University of Utah Library Guides
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Guide to Organizing Digital Files

Filenaming Best Practices

Give each file a descriptive file name. When possible, add dates to the filename and ensure that the filename begins with the date. If your objects are arranged chronologically, filenames with a date formatted as YYYY-MM-DD will be sorted in chronological order.

Avoid all spaces, symbols, and punctuation in filenames. This includes apostrophes, periods, commas, at symbols, etc. 

When describing an item, use proper names, (eg. JohnSmith) as much as possible and avoid personal relationship terms like “Grandpa” or “My dad." This provides clearer information to researchers unfamiliar with your personal and professional relationships. 

Instead of:



Instead of:





Instead of:

Jody&Beth's Beach Trip.tiff




See the box on right for tips on providing contextual information on names and relationships. 

External Documentation

If the length of the filenames exceeds the limit that we require, please create an external text document that explains acronyms, names, or relationships. For example:

  • Filename = 20020611_Moab_JodyWedding
    • External documentation would include Jody's full first name and last name and relationship to donor (eg. sister, daughter, etc). 
  • Filename= 200205_YWCA_luncheon_JBphotos
    • External documentation would spell out the acronym (eg. Young Women's Christian Association) as well as the initials of the photographer (eg. James Booth). 
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