Naming and organizing your files

Large research projects can generate hundreds of data files. Short descriptive file names and a simple file hierarchy make these files easier to navigate and locate.

Set up conventions for your project, document them for all team members, and bDatabase_DigitalPreservation.pnge consistent.

Few recommendations to help you organizing your files :

Use a short unique identifier (e.g. Project Name or Grant #)
 X : Centre for Hip Health and Mobility
Why? Short filenames prevent the need for side scrolling and column adjustment.
Include a summary of content (e.g. Questionnaire or GrantProposal) as part of the file name
: FileNm_Guidelines_20140409_v01.docx
X : FileNm_20140409.docx
Why? Files will be easier to find.
Use _ as delimiters. Avoid these special characters: & , * % # * ( ) ! @$ ^ ~ ‘ { } [ ] ? < > –
: FileNm_Guidelines_20140409_v01.docx
X : FileNm Guidelines 2014 04 09 v01.docx
Why? Different computer systems handle special characters differently – filing order, etc.
Keep track of document versions either sequentially (e.g. v01, v02,) or with a unique date and time ( e.g. 20140403_1800)
: FileNm_Guidelines_20140409_v01.docx
: FileNm_Guidelines_20140409_Review.docx AND FileNm_Guidelines_20140409_Investigation.docx
Why? Two years from now, you won’t remember what you meant.

Make folder hierarchies as simple as possible
: F:/ Env/LIBR/DataMgmt_FileFormats_20140409_v01.docx
: F:/Environment/Library/Woodward/Data/Education/Materials/Draft/2014/04/-DataMgmt_FileFormats_20140409_v01.docx
Why? Complex folder hierarchies are harder to navigate and offer more opportunities for filing errors. System back-ups may take longer.


 Learn more

"Organizing data" Mantra online tutorial.