How to Name Digital Files | Giftie Etcetera: How to Name Digital Files

Saturday, March 7, 2015

How to Name Digital Files

Pretend you need to find a copy of your resume' on your laptop. Can you find it? How long does it take?

Since digital files are searchable, I can find my resume' in seconds.

I can also find out that I have ten different versions of it and that I have no idea of which one is for teaching and which one is for submitting for a writing assignment.

To solve this, I adopted a simple naming system for all files. (Note: I still use folders to divide stuff by topic, much like I do my physical files.)

technology, organizing, filing

There are 3 parts to my file names:


If the file is a document sent to me, the name of the sender goes here. If I am sending the document away, the recipient's name gets listed. Basically, whatever name other than my own that is associated with the document is listed.

I use a person's name whenever possible, but as seen in the example above, I sometimes use the organization, if no name is available.

EXCEPTION: Templates get the word "Template" as this name.


I write the date as month-day-year. I use two numbers for each spot.

Example: 02-07-06 or 12-09-15

The reason for the standard format is so that the computer automatically organizes my documents, pictures, and other files in order by individual, followed by date.


I make sure to put enough information about the topic in this part of the file name.

If I send Jane Samuel a letter on February 1, 2015 about the water heater, the file name is Samuel.02-01-15.WaterHeater.

If your digital files aren't organized, pick a folder per week and rename those files, one week at a time!


ZoeAnn Yussman said...

I needed this today! Thank you for sharing your ideas. Do you put the dot after each word for the computer to file it? (your example Samuel.02-01-15.waterheater.)

Anonymous said...

for date I reverse the order to year-month-day, then things stay in chronologic order.

KariP said...

Very timely. I'm transferring stuff to a new computer, and am taking this opportunity to do some organizing. Thank you for this.

Anonymous said...

I also do year-month-day, as Anon above says then when you sort alphabetically they appear in date order. Also I name folders that way. For example for a set of quarterly meetings, I have a separate folder for each to store minutes, papers, etc. They're named YYYY-MM MONTH, e.g."2015-03 March". Thus they're organised chronologically but I don't have to think which month number do I need, I can just read "March".

Giftie Etcetera said...

Great tips!

I do put dots like that.