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Naming Conventions: Filenames

The naming of document files such as Web pages (.html, .shtml), images/graphics (.jpg, .gif, .png), PDFs PDF icon (.pdf), MS Word MS Word icon (.doc, .docx), MS Excel MS Excel icon (.xls, .xlxs), and MS Powerpoint MS Powerpoint icon (.ppt, .pptx) should follow these rules to ensure better organization when alphanumerically sorted and to display friendly URLs:

  1. Avoid spaces. Use dashes instead.
    Browsers will convert space characters to %20 in the URL string.
    • Example:
      Use "2011-11-21-undergraduate-application.pdf"
      Avoid "2011 11 21 undergraduate application.pdf"
  2. Avoid underscores or special characters. (\ / : * ? " < > | [ ] & $ , .)
    The characters listed above are frequently used for specific tasks in an electronic environment. Underscores may be difficult to see when a hyperlinked filename is underlined. It may also create issues when using the Google search engine.
    • Example:
      Use "2011-11-21-application.pdf"
      Avoid "2011_11_21_application.pdf", "2011/11/21_application.pdf"
  3. Use all lowercase.
    This is mostly a precautionary measure as filenames on some servers may be case-sensitive. ("Class-List.html" may differ from "class-list.html")
  4. Use the format "YYYY-MM-DD" when including dates.
    This format will sort files chronologically in the web folder.
    • Example:
      Use "2011-11-21-event.pdf"
      Avoid "11-21-2011-event.pdf", "Nov-21-2011-event.pdf"
  5. Use the format "YYYY-semester" when including a semester year.
    This format will better sort files chronologically in the web folder.
    • Example:
      Use "schedule-2011-fall.pdf"
      Avoid "schedule-fall-2011.pdf", "Nov-21-2011-event.pdf"
  6. Be consistent.
    Use the same naming convention for similar files. This will keep similar files grouped together when sorted.
    • Example:
      Use "memo-001.pdf" and "memo-002.pdf"
      Avoid "memo-001.pdf" and "memorandum-002.pdf"
  7. Be brief yet descriptive. Avoid confusing abbreviations.
    Generally about 25 characters is a sufficient length to capture enough descriptive information for naming. Omit words such as "a", "of", "the", "in", "from", etc. when possible.
    • Example:
      Use "president-message.pdf" instead of "message-from-the-president.pdf"
      Use "student-application-2011-fall.pdf" instead of "stu-app-for-fa-2011.pdf"
  8. Avoid including the file type in the filename description.
    This is redundant and generally unnecessary.
    • Example:
      Use "2011-events.pdf" instead of "2011-pdf-of-events.pdf"

      Use "2011-grads.jpg" instead of "photo-of-2011-grads.jpg"

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