Best Image File Naming Conventions

The name that we give to a file can be very helpful at a later date, some of the most important things to include in a file’s name are the date it was taken if applicable and it’s ‘number’ so that they maintain an appropriate order.

At Scan and Share we name slide and negative scans in a simple ‘0001’ structure, in ascending order because we do not know much else about the context of each image, for photographs we also prefix the name with the date it was scanned, which is helpful but not necessary.

When naming a file it is important to understand how a computer orders files by name. It begins with the first character of all of the files and then ranks them in order, it begins with 1 through to 9 and then a to z. It will continue searching through the names going to the next character and then the next, until it has ascertained an appropriate order. 

Therefore, when ordering files this should be kept in mind, my preference is to name a file using date, then number and then any extra notes about the picture, so it would look something like this: ‘19870922_0001_JeffAndSam’. Of course, not many people will be able to date their photos to the exact day or even the exact year, so you could just group photos into decades. This file naming convention allows you to see your files in roughly date order.

Keeping file names short and sweet is paramount so only include a very brief description of the photo, if any description at all. If you would like to include more information about the image then it may be worthwhile starting a Word document and writing the description of each photo under their file names; this allows you to have the description in an index type document. We have done these for some customers and they have been very pleased with the results.

To sum it up, remember to keep the file name concise and only include very relevant information. Also, keep a close eye on the files to make sure you don’t overwrite another file.