Ask DN: What file naming convention do you use?

over 8 years ago from , Co-founder @ Sensive

Hey guys,

I'm about to clean up my computer, which includes name files properly and hopefully following a convention that I can follow from now on.

I was wondering I can do something like:


_lastname would be optional.

What do you guys use?


  • Kelly LawrenceKelly Lawrence, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    Whatever convention you decide upon, I would suggest using dashes in place of underscores.

    Should you ever need to rename part of a filename for some reason, or if you were to copy a large number of filenames for editing in a text editor for example, you can use CTRL (Command on Macs I think?) plus the left and right arrow keys to quickly jump between words or blocks of numbers. Example, using a | as a stand in for your cursor:

    • |YYMMDD-project-lastname.whatever
    • YYMMDD-|project-lastname.whatever
    • YYMMDD-project-|lastname.whatever
    • YYMMDD-project-lastname.|whatever

    Using underscores, if you were to try the same thing, it would only place your cursor at the beginning or end of the filename. You would then have to press the left or right keys for every single character in the filename. Example:

    • |YYMMDDprojectlastname.whatever
    • YYMMDDprojectlastname.|whatever

    It might seem trivial, but if you're at all interested in saving as many spare seconds of your time to equal large savings in the long run, it's definitely something to look into.

    10 points
    • Ryan Hicks, over 8 years ago

      Ditto on dashes.

      0 points
    • c kizerc kizer, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

      Use - or – not underscores as they are much harder to see in a single line and can be mistaken for underline :-)

      I don't put dates in my project names, the operating system does that, but sometimes I'll put like summer 2014.

      The biggest thing I've learned is to spend less time formatting file names, and just nesting things in folders instead. That way you can have very easy to understand file names.

      Compare this: ios-FTUE-sparsestyle-2014.sketch

      to this: design ƒ > mobile ƒ > first time user experience ƒ > sparse style ƒ > primary white.sketch

      I much prefer nested folder version. Works much better for all the designers on our team. Now the file name can be very human and descriptive. It's not a big deal for the 3-4 times we actually share it with a client either.

      Make sure the names are very human and not computer like, otherwise what's the point?

      Pro Tip: Yosemite has great batch file renaming built into the finder.

      2 points
    • Marc-Antoine FonnéMarc-Antoine Fonné, over 8 years ago

      And if you write in markdown, your files names won't be format in italics. And you'll not spend many hours to escape all your underscore with \ ...

      0 points
  • Joris RigerlJoris Rigerl, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    My files are usually look a little like this: PROJECT-concept-screen-delivery-final-lastrevision-complete-v5-final.psd

    7 points
  • Kelly SuttonKelly Sutton, over 8 years ago

    We use LayerVault, and organize things into projects. It keeps things organized, and keeps track of all time and author information.

    5 points
  • Nathan HueningNathan Huening, over 8 years ago


    1 point
  • Jaffar KhorshidiJaffar Khorshidi, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    Over the past few years of my career, I've been working on and perfecting a file naming convention that works and allows easy sorting and findability.


    To break this down:

    4CLIENT – four characters to define the client (eg. GOOG, MSFT, TWIT) file-name - pretty self explanatory, but make it something clear to understand author - first and last initials of person working on project discipline - eg. UX, DES, DEV, etc. version - again, self explanatory YYMMDD - this is key to have in this order as it allows for easy sorting based on day first, followed by month as a secondary.

    Typically this would translate to look like the following;


    1 point
  • Serguei Orozco, 7 years ago (edited 7 years ago )

    I like your idea, but how about merging it with Kerem Suer's post?

    It will be something like this:


    I'm using dashes so you could move really fast in order to rename the filename.

    0 points
  • Rolando Murillo, over 8 years ago

    Thank you all for your suggestions. I'm glad I posted this.

    0 points
  • Rick KhannaRick Khanna, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    Working version 1: w1CLIENT-YYMMDD-Project-Name.ext Working version 2: w2CLIENT-YYMMDD-Project-Name.ext

    • Client approval -

    Final version 1: f1CLIENT-YYMMDD-Project-Name.ext

    • Client edit after approval -

    Final version 2: f2CLIENT-YYMMDD-Project-Name.ext

    Putting the w1, f1 in front of the file keeps them organized and grouped together whether it's PSDs, AI whatever. Plus a nice manual versioning system.

    0 points
  • Matt AchariamMatt Achariam, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )

    Kerem Suer suggested a good method.

    0 points
  • Derek BowersDerek Bowers, over 8 years ago

    I usually try to stick to

    Client.Project.Platform.Page.Iteration.Concept.Other(if required)


    Nike.Fuelband.Web.Homepage.1a.psd Nike.Fuelband.Web.Homepage.1b.psd


    0 points
  • Tristam GochTristam Goch, over 8 years ago (edited over 8 years ago )


    The version number refers to major changes in direction and the letter refers to subversion tweaks and improvements. A working example would be: [nike]_logo_03b.ai

    0 points