A huge problem exists that anybody who has ever put out a call for file submissions has experienced at least once in their career. I’ve seen it from my early days as a newspaper layout production artist to my current position as a presentation coach and Cheater of Death by PowerPoint. And it has such a simple solution that after you read this brief article you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it before. Once you incorporate this simple change into your workflow, anybody who receives files from you will breathe a sigh of relief.
I’m writing, of course, about correctly naming your files.
Why it’s important
You might not think that file naming is a big deal, but consider it from the point of view of the people you send your files to. Let’s say, for instance, that there’s a big conference called BrainyCon. The conference organizers have issued a presentation template called “BrainyCon 16-9 template.potx.” I can GUARANTEE you beyond even a shred of doubt that when speakers submit their files to the conference, at least 90% of these files are named “BrainyCon 16-9 template.pptx.” If you’re the AV crew dealing with 50 files all of which have the same name, it gets very confusing very quickly.
The same goes for files submitted for publication. When I worked at the Harvard Business School’s student newspaper, the Harbus, most of the files I received were called “Harbus.doc.” It was very irritating since this meant that I had to open every single one of these files before I could determine which section of the paper they belonged to. (And yes, I did just drop the H-bomb. Like a boss.) How many files must they receive at the New York Times called “New York Times.doc” or “NYT.doc”? It’s enough to make production staff question their life choices.
An amazingly simple fix
Here’s all you need to do to name your files correctly: use your own name in the file name. Let’s see how this works:
“BrainyCon 16-9 template.potx” becomes “Foley, Laura-BrainyCon Ignite preso.pptx”
“Harbus.doc” becomes “Foley, Laura-Harbus A&E 10-27-15.doc”
Why it works
Naming your files this way makes it completely obvious that it’s you who is submitting them! This naming convention will greatly simplify the lives of the people you send your files to. The more information you can squeeze into the title, the better. But even if you can only get your name in there (last name first, please), it’s a vast improvement over the scores of files that are sent using just the name of the event or publication the file is meant for. Try naming your files this way the next time you submit something to an outside agency (or maybe even within your own company). The production folks will thank you!