Data management begins with a single file. Follow these tips for naming your data files, and adopt a file naming convention to ensure consistency throughout your projects:
- Avoid using special characters (& % @ \ /).
- Use under_scores instead of periods or spaces.
- Err on the side of brevity (<25 characters).
- Provide context to keep the file name unique, such as “projectabc_201209_0001.tif” instead of simply “0001.tif”.
- Include dates, and use a recommended format, such as YYYY-MM-DD or YYYYMMDD.
- Include a version number, or use a file storage system that track versions of edited files.
- Be consistent. Pick a naming format and describe it in your data documentation.
Organize your files consistently throughout your project. Consider things like:
- Keeping separate folders for your scratch workspace and final versions of files.
- Folder Hierarchy—is deep or shallow best for your project?
- Filing vs. piling: do you organize your files into many folders, or do you use meaningful file names to enable faster searching through a “pile” of files?