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Tips on How to Name & Organize Digital Files

It's important to name digital files correctly and place them in an organized manner to locate files when you need them.

Tips on How to Name and Organize Digital Files
Nothing is more frustrating when you can’t find a file on your computer! You go through folders, do name searchers in the finder with no results. I’ll show you how to name an organize your digital files, so this doesn’t happen anymore. From time to time, we’re all busy and sometimes when we’re in a rush we don’t completely think about how important file organizations is. Here’s a few tips outlining how to properly label and organize your digital files.

Place your Digital Files in One Place

It’s important to have one central location for all your folders. I use My Documents to place all my folders that are categorized by Work, Photos, Personal, Music, etc. This way it’s easy for me to locate what I’m specifically looking for, I know which Main Folder I can start my search for the file in question. This is also convenient when you do a backups!

Create Nested Folders

When you create your Main folders you’ll want to create nested folders within your Main Folder. Nested folders help you keep organized and keeps your desktop and other areas of computer free of orphan digital files. An example for nested folders is:
Work> Clients> Your Client Name> Invoices > 2011> Invoice001.doc

Use Simple Language

Don’t get fancy when naming your folders or digital files. It’s best to keep your labels simple because you might not remember the abbreviation you made up at the time of creation for a particular file. Plus it will be easier to locate the file in a search tool by using basic and simple keywords.

Be Specific when Labeling

I’m not kidding when I say be specific because it will help you locate files easy and fast later on. For example, a client may ask me to send them past quarter page newsprint ads for a particular campaign, and this file can be located easily because I named my files in an easy to organizational system. I don’t ever worry about accessing information quickly a year or two later because I label my files and documents specifically, ie. The path looks like this:
<Toronto Star>
<Quarter Page Ads>

Label your projects by Versions

As a Graphic Designer we sometimes need to create multiple revisions of a document, and it’s best practice to save versions and name them properly. If you don’t and a client comes asks you for a reproduce a certain look from a specific file it will become a daunting task to locate and produce the requested version. You can use file name structures like:

  • client-name-quarter-page-v1
  • client-name-quarter-page-v2
  • client-name-quarter-page-v3

and once there’s more than 5 versions you might want to start incorporating dates:

  • client-name-quarter-page-07012013
  • client-name-quarter-page-07012012

And marking a document as final can also be important: client-name-quarter-page-final

The order system of month date year can vary depending on your filing system, just make sure to keep it consistent, universally across the organizational system of your digital files.

When you save your files think of these little tips because trust me you’ll be thanking yourself later when you need to locate a document quickly or validate a final version.

Do you have any labeling tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them. Leave your comments below.

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