What’s in a Name? Finding Your Electronic Files Quickly
In the December 2012–January 2013 issue of Copyediting, I discuss a system for managing your electronic files from Paul Lagasse. One key to finding your files when you need them is to have a good naming system for files and folders.
Organize your e-folders
Lagasse urges people to organize their folders by task. Main folders for each client or project should contain an administrative folder, a projects folder, and a clips folder.
For example, a project folder could contain a Drafts folder and a Noncurrent Drafts folder. Each time you create a new version of a file, the old version gets moved to the Noncurrent Drafts folder. That way you always have the previous version, but it’s not cluttering up your active Drafts folder. Once the project is finished, you can delete everything in the Noncurrent Drafts folder. Lagasse recommends waiting six months and then deleting, but use your judgment on what works best for your projects. Some of them return from the grave long after they should have turned to dust.
I consider each issue of Copyediting a project. The main project folder’s name is the issue date. Our current issue’s main folder is called 2012 Dec–2013 Jan.
Inside the main folder are a series of folders named by production stage:
- 01 Original Copy
- 02 Line Edits
- 03 Copyedits
- 04 Final Copy
- 05 Layout
- 06 Proofread
- 07 Layout Corrections
- 08 Final Newsletter
Having the number of the production stage at the beginning of the folder name allows me to order the folders by stage.
Organize your e-files
Within the folders, individual file names should also be consistent and sequential. This makes searching much easier. Dates and stages are important parts of file names, as are the version number and the initials of the person making changes to the file.
For the Copyediting newsletter, each file contains the issue date, the department, and the stage: CE1212 In Depth original, CE1212 In Depth copyedit. During the editing phases, the editor’s initials (or AU for “author”) are added to the end of the file: CE1212 In Depth copyedit NP.
Once the newsletter has been laid out, the editors and I review it in Acrobat. I collect all the corrections and put them in a PDF for the designer. Files then pass back and forth between the designer and me. The designer’s file is the “original” and is named CE1212 Layout v1 JW. When I make changes, I swap out his initials for mine: CE1212 Layout v1 EB. Another version of the file is created when the designer incorporates all the changes: CE1212 Layout v2 JW. And on we go until we’re both satisfied.
The final file is the one you receive in your inbox. In-house we simply call it CE1212.
Humans love to save things. Copyeditors in general are packrats, and memory is cheap. A good file-naming system ensures that you find what you need when you need it.
How do you organize your files? Share your favorite tips in the comments section below.