File Naming conventions

Why use file naming conventions?
Naming documents in a logical and intuitive way to ensure that your team and collaborators can discover, manage and access documents when needed. A consistent naming convention allows teams to identify both duplicated records/obsolete versions and University records of enduring business value.

Benefits of Naming conventions:

  • Improves retrieval of documents on shared drives and University endorsed records systems
  • Facilitates disposal of documents when no longer required for business
  • Ensures current or active version of work can be easily identified
  • Supports sharing of information within your team and with collaborators
  • Easier and more efficient file naming for colleagues – no need to ‘re-think’ the process each time

Descriptive file names are an important part of organizing, sharing, and keeping track of data files. Develop a naming convention based on elements that are important to the project.

Best practices:

  • Keep file names short but meaningful
  • Include any unique identifiers, e.g. case number, project title
  • Be consistent
  • Include the project start date
  • Ensure the purpose of the document is quickly and easily identifiable
  • Use capitals and underscores instead of full stops or spaces or slashes
  • Use date format ISO 8601: YYYYMMDD
  • Version controls or system
  • Write down your naming convention in your data management plan (see data management practice guide)

Try to avoid:

  • Common words such as ‘draft’, ‘letter’, ‘current’ or ‘active’
  • Special characters or spaces in a file name
  • Ambiguous, unclear or repetitive e-mail correspondence titles
  • Symbol characters such as: \ / < > | ” ? [ ] ; = + & $ α β
  • Abbreviations that are not commonly understood, or which may frequently change throughout time, should you need to use abbreviations be sure to include a glossary in your data management plan

File Naming with a project team

If you are working with a team be sure to consult with the group to identify any specific needs before beginning the project. Be sure to note the team requirements in your conventions:

  • How does your team search for information?
  • Is there anything specific that should be included?
  • What key information is required to quickly and easily identify what a file or document is?

Document & Review
Like all processes, file naming conventions will need to be reviewed over time. Be sure that the naming conventions for your project are well-documented and easily accessible to members of the project team.  To assist in good data practices, try to ensure that the file naming conventions are included in the project team on-boarding processes, as this will encourage project team members and researchers to use them. Regular reviews of the naming conventions throughout the project will ensure that the conventions are being adhered to and remain relevant.

Examples of a good naming convention?

Examples include:
For transcribed text materials for a tinker project: tinkerdata_transcribed_BMC_ 11_2019.doc
This way, you can see the project, the state of the materials, who did the work and when.

  • Project_document_owner_version_YYYYMMDD
  • HassProject_transcriptions_BMC_v1_20191201

Where you have the same document in different file types, particularly for images and transcription you may need to alter the systems
Example
YYYYMMDD_Image_Modification
     20130420_FreddyMercury_original.tiff
     20130420_ FreddyMercury_cropped.jpeg
     20130420_ FreddyMercury _mustache.jpeg