File Names

File names are often taken for granted, but when working on complex research projects it’s important to be able to retrieve files quickly and effectively. It’s good practice to adopt a file naming convention which is consistent, logical and descriptive. Abbreviations and codes can be used as long as they are clear and uniformly applied.

File names could include information such as:

  • Project or experiment name or acronym
  • Researcher name/initials
  • Year or date of experiment
  • Location/spatial coordinates
  • Data type
  • File version number

It's also a good idea to include a readme.txt file in the directory that explains the naming format and any abbreviations or code used.

Avoid really long file names and special characters like ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) ` ; < > ? , [ ] { } ' ‘| in file names, directory paths and field names. Spaces in file names can also cause problems for some software or web applications, so underscores ( _ ), dashes ( - ), or camel case (e.g. FileName) could be used instead.

Re-naming multiple files is onerous but there are bulk renaming utilities that can help, such as: