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Naming conventions for electronic records

You should think carefully about how you name your documents and folders, as you will need to be able to search for, and find them, quickly and easily. Following these simple rules will help you to name your work and find it when you need it.

Documents held on shared drives may also need to be accessed by other users, and may need to be retained for many years. Therefore, they need to be consistently named for prompt and accurate retrieval.

Using naming conventions will help you:

  • Create consistent names for electronic documents
  • Distinguish documents from one another
  • Determine the relevance of documents without having to open them
  • Sort documents logically and group related documents together.

Names should be written ‘naturally’, with upper case used only for the first word of a sentence or a proper noun. Punctuation, except hyphens, should not be used as it may not be recognised by the software and could prevent the document being saved.

You should also ensure that documents which will be used and reviewed by groups of people contain version information.

Naming folders

Folders should be named according to function or service rather than organisation, department or personal names: they should describe the work that is being done, not who is doing it. For example, a folder should be called Facilities Management at the top level, with sub-divisions describing the relevant areas of work such as Policy or Monitoring as opposed to Facilities Management Division, Health & Safety team, etc.

  • Naming folders should follow these guidelines:
  • Only create folders with organisational or departmental names when the content is demonstrably team focused, for example, team meeting details, business continuity documents, work plans etc. These should be held in a Team administration folder.
  • Folder titles should not be repeated in the hierarchy. For example, if the top level is Procurement, the second level should read Strategy, rather than Procurement Strategy. It should be read as a linear title, with a back slash separator, as in the address window in Windows Explorer (Procurement \ Strategy). The only exception to this rule is where a proper noun is concerned, e.g. where the second level reads Procurement Strategy Committee (PSC), as that is the name of the committee itself.
  • The top two levels of shared drive structures should map to a classification scheme. Lower levels of shared drive structures must reflect the needs of the service or function. It is the responsibility of the owner of the parent folder to agree names for ‘child’ folders by reference to classification scheme where relevant and to consult the Records Manager before making substantial changes. This process should be managed in agreement with the users of potential ‘child’ folders.

Naming records

All titles should be meaningful and relevant. The following rules should be followed:

  1. Keep file names short, but comprehensible, using commonly recognised acronyms or abbreviations where appropriate.
  2. Order the elements in a file name in the most appropriate way to retrieve the record, with the most important element first
  3. Avoid repetition and redundancy: in particular, the title of a folder should not be repeated in the document title. This will aid efficient searching.
  4. If it is important that documents can be sorted by date, number or name, to ensure correct sort order, numbers below 10 should be given in two digits, dates in the form YYYYMMDD or YYMM, and personal names with surname followed by initials without spaces.
  5. Avoid non-alphanumeric characters, such as ? ; : / \ < > * & $ £ + =. Hyphens may be used.
  6. Date, subject and author should be given if appropriate, e.g. for a letter or email.
  7. When saving items such as digital photographs and scanned images, the title should be changed from the system-generated number to a something meaningful.
  8. A description of the application (e.g. PowerPoint, Access) should not be included in the document title – this is apparent from the document icon and extension.
  9. Words describing the form or format of a document, such as ‘draft’, ‘letter’, ‘presentation’, ‘spreadsheet’, should not be used at the start of file names.
  10. ‘FW’ and ‘RE’ should be removed from the titles of emails.

Last modified 14 October 2011

 

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