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Q: Document naming conventions/standards ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: Document naming conventions/standards
Category: Business and Money
Asked by: dhenss-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 28 Oct 2002 20:10 PST
Expires: 27 Nov 2002 20:10 PST
Question ID: 91625
I am looking for information on naming conventions/standards for
business documents.  For example, what is the best way to name a Word
document so that I will know the client, subject, date, and person
that created it.  I would like to see information about industry best
practices to support the answer.

Request for Question Clarification by aceresearcher-ga on 29 Oct 2002 03:14 PST

Do you need the full-length client, subject, date, and author name
included in the document title? Or would you accept a proposed
encoding standard, for which you would use code "keys" to determine
how to find the document for which you are looking?



Clarification of Question by dhenss-ga on 29 Oct 2002 05:31 PST
That is a very good question.  What I was hoping for was some type of
system that was already in place.  I am not looking to re-invent the
wheel.  If I do have to re-invent the wheel, I guess I would be open
to the pros and cons of both sides.  Having the full client name would
make quick searches, but you would have to deal with very long names. 
Having a code would make the names shorter, but you would have to
remember what the codes stand for, or have a key with you.

Request for Question Clarification by aceresearcher-ga on 29 Oct 2002 05:39 PST

I have worked at a couple of different places where we had really
excellent naming standards and conventions already set up for us, and
at a third, I was assigned to create all the naming standards and
conventions for a brand new computer system. So I feel that I can
provide you with some useful information. If you would be willing to
accept my suggestions as an official Answer, let me know by way of a
Question Clarification, and I will be glad to post them for you.



Clarification of Question by dhenss-ga on 29 Oct 2002 06:59 PST

Sounds good to me.  I am intrested in your thoughts and suggestions. 
Please post your information as an answer.

Subject: Document naming conventions/standards
Answered By: aceresearcher-ga on 29 Oct 2002 15:51 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help you develop a logical
naming standard for your business documents!

As you mentioned, key coding will require you to have keys, and to
refer to them unless and until you know them by heart. However, the
upside of using keys is that it will enable you to keep your document
names fairly short and sweet, and easy to skim through when you're
looking for a certain document.

First, you will need to decide which of your four data items (client,
subject, date, and author) is most important. If you need to find a
certain document, which one of these will you most likely have? I'm
guessing that "client" (or perhaps "date") is your most likely
candidate. However, since it is possible that you will have many
documents for different clients on a single date, I suspect that
choosing "client" as your primary key will make it easier to narrow
your search down quickly.

You will need to develop a unique code for each of your clients.
Starting with 0001 or 00001, you could just assign sequential numbers
to your client list, and any subsequent new clients would be assigned
the next available number. However, unless you have already assigned
client numbers, I would recommend a 4- or 5-letter key, based on the
client name, instead.

Since there are 26 letters in the alphabet, a 4-letter code would
allow 456,976 different key combinations (26 x 26 x 26 x 26). However,
you are going to want to try to make your code as close to your
client's name as possible (XZKY would probably not be a very helpful
code for a client's name), so using 5 letters for the client code
might be a better choice.

Go through your client list and assign each one a code. You can store
the code/client name cross-reference list in a spreadsheet (Excel,
etc.) document for simplicity, or in a database (Access, etc.) if you
have that functionality.

Assign your client codes like this:

this or this:
ADAMJ   ADAJJ    Adams, John J.
ADAMQ   ADAJQ    Adams, John Quincy
ADAMT   ADATL    Adamson, Theresa L.
and so on.

It doesn't matter so much what style you pick, as long as you try to
be as consistent as possible, in order to help you find things
quickly; and as long as you don't assign the same code more than once.
This is where the spreadsheet or database can really come in handy: a
spreadsheet will allow you to sort by code and search for duplicates,
and a database, if properly set up, will not allow you to add a
duplicate key.

Later, if you get "Adams, Janice Jay" for a client, you could assign
her something like "ADAMA" or "ADAJY", since "ADAMJ" or "ADAJJ" would
already be taken.

The next most important key will probably be the date. So that the
documents will sort chronologically within each client, you will want
to put the date in CCYYMMDD format where CC is the century, YY the
year, MM the month, and DD the day.

Now, if you have a limited number of set "subject"s, you can set up
Standard codes.

For instance, an attorney's office might have a fairly limited number
of subject types:

AFFD   Affidavit
CONT   Contract
EXPN   Expense Report
LETT   Letter
MEMO   Memo
PLEA   Pleading
POAT   Power of Attorney
SUBP   Subpoena

If your business could have an unlimited number of "subject" types,
you may want to use 5 (or more) letters rather than 4.

Finally, the "author" code list will probably be very small, depending
on the number of people in your office. 3 initials (Last/Middle/First)
or (First/Middle/Last) should do the trick, whichever works better for

In the event that the combination of the above 4 elements gets
repeated, a unique key can still be created by adding a, b, c, etc. at
the end.

So, your documents would be named something like this:

  Power of Attorney for John Q. Adams created on 2/17/2002 by Sandra
K. Stevens
  Contract for John Q. Adams created on 5/3/2002 by Phil R. Davis
  Expense Report for John Q. Adams created on 5/3/2002 by Phil R.
  Memo for John Q. Adams created on 5/3/2002 by Phil R. Davis
  Memo for John Q. Adams created on 5/3/2002 by Sandra K. Stevens
  Second Memo for John Q. Adams created on 5/3/2002 by Sandra K.

The resulting coding system is not short, but at least it's better

Do you think that this sort of solution would meet your needs? If you
would like, please take a little time to think about it before

Before Rating my Answer, if you have questions, would like to discuss
this further, or can think of specific tricky situations you might
need to handle, please post a Request for Clarification, and I will be
glad to help you get what you need.

I hope this will provide you with the good, logical system that you

dhenss-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Great answer.  Fast reply.  Thanks for the help.

Subject: Re: Document naming conventions/standards
From: hailstorm-ga on 28 Oct 2002 23:53 PST
Why would you want to put all of that information into a name?  Word
allows you to put all sorts of information within the properties of a
document.  All you have to do is open the file, go to the File menu
and select the "Properties" option.  From there, you can enter a full
title, subtitle, author information, company information, comments,
you name it.  And it automatically tracks file update statistics, like
last date updated, last date viewed, last person to update, etc.  All
Microsoft applications allow you to do this with their documents...far
better than any naming convention for keeping track of document
related meta-information.
Subject: Re: Document naming conventions/standards
From: mooncrickett-ga on 29 Oct 2002 02:12 PST
hailstorm has a vaid point. why. if you make all your documents are in
word (that is the standard format) you can translate between programs.
all microsoft programs are interactive. if you are running a program
that does not support a word document i feel that you should change
that program. this really is not an a answer but a solution.
Subject: Re: Document naming conventions/standards
From: rac-ga on 29 Oct 2002 05:10 PST
   We do software projects for multiple clients. To identify the
documents easily, the naming conventions followed for documents in my
company(software) is as follows


XXXX-- short client name
subject-- subject name like Proposal, status_report etc.
Ver-- Version no of the document. It it is status report then Date.
Two digit version no should be 01,02.10.... (Not 1,2..10..) 
If date is given in should be YYYYMMDD format(so that it will sort in
the filelist properly).
.rtf --People are told to save the docs in rtf. This is because of two
reasons. 1.Rtf won't save macros and no macro viruses.
2.Also rtf is a newtral format and client with any wordprocessing
software can easily read it.

Author information is not given in the name of docs. But it can be
easily got from the document properties section.

Hope it helps.

Subject: Re: Document naming conventions/standards
From: dhenss-ga on 29 Oct 2002 05:36 PST

Thanks for the comment.  From what you just stated, it looks like I am
trying to make this more difficult than it really is.  The suggestion
about .rtf is new to me, but it makes sense.

Subject: Re: Document naming conventions/standards
From: iso8601-ga on 31 Oct 2002 17:05 PST
The comment about using RTF is a good one, and one used here for about
5 years now.

>>  The next most important key will probably be the date. So that the
documents will sort chronologically within each client, you will want
to put the date in CCYYMMDD format where CC is the century, YY the
year, MM the month, and DD the day.  <<

You may not be aware that this definition is actually from an
International Standard called ISO 8601:1988 , updated to YYYY-MM-DD
definition in ISO 8601:2000 .

There is a whole Google Directory section at:
 on this very topic.

ISO 8601 is now also recognised as an Internet Standard through RFC
3339, as well as being mentioned by W3C in a 'Technical Note', in the
HTML 4 standard, and in various XML-schema languages.

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