When you are working, you may not always think about how you name your files. You may end up with a folder that looks like this:

That is why it is essential to establish a naming convention before you begin collecting files or data in order to prevent a backlog of unorganized content that will lead to misplaced or lost data!


A file naming convention will help you:

  • Easily find your files.
  • Track which version of a file is the most current.
  • Prevents accidental overwrites or deletion.

Tips for Naming your Files

Make it human-useable and –readable

  • Define conventions for your directory structure, folder names and file names.
  • Include a text file (README) describing your naming conventions.
  • Use short, descriptive names. For example: Project name/acronym, Date file created, Sample number, Version number

Make it machine-readable

  • Consider starting with the most general category and ending with the most specific, so that related files will sort together.
  • Dates: yyyymmdd
  • Versions: 01 instead of 1
  • Avoid use terms such as «Final FINAL last version”.
  • Keep file and folder names short (15-20 characters or less).
  • Avoid special characters in your names such as: “/ \ : * ? “ < > [ ] & $.
  • Do not use spaces. It is a better option include underscores.

Suggestions for your files

File Naming Convention: archaeologicalsite + year + type of file +number.jpg

  • Archaeologicalsite: A very short title representing the archaeological site, for exemple: for “Camps de Can Massot” you can use initials CCM.
  • Year: The year of the excavation.
  • Type of file: A very short title of the kind of file.

Number: Three-digit number starting with 001 for every image. If more than one image with a similar filename exists, apply a numerically ordered sequence.


  • CCM_2020_ img_001.jpg
  • CCM _2020_plan_001.jpg
  • CCM _2020_report.jpg

File renaming 

If you have many files already named, consider using a file renaming application such as ReNamer (Mac/Windows).

Tracking Changes with Version Control

Keep track of versions of files (manually version control). Use a sequential numbered system: v01, v02…

Use version control software such as Git which can track revisions to files and help you roll back to a previous version of a file.

Useful tools

Renamer for Mac
Renamer for Windows
Tracking Changes with Version Control with Git


For more information and assistance, contact Documentation Centre and Library.


File Naming (University of Oregon): https://researchguides.uoregon.edu/data-management/filenaming

File Naming and Versioning (University of Wisconsin–Madison): https://researchdata.wisc.edu/file-naming-and-versioning/

File Naming Conventions (Harvard College): https://datamanagement.hms.harvard.edu/collect/file-naming-conventions

Organización de archivos y carpetas (Universidade da Coruña): https://infoguias.biblioteca.udc.es/gestion_datos/organizacion

Last updated: 19/10/2023