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What’s in a Name?

How do you know you need a new file naming method? Do these scenarios sound terrifyingly familiar: You search for a file that your computer says doesn’t exist but you know you created yesterday? What about having a co-worker perched on your desk, waiting for you to transfer a file you know you worked on earlier in the day.

Usually this type of problem stems from the way you’re naming your files. The easiest way to avoid frustration and aggravation (and to easily access all your files) is to use a labeling methodology.

What that means is you need to create some common guidelines or rules for yourself so that you can handily name and locate your files – making them instantly searchable and accessible.

Sound good? Wonderful – let’s get started.

Here are some simple steps to ensure you never scramble to find a file again.

1. The first and most important step – files should begin with the broadest category possible and then get more specific. For example: Marketing_flyer_filelabels.

2. Label dated files YY/MM/DD to always place the most recent date at the top of the list.

3. Always use an underscore instead of a space. That prevents accidental double spaces and ensures processing tools like Microsoft don’t misinterpret the space.

4. Keep it lowercase – no capitals on any words ensures consistency, especially with files that get passed around.

5. No periods in a file name other than right before the file extension – otherwise it confuses the computer.

6. Be brief – keep the length of the name under 29 characters.

7. Avoid using special characters in a file name – they are frequently used for specific tasks in operating systems and could result in lost files.

Refer to these steps when you’re naming or renaming your files. Your system doesn’t need to be identical to mine, but stay consistent. As difficult as it is to maintain a strict system, knowing your files are always at your fingertips is a great reward!


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