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This chapter is from the book

Once You Create It, Know Where to Store It

I will discuss how to save files in various applications in the specific lessons dedicated to them later on. Knowing where to place a document when you do save it, however, is a great addition to the file management issues covered in this lesson.

The proper placement of a file in your computer's network of folders goes hand-in-hand with the document's name when it comes to enhancing the capability to find the file again when you need it.

Consider the following as you decide where to store a newly created document in the computer's filing system:

  • Don't just let all your Microsoft Office documents accumulate in the My Documents folder (the folder Office XP saves everything in it unless you tell it otherwise). That's just begging for trouble! It's like throwing all of your household garbage into one can and then having to sift through it all again to separate the recyclables from the regular trash.

  • Do you tend to include your organization's name in a filename, as well as the document's title, instead of putting things into descriptive folders (such as a spreadsheet named CBCNS Budget)? Consider creating a folder for the school (in which case, the document could simply be called Budget). If that's still too broad, then make a subfolder under the organization's folder called Finances that could then store the Budget document. Having large numbers of documents with similar names like CBCNS Budget, CBCNS Newsletter, or CBCNS Reg Form can make finding what you need much harder than it needs to be.

  • If you know up front the types of documents you will be generating, it may be worth your while to sit down and sketch out a list of appropriate folder names on paper before you sit down with Windows Explorer. With a little forethought, you can avoid having grossly unbalanced folders where some contain a handful of files and others contain dozens.

  • Microsoft has always made it easy to create new folders on-the-fly, and as you saw earlier in the hour, it's especially easy for Windows XP users. If you don't see a category that fits a document when you go to save it, don't hesitate to create a new folder on the spot. Doing so as you save the document eliminates the hassle of having to go through scads of entries later on and manually move them to more logical locations. I will show you how to do this from within a Microsoft Office XP application in Hour 20, Jumpstart Word Processing.

  • Don't overdo it! Just because you see the logic in creating multiple folders doesn't mean it's the right thing for you. If you produce very few documents, having them stored in multiple locations can actually cost you more time than it saves.

Although I would love to give you the definitive method to organizing your files, attempting to do so would be inappropriate; everybody's situation is just too different.

You deserve the truth and as wishy-washy as it sounds, "it depends" really is the best answer here. As long as you try to follow the preceding guidelines, however, you will be in great shape or at least in better shape than you would have been without them!

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