Since I work as an editor and proofreader, I regularly receive files from clients and store hundreds of files on my laptop and various external drives. Using a strict file-naming convention helps me to quickly identify files and organize them. These naming conventions may seem unimportant…until a file gets misplaced. Have you ever accidentally dragged a file into the wrong folder? Have you ever looked at the “All My Files” view in your Explorer? A specifically named file ensures that you can search for, find and identify it no matter where it ends up—with or without sub-folders.
It is important that I keep all files—all versions and revisions. Simply renaming files is not good practice. If a client ever decides to revert back (an author changes their mind about the rewritten chapter and says to me, “actually, I liked the old one better”)—I need to be able to produce that file again. For legal reasons, it is important to keep all of these file versions as a record of how the project progressed.
Here’s the File-Naming Convention I use:
_ Underscores separate the sections.
– Hyphens separate the words within the sections.
BlueOrchard: is not important for me because all my business file names begin with ‘BlueOrchard’ but this word is important for my clients—so they immediately know the file came from me.
Client-Name: I often complete multiple projects for the same client.
Project-Name: If I’m editing a book, this name will often be different from the actual book name since the book title may evolve or will change with editing and translation.
Work: Helps define the purpose of that particular document; the same project often has different parts.
We may choose to shorten sections like:
V1 – Version Number: This number is important. It will tell us if there are multiple versions. But, it actually won’t change as much as the R1 (Revision Number). So, for instance:
V0: Author sends me a sample of their book for the first time and I edit it—that is V0.
V1: Then, the author sends me the entire book and I complete the work for it—that is V1.
V2: Then, the author says, now I have additional content to add in and sends me that additional content and I add it into a file—that is V2. (It is a different version of the book.)
V3: Say, the author then decides that they weren’t happy with a chapter in that version and sends me back a file with a new version of a chapter—that would be V3.
R1 – Revision Number: this is the number that will change most often. Every time I exchange files with a client for the same version back and forth, this number should change. So, the same version can have many Revision files.
Editor Name: Sometimes I work on translations with a partner, like Linnéa from Ordvisa in Sweden. If we want to track who completed the changes in each Revision, we can tack on Deb or Lin at the end.
Example File Name Transitions:
So, for a book my translation partner and I just worked on…we could have seen this pattern:
(Final version is what was sent to client.)
This level of detail may seem like madness, but there’s a method to it.