A Helpful Guide to Shared Documentation Part II: Naming Shared Folders and Files

We wrote a 3 part guide to getting shared documentation right, and help you improve your organization’s access to information using shared drives.

1- Structuring your Shared Drive

2- Naming Shared Folders and Files (you’re here)

3- Managing Access Rights


Information is only valuable when it is readily and easily accessible. While we cannot predict when information will be needed by a team member, we can make it more accessible by not only establishing a robust archiving system, but a strong naming system as well.


A good file name should give you enough information about what you’re about to read before opening it, and should be easily searchable in a shared drive. A robust naming convention can turn the name of a file or folder into a keyword in the search process, and highly descriptive names can speed up the search process.


Your naming convention should be documented, shared as part of your onboarding pack, and communicated to your team. If relevant include in this document a glossary where any acronyms used are listed. We usually save this file in the relevant folder and call it START HERE - Naming Conventions - [Folder name]


Below is a list of best shared practices for naming your folders and files:


DO’s

  • Give files/folders meaningful differentiated names. It’s impossible to tell what’s in a file if you have many with similar names.

  • Test that you can guess what is in the folder from reading its name, ensure it is indicative of what the folder/file contains. Be as descriptive as possible by including all the identifying information in the name.

  • Stay consistent and rigorous every time you name a file or folder. If relevant, use different conventions for different file sets.

  • If using dates as part of the naming structure, start with the year and month: YYYYMMDD.

  • If versioning is relevant, always include the version number.

  • Only use acronyms that are included in the shared glossary.

  • Have a convention for names (last name first, first name first, or the opposite?)

  • When you are choosing a name, think about how you want to sort and search for your files.

DON'Ts

  • Write unnecessarily long file or folder names.

  • Write filenames in full caps.

  • Use special characters.

  • Add your personal initials to documents.

  • Include acronyms that are not included in the shared glossary. The name should be easily understood by anyone who quickly glances at it.

  • Ignore name convention rules, even if you are in a hurry or if it might seem like an unimportant file.

  • Use a name that has been used before.


Read Part III: Managing Access Rights