The Best Way to Name Your Files

A client and I were making a filing system when she asked, “What should I call this file?” She was holding a stack of papers related to her car, like the title, inspections, and tire receipts. “What is the best name for it?” she asked. She was a bit of a perfectionist, and wanted to make sure she did everything “The Right Way.”

The Best Way To Name Your Files: There Is No Best Way

I felt bad telling her there is no right or wrong way! Honestly, there is no best name for a file. It depends on you and how you think. It needs to be the first word YOU think of when that subject comes to mind. The point of filing is to recall information later in the most efficient manner possible. What word immediately comes to mind when you want to recall this information later? There’s your answer. Let me explain.

A person may think the best word related to that stack of papers would be “Automobile.” Another person may think, “Vehicles.” Yet another person may think, “Car.” Even further, someone might use the make and model of the car, like “Toyota Corolla.” I have a friend that refers to her two cars as “Blue,” and “Black,” based on their color. Any of these words are suitable file names. Files are about being able to retrieve information in an instant. Say you need the receipt for your tires right now. You don’t want to stop and think, “Oh, what would they be filed under? Where would they be?” You want it to be quick and automatic. You want it to be the first word you think of, and go straight to where that file is in its alphabetical order. See how many options there are to title one simple file folder? All of them are correct in their own way. It’s up to you.

The Best Way To Name Your Files: What's The Good Word?

Say you need a file related to your own personal identification documents like your passport, your social security card, and your voter registration identification. What would you name this file? It could be titled, “Legal Documents” or “Identification.” Or maybe you would make an individual file for each thing, like, “Social Security,” “Voter ID,” “Passport.”

What’s the first word that comes to mind for you?

Maybe you think the word, “Cigna,” instead of “Health Insurance.”

Maybe you think, “Appliance Manuals,” instead of “Household Manuals.”

Get my drift? Remember your files are for YOU, so name it what YOU want.

The Best Way To Name Your Files: Total Recall

That’s a key element to files that work for you. The most important reason to have a filing system is so that you can find information you need quickly, and put away information you need to keep on hand. When I think of things related to my car, I put it in a file titled “Toyota.” My dear husband keeps his own files, and titles it, “Automobile.” That is just how we think. It’s the first word we think of when we want to reference our cars’ information.

My client was happy to know that the first word she thought of was “The Right Way.”