Naming files for use on the web

When creating filenames for files that will be uploaded to the web, such as PDFs or JPG images, it’s important to keep a few best practices in mind.

For all files (documents, images, etc)

Do not include spaces in the filename. These get converted to %20 when the file is uploaded, and can prevent the file from being displayed. Instead, use a hyphen/dash - to separate words, or camel case (mix of capitals and lowercase). For example, Name Change Request Form.pdf should be renamed to Name-Change-Request-Form.pdf or NameChangeRequestForm.pdf.

Do not include special characters in the filename, such as #, @, $, %, &, etc. Only use letters, numbers, and hyphens.

The filename should be no longer than 31 characters.

Note: We have recently added functionality that will strip spaces and special characters from filenames if you forget. It’s still best to keep these practices in mind when naming your files for the web, and of course this functionality still can’t create a user-friendly and meaningful filename for you! (Read on for tips on that)

Give your files understandable names

This is most relevant for PDFs, audio, or other files that the user is likely to download and interact with, although files like images should be named clearly as well.

Always keep the end user in mind. We focus on the content of the file, but the filename is the first way to communicate to the user what it contains. The goal in creating a good filename is for the user to see it and know exactly what it is.

The filename should contain “Tyndale” (or your relevant organization or department, such as CCST or TIMCentre). Users may be downloading files from different sources. When they come across your file on their computer, will they be able to tell where it’s from?

Name the file clearly and descriptively, with relevant information such as date, course name, etc.

Strip out irrelevant internal information from filenames

Don’t put information in the filename such as draft names, version numbers, or other administrative information that is intended for internal staff but is meaningless to website users. For example, Study Guide (Final Draft).pdf should be renamed to Tyndale-Study-Guide.pdf. New Branding Application Form 2016-2017.pdf should be renamed to Tyndale-Seminary-Application-Form-2016-2017.pdf.

Add updated dates to filenames

If you are replacing a previously-uploaded file with a newer version, you might want to add the updated date to the filename.

This isn’t necessary if you’re doing minor edits, but it can be helpful if there’s meaningful change to the contents.

For example, Tyndale-Seminary-Spring-Summer-2018-Timetable.pdf was already uploaded to the site when the course schedule changed and a new file had to be created. The new file was named Tyndale-Seminary-Spring-Summer-2018-Timetable-Updated-2018-03-05.pdf, both to avoid a naming conflict with the file already uploaded to the server, and so users downloading the file will know they have the most current version.