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Chapter 5. Organizing Your Files > Name Files Systematically

Name Files Systematically

In addition to organizing your folders, consider creating a systematic way of naming your files if you are sharing your file storage with other people. It’s a good idea even if you work alone because it helps keep you organized as your system grows to hundreds or thousands of files. Here are a few tips to consider when thinking about file-naming conventions.

  • Coordinate your filenames with your folder structure. Your filenames should build on your folder names, not repeat them. If you have client folders, you probably do not need the client name in the filename. If the file is in a folder called “memos,” it’s important to describe whom the memo is to but not important to put the word “memo” in the name.

  • Facilitate file retrieval. It’s a good idea to put information in the filename that will enable someone to recognize what the file is about by looking at the name in an Open dialog box. While some filing systems use case IDs and file numbers, the file name 2001AA3 13993.doc doesn’t tell anyone who’s not working with that document on a day-to-day basis anything. Neither do the names “Thoughts On Today’s Meeting.doc” or “New Ideas.doc.”

  • Think of how you want your files to be grouped and alphabetized. For instance, in a correspondence folder, you might want to see files grouped by full name of recipient and then by date. In that case, you can use a name such as “Denise Smith 021030 cvr ltr for proposal.doc” This way, all of Denise Smith’s correspondence is grouped together, sorted by date, with a description at the end.


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