Can You Find Your Files?
You may think you remember everything about a project and the corresponding files, but over time, it becomes more difficult to recall details about files, versions, and locations of important documents.
Investing time up front to develop an efficient system and naming protocols will save time in the long run and enable sharing with collaborators.
You need to develop a structure for your directories. How will your folders and sub-folders be organized? Consider including a README file in each folder to explain your structure and the file naming convention so people collaborating with you understand your convention and you can refresh your memory when you return to the directory later.
File Naming - A Few Pointers
You want your file names to be useful to you so put them to work! They should convey meaning. You might consider including in your file name:
- Experiment Type
- Experiment Number
- Researcher Name
- Sample Number
- Site Name
- Analysis Type
You want to make the file names meaningful, but still short. Here are a few other guidelines:
- Short, preferably less than 25 characters
- Be consistent
- No spaces (use dashes or underscores)
- No special characters (such as " \ < > $ & ')
- Date represented as YYMMDD or YYYYMMDD
- Camel case: CuteDogPictures.csv
- Pothole case: cute_dog_pictures.csv
File Naming Resources
There are multiple file naming resources available from multiple sources. Below you will find some links with more information on file naming.
- File Naming Handout you can use that gives you quick tips on how to develop a file naming convention.
- Best Practices for Filenaming, Organizing, and Working with Data from the Smithsonian Institute. Be sure to look at the PDF for Best Practices for File Naming and Organizing at the bottom of the page.
- File Naming Video from University of Wisconsin (6 minutes)
Programs to Rename Files
If you need to reorganize or rename a large number of files one of these programs may help:
Contact us if you have questions or need help.