Standard naming conventions for electronic records.
Audience and purpose
This document is intended to provide a common set of rules to apply to the naming of electronic records. The conventions are primarily intended for use with Windows based software and documents such as word-processed documents, spreadsheets, presentations, emails and project plans. 'File names' are the names that are listed in the file directory and that users give to new files when they save them for the first time.
This document has been prepared as part of the Policy and Planning (PP) Records Management Project and is aimed primarily at all colleagues working within Policy and Planning (PP). However, it is hoped that the conventions will also be applicable to colleagues working in other University units, whether they are administrative or academic units.
The conventions assume that a logical directory structure or filing scheme is in place and that similar conventions are used for naming the levels and folders within the directory structure.
Why use naming conventions?
Naming records consistently, logically and in a predictable way will distinguish similar records from one another at a glance, and by doing so will facilitate the storage and retrieval of records, which will enable users to browse file names more effectively and efficiently. Naming records according to agreed conventions should also make file naming easier for colleagues because they will not have to 're-think' the process each time.
File naming conventions
The conventions comprise the following 13 rules. Follow the links for examples and explanations of the rules.
- Keep file names short, but meaningful
- Avoid unnecessary repetition and redundancy in file names and file paths.
- Use capital letters to delimit words, not spaces or underscores
- When including a number in a file name always give it as a two-digit number, i.e. 01-99, unless it is a year or another number with more than two digits.
- If using a date in the file name always state the date ‘back to front’, and use four digit years, two digit months and two digit days: YYYYMMDD or YYYYMM or YYYY or YYYY-YYYY.
- When including a personal name in a file name give the family name first followed by the initials.
- Avoid using common words such as ‘draft’ or ‘letter’ at the start of file names, unless doing so will make it easier to retrieve the record.
- Order the elements in a file name in the most appropriate way to retrieve the record.
- The file names of records relating to recurring events should include the date and a description of the event, except where the inclusion of any of either of these elements would be incompatible with rule 2.
- The file names of correspondence should include the name of the correspondent, an indication of the subject, the date of the correspondence and whether it is incoming or outgoing correspondence, except where the inclusion of any of these elements would be incompatible with rule 2.
- The file name of an email attachment should include the name of the correspondent, an indication of the subject, the date of the correspondence, ‘attch’, and an indication of the number of attachments sent with the covering email, except where the inclusion of any of these elements would be incompatible with rule 2.
- The version number of a record should be indicated in its file name by the inclusion of ‘V’ followed by the version number and, where applicable, ‘Draft’.
- Avoid using non-alphanumeric characters in file names.
This guidance is based on:
About this guidance
Author: Anne Thompson
Version: July 2007