User-centeredness in file naming

Do you ever think about the user – the receiver of your files when you send attachments? You should.

Let’s say you are submitting an assignment – say, UsabilityReport1. For you as the student, it makes sense to name the file CGT512UsabilityReport1.pdf. But if you all do that, I, the receiver, will end up with a bunch of identically named files, which I have to painstakingly rename as I save them in my file manager.

So, from now on, when you send a file attached, consider how you will name it – in a way that makes sense for the receiver.

On my computer, my resume is resume.doc. But when I email it to someone, the file name will always start with my last name: Vorvoreanu….

I change the file name depending on where I send it. In some cases, it may make sense to include Purdue in the file name. In some cases, it may make sense to include the topic, or area of research. It really depends on the user.

In any case, you want to begin the file name with the identifying information. So, Vorvoreanu_UsabilityReport1.pdf is better than UsabilityReport1_Vorvoreanu.pdf. Why is that?

Do you think about file names when you send attachments? Will you from now on? What are your rules for naming files you send attached?

  1. Agree, naming a file could start with whenever we created a new file. I like to name a file start with YYYY.MM.DD + meaningful name, this could help the system to sort the file by date. It is good to think about what is the audience of your file.

  2. Completely agree. Downloaded 80 zipped projects from my 141 students the first semester I TA’ed that were all named “” made me think about this quite a bit. Now they all include their last name in the file name.

  3. I have been in the practice of renaming files before I send them for a while now. Recently, I hit a snag. I had to fill out an NDA. As a matter of course, I renamed it before sending it back. Later, I realized that they had already renamed it to a unique application number – I had thought it was a unique number for the document. So my renaming actually probably made it harder for the recipient.

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