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Biological Sciences Collegiate Division

Resources and information for College students pursuing an honors degree from the BSCD

File Naming

When you download a paper, it often saves as a file with a name filled with nonsensical alphanumeric strings.  When you go to search for the article later, you probably won't remember why you saved it or what to expect from its content.  Using consistent file naming conventions can greatly alleviate the stress of remembering and finding saved articles in your preferred storage option.

File naming

Planning how you are going to name your files will help you find files easier, avoid duplication, and help you close-out projects quicker. When naming files remember to:

  • Be consistent
  • Be descriptive
  • Be brief (less than 25 characters is best)
  • Use underscores instead of spaces to separate words/dates
  • Stick to letters and numbers (no characters)
  • Use the NISO standard for dates: YYYYMMDD

Example

sample file naming structure

File Structure

There are many ways to structure your files. Ultimately you just want to have a plan, and document it so that others will both know where to put files they are working on, and how to find your files when they need them.  Some options are:

  • Separate folders for each project
  • Separate folders for each type of data
  • Separate folders for each day (works well if you use electronic lab notebooks)

Or even a combination of the three. Just make sure whatever structure you choose, you stick with.