File naming format for projects

Do you have a particular format for naming your project folders?

Am thinking of implementing system like this:

000001 - client name 1
000002 - client name 2
000003 - client name 3

Also, out of interest where is your projects folder located (assuming it’s on your machine). Have typically operated out of a folder on my desktop?

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My Folder structure with subfolders;

Client Name
—> Job Number Job Title
----> job files with maybe a folder for images, proofs, different versions

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It’s really about coming up with a system that works for you and makes sense for you. I’m on a Mac and store all of my files in the Documents folder. Within the Documents folder, here’s what my file structure looks like.


On the Label, Logo, and Print, I add whatever type of project it is before the project name. So this could be website, packaging, sign…whatever. This helps me find things faster and gives me a term I can use when I’m searching my archives for an old project.

The Archive folder is anything related to the project that I might want to save. For example, I might have a layered PSD that I end up flattening for the final project. The flattened image would go in links and I’d save the layered file in Archive.

The Email folder is used to store all emails on the project. This has proven to be invaluable to have all related emails neatly organized with each project.

The z is added to certain folders to force them to be last when viewed alphabetically as a list – which is my default view. Similarly, I put a space in front of the native project file to force them to be at the top of the list.

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I try to make the file names as descriptive as possible so clients know what they’re looking at when they receive proofs through Adobe Document Cloud.


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My organization is very similar to Steve’s. The specifics of the folders might differ a little depending on the nature of the project, but I try to keep things fairly consistent. A website design and development project is, of course, has a different set of files than a brochure or billboard project.

My main goal with organizing the files is to do so in a way that will make sense to me in a week, month, or year once I’ve forgotten the specific details of what I did.

I also name the files in a way that will enable me to use my Mac’s search and find feature to locate what I’m looking for when I need it months or years down the road. I don’t append the project name to every file, but I make sure enough of the items in the file contain the name of the project to enable me to locate everything with a simple search.

For stock photos, I’ll always name the original name, then append a description of what the photo is. Once again, this is to make it easy to search for in the future, where it originated, and what licensing arrangements apply to it.


I keep current and recently completed projects on a removable drive attached to my Macintosh. After six months or so, I’ll move the project folder into an archive folder on the same drive. I have my Mac set up to automatically back up everything to a LAN server every half hour. I’ll also manually back up some projects to Google Drive where I have several terabytes of storage.

After a year or two, if I’m unlikely to work with a client again, I’ll permanently archive the files on a couple of duplicate flash drives while often deleting files in the project folders that I’m certain to never need again, but this is sort of hit and miss.

As for keeping things on my computer desktop, desktops can get messy, so I only keep very temporary files there. If a file is on my desktop, I know it can be thrown away in a day or two. Nothing stays on my desktop of any importance.

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Thanks for the responses, that does make a lot of sense having a folder for each client with the subfolders being the various projects you’ve carried out for them.

I use some software called fanurio for logging, timing and invoicing jobs. Each job gets a number. These numbers are assigned a client. Then I archive them, once complete, in a folder on a raid drive for the year they were started in. Each folder is named with the number, then a 3-letter client code, then a very brief job description (should I ever need to find them manually). Inside those folders is a pretty standard structure: artwork, links, support, text, with a subfolder in the links for originals,

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When I do image acq, as soon as an image is downloaded, all the pertinent info regarding the license is put into the File Info section in Photoshop. Source, image number and link to license page. Most times the photographer credit information is already filled out, but not always. If not, we add that in too. The filename is just an abbreviated project name and a two word description, often followed by the image source number.

As for files, we go by Year > Client/Job number > and sub folders based on the type of graphic output or construction. IOW, very similar to Steve-O’s file, though a client may have more than one job going and have more than one folder in the main listing. We have one more folder though. Once the job is done and archived, there is a toss that happens to get rid of all early revisions, only keeping the final version. Just don’t have the server space to store that kind of stuff.

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I assign every project a number. I also put all projects in a Projects folder and then they have number based on different stages, in that order. I move the projects as needed through the stages.


3 posts were split to a new topic: Canva

Filenaming projects:
I’ve had my ways over the years.

Per job system output progressive numbering algorithm
Each job was stored in month folder
3 months on desktop - e.g., Jan Feb Mar
Jan jobs go in Jan - then start on Feb then Mar
Eventually just backup Jan - and then work Feb Mar Apr
and so on

Per structure of company
Publications etc
Each with their own unique ID

Unique generated identifier based on customer name
Like - GraphicDesignForum.Com - would be GDFC1000001
Next job would be GDFC1000002

Each component has a unique code assigned to it anyway.
Each file is named as per the component code.
When a new component is required the system spits out the next digit
For instance - L123024a
next one is - L123024b

There really is no right or wrong way - just whatever makes sense for you and your team.

Agree on a structure:




And so on

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I use the date the project was added for every job for the “Folder” and the actual “File Names”… so we can guage when it was started and it’s easy to search for the most “recent” files when having to update something. I can compare my file name with last invoice I sent my client.