File Naming

A major goal of organization is making your information easier to find and access. Part of making the information easier to access is naming the scanned files in a logical manner. When you view the filename you want the related files to be grouped. Dated material should be store by date and category. My personal filename rules include:

  • NO spaces in the filename
  • Use a period ONLY before the file extension
  • Separate name components using an underscore (‘_’) or a dash (‘-‘)
  • Use camel case notation (for example: HomeDepot)
  • ALWAYS use two digits for month and day
  • ALWAYS use four digit year
  • ALWAYS separate month, day, and year with a dash (‘-‘)

Using these rules allows you easily move and rename files later. Here are some suggestions for storing various types of documents (yyyy = year, mm = month, dd = day, {extension} = file extension):

Statements & Checks

Scan old statements (bank, credit card, etc.) and download recent from your online accounts. You can combine the statements for an entire year into a single file or store each statement individually. Use online statement files when possible. Format:



amex_2016.pdf ← For the year-end summary statement
amex_2016-02.pdf ← AMEX statement for 2/2016

Use a similar naming convention for scanned checks. Use the same accountName_yyyy and add _checks_startNo_endNo. You may want to limit the number of checks per file when scanning checks individually. When I had lots of checks I divided them into quarters (Q1 through Q4). Examples:

BofA_2016_checks_1234-1299.pdf ← Statements will be in the format BofA_2016-01.pdf and when sorted by filename all of the statements and checks will appear together.
BofA_2016-Q2_checks_1234-1299.pdf ← When you have lots of checks consider saving them by month or quarter.


Normally receipts are stored by date. Each item on a receipt should also be entered into your accounting software so that you can cross-reference the receipt with the accounting notes and date. If you have lots of receipts you may want to group them into an entire month. Grouping receipts is useful for business or church records. Use a flatbed scanner and arrange the receipts to fill a full document sheet. Try to arrange the receipts in roughly chronological order. Examples:


2020-02_Receipts.pdf   <– for all receipts for the month of February

Tax Forms

Tax forms are normally stored by date and form type. The dates can be year only, year with quarter, or complete date. Example:


A sample file folder created using these guidelines might look something like:

/Receipts_Home 2010-02-03_Walmart.pdf
Dated receipts are displayed in date order and store name can make the data easier to find
/Taxes 2010_1040.pdf
Tax documents are sorted by year and tax form.
/CreditCard Amex_2010-01.pdf
Statements are sorted by company name and then by date.

ALL dated files should include the year so that filenames will be unique. If you copied files from different years into a single directory (for an insurance claim, for example) then you would not have duplicate filenames.