File Naming Rules

There are some basic rules we follow at CEOEL to make sure our files are web server friendly, and our files are named consistently.

Basic Rules

Everyone should use these rules everywhere. This means video editors, course content creators, marketing designers, etc. Use the rules in video projects, in your asset files, in every place you create and edit files. Doing so will help you get in the habit of following the naming conventions, and will make your files instantly recognizable and easy to read for other people working on, or sharing your projects and files.

Never Use Spaces

Always use underscores instead of spaces. Web servers generally don’t like spaces, and they translate them into “%20” to make a URL work. This produces ugly and hard to read URLs.

Only Use Lower Case Characters

For ease of linking files it is important to use only lower case characters. Our web server is case sensitive, and to avoid any confusion or miss-capitalized links, we only use lower case characters.

Only use Periods for File Extensions

Just as a simple rule of thumb, we do not use periods for anything but file extensions (.mp4, .pdf, etc). As an alternative, use a dash instead of a period.

Limit the Types of Characters you Use in File Names

As a general rule in all file naming, it is best to avoid using anything but A-Z, 0-9, Underscores, Dashes, and Periods. This means no ampersands, parentheses, colons, commas, slashes, or other punctuation.

File Name Structure

There are some basic rules we follow at CEOEL for the structure of our file names. This helps us know exactly what course or project a file is for, and helps us understand what is going on when we share projects, or when we dig into an old project.

The Broad to Specific Method of File Naming

Generally we follow a methodology that could be referred to as “Broad to Specific” when naming files. This means we start with the most broad descriptor and continue with more descriptors getting more specific with each one. So this means starting with the course name and number, then going to the unit number, chapter number, lesson number, then the part, then the content descriptor if needed.

For things not directly related to course content, the broadest descriptor might be the project or campaign name. Then going on to describing the item, and in some cases where appropriate, the version or iteration of the item. For example:smgt_nature_ads-billboard-mini.psd.

It is understandable that you would not want to add all of these descriptors to every individual asset in a marketing project. But things like the root folder for the project, and the main project file should follow these practices where possible. This is especially important when people decide to scatter parts of marketing projects all over the marketing drive. This allows people not familiar with the project to match up the different parts of the project when hunting down your work.

Parts of a Filename

  1. Course Descriptor / Project Descriptor – This is either the course the file relates to or a short name for the project.
  2. File Content Descriptor – This is what the file is. For course content it might be the lesson, the chapter, the presentation topic, etc. You can separate multiple distinct descriptors with dashes for easier readability. This is optional, but dashes should only be used for this purpose.
    Example: smgt115_lesson1_part1-tropical_biomes.mp3
  3. File Extention – This tells us what type of file it is, such as: .pdf, .mp4, .mov, .indd, etc. It is important to note that in course content projects, this is enough to describe what type of file it is. We don’t have to add -video, -audio, -transcript to the end of file names because these are indicated by the file extension.

Numbers in File Names

As a general convention, we do not put underscores between numbers and their related descriptor. This helps with quick and easy reading of file names.
Example: smgt115_lesson1a.mp4 is correct, smgt_115_lesson_1a.mp4 and smgt-155_lesson-1a.mp4 are incorrect.

More Examples of Good File Names

  • smgt240_unit1_lesson4b
  • hwm410_lesson3_part1.pdf
  • flx_mus273_song_set2-song2
  • bps_econ373_unit3-lesson3.mp4
  • msmgt750_sage_hall_part1
  • himt320_chapter4.mp3
  • hwm440_final_project_slide07

Published on January 07, 2015 at 12:43:49 pm CST. Last modified on May 04, 2018 at 1:33:45 pm CDT.