Organising data

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Organising data

It is important to organise your data for several reasons:

  • enables you and others to easily locate your data 
  • helps avoid errors from occurring
  • prevents duplication of work
  • saves time, as information is more readily accessible



How do I organise my files?

The following steps adapted from the University of Cambridge should enable you to effectively organise your data:

  • use folders:  ensure files with a common topic/theme are grouped together under one location.
  • conform to existing procedures:  refer to your team or department for advice on approaches that already exist.
  • use suitable folder names:  avoid naming folders after colleagues or students. It is better to use a more suitable name that will indicate the topic and avoid confusion. 
  • be consistent:  use one method of naming files, as this can lead to confusion and be frustrating when trying to find something. 
  • arrange folders hierarchically:  start with a generic folder and then use sub folders for more specific content.
  • separate on-going work from completed work:  ensure that work is separated to avoid duplication. It is advisable to do this on a regular basis.
  • back-up your files:  ensure your files/folders are backed-up. Refer to the back-up pages for more guidance. 
  • review your files:  ensure that files are continually reviewed so you do not end up with masses of work at the end of the project which will be of no use.


What should I consider when naming my files?

  • vocabulary: Ensure that there is an agreed standard of language and use of abbreviations to avoid confusion.
  • punctuation:  Agree standards for when to use punctuation and the most suitable conventions e.g. hyphens instead of spaces. Try to ensure that these do not conflict with those that may already be adopted by your operating system for example: / ? "
  • dates:  Try to organise your files so that they are in chronological order and agree a standard for displaying dates i.e. DD/MM/YYYY.
  • order:  Agree on what elements should go first, so that files with the same theme are listed together and can therefore be easily found.
  • numbers:  Have an agreed number of digits which can then be ordered numerically e.g. 101, 102, 103, 104.

Software to help with renaming

•   Bulk Rename Utility - For Windows operating systems.

•   Rename4Mac- For Macintosh  operating systems.

Also see 'choosing a file name - JISC'