Skip to main content Skip to navigation

File and Directories

What...File naming

File naming along with directory naming and structure provide quick descriptions of the files you are creating or managing. This page provides some advice on these elements.


Good file names can help to provide a quick description of a file's contents. This description may refer to an event or subject, the date it was created, the version number of the file or a mixture of these elements.
Similarly, well thought out directory names can help to facilitate quick and easy navigation your files


File names

  • Create meaningful but brief names.
  • Classify files by using descriptions to identify the content/purpose of them.
  • Employ consistent conventions for file status and versioning.
  • Do not use special characters such as > < " / \ | ? * : ^ $ (these characters are reserved expressions in certain operating systems).
  • Do not use spaces (some operating systems and web browsers have trouble handling spaces in file names). Use underscores between words or capitalise the first letter of each new word instead.
  • Do not use personal names within the file name.

Directory names & Structure

  • Consider the best hierarchy for files. When working in collaboration the need for a consistent, orderly structure is even greater.
  • Use folder names to describe major functions or activities.
  • Use sub-folders to structure by year and data types.
  • Create consistent, meaningful but brief names.
  • Try not to duplicate folder names where possible.
  • Do not use personal names within the folder name.

There is more detailed guidance available on file naming conventions which the University of Warwick recommends for internal record keeping, including lots of useful examples. Please contact us if you are unable to access this document as a pdf and would prefer to read it in an alternative format.