Clearly Naming Your Files

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There are a lot of ways that doing a little work at the start of the course can save you A LOT of time in the long run.

One of the simplest things you can do to make your life easier is getting into the habit of giving your files clear names. This is something that can make a world of difference for you and for your students.

Have you ever gone back to look at your files and found something like “Chapter 2.pptx” and wondered what exactly the topic is? Or even worse, found a file like “12573786_574587379357471_3402002897720853131_n.jpg”? 

Instead of leaving these files with cryptic names, we can rename them something clear and consistent, something that tells us what the file is and where it belongs.

So what makes a good file name?

Think that we can search our computers (or Google Drive, etc) by file name, so we can ask ourselves “If I wanted to find this file, what would I type into the search?”. So some common things like this might be the course name; the topic of the material, the author, or the type of resource.

If I had a Powerpoint presentation for a history course, a good file name might be something like: HIST 322: Chapter 6 Lecture – Jeanne d’Arc and the Hundred Years War.pptx

If I had an assignment in Biochemistry it might be something like this: CHEM 342: Assignment – Amino Acids.pdf

If I had an image for an English course, a clear file name for it might be something like: ENG 402: Guernica by Pablo Picasso.png. 

Alternatively, you could model proper citations by structuring your file names in a similar way that you would expect your students to list a citation.

Giving clear filenames means that you should be able to more easily find your files (such as if you’re teaching the course again, or teaching a related course, or putting together a portfolio), it’ll make it easier to identify if the file is important such as if you’re deleting files, or have bought a new computer, and it will make reviewing and organizing the files much easier for your students.

Everyone benefits when you give your file a clear name.