Document Naming Conventions

A naming convention is a common set of rules or guidelines to apply to the naming of electronic records.

Why use naming conventions?

Naming documents in a logical and intuitive way ensures that your team and collaborators can discover, manage and access documents when needed. A consistent naming convention allows teams to identify both duplicated records/obsolete versions and University records of enduring business value.

Other benefits include:

  • Improved retrieval of documents on shared drives and University endorsed records systems
  • Facilitated disposal of documents when no longer required for business
  • Ensured current or active version of a templates can be easily identified
  • Supported sharing of information within your team and with collaborators
  • Easier and more efficient file naming for colleagues as they don't have to 're-think' the process each time

How to develop naming conventions

Good foundations:

  • Keep file names short but meaningful
  • Include any unique identifiers, e.g. case number, project title
  • Be consistent
  • Indicate version number where appropriate
  • Ensure the purpose of the document is quickly and easily identifiable

Try to avoid:

  • Common words such as 'draft', 'letter', 'current' or 'active'
  • Unclear, vague or repetitive e-mail correspondence titles
  • Symbol characters such as: \ / < > | " ? [ ] ; = + & $ α β
  • Abbreviations that are not commonly understood, or which may frequently change throughout time

Consult & Identify Needs

Discuss the naming conventions with your team and collaborators. How does your team search for information? Is there anything specific that should be included? What key information is required to quickly and easily identify what a file or document is?

A unit may use internal identifiers for a project such as ARC/NHMRC grant ID, THEMIS agreement number or student number.

Document & Review

Ensuring naming conventions are documented and made accessible to current and future staff, and included in local staff on-boarding process, will encourage staff to use them.

Reviewing the conventions each calendar year will ensure they remain current and relevant.


Is there a University-wide naming convention that my team can use?

No - given the size and diversity of activities conducted by the university, having one single naming convention is impractical; it would be nigh impossible to design one that would adequately cover every variable across academic and professional staff areas. Instead, we recommend staff use the suggestions above to form guidelines that are useful, relevant and practical for their business areas.

What is an example of a good naming convention?

Examples include:

  • [Project number] - Data Use Agreement - [Title of research project]
  • Approval – change to employee travel policy – February 2014
  • MGSE Marketing - [Title of event] 2017 - Signage - Lifts


University Enterprise Classification Scheme

Provides an endorsed classification structure of university activities and functions. Used for folder structures and Content Manager folders. A Windows folder structure of the ECS is available to download. Identifying those classifications that apply to your team may be a useful starting point when developing naming conventions.

Editorial style guide - University publications

The official University style guide published by External Relations. Contains advice on preferred formats for acronyms, dates and more.

Naming conventions in records managed SharePoint

This short animation covers good naming conventions in records managed SharePoint.

Contact Us

Records Services can provide catered advice and conduct workshops on the creation of naming conventions.