File Naming Conventions - Best Practices & Examples

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File Naming Convention Best Practices For Managing Files

Monday March 24th, 2008 by Jim Kidwell

DAM-Best-Practices-Guide-ThumbWhen cataloging files with in any digital asset manager, it is best to start out by organizing your files by filename. To start out, your files may have a wide variety of names. Filenames that come out of your everyday workflow can vary from the simple to very wild, anywhere from your digital camera’s default file naming (DSCN00043.jpg) to perhaps the final version of your most recent design project (Big_Newsletter_Project_final_final_final.pdf).  You can see how having a common naming convention could definitely help keep your files in order.

In Extensis Portfolio, when you catalog files, you are given the option to rename your files as they are cataloged. Using this cataloging option allows you to easily move and change the name of files on disk. Using this option helps you create a specific strategy for how your original files are named — and stick to it. In doing so, you can more easily identify, locate and share those files.

Download our DAM Best Practices Guide and set yourself up for long term file management success.

For example, it is very helpful to include pertinent file information such as client name, project, product number, and date into the file name. The following are examples of easily replicated naming conventions with the filename followed by what that naming convention includes.

  • Jones_newsletter04_001.jpg – Company name, project and sequential numbering
  • axle_756452j_002.jpg – Part name, part number, sequential numbering
  • Smith_040623_066.pdf – Company name, date (YYMMDD) and sequential numbering

For complete network compatibility across Mac, Windows and Unix, it is wise to use file names that are compatible with all platforms.

  • Limit file name length to 32 characters.
  • Use underscores instead of spaces.
  • Format dates in a simple manner. For example the date June 23, 2004 can be represented as 040623. This helps keep the files sorted in order in the Macintosh Finder, Windows Explorer as well as within Portfolio.

For more digital asset management tips, be sure to check out our Digital Asset Management Best Practices Guide. This guide gives you tips for how to use Extensis Portfolio effectively, but is also helpful for those of you who use other digital asset managers.