my fellow-

"I have found that pins are safer to use in fastening
papers together than patent clips. Clips have an un-
fortunate faculty of annexing everything in their
vicinity. Several valuable papers have been mislaid
in our office in this way. In using pins, I take pains
to see that the point is passed back through the top
paper, thus avoiding danger of its sticking any one
using our files.

"I have discovered that in making a neat job of
erasures there is a right way and a wrong way. I use
a pencil-eraser first to remove the top surface of the
paper; then I use the typewriter eraser, blowing the
dust off at frequent intervals.

"When I have a hne in a letter which is to be under-



scored clear across the page, instead of striking the
underscore key fifty or sixty times, I shift the carriage
and lock it. Next I press the underscore key do\\Ti
until it touches the paper. Then with my left thumb
I press the type bar against the ribbon and with the
other hand release the carriage. It runs quickly across
the page, leaving a clean black hne. Not only does
this method save time, but it results in a neater job.

''Occasionally I find it necessary to use a copy rib-
bon. To avoid the necessity of removing the regular
ribbon at such times, I attach a two- or three-foot
length of copy ribbon to each regular ribbon when
the latter is inserted in the machine. Then when
the copy ribbon is required it is a simple matter to
turn the ribbon reverse until the copy ribbon ap-

"Often I am given reports to write on sheets which
are wider than my typewriter carriage. In a case
Uke this I fold the paper vertically. Then I insert it
in the machine and type across to the fold. I then
skip enough of the text to just fill out the folded por-
tion and start on the next line. After the sheet is
covered, I remove it and reinsert it with the previously

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Online LibraryHarold James BarrettModern methods in the office; how to cut corners and save money → online text (page 1 of 13)