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Data Management Best Practices

File Naming

Some best practices for naming files:

1. Be consistent.

   Define naming conventions for 1) directory structure, 2) folder names, and 3) file names.

   Include consistent information in the same order.

   Include standard date, YYYYMMDD, either at the end or beginning of the filename.

2. Be descriptive yet pithy.

   Keep names short, 15-20 characters or less.

   Files migrate out of context, so try to add context to filenames.

   For example: project or research data name, conditions (lab instrument, solvent, temperature, etc).

3. Be exact.

   Include a version number at the end of the file such as v01. Change this number each time the file is saved.

   For the final version, substitute the word FINAL for the version number.

   When using sequential numbering, use leading zeroes to allow for multi-digit versions.

4. Be one with the computer.

   Don't use special characters; computers will be confused by these in the file name: & , * % # ; * () ! @ & ^ { [ 

   Don't use spaces - use underscores or capital letters to differentiate between words.

   Use only one period before the file extension: name_paper.doc

Examples:

project_instrument_yyyymmdd_v01.docx

20120323FacultyMeetingMinutes.docx

Eng_316_CourseProposal_20120323_v01.docx

More information: