Fix those File Names!

Have you ever opened a document online and thought the file was swearing at you? If you’re seeing symbols in a file name (File%20Name.doc) you’re seeing a poorly named file!

Why is file naming important?

Adopting good file naming conventions can help ensure that files will work with different operating systems and disk formats, such as Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and UNIX. File naming is also an important consideration when transferring files via the Internet, where it may not be evident what computer platform was used when the files were originally created.

The National Archives has assembled a handy list of best practices. For example, file names should:

  • Use hyphens or underscores instead of spaces;
  • Be unique and consistently structured;
  • Be persistent and not tied to anything that changes over time or location;
  • Limit the character length to no more than 25-35 characters;

For more recommendations, visit the National Archives’ “Records Express” blog at


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