Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: You are working on a document and save it to “The Cloud” for your coworkers’ access. Three days later, you’d like to make a few changes and you can not find it anywhere. You look in all of the usual spots and you can’t find it.
A recent study from the AIIM says that it costs on average $20 in labor to create a document. $120 in labor to search for a lost or misnamed document and up to $220 in labor to recreate the lost document. It takes approximately 25 hours to recreate a lost document. The average employee spends up to 400 hours a year searching for documents!
Let’s chat about naming digital files in a systematic, logical way to cut down on this wasted time and money, not to mention the frustration! I’m summarizing from this fantastic document by the Applied Knowledge Group: Best Practices for Document Naming Conventions.
First of all, keep it consistent! Once you start a naming method, keep it going!
- Names should be short and meaningful. Start by describing your document, then edit the name. Delete little, insignificant words like “a,” “the,” and “and” as well as spaces. “Juice and Candy Inventory List” becomes “JuiceCandyInventory.”
- Use capital letters to separate words, instead of spaces, hyphens(-) and underscores (_). See the above example.
- Dates should be formatted YYYYMMDD. “20150930JuiceCandyInventory” will keep the entries searchable.
- Keep abbreviations uniformed. “20150930JuiceCandyInv” if you need a list of common business abbreviations, check out this site!
- Stop using draft and final, use two digit versions: “20150930JuiceCandyInvV01” and “20150930JuiceCandyInvV02”. This allows fast searching. By using two digit, version one (V1) will not be immediately followed by version 10 (V10), but version two (V02).
- List by the family name then initials “BrownSR20150930email” versus “SamRBrown20150930email.”
- Name how it will be searched: will it be searched by date or type? “20150930Agenda” or “Agenda20150930,” it’s up to you, just say consistent.
Furthermore, use folders to keep like files even faster to search. One file for agendas and meeting minutes, one for lists, one for company procedures, one for correspondences and so on. The NUMBER ONE TIP IS TO: