What are document naming conventions?

Document and file naming conventions are frameworks for naming digital files in a descriptive, accurate, and consistent manner. They provide valuable information about what the document contains and how it relates to others in FileHound so that opening the file isn’t the only way to understand what is inside. Further, they support file organisation, findability, and preservation.

Although there are limitless ways to design a document naming convention system, it must be agreed upon and diligently used by everyone who is creating, locating, or using the files. So in any document naming convention strategy, consistency is key!

Tips for enforcing proper document naming conventions

Document naming can include any information that will make each document or file is unique and easily distinguished from one another. Some elements that are often captured in filenames include:

  • A unique identifier: project name, number, or creator; or product ID or SKU
  • Date: including the year, month, and day
  • Location: city, region, or country, etc.
  • Description: what the file is or about

Although there are many ways to build a document naming convention strategy, there are several best practices that are important to follow:

Select your descriptive elements wisely: use terms that will be easily understood by your users of FileHound now, and well into the future.

Use YYYYMMDD or YYMMDD for dates: this format is an international standard and will allow files to be sorted chronologically — especially if the date is located at the beginning of the file.

Keep it concise: if possible, avoid using small words like “a”, “the”, “of”, and “to”, and use standard abbreviations.

Avoid special characters: characters such as ! ? @ # $ ~ ^ & % * ` ; < > , ' " | [ ] and ( ) should not be used because they can have a special meaning to some operating systems.

Decide if spaces are permitted: Although there isn’t a golden rule around the use of spaces, many sources (such as University libraries) recommend using hyphens, underscores, or no separation at all, instead.

Use title case: capitalise just the first letter of all principle words.

Include version numbers: if files will have multiple iterations, using V1, V2, V3, V3.1 etc. will make their names unique.

Create a guide: document the rules in your document naming convention framework, along with samples. Make the guide readily available to everyone that uses FileHound, and offer training if necessary. This will help ensure that your strategy is consistently applied and understood by all users.

Here are a few examples of what effective document file names look like:

  • 20190501_JohnNashDirectMailFlyer_v9.esp
  • 2019-01-30_CardiffWorkshop_NameBadges.jpg
  • SKU897645_Packaging_ASDA_20190115_Final.pdf


REMEMBER:

How documents are named has a huge impact on their ability to be found, used, and preserved. In FileHound, the document name is an essential piece of metadata that supports system organisation, drives search performance, and helps ensure that shared assets are easily understood. So make a consistent document naming methodology a way of life! You won’t regret it.