#LYD16: Organizing Files

Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

Remember to follow and participate in the discussion to learn more about today’s topic on Twitter #LYD16.

Want to talk about it? Join us for a 30-minute workshop/discussion today at noon. Sign up here.

Good Practice

Have a plan for organizing your data. This usually includes a folder structure and file naming scheme (plan). Easier said than done. Check out these tips and links to more in-depth guidance.


If you don’t already have a folder structure and/or file naming plan, come up with one and share it. Some good practices for naming files are described below.

Be Clear, Concise, Consistent, and Correct

Make it meaningful (to you and anyone else who is working on the project)

Provide context so it will still be a unique file and people will be able to recognize what it is if moved to another location.

For sequential numbering, use leading zeros. For example, a sequence of 1-10 should be numbered 01-10; a sequence of 1-100 should be numbered 001-010-100.

Do not use special characters: & , * % # ; * ( ) ! @$ ^ ~ ‘ { } [ ] ? < >Some people like to use a dash ( – ) to separate words

Others like to separate words by capitalizing the first letter of each (e.g., DST_FileNamingScheme_20151216)

Dates should be formatted like this: YYYYMMDD (e.g., 20150209). Put dates at the beginning or the end of your files, not in the middle, to make it easy to sort files by name:
OK: DST_FileNamingScheme_20151216
OK: 20151216_DST_FileNamingScheme
AVOID: DST_20151216_FileNamingScheme

Use only one period and before the file extension (e.g., name_paper.doc NOT name.paper.doc OR name_paper..doc)

There are generally two approaches to folder structures. Filing, or using a hierarchical folder structure. The other approach is piling, which relies on fewer folders and uses the search, sort, and tagging functions of your operating system or cloud storage tools like Box.

Check out the link below for more details and examples:

For more information, write to Wendy Mann at wmann@gmu.edu

Posted in Events & Workshops, Training & Tutorials