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Data Management: File Naming

Faculty, students, and staff will find information on this guide about managing their research data.

Why File Naming?

Establishing your own file naming convention will allow you to quickly identify which files belong to your research project, what order they were created in, whether they are newer drafts of previous documents, and more. Some file naming best practices are:

  • Avoid using special characters in a file name. \ / : * ? “ < > | [ ] & $ , 
  • Use underscores instead of periods or spaces
  • Keep it short
  • If you are using named folders to help organize your files, include info from the folder names in your file names in case a file gets moved to the wrong folder
  • Include dates and always format them the same way. If you start your file name with the year, then month, then date, it will be easy to see in what order the files were created
  • Include version numbers or letters on new drafts
  • Be consistent

Some tools to help you batch name your files are:

Why Folder Naming?

The folders you save your files in should also be well named. Follow the guidelines above for your folders as well as these folder naming best practices: