Do you know how to name documents/files?

Last updated by Ben Neoh [SSW] about 2 months ago.See history

When naming documents and images, use descriptive words and kebab-case (where you separate words with hyphens) to make your files more easily discoverable.

✅ Choose the right words

The file name and its title is regarded more highly by search than the content within documents. Also, the file name is what is displayed in search results, so by making it descriptive you are making it easier for people to identify the purpose of your document.

Once you have chosen the best words, make it readable and consistent in formatting:

❌ Avoid spaces

Monthly Report.docx

Figure: Bad example - File name using spaces to separate words

As far as search goes, using spaces is actually a usable option. What makes spaces less-preferable is the fact that the URL to this document will have those spaces escaped with the sequence %20. E.g. sharepoint/site/library/Monthly%20Report.docx. URLs with escaped spaces are longer and less human-readable.

Know more on Do you remove spaces from your folders and filename?

❌ Avoid CamelCase

MonthlyReport.docx

Figure: Bad example - File name using CamelCase doesn't have spaces but also doesn't contain any separators between words

This is a popular way to combine words as a convention in variable declarations in many coding languages, but shouldn't be used in document names as it is harder to read. Also, a file name without spaces means that the search engine doesn't know where one word ends and the other one begins. This means that searching for 'monthly' or 'report' might not find this document.

❌ Avoid Snake_Case

Monthly_Report.docx

Figure: OK example - Underscored (Snake_Case) URLs have good readability but are not recommended by Google

Underscores are not valid word separators for search in SharePoint, and not recommended by others. Also, sometimes underscores are less visible to users, for example, when a hyperlink is underlined. When reading a hyperlink that is underlined, it is often possible for the user to be mistaken by thinking that the URL contains spaces instead of underscores. For these reasons it is best to avoid their use in file names and titles.

✅ Use kebab-case

monthly-report.docx

Figure: Good Example - File name uses kebab-case (dashes to separate words)

A hyphen (or dash) is the best choice, because it is understood both by humans and all versions of SharePoint search.

You may use Uppercase in the first letter in Kebab-Case, however it's important to keep consistency

Extra

  • Add relevant metadata where possible

If a document library is configured with metadata fields, add as much relevant information as you can. Metadata is more highly regarded by search than the contents within documents, so by adding relevant terms to a documents metadata, you will almost certainly have a positive effect on the relevance of search results.

  • Ensure filenames are unique when tracking files with Git

Within a team, there may be a mix of operating systems being used by its members. For users on MacOS or other OS's that have case-sensitive filenames, it's crucial to ensure that filenames are unique. For example, don't use 'File.txt' if 'file.txt' already exists. This is especially important if these files are being tracked with Git, as it can cause issues for users on Windows, which has case-insensitive filenames.

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