Naming Files

Just modified my writing tips for students to add “A Few Words About File Names”:

Most of our students will spend at least some part of their careers working in large organizations where they share electronic documents. Students should get in the habit of giving their documents good file names. Thus “paper draft” is always bad — imagine if everyone calls their documents that!

Some organizations have naming conventions, but if not, be sure the file name has three things: your surname (if the primary author, so you get the credit), something substantive (not “paper” or “motion” but “Jones-dismiss-motion” or whatever), and a version number. You usually do not need a date, the software will do that automatically. For papers it’s probably a good idea to put your surname first, then a summary form of the paper title, as that way over the course of time all your submissions to your professor will be grouped together and easy to find.

It is good a habit to avoid spaces in file names (use – or _) so that files translate well to UNIX systems if they ever touch one. Do not use any other odd non-alphanumeric characters as it can mess up some older file systems.

All fairly obvious, but you would be amazed how many files I get from students called “paper”.

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