Preventing Document Chaos with File Naming Conventions

Iuliia Nesterenko Senior Product Writer
Last Updated

When you open your file storage and see endless “Untitled” names, can you quickly identify the doc you need? Is it “Untitled1,” “Untitled_2.0,” or “Untitled.final00?”

Naming files at random makes it difficult to stay productive and collaborative. The more documents, the more mess. At some point, it becomes nearly impossible to ascertain at a quick glance the content of a hastily saved “File01.pdf”.

And as a manager of projects that involve tons of documentation, you don’t want to regularly waste extra hours on manual renaming. Luckily, with workflow automation and file naming conventions you don’t have to.

Why Use a Naming Convention of Files?

Proper file management is a huge asset and productivity advantage.

A file naming convention is a framework for naming your files that automatically uses the data used in the file. This data could be the date of the doc creation, project name, file version, doc type, asset ID, etc.

To get and idea of the difference it can make, compare the two sets of titles below:

Template.01.pdfWORK ORDER Smith Feb 19, 2023.pdf
Unsaved.01.pdfWORK ORDER Fetcher May 03, 2023.pdf
Template.02.pdfPURCHASE ORDER Downson May 12, 2023.pdf
Savedcopy.04.pdfPURCHASE ORDER_FINAL Downson May 14, 2023.pdf

The left column has the docs named randomly, and the right column has the docs where a naming convention of files is applied. Easy to guess which set would be less challenging to navigate, isn’t it?

And aside from optimized navigation, a unified file naming format brings other benefits. 

  • Simplifies search. You may not know the whole name of the doc, but knowing at least one of its elements will narrow the search results.
  • Simplifies previewing. You don’t need to open the doc to understand what’s inside, and what relationships it has to other files.
  • Identifies the file. Documents can be moved. A proper file name keeps the important descriptive information when the doc is outside of the initial folder.
  • Minimizes human error. The more automation, the less mistakes.
  • Helps new people. You don’t know when the doc will come back for edits or reviewing, and who will work on it six months after saving. 

So unless you enjoy manual revisions, implementing a file naming system is a must to keep things simple. And here is how you can do that in Fluix. 

Setting a File Naming Format in Fluix

You can easily set a file naming convention through workflow automation. 

The process is simple. When creating a workflow and attaching a file, choose fields data from which will be used for naming. The file name will be automatically generated from the entered values, when the form travels through the workflow. 

How to set a file naming format when creating a workflow
Setting a file naming format when creating a workflow

Btw, if users try to name a document themselves, convention rules will prevent that from happening, ensuring that each document is named as defined by the admin.

Having implemented this framework for all of your docs, you’ll see file naming makes a big difference for your document management quality and speed. It especially helps when you go back to old documentation that you need to update, or when new people start working with old versions.

File Naming Best Practices

To make the most of naming automation, you need to choose the right fields and build them in a readable structure. So take a look at these tips to see how you can create file names that will clearly identify the content and purpose of each document.

  • Have a distinctive name that gives a clear idea of the file content. 
  • Use the most salient information first, be it a company or department name, a reviewer surname, etc.
  • Include the date (or at least the year) of the file creation. 
  • Avoid ambiguous or rare abbreviations.
  • Use spaces or underscores between words. 
  • Use hyphens to connect closely-tied units of information.
  • Avoid using the words “draft” or “final”.
  • Avoid using capitals for the whole file name.
  • Stick to a consistent pattern.
  • Place files in consistent directories.
  • Avoid element repetition.
  • Ensure the file extension matches the file format.

Look at the file names of the finance documents below. The doc type and ID go first, then the name of the sales rep, and the date of creation.

Files with a file naming convention in the Fluix storage
Files with a file naming convention in the Fluix storage

You can come across more practices but in essence, keeping file names consistent and easy to understand is key. It doesn’t matter which specific conventions are best for your company. What’s important is sticking to the same pattern so that dates, doc versions, or any other pertinent data is clearly recognizable.

Eliminate Guesswork with Automation

Sometimes it’s not big functionality but small features that make a big difference. Seemingly simple automation strategies, file naming convention in particular, can be a huge time saver when it comes to routine tasks.

This is especially true when it comes to field workers’ mobility. Following file naming conventions at a place like a construction site can be incredibly important, but between the sheer number of documents, users, and workflows, following the right convention can be a time-consuming challenge.

Implementing file naming conventions with as little friction as possible can help ensure that documents remain properly organized with little to no effort.

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Get Full Control of Your Files & Workflows

Give us 30 minutes to show how Fluix can help your business