Monday, August 19, 2013

Formatting File Names

I Should Have Known This Before!

Over the years, I have developed a system for naming files that I find very useful.  Here is that system:


xxx = the abbreviation of the category, which is never more than three letters long, i.e. AR = Accounts Receivable, AP = Accounts Payable, J = Journal (because I'm secretly a 14 year old girl), N = Notes (which I edit and published on Clean Sheets and Dirty Girls), etc.

_ = the underscore character

SubjectMatter = a name for the file that I will remember later, i.e. MyNamingSystemExplained or something similar would be the title of the entry devoted to a piece of writing I might do on this topic.  If I was saving a copy of an a news article from the internet this is the place where the title of the article would be placed.

yyyy_mm_dd = the date in this format because that way it can be sorted by name on the computer and come up in chronological order. I always (try) to save dates in the computer in this way.

0n = zero and a number that increases by one every time I save a file so that I or anyone I am working with can quickly identify the current version of the file, which is the one with the highest number at the end.  This is important when making revisions to a single file or when sharing the file with another person.  Even in a small office environment it is possible for two people tasked with making edits to a presentation or sales document to work on an older copy of the file if there is no system in place to identify which copy of the file is the most recent. If I know that the type of document will include a lot of files, I will make this more than two digits long.

For years, I was had been using mm_dd_yy in my file names.  Only about one year ago did I finally switch to yyyy_mm_dd, which makes so much more sense because it can be sorted by a computer and have the results appear in chronological order.  If I had only been reading the latest from the International Organization for Standardization (I.S.O.) I would have been on to the more useful way of expressing dates years earlier!

Here is the link to the xkcd comic on the subject of correctly formatting dates for all your chronophiles.


  1. This is a really neat idea mate, I actually think that I'm going to follow you and steal this idea for my files as well, at least important ones, it's a very solid system.

  2. Cool idea. Glad to read about it.