Electronic Document Naming Conventions Tips

Document naming conventions are important to facilitate better searching, access and retrieval of electronic files and documents whether on a personal computer or shared drive network. The following are items to be mindful of when creating document naming conventions:

  • Separators: An underscore (_) or dash (-) is recommended to use as the only separators for document naming conventions. This assists users to read naming conventions easily as well as clarifies separation of text for system search functions. Avoid using special charters in a document name such as: \ / : ; * ? “” < > [] & $. These characters may present errors in various systems that do not recognize them in document names.
  • Length of Document Name: Document file path and name on a Shared Drive cannot exceed 255 characters (this includes the file path of a document name and includes all characters including slashes, dashes, periods, underscores and spaces). It is important to be mindful when naming documents in a file folder that is a level six (6) or greater to keep it concise.
  • Use of Acronyms: In order to maximize search functionality spell out words and refrain from acronyms to the extent necessary to ensure clarity. Use only abbreviations and acronyms that are considered ‘global’ in use within the organization and identified on the organizations acronyms list.

To learn more how to organize computer documents, download the free report How to Organize Your Computer Documents.

Electronic Document Naming Conventions: General Guidance

Standard document naming conventions are important to facilitate better searching, access and retrieval of files and documents. It also allows for sorting of files in a logical sequence either alphabetically or numerically.

Because files are arranged alphabetically or numerically it is important to name documents with the classifier that most users will think of first to access that particular document. Ideally document naming conventions should include at the minimum the following information:

• Title or Topic

• Type of Document (i.e. Agenda, Briefing, Form, Template, Minutes, Report, etc.)

• Date

• Version Number, if applicable

Avoid using words such as “general or miscellaneous” in file name conventions. Be sure to make naming conventions clear, complete and avoid abbreviations when possible.  The document name should include all necessary descriptive information independent of the file name where it is stored or located. This is essential for users to search for documents by topics and or key words. At the end of specified document naming conventions users can add additional adjectives or words that further describe that document.

To learn more how to organize computer documents, download the free report How to Organize Your Computer Documents.