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File Names


Computers rely on the names we give files to track and find them. File names for files being passed from one computer to another, particularly over the internet, need to follow certain rules. The use of spaces and certain other characters in file names can cause problems during file transmission. Replace spaces with underscores (_) and avoid using characters such as these: !, ?, &, %, @, (), :, ;, =, +, ", and '. These characters mean certain things to web browsers; using them in file names may cause unexpected results.

Avoid lengthy file names. Your own computer may allow you to create long names, but these may be automatically?and unexpectedly?shortened or otherwise altered by the computer to which you send your files.


Guidelines for File Names

Here are some general tips to guide you as you prepare your assignment files:

  • Include the graded topic number.
  • Include your first name or initial and add your last name.
  • Separate the graded topic number from your name with an underscore (_). Replace the dot in the assignment number with an underscore (_) or hyphen (-).
  • A dot and file extention (e.g., .jpg, .docx, .pdf, and so forth) may follow the above-noted text.

Your instructors may have specific guidelines for how to name files. If so, be sure to follow those.


Naming Your Files Right

Here are some examples of effective file names:

  • 5_2_jamie_kowalski.pdf
  • 2_3_psuarez.doc
  • 3-1_stacy_meyer.jpg

If you have multiple versions of a single assignment, you can always add an underscore and a version number like this:

  • 7_2_sara_cheng_v13.jpg
  • 5-1_mthomas_v2.gif


Naming Your Files Wrong

Here are some examples of poor file names:

  • "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, with Commentary" by Katherine Gray.pdf
    ?This name is too long and has spaces and special characters.
  • Temple Elevation (detail), Ellie Green. gif
    ?Again, this has spaces and special characters.
  • 2.1_Andrews/v3?.docx
    ?This name is short and identifies the assignment and its creator, but it has a dot, a slash, and a question mark in it.