Electronic File Naming Conventions

Is there anything more frustrating than trying to find a document on the computer when everyone names files any old way they want?  File naming conventions do not have to be difficult.  A few simple, logical rules used consistently by everyone is usually sufficient.  In bigger companies where electronic discovery is a way of life, strict requirements for consistent file naming conventions are a must.

I am a fan of what I call “one stop clicking.” By that, I mean that I can tell by reading the name of the saved file whether it is the document I need.  I want file naming conventions that are specific enough to identify what the document is, who wrote it, the date of the document, and what it is about. Repeatedly opening and closing documents to find what I want is a waste of billable time.

If necessary, create a list of acceptable abbreviations for everyone to use – no exceptions! But, if you do, please keep it simple and logical. There is no reason to re-invent the wheel or make this more difficult.

Here is a list of file-naming conventions. Regardless of whether your firm has already created file-naming conventions, you might want to look over the different versions below. Who knows? You might find a better idea for the system you are using now. -CCE

Records Management Tip #1: Electronic File Naming Posted, by Lawrence Giffin, Records Services Archivist, For The Record Blog


Getting Organized: Great Tips for Better File Names, by Jill Duffy, PC Magazine


Standard Naming Conventions for Electronic Records, Records Management Section, The University of Edinburgh


Electronic Records Management Guidelines, Minnesota Historical Society