file extensions and naming conventions don't have to be as confusing as thisUnderstanding file extensions and naming conventions is important – it can be the key to eliminating frustration, because you actually know what your graphic designer is asking for, or where your colleague saved that important document.

Extensions at the ends of files – such as .jpg and .eps – are important nametags. They help your computer figure out how to open and deal with the file. Changing a file extension is like putting a “Hello My Name Is Fred” sticker on someone named Rosie. Call her whatever, she’s still Rosie. If you want “Rosie” to act like “Fred,” a little sticker isn’t going to make it happen.

Designers see this often when the client sends a .jpg file of the company logo and the designer asks for an .eps file instead. The same file comes back, but with .eps as the extension! If this really worked, wouldn’t the designer just make that little switcheroo herself?

  • DON’T play the file extension nametag swap game. A Rosie is a Rosie and by any other name…
  • Speaking of extensions, DON’T put periods in your file names. It confuses your computer, which reads anything after a period as a file extension. For instance, hollister.creative.jpg would have your computer digitally scratching its virtual head as it wondered what a .creative.jpg file is.

Now that your file extension is all sorted, think about your file name. Getting files named IMG_3255.JPG is unhelpful. So is getting a blank envelope with a CD marked “Photos.” Help to move your job along by naming each file according to the photo’s subject. You get extra expediency points if you hint at your company’s name and the name of the project.

For example: Metro Technology Services (company) + Website (project) + Police Car (subject) = MetroWebPoliceCar.JPG (fabulous file name). If you have more than one picture of the same subject, just number them, e.g.: MetroWebPoliceCar1.JPG, MetroWebPoliceCar2.JPG.

This naming formula — also called a naming convention — applies equally well to other documents, such as text files or folders. File names should never have spaces, extra periods or special characters such as ampersands or pound signs, as these can cause a file to become corrupted. Use an underscore if you must.


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