File naming and version tracking

April 21, 2014

We all know that file naming and version control through a design studio is important. Equally important is how you name and store your own Account Management files.

Example: Your designer sends you a pdf proof titled "Cadbury brochure v01.pdf". Is this how you would like to send the file to your client? Chances are that one day your client will send you this file, asking you to make an update on the job. Do you think you will be able to easily figure out which job it belongs to?

Example: You receive "proof 3" from your designer, but you know it is really only the second proof that your client will see. You are sure of this because the designer made an error on proof 2 and had to change the proof and resend to you. Should your client be liable for an additional proof? No way! Thanks to your own version tracking system, you are able to ensure only the correct information (and charging) will ever reach your client.

Sometimes you can't control what you receive from your team, but you can control the way you work as an AM. Here is my suggestion for an Account Manager's file naming and version tracking system:


Job folders

You'll want to include the job number, client name and project title when you name a job folder. By having the job number first it will arrange your folders in numerical (and, therefore, chronological) order. This will give you all the information you need for easy search and retrieval of projects in the future. All the job folders can sit within a client folder on the server.


Working files

Working files are the master files for the completion of a job. The files could be from InDesign (.indd), Photoshop (.psd), Illustrator (.ai), etc. Ensure the job number comes first and that version tracking is included within the file name.



The naming format is, essentially, the same as per the naming of the working files, however the suffix will usually be .pdf (an Adobe PDF file), though the suffix could just as easily be .tif, .jpg, etc. Include version tracking in the file name.


Proofs (or working files) with an internal correction

It's important to be able to track the difference between author's corrections and internal corrections (e.g. due to studio error, or a request from an Account Manager). The easiest way I have found to differentiate the two is to add "a", "b", "c", etc, after the version number to denote an internal correction. This becomes highly important if you charge your client by the number of alterations that they make. The last thing you should be doing is charging a client for time taken to correct internal errors.


Folders and files with date significance

For folders and files where it's a good idea to track the date supplied (or to keep files in a chronological order), it's best to put the date first in the file name (yyyy-mm-dd, or whatever date format suits your country) then a description of the folder or file contents. Having files and folders in chronological order is especially helpful for storing files such as WIP reports, meeting reports and supplied files from clients.


What system works for you?

I'd love to hear about the file naming and version tracking system that works well for your company. Please leave a comment, below. It's always great to hear and share the best of industry practice!



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