General Recommendations

Gutman Library recommends naming your file starting with the date (YYYYMMDD) followed by a unique identifier and the type of file: 

For example, file format for a set of meeting notes might look like this:

  • 20200312-ALLSTAFF1234-DOC.doc

This lets us know:

  • File Created: March 12, 2020

  • Description: All Staff meeting

  • Format: Text document

Text documents, Audio, Video, and databases are the most common used file formats so if your format is a:

  • Text doc (including .doc, .txt, etc) use -doc

  • Audio (including .wav, .mp3 etc.) use -aud

  • Video (including .mov, .avi, etc) use -vid

  • Database (including .xls, .fp, etc.) use -db

For students, we recommend using the class code and a short description such as:

  • 20200503-EDUS515FINALV001-DOC 

This lets us know:

  • File created: May 3, 2020

  • Class:  EDU S515: Emancipatory Inquiry: Listening, Learning and Acting for Social Change 

  • Description: Final Paper version 1

  • Format: Text document

Papers and Articles (including file downloads from databases)

For articles downloaded from a database, it is strongly recommended on renaming the file as soon as it has downloaded. A recommended format might include: date downloaded, title, and source. For example a downloaded article with no formal naming convention looks like this:

  • EJ1246482.PDF

Using Gutman’s suggested file format the article it will be renamed as:


Letting you know the date retrieved, the subject, the journal and the format.

We recommend organizing files by topic and using a version numbering system that works for you. For more in depth information please visit the Research Data Management group at Harvard as well as the Graduate School of Education Data Management page.


Shared Departmental Files

Gutman recommends starting with the department acronym followed by YYYYMMDD. This will allow easy quick identification and good sorting practices:


Some dept acronyms for places across HGSE include:

  • GUT-Gutman Library

  • TLL-Teaching and Learning Lab

  • PPE: Professional Education

Unique Identifiers will have four numeric slots each starting with its own numeric string:

  • GUT = 0000

  • TLL=1000

  • PPE=2000

The Description is up to the file creator – do your best to try to make it as clear as possible.