Litigation Support Naming Conventions

This topic is very important in the litigation support world. I am only touching on a few examples right now to get you started thinking about the concepts. Everything we do with naming conventions in litigation support has a database mindset even if the scenario is outside of a database.

You can begin using these tips right now in your current job position. These examples apply primarily to file directories and file names. I am not going to get into the technical reasons behind these tips in this article. My goal is to give you a tangible action item that you can implement immediately in your daily routines.


When naming a directory or file name, use underscores instead of spaces.

Example:  A directory might be named \Custodian_Name_Shared_Drive or a file name might be named

Zero Filled Numbers

When using a numerical reference, include leading zeros.

Example:  A series of file names might be named AnnualReport08, AnnualReport09 and AnnualReport10. These file names will sort in the correct order.


When using a date in a file name or directory name, always enter the year first. This allows the information to sort in chronological order, including from the end of one year into the beginning of the next year.

Example: A directory might be named \2012-03-09_Incoming_Data. It is not necessary to use the dashes, but some people find it easier to read. It could also be named \20120309_Incoming_Data.

You may have wondered why “those IT people” or “those database people” have named files/directories this way. You will show off your real geekness by implementing these tips.

If you have any questions, please ask them in the Comments section below.




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    • Chris D.

      In my experience for Date conventions or in any naming convention, the more vanilla the better. Certain programs may interpret the “-” differently resulting in inconsistent results. This is the case with most punctuation or non-alphanumeric characters. Then there’s the possibility of issues arising if there are characters encoded with ANSII vs. UNICODE. – Chris D.

    • Phillip Burton

      Another reason for not using spaces is that some systems have to convert them into “%20” – not a very nice encoding.

      Another tip – don’t use #s in either filenames or folders. It is a reserved character for many systems – see the article which discusses the problems (which are not easily solvable in Excel 2007, but can be worked around in Excel 2010).

      I’ve been using the Japanese date format since 1999. It did cause a bit of a problem at the turn of the century, since I was only using 2 digits for the year, but after that it’s much better then any other system.