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Best Practices for Digital Asset Management File Naming Conventions

File naming conventions are the backbone of digital asset management and help to make all files easily accessible, understandable, and manageable, saving time and reducing frustration. In this article, we’re talking all about file naming conventions best practices and give practical advice on how to name your files so that searching them takes almost no time. 

Why File Naming Conventions Matter

Consistent file naming conventions are the cornerstone of effective cloud storage organization. Even with advanced folder structures and extensive metadata capabilities in digital asset management systems, the way files are named is fundamental, especially when dealing with a variety of file formats.

File naming conventions are crucial for several reasons. First, they enable faster file retrieval. When files are named systematically, locating a specific file becomes much more straightforward. This is particularly important in environments where quick access to digital assets is necessary for productivity and workflow continuity.

Second, consistent naming helps in immediately recognizing files in a list, for example. This benefit extends to all users, including those who may not be technologically adept or familiar with the DAM system, like new employees. A clear and logical naming strategy ensures that every team member, regardless of their technical skill level, can find and identify the needed files without confusion or delays.

File Naming Conventions Best Practices

Descriptive Naming

Think of your file name as a mini-advertisement—it should tell you exactly what's inside without having to open it. Aim for clear, descriptive titles. For example, instead of "MeetingNotes.pdf," go for "2024Jan07-MarketingStrategyMeeting.pdf."

The Same Date Format

Dates can get tricky. Stick to one format to keep things simple and sortable. YYYYMMDD (e.g., "20240107") works great because it keeps your files in chronological order without any guesswork. On the contrary, if a company or organization doesn’t agree on whether it’s MMDD or DDMM, their file storage can quickly become a mess, especially if we’re talking about international companies. 

Version Numbers

Working on multiple versions of a document? Keep track of revisions by including version numbers in your file names. You can start with "001," "002," etc. At first, it may seem that such format only adds to the length of the file name. However, once you pile up more than 10 versions, such file naming becomes truly beneficial. The trick is that with such format, files will be automatically sorted one by one as their file names are of the same length. 

Fortunately, with Pics.io digital asset management, you don’t need to spend time naming all your file versions correctly. With our version control feature, all versions are conveniently stored under one thumbnail. You can also easily work with each version, switch between them, and even choose the current one. 

More about how Pics.io version control feature works in the article below.

Digital Asset Management Version Control - Versioning in DAM
Discover all about version control feature in digital asset management (DAM) systems. All benefits for teams and businesses.

Use Abbreviations Common in Your Company

Got some internal lingo or abbreviations everyone knows? Use them in your file names to save space and keep things recognizable. Just ensure newbies get the memo too! 

Avoid Special Characters

Characters like /, , :, *, ?, ", <, >, | can cause errors or make files hard to access on different systems. Moreover, they take space in files’ names, while these need to be as concise as possible. Stick to letters and numbers to keep the peace between your files and the tech they live on.

Don't Use Spaces

Spaces can mess with certain systems or coding languages. That is why we’ve prepared a few workarounds. Use dashes (e.g., "Project-Report.pdf"), underscores (e.g., "Project_Report.pdf"), or capitalize each word without spaces (e.g., "ProjectReport.pdf") for a cleaner and more tech-friendly approach.

Be Concise and Consistent

Brevity is the soul of wit, and it's also key for file naming conventions. We’ve already mentioned that it makes sense to use abbreviations. What’s more, short words like articles, can be omitted. For instance, "Proj" for "Project" and "Rpt" for "Report" keep things short and sweet.When it comes to consistency, you can create a guide with examples to ensure everyone's on the same page. If a company has a digital asset manager (usually responsible for DAM organization and setup, as well as for the development of metadata schema), this person can also control and revisit file naming conventions from time to time. 

For large companies and organizations that deal with dozens of digital assets daily, only file naming conventions or convenient folder structure are not enough for effective management. That is why they use metadata. It often happens that multiple people add new files to the DAM system and these files need to be named and tagged properly. With Pics.io, one can set up the required metadata fields, so that users cannot upload new digital assets without filling in the description, title, keywords, etc. In such a way, files get into the DAM already named and tagged according to the company’s rules. 

Regular Updates

As a project or organization evolves, so too may the file naming needs. Regular reviews of file naming conventions ensure they continue to meet company’s requirements and can be updated if needed.

Digital Assets Archive

File naming conventions work wonders but they might not be all that helpful if your cloud storage is cluttered. Most DAMs offer an archive - a separate archive folder for files you don’t regularly access. 

Final Thoughts

Digital asset management file naming conventions keep everything in perfect harmony. By sticking to the best practices we've discussed, you'll not only make your life easier but will also receive the roadmap to a smoother, more efficient workflow for your whole organization. 

Did you enjoy this article? Give Pics.io a try — or book a demo with us, and we'll be happy to answer any of your questions.

Pics.io Team
Welcome to Pics.io blog, where you'll get useful tips, resources & best practices on how digital asset management can help your business to manage & distribute digital content on top of cloud storage.