Organise files and folders

Choosing a logical and consistent way to name and organise your files allows you and others to locate and use them. Think about this at the start of your project!

Why think about naming and versioning?

  • Agreeing on a naming convention will help to provide consistency. This will make it easier to find and correctly identify your files.  You might run into version control problems when working on files collaboratively, so think about versioning early.
  • Organising your files carefully will save you time and frustration and prevent duplication or errors by helping you and your colleagues find what you need when you need it.

Tips on creating file names


  • Name folders meaningfully ‐ name folders after the areas of work to which they relate and not after individual researchers or students.
  • Be as concise with your names as you can. Use names that describes content. Keep names short, if possible no more than 25 characters.
  • You might also think about a a standard vocabulary for file names, so that everyone uses a common language. 


  • When developing a naming scheme for your folders you need to be consistent and stick to it.


  • Use a 'revision' numbering system. Any major changes to a file can be indicated by numbers, for example, v01 would be the first version, v02 the second version.
  • Be consistent throughout your project and specify the amount of digits, eg 01.
  • For the final version, substitute the word FINAL for the version number.

Version control

  • Include a 'version control table' each important document, noting changes and their dates alongside the appropriate version number of the document. 


  • When using dates, put them in the order YYYY_MM_DD at the beginning of the file or folder name.

Renaming files

  • There are occasions when you may want to rename large number of files at once, for example digital images such as photographs, whose default file names are simply numbers.
  • Special software to carry out batch renaming is available, for example the free Bulk Rename Utility (for Windows) or Renamer (Mac). You can also do this in Windows Explorer (Windows Vista, 7, 8) without additional software. 

Naming Examples

  • 2013_11_05_Interview_SM
  • 2014_06_02_Survey
  • Methodology_v02 

Useful videos

Version control by University of Wisconsin Data Services


File Naming Conventions by University of Wisconsin Data Services