Are there ISO (or other) standards which suggest a naming scheme for office files like

Q-2014-01-02_ObelixAndCo.pdf  (example for a quotation)
O-2014-01-04_ObelixAndCo.pdf  (example for an order )
D-2014-01-20_ObelixAndCo.pdf  (example for a dunning letter)

Of course I could invent my own scheme like the upper example, but probably there are well accepted standards.

3 Answers 3


I use the following naming convention for all documents in my projects:

[Project ID and/or Name] - [Document Type] - [Document Date] - [Document version] - [Draft|Approved]

For example:

P999 PMSE Answers - Project Brief - 2014-03-18 - V0.1 Draft

Note- The point of using the reverse notation on the date, which I use a lot in document filenames, is so that multiple versions of the same file sort into chronological order (though this is aided by the version number as well of course).

  • Oh yes, all dates should be written in ISO 8601 as you suggest. Mar 18, 2014 at 17:26

The lack of answers on your question may gives an indication (as I suspected) that there may not be a standard for naming files. Even if there's a standard out there, it may not be known enough to worth applying it without explicitly mention it on your documentation... which puts you back to your original point: if you need to mention your standard, it's not a 'standard per se'.

All in all, I'd use file names that could be understandable by the audience it's intended for. You could use a standard with a single letter for your team's reports used internally, but for an external audience that may not be interested in reading your standard... is better to use meaningful names instead of acronyms of any sort.

It might not be the answer you were expecting, and I'm looking forward to see if someone else out there has a standard for file naming. Until there, I believe the file naming will need to rely on our discretion.


  • I think I should wait a bit longer. A naming like Quotation-2014-01-20_ObelixAndCo.pdf would be understandable easier by externals, but if you list all files in a directory the items are no longer in columns then. Mar 18, 2014 at 8:47
  • 1
    Well, if it's a matter of having them with the same amount of characters on the 'description' part, you could define your own acronyms with (let's say) 4 letters: It'd be Ordr, quot, estm, plan, etc. Still, it wouldn't matter much value unless everyone is reading the same directory. You should need to use subfolders or keep the file description at the tail of the file. Nevertheless, I still believe there's no ISO out there for this.
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Mar 18, 2014 at 16:06

I don't think ISO have any requirement or recommendation on that level. The level they are on is more something like "It should be able to track.".

Your suggested naming standard would not be enough for a larger company. Lets say a big automotive company like any of Volkswagen, Ford, Caterpillar, Volvo or similar. They would have many different buyers responsible for their commodity and since they are buying a from many big vendors there are companies that overlap more than one commodity. Therefore it is not uncommon to have more than one quotation to a vendor same day, I would think. So if you can have this as a (future) possibility or similar, I would not suggest only having date. Rather an incremental number or something where you can track the which document it is.

Also, I agree with Tiago regarding externals not being interested in what kind of standard you will have, only that you can track documents.

I recommend you to call a big company and ask what kind of naming standards they might have if you cant find your own standard.

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