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🌲 The Value of Consistent Naming Conventions

Naming conventions are a key organizational method — and I don't just mean numbers or unusual symbols like ! and }.

Eleanor Konik
Written by Eleanor Konik

I teach (& research) ancient civilizations, then write stories & articles inspired by all eras of history... which involves a fair amount of notetaking ;)

5 min read.

Naming conventions are critical to my organizational methods, not just because they help keep things in their proper order, but because they telegraph a file's content before I open it. They don't come up often, which is a shame — because in some ways they're as much a cornerstone of personal knowledge management as links, tags, folders, or metadata.

As much as I love folders (and I do love folders!) they're just one tool in my toolbox. Naming conventions are one of the ones I don't talk about as much, mostly because they don't come up in conversation very much — but maybe that means people aren't leveraging them as much as they could be.

There are a couple of different ways to leverage naming conventions for organizing files. I'm less interested in organizing for organization's sake, though. I care about maximizing the amount of information I can get at a glance. That means avoiding exclusively timestamp-based unique filename methods like advocated by some folks in the Zettelkasten community — unless the idea of naming a file makes you completely freeze up, in which case, go ahead. At least a timestamp will sort your files in order and put them together with other things you were thinking about at the time.

But I do believe that you'll be missing out on a valuable tool for sensemaking. For example:

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