Good File-Naming Conventions for Document Management

Below is an example of a naming convention. Having a uniform naming convention is important for organizations who deal with large quantities of files. Using a naming convention can help make searching for and finding documents easier and more efficient. Convention criteria can be customized for your specific needs, but overall idea is to have consistency in the organization of documents and their naming.

Cabinet:

Drawer:

Year:

Program Name:

Files:

For example:

 

Cabinet: Accounting Department

Drawer: Budgets

Year: 2013

Program Name: Artesia

Files: 131014 Artesia Budget

131014 Artesia Budgetv2

131014 Artesia Budgetv3

131014 Artesia Budgetv

Be Descriptive

Be descriptive so you can search with normal language to find your files later.  Include specific details meaningful to you and others in the future to remind you of the file’s content or function. For example, a weak file name would be “agenda.doc”; a better name is “130329 Medical Director Meeting Agenda.doc”—the date is given in order of year, month, day (March 29, 2013) for optimum sorting purposes, and an appropriate description of what’s in the file is used so the file doesn’t have to be opened to discover its contents. If you prefer to use weak file names it is important that the folders leading to the file are very descriptive and that, if needed, profile information is also used to close gaps in the data/information.

Be Consistent

Now that we have developed a naming technique, you need to use it—all the time, every day, everywhere.

Don’t Use Special Characters

Letter and numbers are fine, of course, but computers don’t always know what to do with certain characters and symbols. Stick with the basics and you’ll be fine. Spaces are okay.

When Appropriate, Use Dates in Your File Names

Having the date at the beginning of a file name ensures no matter where the file ends up that it is sorted the same way everywhere. Files and folders are sorted alphanumerically by computers, so you will benefit most by naming files with numbers for dates rather than names.

So it’s year/month/date in computer language. All files should be dated to look like this: 130329

That’s “13” for 2013, 03 for March (the third month), and 29 for the day. Then add the description after the date: 130329 Medical Director Meeting. The system works by using the date as the sorting mechanism, then adding a description of the file. You have the freedom to add as long a description as necessary for you to identify the file.

If Appropriate, Use Version Numbers in Files You Create

To use an analog term, create a paper trail with your digital files. So here’s what your file names should look like following these rules:131004 Monthly GSD Facility Reportv3. Start with the date, then include descriptive text, then version number.

You probably only need the most recent couple of versions, but you may archive the old ones for posterity in a separate folder called “Archive.”

Never use the word “final” in a file name. Maybe it has to do with wanting to be done. We all know it isn’t the final version. It’s not final, and probably never will be. Just make a new version of the file.

Remember, all eFileCabinet files should be formatted in the same, consistent manner.

By | 2016-12-15T11:59:31+00:00 November 3rd, 2015|
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