UPDIG Image Receivers Guidelines | version 4.0
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File Naming
To avoid problems with files transferred across computing platforms, request file names that use only the letters of the Latin alphabet (A-Z, a-z), the numerals 0-9, hyphens and underscores. Avoid other punctuation marks, accented letters, non-Latin letters, and other non-standard characters, such as \:/*<> or brackets. On a local network or with rewritable media, limit the file name to 31 characters or less (including the three-letter file extension). Limit file names to 11 characters or less (including the three-letter file extension) when burning to optical media, since some computers don't support long file names. Use a single period (.) between the file name and extension.

Specify unique file names. Multiple files with the same name will cause problems for computers and people alike, and a newer file might automatically overwrite an older with the same name, or vice-versa. You may want to specify including the numeric date and/or the photographers name as part of the file name as a way to avoid duplicate names.

For a complete guide to file-naming protocol, see the Controlled Vocabulary web site.

Stock image distributors have the greatest need to implement their own file naming conventions, since they have the largest collections, along with the greatest need to search them and link images to their creators. Ideally, stock image distributors would append their naming convention to a creator's file name, but this can become unwieldy. Future versions of the IPTC Core metadata schema should allow storage of multiple filenames. In the interim, putting both the stock image distributor's file name and the creator's file name in the Document Title field may help reduce confusion.

Magazine and newspaper publishers may have similar needs if they maintain picture archives.

Publication and web designers generally require only a user-friendly naming convention. Naming files sequentially and grouping them in a way that relates to the needs of the project usually accomplishes this. Designers should never rename files, but it is usually not a problem if they add to the file name, inserting their modification before the file extension. For instance, if the original file name is 07055397.TIFF, it could be modified to 07055397CMYK.TIFF, or 07055_397RedTruck.TIFF.

Until the IPTC Photo Metadata working groups have standardized fields that can accommodate original file names, place the file name in the Document Title field, so that if the file is renamed, it can still be located with its original or delivered name. There are batch methods available for this in Bridge, Expression Media (formerly iView Media Pro), BreezeBrowser and PhotoMechanic.

what happens if someone changes the file name?
Putting the photographer's file name in the Document Title field preserves it as a searchable criterion should someone change the name of the image file.
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