I'm trying to figure out the best way to link a printed piece to the electronic file name. What are the best practices for file naming and version control? Do you use a log of sorts for graphic design?
I use some conventions.
Never use special characters in name, including non english characters like "Ã‘" or spaces. (keep the file name web safe)
I_can_also_use_underscores.ext (Not very often)
I use hypen for version number or separating diferent hierarchy.
If the file is going to an external provider I use the clients name first.
The versions are for design changes, not output. Some aditional notes can be added on the file.
Sometimes I need a variation, probably a revision where the design is the same but I need a minor change. I use them when the client need to compare. Once the file is autorized I return with a consecutive number.
The next version will be Brochure-04.pdf
Sometimes I make an aditional file prior for output, for example flatten images and backgrounds. I rename the file BEFORE any change.
Some people use a date on the publication itself, so they know if the printed info is updated.
I never use the word "Final". There is not such thing.
I normally don't use dates on filename. That info is included in the file itself. Of course this can be modified.
However it is important to include date, both inside the document and on the namefile, if it has somekind of legal implication and it is for public use.
If the project has a totally diferent redesign (not just changes or evolution), I can add V2 for example.
Some notes about the why I don't use the word "Final" on any file.
Some clients are very likley to ask last minute changes. Yes a client sometimes call me on the phone "STOP I changed my wife's phone lastnight".
As I have close relation to my providers and if I can stop the printing process, I simply send a consecutive Filename-05.pdf. No need to rename the file Client...FinalFinalFinal.pdf
How many Final Final Final words should I count to know it is the final final version?
If I need a technical change I can rename the file but not the design version. Client...05-overprint-01.pdf
Imagine a reprint of a brochure with a minor change. You just prepare a new version.
An analogy: Have you seen any software called VersionFinal? It is called on consecutive numbers, version numbers, for a reason. There is not a final version.
Imagine a client that is looking in his email for a "Final" version. If a file is named like that but has some changes after that, he has a problem.
Of course there is a final version. But that final version is the one that was already printed. The one did not recived any change. Prior to that... there is no way to know if it is final version.