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From the author of Establish Document-Naming Conventions

Establish Document-Naming Conventions

Establishing clear guidelines on document-naming conventions is also an integral part to the success of an electronic file system so users can easily distinguish the contents of a document simply by the name. Creating standard document-naming conventions for electronic documents is similar to using standard file names for paper files. By default, electronic files are listed in most directories in alphabetical or numerical order. It is best to code documents with the word or number that users will think of first when they want to access it, similar to determining sub-categories. For example, if you have a folder called Budgets and it is sub-filed by fiscal year, then the documents inside that sub-file might be first named by department or revision date.

Creating clear naming conventions is also essential in using search functions properly within Windows Explorer or other desktop search tools. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid using vague descriptors such as “general” or “miscellaneous” in naming conventions. These words usually are so vague that it makes recognizing the type of document harder in the future.
  • Avoid using only one word or descriptor in file names; this makes it difficult to find documents in the future because of limited information in the file name.
  • The data in the naming conventions should also be separated by spaces, dashes, or underscores, depending on preference. If abbreviations are used, make sure it is clear in the guidelines what identifiers can or cannot be abbreviated.
  • Consider adding guidelines on identifying versions of documents. With some files, the guidelines could specify the final part of the naming convention undesignated and flexible, so the user can add information based on the document type.
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