One Thing – One Word
When naming files or referring to any one thing, keep things simple: stay with one (and the same) name / word.
Think and evaluate how you want to name files, for example. It’s important enough to spend a minute thinking things through here because you are setting up the rules you have to follow later – and thereby the results you have to work and live with.
To me, the most important function of the file name is to be as clear and explicit. The name serves two purposes:
- It provides as much information as to what is in the file as possible.
- It makes it easy to search for and find the file.
Consistency is important to create and maintain order and orientation. Once you have created a convention, stick with it – don’t sabotage yourself.
Searching (and Finding)
Anticipate what you and your team-mates will search for and in what kinds of situations you could be looking for the file at hand. (Related: Take a look at the article Becoming a Master at Search.)
Consider adding some tags / labels to the file name if appropriate. Using brackets works pretty well 1 , e.g.
Text Document Template (Invoice, Letter, Proposal, Offer)
As you can see, I am naming a template to be used for text documents. This is reflected directly in the first part of the name.
I also added four use cases I can immediately think of as tags in brackets. When I, at a later point, search for “template invoice”, the file will come up in the search.
Getting back to the title, “One Thing – One Word”, referring to one thing and using the same word / term consistently is a good practice.
This might be rather obvious to some people, but my experience shows that it certainly isn’t to everyone.
We were all taught to avoid repetitiveness in writing, as in
Although repeating key terms and phrases brings continuity to your writing, you must avoid being overly repetitive or boring. – boundless.com
When naming things and communicating with your team keep the “key terms” the same. We want this. It’s good. It keeps things simple and clear.
That is, if you need to add the tags to the file name itself. Obviously modern software and applications often allow to add and use tags as meta data. ↩