Create a “template” that you will use for naming your digital files.

When I first started working on my family history research, I had a folder for each person and I was happy with file names like “1850 census”. But as my files grew and I wanted to share information with other genealogists, I quickly saw the flaws in my “system”.

Again, you can turn to Google to see many examples. I’d say that most people start their file names with Lastname_firstname. But I would run into problems pretty quickly with 2 brothers who each named a child after the other brother and other similar examples.

I am a very visual person. When I came up with my file naming system, I not only wanted a “template” so that I could find a file quickly, but I wanted a system that would help me see patterns or abnormalities. I wanted a system that could be a visual “timeline” without the need to actually open a file. Here is my template:

Year County State SourceInfo Page Name (identifier)


As you are moving files into your Digital Folders, make sure that all of your files follow your updated “template”.