Best Practices for Naming Documents

Created by Pat Crosscombe, Modified on Mon, 20 Jun, 2022 at 5:03 PM by Pat Crosscombe

Managing documents is a challenge.  Consistent naming practices are essential otherwise different users will name documents differently and before too long users are confused and have difficulties finding the correct version of a file. 

In BoardSpace, every document needs to be identified with at least one tag. Two to three tags is recommended as optimal. Documents must still be identified carefully even when using a tagging system like in BoardSpace because users will still need to pick the right document from the filtered list. The tags do not help if the list of potential documents contains file names that are vague, inconsistent or confusing.  

There are many naming conventions that could be followed. The key to success is to decide on a convention, create a reference or policy document that clearly outlines the specifics and be rigorous and consistent in its use.   

Example Considerations to include in a Naming Convention Policy

1. Start file names with a brief description. Be short, but add enough details so that every file is different and stands out. Start with the broadest or biggest concept first and then narrow or refine. 

2. Always make sure new documents are named correctly when adding them to BoardSpace. Don't wait to correct a name later.  

3. DO NOT use special characters such as /:"@#$

4. DO USE underscore_or Capitals.

5. Use a version number. Most documents get revised, so make it a habit to add v1 to the file name the first time the document is added unless absolutely certain that the document is final. That way the next version is v2 and so on. 

6. Add the author's last name, only if applicable. In most cases it is not relevant for finding a document. 

7. Add a date. The file upload date is not necessarily the correct date as the document could have been created months earlier before being uploaded to BoardSpace. 

8. Always use the same name for an updated document and add a new version number. Never change a revised document's name each time it is revised or updated. 

Good Examples

a) Monthly_Financial_Statements_2022June 

A document about monthly financial statements for the month of June.

b) HRPolicy_CEO_Compensation_2022_v1

A policy document for review that outlines how the organization's CEO will be compensated. 

Improving Poorly Named Documents 

a) JuneReport2022.pdf

This is not a useful document title. It is vague and could be about anything. A more descriptive title would make it easier to know what the document is about. 

An improvement is "Report_Operating_Expenses_June2022"

Worse still is the example "TR_2022-6-15 112559.pdf" What this document is about, no one knows!

b) 2022_CEOv1_Compensation_2022.pdf

An improvement to this title would be "CEO_Compensation_2022_v1.pdf."

A further improvement would indicate what the document is about.  For example, is this a policy document for review that outlines how the organization's CEO will be compensated or is a document that provides the CEO's compensation in 2022. 


c)  Draft 2022 V2 AA-FWA Non-Consolidated yr ended Feb 28, 2022.pdf

I suggest removing the date confusion and adding the draftv2 at the end. The specific date of Feb 28 for year end is not needed.  


d) June22 Treasurer's report--final-June 8.pdf

One of the dates must be removed and show dates at the end of Improving this document would eliminate one of the two dates and a final.  A better 

An improved title is Treasurers_Report_Final_June2022, but it is unclear as to what the treasurer's report contains. 

e) Insurance 2022 AGM.pdf

Another example of a vague title. Is this a new insurance policy being proposed, a copy of the existing policy or a general discussion about insurance? Also, it is not clear why AGM would be needed at the end of the title.


Naming documents is more than simply throwing words together randomly.  Naming conventions when followed rigorously allow users to find their documents fast and easily. It does take work getting used to a new naming convention but users will be very happy when they can find with they are looking for.   

Don't forget to add 1 - 3 tags that facilitate finding each document. 

More about tags

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