File & Folder Naming

Web File & Folder Naming

A naming standard is essential for effective collaboration in common web environments. A file that iadheres to a good naming standard is easy to search for, identify and retrieve.

The University Naming Standard applies to all files and folders used on CSUDH web servers.  Some common file types are:

  • Web pages: .html, .shtml, .htm, .asp, .php, etc.
  • Images: .png, .jpg, .jpeg, .gif, etc.
  • PDF: .pdf
  • MS Word: .doc, .docx
  • MS Excel: .xls, .xlxs
  • MS Powerpoint: .ppt, .pptx
  • Text: .txt, .text, .rtf, etc.
  • Archive/Compressed: .zip, .rar, .tar, etc.

Web files and folders should use the following rules to ensure they are easy to read, sort correctly, and 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. Use ONLY lowercase letters, NO UPPERCASE.
    Using uppercase letters in web page, folder, and file names may cause the URL to break since is considered different from This may also negatively impact search results for your pages/files.
    For more info, please see the article "Never Use Capital Letters in URLs opens new window".
  3. 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"
  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 and unnecessary words.
    Generally about 25 characters is a sufficient length to capture enough descriptive information for naming. Omit articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions, and prepositions when sensible.
    Avoid words that vaguely describe versions, such as: FINAL, RECENT, UPDATED, etc.
    • 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"
      Avoid "memo-001-FINAL.pdf" and "memorandum-002-UPDATED.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"