Return to site

Stop giving your files a bad name

Start Adopting Best Practices in File Name Conventions to Stop Data Overload

· Data Management,BizWisdom,Cynex Healthcare,Cynex Consulting,IDE3

Would you give your child a bad name? Of course not! Well, unless you had to. But that's why we have middle names, right? For hiding all of the must-do-it-to-stay-in-the-will-names.

When it comes to file names, the problem is that we just can't hide them. Worse yet, we can't find them!

If you find yourself constantly searching for files or being asked by your boss what something you named is, you are guilty of giving files a bad name.

How should I name my computer files?

Best Practices for Naming Computer Files

  1. Use a standardized naming convention for all of files of a similar "type". 
  2. START your name off right
    1. For most files, it's best to start your file name with the noun that best explains what the file contains
      1. Example: Org Chart, Dept-Finance
    2. For records that expire, it's best to start your file name with the expiration date. Why? So that you can easily see what records you need to take action on before they expire!
      1. Example: YYYY.MM.DD Car Insurance Policy
      2. Remember to start your file name with the year, otherwise you'll have trouble. Take a look...
        1. Trouble
          1. 03.12.2019 Car Insurance Policy
          2. 09.12.2017 Car Insurance Policy
          3. 09.21.2018 Car Insurance Policy
          4. 10.30.2019 Car Insurance Policy
        2. No Trouble
          1. 2017.09.12 Car Insurance Policy
          2. 2018.09.21 Car Insurance Policy
          3. 2019.03.12 Car Insurance Policy
          4. 2019.10.30 Car Insurance Policy
  3. Add the nouns that matter, and add them in the order in which you will most often need them grouped. This makes them easy to find and reduces your risk of forgetting to create one!
    1. Example: Org Chart, Dept-Finance
    2. Example: Org Chart, Dept-Mktg
    3. Example: Org Chart, Dept-IT
    4. Example: YYYY.MM.DD Car Insurance Policy, Sally
    5. Example: YYYY.MM.DD Car Insurance Policy, Sam
  4. Add version #, initials of the author or last editor, and last update date as needed
    1. If you are co-authoring or editing a document with someone at work, these 3 elements are critical components of your naming convention.

Tip: Screen-shot the File Naming Convention cheat sheet below and tape it in front of you at the office until you have it memorized!

File Naming Convention

Part 1 – Document Name

Part 2 – Version # (dv for draft version, v for version | whole #’s for major updates, decimals for minor revisions)

Part 3 – Initials of the last person who performed an update on the document

Part 4 – date of last revision (date & time for draft versions that are updated multiple times in a single day)

Here’s what the 3rd draft of an article titled Organizing Your Information Management System, created by Samantha Stone might look like:

Article: Organizing Info Mgmt System.dv1.3.SS.20Nov2019

Like this article? Sign up for more through the subscribe link below!

Brought to you by Cynex Consulting.

Fueled by IDE3.