How are you naming your files, eh?

Would you believe me if I told you that a senior professional once sent me a document with the name ‘untitled’? Sigh. I think file naming convention must be taught in school. Everyone who joins the workforce needs to know how to keep their files organised and find what they want quickly. 

Here’s how I do it:

  • When was it written? Manu Prasad, one of my first bosses taught me that if you add the date at the beginning of your file name, even if you sort the folder by ‘name’, your files will be chronologically arranged. For this to work, though, it’s best to write the date in yyyy-mm-dd format.

  • Who is it for? Even though I have folders for each client, I still prefer to add the client’s name to the file. This is especially helpful when I search for something.

  • What is it? Brochure, blog, email copy, website, ebook. At emdash, we re-purpose content for clients all the time. So, a case study can also be a blog and a slide deck. This helps identify which is which.

  • What is it about? This will often be a shorter version of the title.

  • What’s the version? We save a copy of all files we’ve worked on. Sometimes, there are 2-3 drafts before we file. And another 2-3 drafts with client feedback. Version control saves us a world of pain.

So, if I wrote the next Disney movie, the file name would be 20200601-Disney-Script-Frozen2-v1.docx. When client sends feedback, we add ‘v1-fb’ to the file name and save that copy. And make the edits in a new copy. I like the hyphen to separate the parts of the filename. You might like the underscore. Or even just camelcase it. All of that works. Just be consistent.

One thing, though. Often, this goes beyond the 25 characters that is generally prescribed. Well, we win some lose some.

EDIT: This Twitter thread also has some excellent suggestions.