Naming Conventions

Naming conventions are rules that support the consistent filing of folders and files and enable efficient information retrieval. “File names” are the titles listed in the file directory that we assign to new files when we save them for the first time. The following are general considerations to think about when developing a naming convention.

They assume that a logical directory structure or filing scheme is in place and that similar conventions are used for naming the levels and folders within the directory structure.

When deciding how to structure a naming convention, take into consideration the application being used and how it organizes content. It will help refine the naming convention and leverage the functionality of the application. Examples – when saving documents in the Network Attached Storage (AKA: NAS or O:Drive documents names cannot be more than 255 characters (e.g., /.../Procedures/Appeals.doc) or when working collaboratively in the same document, saved in SharePoint, versions are automatically captured in the back end so there is no need to add dates or version numbers.

Reminder — Document! Make sure whatever is decided upon in a unit that the naming convention is documented so there is a reference point and new employees can know how to find and save documents.

  1. File names and paths should be meaningful, relevant and brief—no more than 255 characters (e.g., /.../Procedures/Appeals.doc)
  2. Use approved abbreviations and acronyms (e.g., 2013-03-03 HR RPT.doc)
  3. DO NOT USE ALL CAPS, especially at the beginning of a file name 
  4. Eliminate Symbols/Characters (e.g., [ ] { } ( ) .,! ; : " ' * ? < >\/ |&$)
  5. Use standard date formats (e.g., four-digit year, two-digit month, two-digit day: YYYY-MM-DD or YYYY-MM or YYYY-YYYY
  6. Use numbers with zero filling to help sorting (e.g., 001, 010)
  7. Name files by order of retrieval need (e.g., 2013-03-15 RPT.doc)
  8. Do not include confidential information in folder or file names
  9. Folders/sub-directories should be named according to function or work service (e.g., N:/Deans Council Meetings/2016-09-27 MIN.docx)
  10. Do not repeat folder names in the hierarchy
  11. Apply version control using V01, V02, etc. at the end of the file name

Recommended abbreviations 

  • Agenda (AGD)
  • Agreement (AGR)
  • Contract (CON)
  • Discussion draft (DFT)
  • Form (FRM)
  • Grant (GRA)
  • Guidelines (GUI)
  • Index (IDX)
  • Letter (LTR)
  • List (LST)
  • Memo (MEM)
  • Minutes (MIN)
  • Meeting (MTG)
  • Notes (NTS)
  • Plan (PLN)
  • Policy (POL)
  • Presentation (PRS)
  • Procedure (PRC)
  • Schedule (SCH)
  • Speech (SPE)
  • Summary (SUM)