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Best Practice

Naming Conventions/File Architecture

If you don't already have a naming convention and file architecture for the electronic versions of your presentations, you should probably develop one. If you do have a naming convention, you may want to read this to determine whether you have built in enough identifiers. Naming conventions can do a few things: They …

  1. prevent documents from being overwritten with earlier versions
  2. make it possible to determine the status of the document within the development process
  3. order the documents within the project file
  4. track the document down after it goes final.

Let's look closer at what naming conventions accomplish.

  1. Version control. In addition to making sure that a presentation-development process doesn't splinter (two or more people working on the electronic master at the same time, which creates a double master – yikes), adjustments to the file title during the process prevents work loss. Work loss can be overwriting the current master with a previous version or vice versa. Either way, you want to protect the iterations of the document as it's being produced.
  2. Document status. Whether you're producing a presentation all by yourself or as a team, it's helpful to know the iteration number date for the presentation. If you're producing the presentation with team members, it's also helpful to know who last edited the presentation.
  3. Finding the presentation. If a naming convention is used, the sequence of iterations can be easily seen and the most recent electronic version readily identified.
  4. If your company has only one file server, tracking a document down is a relatively easy thing. If you have multiple offices, however, it may be helpful to include an office identifier to the naming convention.
What makes a good naming convention?

The number of identifiers built into a file name determine how effective it is to identify a document within a folder. For example, date, charge code, client name, person creating/editing document, version number/letter, date of presentation, etc. There are no character number limitations when naming a file, so you can contain as much information as believed useful. Most operating systems preview the first page of a document (and beyond) without opening it, so you don't have to include the presentation title. This only comes into play when more than one presentation is developed for the same event, etc.

A sample naming convention: 11-0921-Partridge-abc123-0918C-kavBO.pptx

  • The 11-0921 is the date of the presentation (all documents starting with that date are automatically filed next to each other in the folder, regardless of document type [Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Keynote, etc.])
  • Partridge is the client name
  • abc123 is the charge code
  • 0918 is the date the edits were made
  • C is the version of the edits made on a day when several iterations are created
  • kav is the person who made the edits
  • BO is the office acronym
  • .pptx indicates the type of file (make sure your folders show the file extension for documents).

This is important. Notice that the constant information is placed at the beginning of the file name? You want the files in the folder to order themselves in logical groups. Therefore, it's important that the order of the information in the naming convention be considered. The presentation date, client, and charge code all stay the same and will, therefore, group your files together. The first changing variable is the date of the edits and the version letters. You want the edit date and version letter to be the next element so that they order the files in the folder. The initials of the person editing and the office acronym won't disrupt an orderly display of the file names if they are at the end.

This type of naming convention works well when presentations are filed in client folders. If you create a file architecture that is based on chronology (month and year, for example), then you may want to put the client name first so the files for a particular client are grouped together in the folders.

There are some companies that create a check-out/check-in folder within the file architecture. This folder is designed to keep employees from working on an electronic master simultaneously. Documents can be split into pieces and worked on by multiple team members, but the person who checked the document out has the responsibility for reassembling it and placing it back into the folder on the server so that the next review and set of edits can occur.

Naming conventions are important whether you work alone, as part of a team, or as part of a network of offices. Every office should adhere to the same naming convention so that there is a standardized method of identifying documents, tracking them down, pulling elements from previous presentations into future presentations, etc.