One of the easiest ways to keep track of files in the digital world is to keep your file names consistent. Many people name files on a case-by-case basis, but this can make it easy to lose track of what you named each file individually, thus making finding that file later on more difficult. While there is no real right or wrong way to name a file, here are a few tips to make finding your documents much easier in the digital age.

Make File Names Clean and Simple

File names should be kept as short as they can reasonably be. Sometimes summarizing the contents of a spreadsheet into four words can be challenging, but by thinking about what to name a file, you have a better chance of remembering that name later on.

Avoid Using Symbols, Spaces, and Underscores

Many operating systems and programs will not allow you to use symbols in file names, and many programs won’t be able to recognize files if they have spaces or underscores. Most programs can read dashes, and dashes make a great word separator in file names.

Include the Version Number or Date Created (Or Both)

While we at eFileCabinet love how our software lets you collaborate with a team on a single document without having to save different versions, we know that sometimes it’s necessary to keep several different versions of documents created on different dates. Always be consistent when adding dates or versions to the end of documents, so that there is no confusion about what file you are looking at without having to open it up. Generally, placing the date or version at the end of the file name is best, so the main contents of the file are the first thing you look at when reading left to right.

Use All Lowercase Letters

Some programs and operating systems use case-sensitive files. In order to keep those files consistent across all machines or devices they land on, use all lowercase letters. The more variables you can remove from the file naming system, the better.

Be Consistent

This is far and away the most important part of your file naming conventions. If you work with a team, make sure everyone on the team knows how files are expected to be named. This will drastically reduce the amount of time it takes for anyone on the team to find a file. An easy way to get everyone on board with your file naming system is to write a document that everyone receives and has access to at all times. Include examples of properly named files, and follow up with your team to make sure expectations are being met.