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File names
by Tash Hughes of Word Constructions (www.wordconstructions.com.au

File names aren't something we usually spend too much time thinking about - we usually spend more time and effort on the file content.

However, the name of a file can be important for two major reasons.

1. Finding it...

We've all done it - created a new document, worked hard on it and stored it away. A month or so later, you need that file and can't remember what you called it let alone where you filed it.

It isn't just on your own computer either. Did you save it on your PC or laptop, your USB key perhaps? And then there are files on your website or in your blog...

2. Helping others

A file name will ideally be clear to others, too. Maybe someone else has to find a file when you're off sick or when you call in from a client's office. Even more importantly, file names on a website can be a big help to your visitors - they can identify the purpose of the file quickly, it is easier to search for and makes more sense in their list of favourites.

A well named file (for example, www.domain.com/bloggingtips.pdf) will include keywords and therefore be helpful in your site's search engine rankings.

So what makes a good file name?

In a word, clarity!

Whilst keeping it as short as possible for practical reasons, especially if it is on a website, there are a number of factors to consider in choosing a file name. Best of all is to have a system whereby all files are named in the same way for simplicity.

    avoid using numbers alone for files - it may be file 2378 but that doesn't help anyone find the file about ftp basics

    choose a name that summarises the topic of the file accurately. A pdf about buying a car could be called 'car_info', 'car_stats' or 'vehicle_sales', but calling it 'car_buying' is much clearer and not at all misleading

    be as broad as possible but still identifiable. For example, a file name 'about_us' is great on your website but is a bit vague if you write about us pages for a number of clients. In which a name such as 'about_us_sam' is less broad but more meaningful

    for online file names, avoid spaces. The file name 'contact us' will become 'contact%20%us' in most browsers which is long and people are more likely to make typing mistakes with it. An underscore (_) avoids spaces but still separates words for clarity

    if using dates in file names, mix words and numerals. Even in Australia some people will wonder if 1/5/07 is the 1st of May or the 5th of January so name the file '1may07' - this also has the advantage of not needing other symbols which can be rejected and/or confusing

    use words that are clear, easily spelt and simple. Trying to be clever by using ambiguous words to get more search engine traffic won't really help genuine visitors, and may even harm your rankings.

It is a little detail, but the names of your files can have an impact so it is usually worth putting some thought into the names when you create new files.

 Clear communication is critical to the success of any business, but it is often left to care for itself in many businesses. Tash Hughes is a professional and skilled writer who makes technical and otherwise boring information accessible for everyone a business needs to communicate with. Next time you need webcopy, articles, newsletters, reports or any other business document, visit www.wordconstructions.com.au to see how Tash and her team can help your business succeed.

This article is available for free use on your web site or in your newsletter.

It must be acknowledged as written by Tash Hughes of www.wordconstructions.com.au and copyright remains the property of Tash Hughes.

Please notify us of your use of this article or to request information on commissioned articles.

 

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2003 - 12, Tash Hughes