The more I work with electronic documents, the more I become convinced that a consistent, descriptive naming convention is the biggest thing you can do to be able to find your documents later.
Having searchable PDFs is great, but using a naming convention will help to make sure that your documents are findable, not just searchable.
This includes including dates in the file name and using words in the name that will help you search for the document later.
Project Or Client Codes
If you work with clients or projects, you can go one step further and have a unique code that you include in the file name. I find this incredibly helpful to quickly zoom in on the file or folder that I am looking for using search.
I tend to use three letter codes inspired by this oldie but goodie blog post by Ben Brooks.
I was once talking to someone from an accounting firm, and she told me that they came up with a shared naming convention by which they would have a code of the first three letters of a client’s last name and the first three letters of a client’s first name in the file name.
For example, for an invoice they might have something like this:
What About Privacy?
At the NAPO conference last week, I was in a session by the Project Digital Sanity crew. They made an interesting point – if you have a situation where for privacy reasons you wouldn’t want the client name in the file name, you could use a client number instead.
What Do You Use?
These are three examples of naming codes you could use. You need to figure out what works for you and your documents.
Do you have a naming code system for your documents? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
(Photo by Mr. Eugene)