Organize Your Data | Love Data Week

File cabinets

Dating in 2018 is incredibly complex. Thanks to dating apps and social media, our access to others makes organizing dates and remembering details about your date difficult. We cannot help your romantic life, but we can help you organize and remember details about your data.

Create file names that will allow you to distinguish your files from one another. Create a readme.txt file which explains your naming convention with any abbreviations you have used.

  • Be Clear, Concise, Consistent, and Correct
  • Make it meaningful (to you and anyone else who is working on your research project)
  • Provide context so it will still be a unique file and people will be able to recognize what it is if moved to another location.
  • For sequential numbering, use leading zeros.
    • For example, a sequence of 1-10 should be numbered 01-10; a sequence of 1-100 should be numbered 001-010-100.
  • Do not use spaces. Some software will not recognize file names with spaces. Instead use:
    • Underscores
    • Dashes
    • No separation
    • Camel case
  • Do not use special characters: & , * % # ; * ( ) ! @$ ^ ~ ‘ { } [ ] ? < >
  • Dates should be formatted like this: YYYYMMDD (e.g., 20150209)
    • Put dates at the beginning or the end of your files, not in the middle, to make it easy to sort files by name
      • OK: DST_FileNamingScheme_20181216
      • OK: 20181216_DST_FileNamingScheme
      • AVOID: DST_20181216_FileNamingScheme
  • Use only one period and before the file extension (e.g., name_paper.doc NOT name.paper.doc OR name_paper..doc)

There are two approaches to folder structures. Filing, or using a hierarchical folder structure. The other approach is piling, which relies on fewer folders and uses the search, sort, and tagging functions of your operating system or cloud storage tools like Box.

Today’s post was written by Marie Kennedy, Serials and Electronic Resources Librarian, and Jessea Young, Digital Initiatives Librarian. Content inspired by Love Data Week. Image credit: foam on flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)